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Coton Connection, Issue #099 - Coton Travels
July 27, 2023
Welcome Coton Lovers:

Coton Travels

I should be getting home from a 2 week Mediterranean cruise just as this newsletter comes into your inbox. I haven’t had a vacation since before the pandemic, so this was a big deal at my house!

Lucy and I have been glued to the hip since she started having seizures. As a result, she’s become super clingy. I was afraid to leave her, but after a year of pandemic confinement and 2 years staying home to care for Lucy, I finally decided that life needs to get back to “normal”. And Lucy and I both needed some space!

When I made the travel arrangements for my 2 week cruise, it was far enough away that I didn’t think about how hard it was going to be to leave Lucy. But I knew she’d be in good hands. I found a neighbor who was a nurse and is staying at my house to care for the pets. We did some practice runs before I left so Lucy felt comfortable with the sitter. Five minutes after Lucy first met Joyce, she fell asleep on her feet. I knew I found the right person - someone who made Lucy comfortable enough to sleep on :).

Intellectually I knew everything would be ok - Joyce was a nurse and she had my 100 pages of instructions (maybe a slight exaggeration).

I learn from Lucy over and over again. Now I’m learning to trust and let go. I know that I can’t take care of her if I’m not taking care of myself. I have so much compassion for anyone who’s caring for sick pets (and of course, sick people).

While I was getting ready for my trip, I started wondering again how most people handle vacations and holidays. I think there are 3 types of Coton parents:

1. Those who take vacations with their dog
2. Those who take vacations without their dog
3. Sometimes you take them and sometimes you leave them

The first time is always the hardest. I’m taking a smaller trip in October that will be easier. And the one after that even more so.

Whether your dog has health challenges or is vibrantly healthy, there are ways to make life easier and less stressed for you and your dog.

Traveling without your Coton:

Here are some of the things that I did before leaving Lucy with the sitter. I’d love to hear what works for you!

* Introduce the pet sitter: I had Joyce come to the house for a meet and greet while I was there. Then we set up several pet sitting appointments for short durations so Lucy was used to having Joyce there while I was gone. There seemed to be a mutual love fest between the two of them, so that gave me peace of mind.

* Gradual separation: I started leaving Lucy alone more than usual the week or two before I left. I wanted her to adjust to the idea of me being gone. She seemed cool with this. So far, so good!

* Routines are critical: I left Joyce a typical daily schedule, including times for meals, walks, naps, snacks, medications, and bed time. Lucy, like most dogs, thrives on routine, so the less her routine is disrupted, the better.

* Leave familiar scents: I left a shirt and blanket of mine in her crate and bed, since familiar scents can be reassuring and help dogs feel more secure in our absence.

* Interactive toys and puzzles: One of the ways I manage Lucy’s anxiety is to keep her mentally stimulated. So, I left plenty of interactive toys, treat puzzles, and chew toys that keep her mind busy. These help alleviate boredom and provide a positive distraction.

* Maintain exercise and playtime: It’s freaking hot here in Florida, so regular long walks are out of the question right now. I gave Joyce some suggestions on how to keep Lucy active indoors. Besides the interactive toys, there’s tug of war, indoor fetch, hide-the-treat game, and training sessions to keep her engaged mentally and physically.

* Keep calm during departures and arrivals: I reminded Joyce that Cotons are observant and can pick up on our emotions. So, to avoid causing additional stress or anxiety, I advised her to just stay calm and relaxed during departures and arrivals. And to keep all goodbyes and greetings low-key and matter-of-fact.

* Music: I showed Joyce how to find music for Lucy if she has to be left alone during the day. She seems to be calmer when I leave if I have music playing for her. I use Relax My Dog app or just turn on YouTube.

* Maintain communication: I know I will do better staying in touch with the sitter while I’m gone. So, we agreed on short daily texts with photos.

Easy Peasy - I’ll let you know how it went!! :)

Traveling with your Coton:

Traveling with Lucy took a lot of experimenting at first. There are times when she’s totally zen and seems to enjoy the car ride, and other times she can’t seem to settle and I have to make tons of stops. Just like when I leave her at home, there are ways to make life easier for both of us when we travel.

For those who take your Cotons with you on vacation, I have a new post you can find at

More Fun with AI

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