Solution 8: Share Pet Care
Spending a week at a kennel or even a day alone while you're at work is not most dogs' or cats' cup of tea. Luckily, sharing can help.
Care for Extended Periods
Sharing care for your pet while you're out of town can work on the same principles discussed under Solution 7. You could do a basic exchange with a neighbor, regularly caring for each other pets when one of you goes away. Or, you could build a larger pet care network or cooperative, which is an effective way of ensuring that you'll have pet care when you need it. As with the dog walking cooperative, participants can collect or spend points for pet care.
In a cooperative arrangement, you'll probably want to assign points differently depending on the pets and the type of care. Some pets are more self-sufficient than others. A turtle with an automatic feeder could get by on a twice-per-week visit, a cat might be happy with a daily visit, and many dogs require walks and food twice per day. You might decide, for example, to make each home visit worth one point and each walk worth one point. In other situations, you might just drop your cat off at someone else's house for the week, at a cost of one point per day. Your group can iron out many of the details in advance, or people can decide on points on a case-by-case basis.
Pet Day Care
Some pet owners need more than just a walk for Fido. If you're at work all day and your cat or dog can't spend the entire day alone (due to health problems, separation anxiety, or simple high energy), a pet day care program is an option, albeit an expensive one. A cheaper or free option is to leave your pet with a friend or neighbor during the day. For example, if you have a neighbor who telecommutes from home, your dogs could keep each other company during the day while your neighbor keeps an eye on them. You'll have to figure out something you can do in return, like taking over most of the responsibility for walking both dogs when you are at home in the mornings and evenings, paying for all the kibble and treats, or perhaps caring for the neighbor's dog when the neighbor is out of town.
You could also team up with someone else in need of pet day care and share the cost of a day care provider. The care provider could be anyone who works from home or a retired person who wouldn't mind some extra money and some animal companionship during the day.