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Teddy’s Tales: Ted on a Sleepover

One of those irritatingly true things that people say when you get a dog: “Dogs are such a tie. What will you do when you want to go on holiday?”
We had to address this vexing question a couple of weeks ago.
Doing the research on where Teddy might go when we went away for a long weekend was reassuring because for me, the dog-novice, the words boarding kennel always conjured up images of cold, loveless concrete.
But take a look around and you’ll see that at boarding kennels these days there are things like web-cams to keep you up to date with your pooch’s pining and/or progress, open-door policies that positively encourage spot-checks and activity lists which resemble spa menus. One place in Derbyshire offers doggy cuisine, canine massage, even reiki. I found quite a few that sound dog-mad and spoiling enough to salve my guilty conscience but they are all more than a few hours’ drive away.
Then, when a traffic jam forced me to take an alternative route, I noticed The Wag-Club. On the other side of Hampstead Heath a new, airy, friendly doggy day care place has opened-up. And I love that it’s named after the nightclub that was all anyone talked about when I was a teenager.
Co-owner Jamie Belman returned from a stint in dog-mad Los Angeles to find that doggy day-care options in North London were surprisingly limited. “Unlike LA, there were no dog day-cares on the local high streets in North London, not even around Hampstead where there are dogs everywhere. Instead, the care options tended to be run from private homes and just weren’t flexible: they would take a dog for a whole day but not for the odd hour or two which was often all I needed.”
The good thing, from my point of view, about The Wag-Club is that alongside doggy day-care, dog walking, grooming and photography (for those proudest of parents), it also offers a dog hotel. Dogs get to stay in the day-care facility by day and are taken to a home environment to stay with a carer over night.
We were all set to investigate further, then my parents-in-law stepped in and offered their services. We hadn’t properly considered Teddy staying there before because, in full Tiny Terror mode, Teddy has been known to bait Jess, their adored and adorable old rescue greyhound. But my mother and father-in-law, fearless of the fallout and brilliantly doggy-indulgent (they hire people to come and live-in with Jess so she has all her home comforts when they go away), decided they could handle it.
So my husband drove Teddy there (all of us going might make the goodbyes a bit stressful) and deposited him with his crate (where he still sleeps), his own-smelling sheepskin for daytime naps, a new dog tag with all my in-laws’ details, a couple of favourite toys (see Teddy Loves: Silly Bum) and his own food and bowl and left him to it. “Teddy will love his sleepover with Granny and Grumps,” declared our youngest son. Turns out he did.
We had regular updates over the next 72 hours: it took our Miniature Schnauzer a day to feel relaxed enough to jump up on Granny’s lap; he preferred to sleep under the dining table rather than in his crate; Jess was rather nobly ignoring Teddy’s attempts at play/terrorism; Teddy was a carrot thief.
Then it was time to pick him up again. And oh, the rapturous welcome! Thinking of it makes me smile, even now. It was almost worth going away for.

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