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Do Your Dogs Sense When You’re Leaving On a Trip?

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They already know. Even before the carry-on suitcase comes out of the closet, they know.

I’m leaving town for a few days.

Is it the extra laundry? The new sneakers set by the door? The way I’m preparing and setting out my senior dog’s medication, in a foolproof organizational fashion for my husband, who is staying behind?

It’s likely all these things – certainly the cumulative effect of all of these things. The more things I do to prepare to leave town on a business trip (I’m going to Kansas City for Petfood Forum), the more depressed and glum-looking my dogs get – especially on these work-related trips where I leave my husband behind to take care of the dogs.

When the two of us take a trip together, often one of the first steps I take in preparation for leaving is to deliver my two dogs to their respective favorite caregivers. Senior Otto usually goes to my sister’s house, where he gets to play 70-pound Gulliver in the land of Lilliputians (my sister has three small dogs). Six-year-old Woody is the same size as Otto, but his playful demeanor and exuberant body language makes him a better fit with my friend Leonora, who owns Woody’s best puppyhood friend, 5-pound Samson. They are mismatched in size, but perfectly matched in energy and interests.

Both of my dogs begin looking joyful when we approach their respective caregivers’ homes. They leap out of the car with joy, and barge into their temporary homes as if they’ve just returned from their own too-long vacations.

But this is a work trip; they are staying behind with my husband. All they have to look forward to is mealtime. My husband’s motto? “Food is love.” Even though he never feeds the dogs when I’m home, he enjoys preparing lavish meals for them when I’m gone. The last time I left town without him, I came home to a refrigerator that contained none of the eggs, lunch meat, or bacon bits (which I enjoy sprinkled on my salads) that were there when I left three days prior. He had mixed all of those ingredients into their food while I was gone!

But these meals are clearly not on their minds (yet) as I pack my bags.  It seems as if they are focused solely on conveying how much they’d like to come with me (as evidenced by their following me from room to room, or parking themselves by the door and following me to the car with every piece of luggage) or demonstrating how miserable they are going to be while I’m gone (demonstrated with glum, sad-sack expressions and deep sighs every few minutes).

Do your dogs care about your vacation preparations or react to the sight of your briefcase being packed for a trip?



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