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Home Alone with the Pack

For the majority of us in the dog show community, vacations are virtually impossible to schedule. Impossible, that is, unless we have staff or friends who can lend a hand with our doggies while we’re away.

This past week my family went to California for my sister’s college graduation. (YAY!) Of course, one of us had to stay behind to care for the dogs, and for the first time, that one person was me.

Normally it’s my dad who’s in charge while my mom and I are away at a show. This time things were different, and I have to say that staying home wasn’t at all what I expected it to be.

Honestly, my dad does not have an easy job!

It’s not always easy to be home alone. Photo by Herreid/Dreamstime.com.

My Saturday started off with the usual morning doggie chores. I put the dogs out, changed their bedding and water, fed the housedogs and gave cookies to the others. I did some laundry too before heading to the gym for some me time. When I arrived back home, I received a sweet-talking message from my dad, asking if I wouldn’t mind mowing the lawn. Yeah, well, I suppose there’s a first time for everything. I mean, literally. I wasn’t even sure I knew how to start the lawn mower.

My dad, the gardener – or so he thinks – also needed me to take care of the garden while the family was out of town. Minus my slightly sunburned arms, mowing the lawn and weeding the garden was OK but, truthfully, I’d rather spend time with the dogs.

So that’s what I did. I spent my remaining time while my family was away caring for a bunch of dogs, a gaggle of birds and three cats. Oh yeah, and I went to work too.

At my day job, I asked to work fewer hours on the weekend so that I didn’t have to worry about things becoming too hectic at home. When I saw my schedule, I not only would be working less, I was given the whole weekend off! I initially thought, “Yes, I can finally have some time to relax and get some projects done.” Little did I know that my days off would not provide much in the way of “me time.”

After all was said and done, being home alone wasn’t that bad really. I got to hang out with the dogs and give them some extra attention. When the temperature reached the upper 80s on Saturday, I cleaned the kennels and let all the dogs out in the yard to play – with my supervision, of course. I also had some fun running around with them, throwing their half-destroyed rope toys and giving them their favorite summertime treat of ice cubes. I’m not sure if my dogs are just weird, but they love ice cubes! They’re the cheapest most perfect cool-down treat for hot days.

I even thought about pulling out the kiddie swimming pool that they love to hop in and out of, but I figured I’d save that for next time.

At night, I spent about an hour feeding all the dogs and cleaning up everything afterwards.

When Sunday rolled around, I was pretty beat. I realized I didn’t get much relaxing time in. I thought about going out for a bit and having some fun, but it was so hot that day I thought it would be better to stay in. I alternated the dogs’ outside time, and decided to stay in myself. I’m not used to having the place to myself with a little time on my hands.

I ended up cleaning the house and hanging out with the dogs again. The day went by so fast. I was kind of excited that on the following day, I would be able to get out of the house – even if it was to go to work.

Luckily a family friend helped me out with the chores while I was at work on Monday. It was kind of nice to have a visitor for even part of the time, I didn’t realize how boring it would be to have the house all to myself.

What I learned from this experience is that when I go out of town, whether to a dog show or on vacation, I should try to send my family more messages and more pictures, and call home more often. It’s always fun to be the one traveling – having fun – but it’s not so great being home alone, managing all the tasks that the rest of my family usually takes care of.

My little bit of “sacrifice” brought my family some happiness and taught me a lesson too.

I’m just glad that I had my dogs to keep me company for the whole weekend. Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Robin April 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Nice blog Kayla!
    Sorry you missed out on your sister’s graduation..

  • Sonya Henderson,Raynics Bassets May 3, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Welcome back to the regular world! It is always waiting in the “wings”,just off stage.As a long time thespian,I was always glad that it was there just waiting for my return,keeping me grounded and secure and when I choose to leave again I was free to go and be glad that I was able to,for now at least,be able to do both.

  • leahb
    Leah B May 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Thanks so much for staying home and taking care of things! It sure makes the trip less stressful knowing that things are being done Right! We love you! 😉

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