A Rabbit's Tale
When you have animals to take care of at home, and then you don't, for a weekend getaway, anyway, it's a peculiar absence. Unlike children, who eventually grow up (for the most part), and can feed, bathe, water and toilet themselves, animals, specifically, dogs, cats and rabbits, in my experience, require supervision and hands on, (literally) participation throughout their entire lives. As such, planning out of town activities can only go forward once your in-house animals have been provided for.
And as you might imagine, with countless numbers of domesticated animals in this country, services are available, to provide pet owners the freedom to travel, without pangs of guilt or issues of abandonment. The ideal solution, for both parent and pet, is being able to leave your pet (or pets) at home in familiar surroundings and have pet sitters (official) or neighbors (unofficial) come into your house and tend to their needs. This alternative provides a double benefit: it costs less for the pet owner and more importantly, it's much less stressful for the animal, and by association, less stressful for the pet owner, too.
But what happens when the usual and customary options are unavailable? What happens when your animal friendly neighbors are otherwise occupied — vacation, weekend visitors, commitments, etc. — and the previously available kids are either grown or gone? Since you don't want strangers in your house, you call your veterinarian to inquire about boarding your animals. They can take the dog, but not the rabbit. So you call the veterinarian who has treated "exotics," the category of pets that includes rabbits and who, by the way, is not your dog's regular veterinarian but, is your rabbit's, and ask if they board rabbits. "Only if the rabbit is under medical treatment," which Chester, our velvet Rex, is not. Now who do you call? It's Wednesday. You're leaving tomorrow.
I can't worry about that just yet, however. I have a haircut appointment, made at the urging, I use that term loosely, of my wife, Dina. While sitting in my hair stylist's chair, it must be obvious that I'm somewhat distracted, so Veronica, my semi long time stylist asks if everything's all right. I give her an abbreviated version of this column — and my predicament — and she offers quite willingly, and convincingly, her sincere interest in taking Chester for the weekend. She has a two and a half year-old boy who would love having an animal in the house.
"Are you sure?" I ask rather haltingly, not believing this fortuitous good fortune.
"Absolutely! It'll be no trouble at all."
"Really," I question somewhat incredulously (this is a new level of friendship for Veronica and I).
"Yes!" She assures me, again and so the deal was done, when and where you least expect it, from a new friend and one who will soon not be forgotten.
And what made the solution even more incredible was that Veronica's house was five minutes from my office (where I had brought Chester for logistical reasons), and on the way to Rosslyn where I had to pick up Dina before heading south to the beach.
As planned, and agreed to, the next day I dropped Chester off at Veronica's house around 2:30 in the afternoon. She was off to work but her husband, Rob and son, Jayden, were home awaiting our arrival. I knocked on their door and brought Chester inside. I gave them instructions and encouraged them to call me on my cell phone if they had any questions. It was all very clear so I turned to walk out the front door. It was until the door closed behind me that I could begin to consider the possibilities of the weekend out of town.
Certainly Dina and I thought about Chester, and about our golden retriever, Bailey, while we were away. And not having the daily animal responsibilities, as per usual, made for a more relaxing and enjoyable weekend, but not having them around also made for a lonely weekend, sort of. We knew they were in good hands, which was reassuring, but we missed them nonetheless. Pets are like that. You love them even more when you leave them.