Keeping Your Dog in the Kennel: Some Memories are Best Forgotten

Spring break is a funny thing. Sometimes you get balmy spring sunshine, sometimes you get…40 degree rain. Every day. Me, two kids, two dogs and a new bunny, all under one roof, watching movies, indoor camping and creating role playing games. (Bunny was an unimpressive T-Rex but an excellent baby zebra.) We ventured out once for an umbrella-assisted Easter egg hunt. When we arrived home eggless, wet and cold, I looked at my calendar: five more days of school vacation. I grabbed my laptop and booked a trip.

I arranged care for the rabbit: food, water and the random carrot…an easy sell. The highly coveted Whoopsie-sitting assignment was immediately snatched up by a neighbor. Whoopsie’s an adapter. Here? Good. There? Good. Good, good, good. Let’s eat then take a nap. And then there’s Balderdash. Young, high-energy and spectacularly needy, he’s a little hard to place. My regular kennel was booked so I decided to bring him along and board him near our hotel. It was not just a kennel. It was a Day Spa! A Day Spa for Dogs! The Norwichtown Pet Resort and Spa would be a good opportunity for Balder to make a brief leap toward independence. We signed him up for the Doggy Day Care package – several one-on-one play sessions each day – and headed off.

We took advantage of all that Mystic, Connecticut had to offer and had a great time.

I resisted my kids’ requests to visit Balder – it would be wonderful for us but emotionally draining for him – and returned to pick him up four days later. As we waited in the reception area, pacing like expectant parents, the staff told us Balder’s tale of woe. He was quiet. Withdrawn. He wouldn’t eat. Balder was a sad camper. Regular readers will know that Balder is a rescue; a purebred German Shepherd Dog from the Czech Republic with a complicated past. As we were wandering the seaport, Balder was reliving his memories of love and loss.

When the door to the kennels opened, a dejected-looking Balder wandered into the room, doing his best Eeyore imitation: head down, tail limp. Then it happened – his nose caught the scent of his family. His head lifted, curious. In the small waiting room, Lindsay called his name, loudly and joyously. The change in him was instantaneous and beautiful. He pranced. He wiggled. He actually expanded a little, I think. As the four of us clustered around him, cooing and petting, I promised him I would not kennel him again. Some dogs never adjust to time away from the safety and predictability of home and family. For Balder, this surprise trip was a wretched reminder of memories he’d rather forget.

It’s good to be home.