Kennel Woes (Take two)


It's taken me a bit to write this, mainly as I dedicated a lot of time to my dogs and also find this hard to talk about.

Having dogs, caring for them, raises feelings of guilt when anything goes wrong. Akin to if I had a brother who hurt himself while I was on vacation, I would feel guilty because maybe if I'd been around I could have prevented that.

Well, with my dogs, it was a traumatizing experience and it took a lot patience and self control to get back to where we are now.

If you've read my blog before, you know I have a deep love of all furry creatures, but dogs have a special place in my heart. I cannot understand humans that hurt them and never will. I eventually hope to get my own kennel and help rescue as many dogs as I can.

But I digress.

What happened was: we went on a trip. Left our dogs with a company who advertised proper dog care... but within 48hrs our dogs had to be taken to the vet, one by one. This blog is not to bash the company but rather to share what worked for us in bringing our dogs back to normal.

I should probably start at the beginning, to give you some context. Our lab, Zeus, was first in the household. Achilles followed when Zeus was 4 yrs old. Both my dogs are not neutered - they came that way, and I don't believe the benefits outweigh the consequences. I am sure neutering works for a lot of people, but we left that as a last resort.

Our dogs grew up in harmony. We trained them well, they go on walks together, share toys, enjoy meals together, even bones. When we have company over, they have their initial 5min of excitement, then get back to normal. When we are at work, they happily use our back yard and keep themselves entertained. Never have they viciously fought since Achilles became the dominant dog.

In summary? Healthy, happy dogs.

We boarded them before without issues. I shouldn't say that. One of the times we boarded them, Achilles came back very traumatized - I wrote a blog on that too. We switched kennels and the other 2 small experiences that followed were fine.

This time around, the dogs were put in a joined room. The staff on site was unable to pinpoint if the time before they had stayed together or not. We gave them strict instructions, meant to avoid what happened, in case the new environment had them antsy: feed them separately. Achilles is the dominant one, make sure he is acknowledged first, etc. Needless to say, they were not taken into account or even written down.

To make a long story short, the dogs were spooked by something and fought as a result - Achilles started it and despite this place promising 24/7 surveillance, no one noticed. Zeus got injured, and was taken to the vet. Thankfully, he only had some small scratches. While he was at the vet, they left Achilles unsupervised and he got injured. No one could tell me how, only guesses.

The vet whom I called - from Ireland because by this point I was ready to hop on a plane back and we had barely landed - told me something definitely sparked this in the environment because both dogs were much too agitated. Needless to say, I gave the company shit and filed a complaint immediately, though it did no good from so far away.

As the vet could not accommodate my dogs at their place for the remaining days, and no family of ours was in town, we agreed to put the dogs on anti anxiety meds for the remainder of their stay. We shortened our stay as much as possible, hoping to get back home at the earliest possible time.

I will spare you the replay of my conversation with the staff there and their manager... It would the understatement of the year to call it backwards. But I did make sure to follow through and file a full complaint with everyone and everything I could think of, including social media, and get them to act on it - but this was much later. When we landed, after driving 8hrs from NYC back home to Canada, all I cared about was getting my dogs home.

After we got our dogs back, they could not be in the same room. They could not cohabitate. We had the same evidence of it when we got them in the car. Before, they could both sit in the backseat. I had the foresight to separate them - one at the front, other at the back. Even that didn't help, as they almost immediately went after each other.

Needless to say, I was afraid I'd never be able to get the situation resolved and have my dogs back to normal. For hours, I scoured the internet and phoned my vet, had a full check up, but nothing I found helped much. The vet suggested time, patience and avoiding fights.