Arrangement for my dog may have fallen through. Now what?
January 10, 2015 11:38 PM   Subscribe

I have an awesome, friendly dog -- a 4-year-old lab/shepherd mix. In three months I have to go to a year-long work assignment somewhere where I can't bring a dog. I can't break the assignment without ruining my career.

All along the plan had been for my parents to take care of the dog while I am gone. But today I learned that due to an unexpected health issue this may not be possible. Apart from worry about the health problem I'm now also in despair and at a loss about what to do with the dog. I'm single; I will ask around among friends, but most of my friends are young city professionals and I doubt I can find anyone willing to take a large-ish dog for one year on fairly short notice.

Short of surrendering the dog to the SPCA or quitting my job, are there any options or resources that could help me? Long-term boarding or some way to facilitate finding a temporary home for her? Any ideas welcome. I will pay money.
posted by eugenen to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would make a facebook event and try to spread it far and wide. Invite as many people as you can and ask everyone to pass it on.

You could also consider putting an ad up somewhere. I live in Australia and we have a website called Gumtree which is kind of like Craigslist but with fewer sleazy personal ads. Do you have something similar where you live?

I would also ask veterinary clinics near you whether they have any suggestions. Maybe they'll let you put a poster up at their clinic.

Just make sure that you vet potential foster homes.

Hopefully there's someone out there who will jump at the chance to look after a dog for a year. Especially if you'll be paying for your dog's food and vet bills for them.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 11:46 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

You have three months to sort this; don't despair!

I work with a dog rescue that is useless to you as we're in Ireland and you appear to be in Nigeria (?), but we would put up an appeal for you without issue. It would be helpful to know where you actually are, but you have enough time to work that approach if it is possible in your location.

Your vet can be a resource and should at least allow you to put up a flyer.

An appeal to friends via Facebook and asking them to share with their friends is a good idea.

Additionally, there are both breed-specific and location-specific rehoming groups on Facebook. Utilise those.

In any of your appeals, you should state that you will cover the costs for food, veterinary care, and grooming. I would not offer to pay above that. I would also not offer a dog on Craigslist or Gumtree, but a lab/shep mix is probably not vulnerable in the way other dogs can be.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:54 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you willing to say what general area you/the dog are in? I think one of the best ways to handle this is going to be through networking.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:56 PM on January 10, 2015

Response by poster: I'm working in Nigeria but I'm from the Philly suburbs (Bucks County), where my parents also live; the dog will be coming home with me shortly.
posted by eugenen at 12:01 AM on January 11, 2015

Your parents might also have friends who are in a position to take care of a dog, especially if one of your parents would be able to pitch in (if it's just one of your parents' health issues that makes a dog infeasible. You might be surprised how wide a net you can fling among your acquaintances for something like the care of a cute dog.
posted by Mizu at 12:17 AM on January 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

OK so just to clarify: you will be trying to arrange a temporary home for the dog in Philly/Bucks, yes?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:31 AM on January 11, 2015

Response by poster: Yes, though she loves car rides and I'd happily take her for a drive if there were a good option a bit farther away.
posted by eugenen at 12:35 AM on January 11, 2015

Definitely do a Facebook search for local dog-lovers' groups. There are bound to be both breed-specific and location-specific groups.

For example, where I live there are lots of pages like 'Northern Suburbs Doggie Play-Dates' and 'Perth Whippet Appreciation Group'. Send a request to the admin to join. Then make posts asking for expressions of interest or recommendations.

I noticed around the festive season that lots of people managed to line up dog-sitting this way. Even if people can't do it themselves, you'll get recommendations of dog-sitters they've used.

Good luck! Three months is lots of time; don't panic yet!
posted by Salamander at 1:19 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you can't find someone you know, send me a PM; I'm originally from the western Philly suburbs and know a few dog-lovers who may have ideas. One possibly who fosters.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:36 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Long-term boarding or some way to facilitate finding a temporary home for her? Any ideas welcome. I will pay money.

If you are really able to pay thousands of dollars, you can certainly just find long-term professional dog boarding near Philadelphia. Have you googled long term dog boarding and Philadelphia? There are multiple places that will take a dog for a long term stay -- though a cursory look at a long google list seems that the top hit is $19/day and thus would wind up costing a fee over a year of more than $6000. Of course this would not be possible for most people, but it would, actually, be less than a month for a kid at an expensive summer sleepaway camp in the area -- which could be a way to at least justify it to yourself if you are in fact able to afford it and find no cheaper options.
posted by third rail at 3:23 AM on January 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Seconding the idea to ask at your vet. Do you or your parents have a relationship with a local veterinary clinic in your home area? I'm a vet and I know that we would move heaven and earth to figure out something for a client in your situation. Even if you don't have a vets you've been to with her before, I would take the dog into a vets for a check up and mention it.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 4:57 AM on January 11, 2015

As a young urban professional type, I'll mention that I know plenty of people who wish they could have a dog but can't due to the expense. If you make clear that you're willing to pay for the cost of care for your dog as long as someone physically hosts and takes care of him, I think you'll be surprised at how many people will be interested.
posted by telegraph at 5:25 AM on January 11, 2015 [23 favorites]

I have a friend in Australia who runs an unwanted pet shelter. She has a large circle of volunteers and helpers who offer fostering services. She advertises available animals on her facebook site. This is what you should be looking for.
posted by h00py at 5:28 AM on January 11, 2015

Does it make sense for you to hire a kid in your parents neighborhood to do all the dog stuff while she's in their home?

Maybe there's a responsible high school kid who wants to earn a few bucks a week to feed and walk the dog in the AM, feed and walk the dog in the PM and take care of 'dog business' on the weekends. Perhaps there are a couple of kids (siblings) who can fill in for each other, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:41 AM on January 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Aunts, uncles, cousins? My family went to England for a year back when the British quarantine period was prohibitively long, and my mom's cousin and his family took our dog in even though we weren't super close to them. Our dog also stayed with my aunt and her family one summer when we were traveling, so that she could try out the idea of having a dog for her kids.
posted by MsMolly at 6:13 AM on January 11, 2015

This may be too expensive for such a long period, but a site called Dog Vacay matches you up with people who can board your dog locally in their own home (presumably less stressful for the dog that staying in a kennel...)
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:55 AM on January 11, 2015

We used to board our dog at Camp Bow Wow in Cherry Hill, NJ when we went on short trips. There was a dog or two whose owner was deployed overseas. My dog LOVED this place because dogs play there all day long with each other. They are locked up individually over night and at meal/rest times. The long term resident dog was housed in a larger "cabin".
posted by ellenaim at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

When we had to leave our dog for a year while we went to Australia, we paid a family to take care of the dog.
We paid them enough money to cover: food, toys, 2 weeks of boarding for them to go on vacation, vet bills, grooming, and couple of hundred extra. We put an ad on Craigslist and found a friendly, dog-loving family who doted on our dog for a year while we were gone. It gave them a chance to see if they wanted to add a dog to their family and it helped us out.
posted by LittleMy at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2015

I have family and friends not too far from there 1 1/2 hours away). Most are dog lovers. A few are dog foster parents, a few run dog-based businesses (grooming and training), etc. My point being - just in my little circle alone, there are tons of really good options, especially if costs are covered. If you do end up making a Facebook event, include me and I will help get the word out.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:32 AM on January 11, 2015

eugenen, I'm also previously from the Philly area and will message you privately.
posted by ellenaim at 7:32 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I knew someone who took in an acquaintance's cat under similar circumstances in exchange for a payment of $100/month. So I would offer at least that much, or -- given that dogs are a lot more work -- maybe more like $200/month. Then spread the word amongst all your friends and acquaintances that you are looking for a reliable person to care for your dog and how much you are willing to pay. You might consider posting it to the MetaFilter Jobs subsite as well.

IMO, your best bet is someone who already has a couple of dogs because once you're already caring for multiple dogs, the marginal hassle of one more dog is really not that much. Try to arrange some playdates with the other dogs ASAP to make sure that your dog will integrate successfully into their pack.

I'd also advise buying your dog a good veterinary insurance policy for the year you'll be gone so that the person caring for your dog doesn't have to hesitate to take him to the vet in an emergency without waiting to get ahold of you first.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:36 AM on January 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh and regarding getting your dog a vet insurance policy -- before you go, find out which vets (including emergency overnight/weekend hospitals) will bill insurance directly instead of charging the patient's owner at time of service and then the owner having to submit claims for reimbursement. Get your dog set up as a patient at one of those clinics and let your dog fosterer know to take him there.

You really don't want your dog to die because it will cost $1000 to save him and the person bringing him in can't afford to pay that out of pocket even though insurance would reimburse them $950 a month or so later.

If you can't find any clinics that will bill insurance directly, see if you can leave a credit card on file with your dog's regular vet and the emergency hospital they use, with instructions to charge any vet bills for your dog to your card instead of to the person bringing him in.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you do a Facebook appeal, include a video of your dog being friendly, cute, and well-behaved. It might allay concerns and tug heartstrings to see your puppy in action.
posted by cecic at 7:49 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I lived in Philly I would watch your dog. Seconding that there are lots of people who wish they could have a dog but can't make a fifteen year long commitment/can't afford the possibility of surprise vet bills and would do this if costs were covered. In addition to asking on Facebook, maybe an animal shelter would be willing to pass the word on to their volunteers?
posted by geegollygosh at 8:08 AM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're willing to pay money for someone else to take care of your dog, could you pay money for someone else to take some of the load of your parents while they take care of your dog? A daily dog walker, so all they have to do is quick morning and evening pee-runs, a pooper-scooper service to clean up their backyard, regular visits from a mobile groomer, etc.

One of the things to be cautious about in finding a foster home for your dog is whether the people who take him in will want to give him back at the end of the year. If they've previously fostered for a rescue and had no problems, that might be ideal, but I would be careful about just giving him to a random stranger dog lover who is willing to take him in without seriously discussing that issue with them in advance.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:17 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

If absolutely nothing else can be arranged, drop me a Memail. I live in Indianapolis in a nice house with a fenced back yard and a twitchy Jack Russell terrier who gets lonely. If you can pay dog support, I can take care of your dog.
posted by headspace at 8:20 AM on January 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

And re: jacquilynne-- we foster for the Tails & Trails rescue. I promise we would give your dog back. :)
posted by headspace at 8:22 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

And re: jacquilynne-- we foster for DAWG rescue. I also promise we would give your dog back. :)

(And if you have signed a legal surrender, I wouldn't have a choice anyway!)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:32 AM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

We once got an adult cat from DH's cousin who was moving & not able to take her. He literally called everyone he knew. DH hadn't spoken to or seen him in over 20 yrs when he got in touch with us. So my advice is, call every old friend, relative, anyone. Be sure to ask them if they say no, do they know anybody who may be able to help? You never know who may be willing and able to help you. Good luck, it must be scary to think of leaving him.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2015

I live near a military base and long term fosters are a thing. If the friend thing doesn't work out you definitely want to do your best to get solid references, friend of parents, respected rescue group etc. And you need a back up plan because shit happens. Also you need to authorize payment at a vets office via credit card up to a certain limit and ideally set up an account with a boarding kennel too and get pet insurance with the foster people listed on it.

I know lots of people who've done this and it usually works out fine. Most animals gain a little weight and a couple of bad habits with their fosters and that's it. But think of the worst and plan ahead and you'll attract a better pet sitter and have a better experience.
posted by fshgrl at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would ask both at vets and at doggy day care/boarding places, explaining that you are wanting to pay someone to take care of the dog for the year and asking if they have an employee who would be interested in the job. Those places are staffed by a low-paid animal lovers who are already vetted and knowledgeable; if they aren't interested they might have a friend who is.

And very much yes to the suggestions above to set up an account at a vet and at a boarding kennel, so that the foster person isn't on the hook financially for illness or if they need to leave town urgently.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 AM on January 12, 2015

« Older Your turn or mine?   |   Looking for the name of a play on TV in the UK -... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.