Friday, 16 September 2016

How To Deal With Your Hound When You Go On Holiday

Since having our motorhome, we've loved going off on family adventures, and the great thing is the dog can come too.  We also often seek out places that are dog friendly and have stayed in some amazing self catering cottages and even hotels.

However, there's bound to come a time when you're going somewhere that pooch can't come.  This summer we jetted off to Crete and of course, she couldn't join us. This was the first time we'd ever left her, so it was pretty heartbreaking.

Figuring out who to care for your pet while you're away can be a daunting task and you need to find the right setting so you don't have to worry about them when your mind should be on beaches and suncream!

There are various options though, so I'm sure you can find the best solution for your furry friend. Sometimes it can be a case of trial and error though as Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary found out:

We've tried a couple of different ways with our dog.  The first was a dog sitter and this worked really well, and I felt confident leaving him.  Recently we tried kennels as it was a longer trip and though we didn't really have any issues as such, Bennett didn't eat for a few days because he was anxious. I think overall I felt more confident with the dog sitter as he seems more settled when he's in a home environment.


This is a person who has your dog in their own home while you're away.  It can be to be a more expensive option, but  it's the one we tend to choose as we've found a great sitter who we know and trust and she used to have our old dog. She has the dogs as part of the family, so I can relax knowing she's still getting her creature comforts as well as lots of interaction and cuddles.  She sends us regular pictures so we know that Delilah is happy and settled - I loved this picture she sent of her soaking up the sun!

Recommendations from others is a good idea if you're looking for someone for the first time, but there are other ways of sourcing a reliable sitter.

Penny from Parent Shaped says:

We met our dog sitter through an online company, she's been brilliant and also has a greyhound so we always know he is having a brilliant holiday too.  She is retired, always available in the school holidays and has lots of time to walk him.

Lins from Boo and Maddie has a regular dog-walker who she uses when she's at work, so she's been lucky that she'll also dog sit for holidays:

If we're going somewhere either abroad or isn't dog-friendly in the UK, we always try to leave Maddie with the lady who takes her out for walks.  She lives nearby, doesn't cost us any more than kennels and she and Maddie absolutely adore each other.  We know she'll be well looked after and get lots of walks and attention.


Lucy of Lish Concepts chooses a trusted kennel for her dog Buddy:

We have lovely kennels in the countryside near us run by two sisters who adore dogs.  They have outside and inside spaces and a large woodland area out the back for walks.  Buddy loves it and is always happy to go and come home again. I'm glad because I always worried when we leave him alone.

Tanya from Mummy Barrow picked a great kennel with added benefits:

What I look for is Cheeky's reaction when he goes. It was recommended to us the first time we used it (I think that is really important, find somewhere a friend is happy with). Since then Cheeky has loved going.  He knows as we approach where we are going and literally jumps out of the car and runs down the drive to reception.  They all know him by name,  Also they have a webcam in some kennels, so when we recommend to friends with a ver timid dog they put her in the kennel with the webcam so they can watch and see they're fine!  A kennel that really listens to you and is prepared to adapt is crucial too.

Michelle from The American Resident has found a home from home for her dog:

I use the kennels run by our dog's breeder.  She LOVES going back to her first home, almost too much!  The pros are that they already know and love her, the cons are they can see how lazy we've been with her training!

Family and friends

Using family and friends can be a great option (usually free or cheaper!) Your dog will already know and be familiar with them and they'll know all their little foibles.  The negative is that something could go wrong or your pet disgrace themselves and impact on your relationship!

Cass from Frugal Family has solved two problems in one:

We have someone in our family who comes and stays in our house with Buddy while we go away which is great because I think he's too set in his ways to be happy anywhere but his own home.  It also has the added benefit  that our house isn't empty either.

Mari from Mari's World also uses family to look after their dog:

My husband won't let Baxter go to kennels! On the occasions we can't he goes to my mum (who spoils him rotten!), and we have a neighbour who pop in when we're out for shorter periods and walks him.


This is the 21st century option! A new website offers to temporarily house dogs looking for sitters with people looking for a part-time pet.  Clearly there's a trust issue and you need to check the person out carefully, but it seems a great solution. And for the humans it's a chance to send time with canine companions without the long-tern commitment.  Perhaps they're thinking of getting a dog and want to try it out and see how it works for their family, or maybe they've lost a loved pet and aren't ready to commit again but missing a four-legged friend in the house.  You simply pay a membership fee and find your perfect match.  The service included insurance too.

What solution do you choose when looking for someone to mind your dog?

Monday, 5 September 2016

School Reviewer- School Info At Your Fingertips

Like many others up and down the country, today is the first day back to school for my daughter.  The school years just roll by too fast and she's already entering her last year in her lower school - it only seems like 5 minutes ago she was starting reception!

After 4 years at our local school, I feel I know it really well.  I'm active on the PTA, I go in and assist in class and her dad is Chair of the Governors so I feel we're in a great place to understand the workings of the school and the teaching staff.

However, to my horror, last week a post popped up on Facebook from our local council saying it was time to apply for the next school starting academic year 2017.  I'm not emotionally prepared for this, and am definitely not equipped with the knowledge to make those choices.  Information tends to come from speaking to parents with older children and visits to the school, and hours and hours searching the internet.

We live in, I think, the only county in England still to retain the three-tier school system of Lower, Middle and Upper school so it means changing schools even more often.

Thankfully, this task has just got a whole lot easier with the launch of School Reviewer, a website which brings together all the useful information into one place.  You can search for catchment areas - great if you're planning a house move, and it will be really useful to see where all our new housing developments fall for school places - then delve down deeper for each individual school and research their Ofsted inspections, academic attainments and read reviews and comments from other parents.

The site is still new and growing but as it begins to get more populated I can really see the benefit in the reviews and also the school forums where you can chat to other parents about school specific issues.  There's also a great feature of a buying and selling section where you can sell on old uniform, kit and equipment (just think of all those play costumes that only ever get worn once then confined to the dressing up box never to be seen again!) This facility is free of charge with no commission and knowing you're selling to local parents, it will be easy to arrange drop off and collection of goods, again keeping the costs down. You can communicate securely via their communication hub and liaise with your buyer or seller.

But School Reviewer does so much more too.  There's a section where you'll be able to search for qualified tutors if you're looking for extra tuition.  If you're a private tutor do register as it is a great way to get more visibility. The service is free to both provider and user and parents can rest assured that those registered have provided their full credentials and DBS certification.

Thinking ahead to SATS and exams, there are example test papers available online, written by teachers who have experience in both setting and marking the questions.  The SATS tests available are currently free so they are a great walk-through preparation for your child, allowing them to practice at home. There are also GSCE papers available to try out at £4.99 each which I think is a small price to pay for the experience and peace of mind they will give.

There's also a really informative blog section giving lots of topical tips and ideas like preparing for the first day at school.

I think this website has huge potential, but like anything of this kind it's only as good as the people who populate it. So get on there, start using it and maybe leave a helpful review for a fellow parent who's considering your school. Start listing all that uniform you've just discovered no longer fits, or take the bold step to post the first question in the parent's forum for your child's school - who knows where it will lead!

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.