Have you ever come home to find your favorite shoe chewed to smithereens? I haven’t. But, I have come home to find a tube of diaper rash ointment ripped into hundreds, nay thousands, of tiny scraps, with the ointment itself mysteriously missing. You know those instant cold packs from first aid kits? I’ve also come home to one of those shredded in my bathroom. Those things are messy; they’re filled with gazillions of little crystals and a cup or so of stinky liquid. I mopped a half dozen times before my tiles were visible through the chemical haze.
Why did I find such things in my sweet, little house when I came home? We have a dog. A beagle. A loud, food-centric, pain-in-the-keister, loving creature named Bebe. She’s mostly a pretty alright dog. But, man, if she gets bored – watch out. My husband and I both work full time, so she’s on her own (aside from Seamus the cat, who’s very special in his own right) for much of the day. I considered hiring someone to come entertain her, but that’s a bit out of our budget right now. So here are a handful of ways I’m going to try to keep her busy and mischief-free while we are away.
Try a Kong.
You can fill these bad boys with treats for your pooch. They’re a bit tricky to get out, so your dog will stay busy for quite a while working on it. One of my dog’s favorite goodies is a peanut butter kong (called a PBK in our house). This keeps her happy for about ten minutes, but stuff some hard treats inside for longer lasting enjoyment.
Open your curtains.
I do this every day. We are lucky enough to have a big picture window that faces the street. Both the dog and cat enjoy keeping tabs on the goings on around the neighborhood. I have made a point, however, to CLOSE the blinds over our dining table; as I pulled into the driveway one evening, I saw our little Beebs sitting on the table, looking out at me. Not cool.
Turn on your radio or TV.
The Beebs doesn’t care much for TV, but Seamus enjoys watching other animals on Animal Planet. He’s especially into “Big Cat Diaries.” Or, try pet-specific DVDs! Yes, they exist! I bet Seamus would love a virtual aquarium. It sure beats cleaning a tank, or letting him play with real fish…
Get some toys.
There are all sorts of toys available for pets. Some are specifically designed for them to use on their own, so you can scoot off to work and rest assured that your furry friends are enjoying solo play time.
Try hiding some treats around the house. Our Bebe will hunt for (literally) hours for a missing piece of kibble. Just make sure you hide them in places that won’t get damaged in the search. Try putting some in the toy box or on a kitchen chair.
Get your pet a pal.
This option isn’t for everyone. My husband wanted a second dog. I almost caved in, but then I remembered that I’m the one that does all the walking, bathing, etc. I think we’re cool with the two pets we currently have. But, if you have the time and patience (and money), a playmate could be a good solution for you. Check out all the cool adoption centers and make sure you find a pet that is a good match for your current animal(s) and your lifestyle.
Hire a professional.
Okay, it doesn’t have to be a real professional – just someone who is responsible and will care for your furry friend. There are many ways to find a caretaker for your pet. Try sittercity.com to find a local pet sitter with experience and references. Or, if you want to keep it on the cheap, see if one of the older neighborhood kids wants the job. Make sure to check with the parents and know how to handle a mishap.