As many of you who have been reading this blog for some time will know, Bodhi the dog tends to come along for most of my adventures – whether big (spending several weeks in France) or small (walking to the pub on a Thursday night!) Bodhi has definitely experienced a lot of the southern coastline, with several ‘staycations’ spent in Devon, Cornwall and South Wales, as well as lots of days out in Dorset and Hampshire.
As I think most dog owners would agree, a dog is so much a part of your life that even when you go for a weekend away without them it leaves a big gap in your life. I obviously have to live for weeks at a time without Bodhi due to the arrangement I have with my ex-partner, so as soon as I have Bodhi back with me (as I do now until mid-November) the majority of the plans I make usually involve him.
Personally, my idea of a perfect getaway is a cabin/yurt/lodge in the middle of nowhere, with a hot tub, champagne and all the essentials for morning bacon sarnies (and a good stock of snacks). Of course this scene would not be complete without Bodhi snoozing on a sheepskin rug after a long jaunt to a local pub! (And the few times I have been away without him I’ve felt terrible going for long woodland walks without him in tow, it just doesn’t feel right). I spent my birthday in Greece which was absolutely perfect, but there’s nothing better than loading up the car with wellies and picnic hampers and knowing that all there is between you and your final destination is a motorway.
I like to think I’m a bit of an old hand at packing for a staycation with Bodhi as my adventure pal, so here are a few things I always do before setting out on a trip:
Check they’re up to date on vaccinations and flea and tick treatments
New environments present different risks and though it’s more than likely that your temporary home will be extremely clean (and flea free!), it’s still a good idea to check that they’re up to date on any treatments.
Don’t forget to pack their food and bowls, or to under-estimate how much food you need!
I buy grain-free dog food for Bodhi as it’s important to me that he eats nutritious food that keeps his health and skin and coat tip-top with lots of veggies and quality ingredients. It can mess with your dog’s diet if you switch up their food so it’s important to stay consistent and pack their usual food.
Pack some of their favourite toys so they feel at home (and their bed!)
Bodhi is really good at adapting to new environments, but if he’s staying somewhere different, particularly overnight, I always bring a few of his favourite toys and his bed so he feels comfortable. (Quite honestly I think Bodhi would be on the first train home if I didn’t bring Malcolm the hedgehog).
Look up dog-friendly pubs and events in advance
There’s nothing worse than tramping through several fields in pursuit of a cold pint and a warm pie, only to find out that the pub nearest to your woodland retreat doesn’t allow dogs. I find most pubs out in the countryside are usually accomodating to dogs and muddy wellies, but it’s always worth checking. I also tend to look up local events and activities that are dog friendly in the area as I’d hate to take Bodhi away with me and then leave him on his own all day.
Check the rules for the place that you’re staying
Some Air BnBs will only allow dogs downstairs, or only allow them to sleep in a certain place (or not loll around on the sofas!) It’s worth double-checking the rules to see how far ‘dog-friendly’ extends as there’d be nothing worse than losing your deposit because there was dog hair all over their pristine Chesterfield!
If it’s a long car journey to the destination I also always make sure I take the portable water bottle (I have one of those ones that has a small bowl attached for mid-walk drinks!) and that Bodhi’s lead is to hand so I can stop at a service station and let him have a little walk and a drink.
Overall though the most important is just to have fun! Most dogs are happy as long as they have their family around and will easily adapt to a new setting. And there really is nothing better than waking up to views over the countryside with the dog snoozing next to you, knowing a leisurely morning of bacon sandwiches and a long stroll is ahead of you.
Have you taken your dog away with you on a stay-cation?
This post is in conjunction with James Wellbeloved but all thoughts are my own