Weekly Woot & Grumble: To Swap A Hound

Woot

Triple threat: adventures in greyhound-sitting

Triple threat: adventures in hound-sitting

Although she deems it unfair, Mr. Frugalwoods and I do travel without Frugal Hound from time to time. And when we do, we never pay to board her. In fact, we’ve never paid for her to stay anywhere. How could this be? (And, no, we do not leave her home alone or with a rogue band of squirrels.)

Rather, we’ve tapped into the amazingly interconnected, nosy, helpful, and sweet network of Dog People. Early on in our ownership of the Hound, we realized that everyone wants to talk about their dog with you and your dog. It’s great! I now have an epic repository of dog-related knowledge (which would be useful if Frugal Hound was a regular dog and not the odd little house-deer greyhound that she is).

Frugal Hound snuggling with a guest dog

Frugal Hound snuggling with a guest dog

Other people with dogs also need places for their dogs to stay when they vacation and so, we swap dogs! This has resulted in us feeling a bit like a doggie motel at times, but, for the most part it’s fantastic. Every time we travel, we know Frugal Hound will have a safe, fun, and free place to stay.

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, it’s vastly more enjoyable for her. Frugal Hound is a timid, scaredy-hound and we think she’d be terrified in a noisy kennel. Furthermore, our girl is a large and silent beast with a penchant for the creature comforts of a snuggly blanket and a quiet home. Loud noises, disruption, and following directions are really not her thing.

Kisses! Frugal Hound with her BFF, a mini-Aussie

Kisses! Frugal Hound with her BFF, a mini-Aussie

In addition to our local neighborhood dog park Dog People, we lucked out in adopting a greyhound. Turns out, people with greyhounds are obsessed with greyhounds (not that I can relate to that in the least…). Consequently, we’re members of the most hilarious, friendly, and generous greyhound-lovers group on Facebook where people can post if they’re in need of a hound-sitter. On several occasions, we’ve babysat stranger’s greyhounds. It’s a wonderful community to depend on and we’re happy to help out our fellow greyhound fanatics. Plus, it’s worth it for the photos alone. Where do you think Frugal Hound’s blog-dog-model career started?

DogSit_2

Frugal Hound (in her Christmas coat) and us with our friends, and hers, at last year’s Jingle Bell Greyhound Walk in Boston Commons

We trust our Dog People to watch after Frugal Hound in a gentle manner and to treat her like their own dog. Plus, it’s SUPER convenient. There are no drop-off or pick-up times and, when we’ve had delayed flights or other issues, our friends don’t mind keeping her for another day.

If you have a dog and haven’t tapped into your local Dog People network, do it now!

Walking 3 greyhounds is an experience

Walking 3 greyhounds is an experience

The Top 7 Frugalwoods Dog Sitting Misadventures:

  1. The time Frugal Hound ate another dog’s special puppy food and gave herself severe indigestion.
  2. The greyhound who refused to sleep anywhere but in bed next to me. Specifically, with me spooning her. Thankfully Frugal Hound sleeps on the floor in her own hound bed.
  3. The way Frugal Hound attempts to boss around our guest dogs by taking their toys and laying on top of them.
  4. The way the guest dogs usually outfox Frugal Hound by doubling back and stealing toys (easy to do; she’s not the brightest bulb).
  5. The time a male greyhound accidentally peed on Frugal Hound while on a walk (best part? Frugal Hound didn’t even notice).
  6. The time another greyhound growled at me for trying to sit on our couch next to him. He was splayed out and didn’t want to share. We compromised by putting his head on my lap.
  7. Frugal Hound and the same mini-Aussie all grown up

    Frugal Hound and the same mini-Aussie all grown up

    The time someone showed up at our door with their dog at 7am on a Tuesday and Mr. Frugalwoods and I froze. We’d completely forgotten we’d offered to watch their terrier for the week. And by forgotten, I mean it had literally fallen out of our brains and down the drain. We recovered quickly and had an extra dog for the week.

Grumble

Wild & crazy greyhound party!

Wild & crazy greyhound party!

The Northeast was walloped by a nor’easter earlier this week and Miss Frugal Hound was expressly not a fan. I opened the door yesterday morning for our daily 6am walk and she balked. Head bent, legs outreached, claws menacing my hardwood floor, she was not having it. I coaxed her out and she eventually did her business, but she wasn’t happy about it.

When Mr. Frugalwoods took her out last night, she skittered around the park in fear of the wind. She’s dreadfully terrified of the wind and rain (she thinks it’s hitting her) and came back into the house full of panic. The one upside for her is that she adores the post-rain towel-off rub down. It’s a pretty good hound massage and she grunts in approval.

How do you handle pet care when you travel? Have you ever forgotten you’d offered to babysit someone’s pet/plant/child (please tell me I’m not the only one…)?

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57 Responses

  1. Mrs. PoP says:

    One of the great things about Kitty PoP is that he’s okay on his own for a few days if we have a quick weekend away. We have an auto-feeder (he would gorge himself if we just left 3 days of food out at once) that we can use that lets us get away for 72 hours without worrying about the little guy. It’ll be even better when we get our robotic litter box.

    For longer trips, family and friends usually step in to watch him, sometimes in their house, sometimes at our house and we do the same for them. Kitty PoP is terrified enough of strangers that I think boarding him at a kennel would scar him for life.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Cats are wonderfully independent, aren’t they! I had cats growing up and my parents usually just had a friend look in on them every day or so when we went out of town. I’m intrigued by this robotic litter box–sounds fancy!

  2. 🙂 Greyhounds are just great dogs. We will get one if we end up in a house with more space. Just too much right now! We’ve walked them as part of a greyhound rescue volunteer organization (former racing) in the Philadelphia area and they’re just so friendly!

    Did you adopt/rescue your dog through one of these?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      How awesome–I’m so excited to hear you’re a future greyhound owner :)! We did indeed adopt Frugal Hound through a greyhound rescue organization. She was on the greyhound racetrack before that. I think she’s loving her lazy retirement!

  3. Liz says:

    I’m really jealous of your dog community! Sounds wonderful. Unless my parents or my sister are staying in town, we usually pay to have Ruby stay at the kennel. It’s just hard because I don’t know a lot of dog lovers and to be honest, Ruby is handful. She isn’t socialized (doesn’t play well with others) and she’s really sneaky/naughty. Maybe that last part is a dog thing in general? Ha! Anyways, it isn’t cheap but it gives us peace of mind knowing that she’s being well taken care of by people who know what they’re doing.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That peace of mind is so important–it’s wonderful that you have a kennel you like. The first time we left Frugal Hound, we were kind of a wreck! We were so worried even though she was in great hands with greyhound friends of ours. We just love our fur-baby so much!

  4. Tarynkay says:

    We met one of our close friends/neighbors this way. My husband was walking our new pound puppy and she was out with her dog and kids. She asked if we would leave our dog in her yard during the day so they could keep each other company. This was a great solution for both the energetic dogs and the owners. She sadly moved away, but our next door neighbor just got a South African mastiff puppy and he has bringing it over to play with our dog. They do a great job of wearing each other out.

    We do the same thing with childcare. Well, no, we do not leave our three year old in the neighbors yard all day. But we do swap around babysitting with other parents so we rarely have to pay for babysitting.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’ve wondered about the babysitting swap thing! I’m so excited to hear that you do it! That’s certainly what I hope to do when we have kids. If it works well for dogs, why not kids too? Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. I think it’s a brilliant idea to team up with other dog owners for pet sitting because it can definitely get expensive. Fortunately for us, Spumoni has an automatic feeder and litter box and is fine to stay at home by himself for up to a week. He is a real family cat, though, and is extra cuddly when we get back. And I love the holiday hound picture! SO funny!

  6. Kara says:

    LOL at #2. Of course your greyhound guest expected a bed with her accommodations!
    I forget to go to appointments on the correct day! You’re not alone!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It was pretty hilarious, she kept leaping in bed and I kept telling her to get off. After about the fifth time, I relented and let her snuggle in. To her credit, she was warm! Whew–glad I’m not the only one 🙂

  7. Alicia says:

    So many pups! I love that Aussie puppy – so fluffy!!! One of my friends had 3 (!) retired rescue greyhounds, and her house was chaotic all the time. 🙂 I probably shouldn’t say much because I have cats, but they don’t require as much exercising as greyhounds.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Three hounds at once is a lot! The times when we’ve babysat for two other dogs, it’s been quite a bit of work. Frugal Hound is an easygoing girl and, one dog is just simpler. But, nothing beats how cute the three of them were together!

  8. We do the same with our friends and swap puppy sitting. We are going out of town this weekend and my friend is watching our dogs and then she is going out of town three weekend later and we will keep her dog for the weekend. We also try to get together with our friends for puppy play dates some weekends so the dogs can all play together and wear themselves out. Much cheaper than day care. Works out great and saves a ton of money!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Perfect system, isn’t it? We love it. And, yes to the puppy play dates too (although Frugal Hound usually just falls asleep…)

  9. I think that photo with your dog dressed up in the Christmas sweater is the cutest thing! How cute is it that there’s a walk for greyhounds! We have a cat and she gets taken care of by close family when we’re out of town. Cats are much easier in terms of traveling and having an animal – so low maintenance.

  10. If I lived in your area I’d today hound sit for you. I can’t remember if I told you this but I dog sat this greyhound before and I swear I was laughing the whole time. There is just something about them… when I go away my former boss who lives with his daughter stays at my house. It’s overkill for a cat, but for him it’s a nice break away, although this past trip I paid him $100. Normally I just take him out to dinner.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! We would totally take you up on hound sitting :)! Greyhounds are certifiably hilarious. It’s seriously like owning a small pony/deer. She doesn’t really act like a dog–I can’t capture it well in photos, but if you ever met her in person…

  11. Frugal Hound is a “STAR”! Those other dogs are fortunate to bask in her shadow. 😀

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Aww, thanks! The consolation is that they’re all vastly smarter than she is :). All the beauty, none of the brains… that’s Frugal Hound!

  12. Kim says:

    It’s pretty easy to find sitters for Mo because she is so benign. Like Frugal Hound, she would be in her own version of doggy hell at a kennel. Right now, our go to friend has 3 dogs and two cats, so it’s like going to camp and she loves it.

    We had a Jack Russell terrier for 14 years, and that was a different story. Our neighbors, who will always dogsit in a pinch, refused to take her. She was almost too neurotic for the kennel too. Finally, we found a college kid who just loved her and that worked out. Sadie hated cats and always tried to kill them, but she never touched this kid’s cat and even sort of tolerated it. I think she knew she was down to her last option!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Mo sounds a lot like Frugal Hound! I would definitely define her as “benign.” She’s just easygoing and mostly silent 🙂

  13. Trista says:

    You know my friend has a couple of greyhounds as I’ve sent you pictures before. The greyhound community here is pretty outstanding as well. I know they swap when the need arises.

    I don’t have any pets. We did board my mom’s cat when we went on vacation as there was no one to look after him out home.

  14. Mr. 1500 says:

    We have 0 pets now, but will soon be acquiring African Dwarf Frogs. We chose them because we don’t have to board them every time we go away, which is frequent. Dogs just seem like too much work and too much money. My family pays more per night to board their dog than I’ve paid for some hotel rooms! What place is that dog staying at, The 4 Dog Seasons? The Hound Hilton?? The Kibbles and Bitz Carlton???

    Fast forward to today when we’ll be taking care of our neighbor’s 2 dogs (not greyhounds unfortunately). They won’t be staying with us, but since they live just a couple doors down, we’ll be feeding them and taking them for walks, saving our neighbors boarding expenses.

    The point (that I’m clunkily* getting to) is how a living in a community with good people can elevate your life. Surrounding yourself with good people is probably one of the most important parts of the whole deal. Bad people bring you down. Good people will make you better. And take care of your hound.

    *Is that even a word? You know what I mean**.
    **I hope.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Frogs! You’ll have to come back for another round of Frugal Hound Sniffs! Dogs are definitely expensive–even with all of our frugalizing, she still costs us $930/year.

      You are very kind to care for your neighbor’s dogs, that’s some good karma for you right there. And, agreed on the importance of community. So, so, so agreed! When are you moving to Vermont ;)?

    • debt debs says:

      Especially nice of you because I know you’re not big dog people. 😉

  15. Bilbo is a cat and he’s ok for a weekend trip by himself. I think he likes knowing he’ll have a couple days without our toddler trying to ride him.

    For longer trips, we drop him off at the cat spa: my inlaws. He gets pampered pretty well there. We’re pretty lucky for the free option.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ooooohhh the cat spa! We joke that our friend’s house is “greyhound summer camp” because they have a huge yard for her to play in and a million toys to chew.
      P.S. I love “Bilbo” as a cat name!

  16. It sounds like you have an awesome system set up for dog sitting! We have done a few different things from having a family member stay at our house, leaving him at a friends (this did not turn out well as he got so excited whenever he saw their cat, and peed … in the house … ugh!), and hiring a service to come in three times a day (pricey). It takes a lot of planning and coordination to take care of this little guy!

  17. “Turns out, people with greyhounds are obsessed with greyhounds (not that I can relate to that in the least…)” LOL! We are pretty into our cats and when Victoria’s 20+ year old cat passed away early this year it was devastating. She had that cat her whole life.

    Because we’ve only had cats we’ve never had to pay someone to watch them. I wouldn’t want them to have to stay somewhere else, though, so I may consider paying someone to house sit / watch our cats next time we are out of town. We have a renter in our basement apartment, though, so she may be up for it. We’ll see.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m sorry to hear about Victoria’s cat–that must have been rough. Pets really become part of our families!

      Sounds like a good deal if your renter would be up for it!

  18. Jenna says:

    Those snuggling dog pictures are just about the cutest thing ever.

    I really want a dog once we settle into a place we plan to live for awhile.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks! Yeah, we waited until we settled and bought our home before getting a dog. We just didn’t think it would be wise to get one when we lived in an apartment and knew we’d be moving. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. Awwww … such great pictures of Frugal Hound! Love that you so connected with fellow dog lovers. It definitely makes it much easier to get away. We have our cat but Lauren really, really wants a dog. We’ve gone back and forth, because we are animal lovers but we are gone so much that it just doesn’t make sense right now. Feel bad but when we decide to get a dog, we want to be a good Dog parents, like you guys are!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You’re wise–dogs are a lot of work! I must say, it feels like having another person in the house sometimes (which is wonderful in so many ways!). We wanted a dog years ago, but, we were both traveling a lot for work at the time and it just wouldn’t have made sense. I don’t travel for my current job much at all, so it worked well to get Frugal Hound. She keeps me company when Mr. FW is on the road 🙂

  20. Great pics of the hounds. I don’t have pets so no experience with that just yet. I want a beagle one day, any beagle fans out there? Woot Woot where the beagles at?

  21. My dogs usually stay at my parents house, which is fun for them I’m sure 🙂 It saves me quite a bit of money and I know they are well taken care of. My mom truly does enjoy it, and my dad pretends not to, but I think he secretly enjoys it too!

  22. debt debs says:

    Love your dog posts. Frugal Hound has such a cool personality. Is she generally happy to have these friends for sleepovers or does she get a tad jealous? We’re dog sitting a miniature pinscher right now and are part way on calling it a dog sitting fail as he’s relieved himself about three times on furniture in the house. Plenty of walks and time outside but he’s pretty dominant so this must be the problem. He smells grandogs and others who have been in the house before. We’re also starting to wonder if we’re strictly standard poodle people (with a soft spot for greyhounds)! 😉

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Frugal Hound usually starts off a bit jealous and territorial with our doggie guests, but, she warms up within a few hours. I think she likes being an only hound :)!

      That’s too bad about the miniature pinscher–no fun. I do think people get hooked on a particular breed and accustomed to the idiosyncrasies and personality of the dogs. Standard poodles are lovely! I actually had one growing up!

  23. Ryan says:

    This is the biggest stick in my craw (is that a phrase?) that we always have to pay to board Maeby. It’s at someone’s house, and at $20 a day, it’s usually more than what WE’RE paying for a hotel at the same time. It ends up being a huge expense after just a week or two of vacation a year. We seemed to be stuck with only friends that have somewhat dangerous dogs, babies, or relatives who just refuse to watch her. I would love to do a sitting trade with some greyhound owners. I’m going to try to find a local Dog People group.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s too bad! We’d watch Maeby for you if we lived closer–she’s such a cutie! I hope you can find a Dog People group. If there’s a greyhound rescue organization near you, maybe you can tap into that. Our group certainly has plenty of folks who didn’t adopt their greyhound through our specific organization. Good luck!

  24. Cuteness overload in this post!! I love the triple threat pictures. Whenever I’m talking to my fiancé (that still feels too weird to say) about something awesome from one of your posts, I always refer to you as “the greyhound people.” Of course, I always stop to show him how cute Frugal Hound is, so he knows. =)

    I would very much love to be a part of a community like that and offer to dog sit for others. Unfortunately, having cats and an apartment puts a kink in that, but it would fulfill my want/need to have a dog!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      The greyhound people–I like it :)! When we were engaged, I couldn’t get used to fiance either… it’s an odd word. But, I’m so excited for you!!!

      Cats + dog sitting probably wouldn’t mesh too well :).

  25. I love this concept and think it’s a great idea, but everyone that we know that has dogs are big dogs, and ours are small. The larger dogs have damaged our house before so we avoid taking them. Plus, we have two dogs so it might be difficult to have four if somebody else with two swapped with us!

  26. That’s really neat. I am lucky to have staff around so the handyman takes my great Dane home with him if I leave for a few days. Or if I have Airbnb guests and they don’t mind, they keep the dog too. They can’t be alone more than a day or they get distressed and destroy everything. And traveling with such a big dog is no picnic.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s great that your handyman can take care of Napoleon when needed. I’d love to have a dog come with an Airbnb stay! I’d feel right at home 🙂

  27. Tawcan says:

    Very cool, we’ve been lucky to have my parents around to look after T-Cat when we’re away. May have to see if we can find similar network for cats.

  28. mary says:

    I swap greyhound duties with one other family but I’ve started greyhound sitting (for money) for others. For the same price, if not cheaper than local kennels, their greys get to live in a home with 2 lovely greyhound girls and one human.

  29. Pam Lipman says:

    Hi. Great blog! I just wanted to let you know that I started a Greyhounds only Sitters Exchange. We are on Facebook as Greyhound Sitters Exchange. I live in Sharon, MA but our group is national and we have 750 members. We are getting a bunch of Massachusetts members together tomorrow (Saturday, January 30) at Panera in Needham on Highland Ave at 12:30. If you have any interest we’d love to have you meet us, this will be our first meeting. In any case, look us up and perhaps we can help each other out someday!

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