July 30, 2014

Choosing a Pet Sitter for Your Dog: Leon Takes a Mini Vacay

[This post was sponsored by DogVacay. All opinions are my own.]

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a company called DogVacay wanting to send me on a mini vacation while my dog Leon enjoyed a mini vacay of his own.

Before that, I wasn't familiar with DogVacay, but then again I haven't used a pet sitter before for Leon so it's not really something I have ever sought out.

DogVacay is a website (they also have an app) that connects pet owners with qualified pet sitters who live nearby. You can read reviews of pet sitters in your town, city or zip code and when you find one you like, it's easy to book a stay for your pet. Each pet sitter has different specifics, but there are options of pet sitters who will let you bring your dog to their home or sitters who come to your home.

I'll admit, I was skeptical at first about leaving my sweet Leon. Not because I didn't think the folks at DogVacay were qualified, but because he has had some health issues in the past six months or so that have made life a bit more challenging.

When I explained this to the rep from DogVacay, and that I didn't think I could participate in the Mini Vacay promotion, she was so sweet. She explained that they work with lots of owners of special needs dogs and that she was sure she could find me a sitter who would be a good match.

It just so happened there was a great pet sitter who lived practically in our neighborhood. I made contact with the pet sitter (her name was Happy) and she was available for the date of our mini vacay. After a few back and forth messages via DogVacay, I booked our reservation. All payments are made through the website, which is nice because then you don't have to exchange money when dropping off your pet.

Instead of taking Leon to Happy's house, I asked if she could stay at our place and she was glad to oblige us. He has some neurological issues that cause his back legs not to function correctly, so walking can be tough. I thought it would be easier for him to be in his familiar surroundings.

When Happy arrived, I liked her immediately. She was really sweet and interacted with Leon like they were old friends. We chatted for awhile to go over a few more things, and then my beau and I were off for our mini vacay.

Some of the fun things we did included:

Browsing for Treasures at a Favorite Antique Store 

Blue velvet anyone?  

Obligatory Antique Store Selfie 

Antique Store Selfie wearing wacky hats (my beau looks impaired here, no?) 

Taking a walk around a neighborhood park and checking out the sights, including this cool yard sculpture of a Moose by local artist Kelly Brown 

 Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Knoxville's Sun Spot
[Tilapia with corn and grits]  

You might be wondering about our "vacation." For the sake of full disclosure, it was actually a stay-cation spent around our town, but even that can be so refreshing from time to time. And since Leon's been having his health issues, I have kept my time away from him at a minimum. So it was nice to leave him in great hands and not have to worry. 

While we were out, Happy took a few pictures of Leon so we could see what he was up to...DogVacay calls these photos "pup"dates. Too cute! 

The peace of mind it gave me let me relax a bit and enjoy my mini vacay!  

When we arrived home, Leon and Happy seemed to have had a great time together. He was calm and not the least bit anxious. As an over-the-top dog mom, this made me feel so relieved. 

When you love your pets as members of the family, leaving them with strangers can be tough. But having someone who genuinely seemed to care about him made it much, much easier. 

Whether planning another short stay-cation or even a longer, extended trip, I'm so glad to know there's someone in the neighborhood I could call on to watch my guy. Plus, if Happy weren't available, there are several other options of Knoxville pet sitters who come highly recommended from DogVacay. 

When it comes to our fur babies, you just can't put a price on knowing that they are loved and cared for when we aren't around. Even though my first DogVacay experience was provided as a courtesy from the company, I would have paid for the experience 100%. Leon loved it and so did I. 

Thinking about trying DogVacay for a mini vacay of your own? Use the coupon code SOUTHERNBELLE to receive $10 off your first reservation. And don't forget, all DogVacay reservations include free pet insurance, 24/7 customer support and daily photo "pup" dates so pet parents can feel peace of mind knowing their best friend is in good hands.

Do you ever leave your dog with a pet sitter while you're out of town? Maybe you've used DogVacay. I'd love to hear about your experiences!