RENO — There are a variety of options available to pet owners who need to board their pets during the busy holiday travel season, particularly in Sparks.
Sabrina and Rob Martin, owners of Bre’s Bed and Biscuits, provide a free-range home for four-legged visitors year-round, allowing dogs to become part of their home. No matter if they have a small group to attend to or a larger group during the holidays, Sabrina said making dogs feel at home is the best way to board a pet.
“This is a second home for them,” she added. “It makes me feel good that they want to come back.”
About five years ago, I had to board my shih tzu at the last minute during Christmas vacation at a facility in the badlands of Dayton. Not knowing the boarding home, or the owners, I had no choice but to leave my dog, Frankie, there. The facility looked clean and Frankie had plenty of space to run around the indoor-outdoor kennel.
Much to my horror, Frankie spent all of his time outdoors in the blowing snowstorm that hit the area shortly after my plane took off for Hawaii. I was shocked when I returned to find ice balls stuck to his matted hair and a frozen little doggie who shook all the way home. It was a lesson for me that I won’t soon forget.
Owners need to remember to interview the owner of the boarding house and ensure their pet is well looked after, gets plenty of attention and is not left alone to burrow in the snow for a week.
Syd Oldham, a Reno-based dog trainer, agreed.
“The first thing you should look for in boarding is cleanliness and staff availability throughout the day and evening,” she said. “It’s more traumatic if the dog is kenneled a great deal of the time.”
Oldham said dogs need to be given a great deal of attention and interaction.
“Personal attention is a serious concern,” she said. “It really is good to ask friends or neighbors about the care they received when they were there.”
The most important aspects to look for in boarding facilities are cleanliness, attention and the amount of time the employees spend with the pets, Oldham said.
Oldham often refers her clients to Sabrina’s home because the Martin’s provide those aspects, she said.
“They have a great environment here,” Oldham added.
Many boarding facilities cater to the owner, not the pet, Sabrina said, offering special “suites” and even televisions.
In any case, boarding your pet far outweighs leaving it at home with an overfilled bowl of kibble.
Of course, cats are different.
“They could care less,” Sabrina said.
“Dogs need that interaction, supervision and routine.”
Winterizing your dog can be difficult. Many of the larger breeds don’t need much in the way of coat upkeep, as their winter fur usually is enough to keep them warm. Smaller breeds can be kept clipped, as long as they are clothed to keep out the winter chill, said veterinarian John Crumley of Baring Boulevard Animal Hospital.
But Crumley recommends finding a way for your pet to stay home when you leave, if possible.
“House sitting is always an option,” he said. “It’s always my best advice.”
One concern about boarding facilities is the ongoing epidemic of parvovirus, a dangerous virus caught by canines when owners forego vaccinations for the condition. The virus has popped up in Washoe County recently.
“We are seeing an unusual number of parvo epidemic cases,” Crumley said. “For some reason, (owners) are not following parvo procedures.”
If your canine has parvo — which causes vomiting, coughing, sneezing and diarrhea — the pet should not be boarded for fear of spreading the condition.