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Teddy’s Tales: Where Does Your Dog Holiday?

dog holiday

When I was a fashion editor people used to ask me what they should be ‘wearing next season’. Minimalism v maximalism, geek v chic, sexy v androgynous, silver v gold, tights v bare legs, etc – the intricacies of fashion were thoroughly discussed both in and out of the office.
These days, in my dog-focused world, the question du jour is, “What do you do with your dog when you go away?” It’s one I’m often asked and one I frequently put to others. I’m intrigued by people’s dog holiday arrangements – they reveal an awful lot about owner/dog relationships.
When my friend goes away she returns her Cavalier King Charles to his breeder – she loves the idea of him having a doggy family reunion. Another alternates between loaning her beloved dog to a lonely older woman she met in the local park, and sending said indulged canine to the dog-trainer for a spot of boot-camp. My in-laws rely on the live-in firm Homesitters, because they don’t want their elderly greyhound’s routine upset. One woman who spends many summer weekends working at music festivals takes her dogs to a local dog hotel that walks them the same route they do daily – she is convinced that they find it reassuring. Another drives a 6-hour round-trip to ensure her dog is fed the right food and exercised safely on a family friend’s smallholding, spending as much time outdoors as her bouncy nature requires. I don’t know anyone who uses kennels these days – or maybe they just don’t admit to it.
What do we do with Ted? Currently we have two choices. We can ask my parents-in-law to look after him, which is what we did when we went to Dublin a couple of weeks ago. Teddy has the run of their home, their garden and gets to chase around the ankles of their elderly, elegant and thankfully patient greyhound, Jess. Teddy has long since claimed his spot on their sofa and this time, when we went to pick him up, we saw Jess bounding down the garden too. My mother-in-law says Teddy keeps Jess young, so it works on all fronts. And did I mention the daily text updates on Teddy’s progress? All part of a much-appreciated, dog-loving service.
Our second option, of course, is to take Teddy with us. Last week we took him to Norfolk and the same set of holiday rentals that we had been going to pre-Ted. Quaker Barns have recently relaxed their dog-policy and while they look fetchingly ancient on the outside they are still welcomingly crisp and clean on the inside. As the garden is not fully fenced, and as the neighbours keep chickens and geese, Teddy spent a lot of time tethered to ten metres of climbing rope. But that was the only thing that cramped his style. Doing the rounds of local attractions, working in things that would appeal to two small’ish boys and allow Ted to come too, was surprisingly easy. At Thetford Forest Teddy larked about among the pines with other dogs, while the children played up in the trees at Go Ape. We hired a boat for a day and, while Teddy snoozed, oblivious, we played spot the dog on the canoe, the motor boat, the long boat, the yacht – it seems British dogs have natural sea legs. Having altered our French holiday plans in order to find dog-friendly beaches, it was a relief to discover that our favourite Norfolk beaches welcomed Ted. He had a lot of fun chasing up and down, barking at the sea and even braved getting his paws wet.
Perhaps it’s down to the increasing British fondness for staycations, and the ever present British love of dogs, that this British doggy holiday was surprisingly do-able. Even eating out was a cinch. There is some pretty good food to be had in pubs these days – and I don’t know of a country pub that doesn’t welcome a dog. Easy.

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