How to be good pet owners when the situation changes?
September 26, 2012 7:50 PM Subscribe
My husband and I believe in being responsible dog owners, now the situation has changed and we're not sure how to continue doing what's best for our dogs. Complicated details (e.g., our long distance marriage) inside.
posted by blue_bicycle to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
My husband is a cowboy, he lives and works on a very large cattle ranch while I live and work in New York City. We own two working dogs (an Australian Kelpie and a Border Collie) both of whom are very well trained and love working livestock. As the dogs are accustomed to working, enjoy working, and frankly need to work (or they will go bananas) it made sense for them to stay with my husband on the ranch when I moved back to the city. On the best days they run around with my husband from 5:30am to 7:30pm while he fixes fences or irrigates fields -- it's a really, really, really big property. On the worst days they'd only get out of the pen for 45 minutes around the middle of the day, if my husband was doing something where the dogs couldn't be around (like doctoring calves).
This arrangement was fine but now there's been a management change (which is too complicated to get into) and my husband is no longer allowed to have the dogs with him at work, which means they'd be in the pen (or the basement) for about twelve hours a day with no one to let them out.
Bathroom breaks aren't even my primary concern as the pen is outside or worst case scenario we could use those pee pads in the basement. What I really worry about is the dogs losing their minds because they'd be getting zero mental/physical stimulation. When my husband gets home from work he's simply too tired to play with/walk the dogs for two hours. Since the change he's been playing ball with them for about 20 minutes after work, and then making them run behind the car part of the way while he drives home slowly (dirt roads, no traffic -- 2 ish miles).
I can't help because I'm not there. What should we do? We would never own working breeds if we didn't think we could give them the environment they needed to thrive, but this was very unexpected. If we lived in the same place this wouldn't be a problem, I'd just take care of them at home.
The only thing I can think to do is break my current lease on my no-pets-allowed apartment (which is a problem in and of itself), move into a pet friendly place and have him ship the dogs to me. Since my hours are flexible and I mostly work from home I could do my best to keep the dogs happy with play and exercise. Breaking my lease is potentially not possible and potentially very expensive even if it is possible.
There are no neighbors nearby who we can pay to look in on the dogs during the day, take them out, play with them and what not. I really feel like having them confined for 12 hours a day with no real opportunity for play or exercise is a bad idea.
Our situation will also change in around two years so in the long-term we should be able to give them a better environment but the short term is a problem. Is there a better solution to this that I'm just missing? We don't want to get rid of these dogs, we love them and they're like our family. We just want to do what's best for them.