Chix-a-Lot Friday: On moving and not moving

Well friends, I am ready for you to congratulate me, because I have a very large, major accomplishment to announce:

This year, I am not moving.

Are you wondering why this is a big deal? I will tell you. It’s because this is the first year in my whole entire life that I have not moved at all. Now are you impressed?

You see, in my first year I moved from inside my mama to outside my mama. Then the next year, I moved from a place I don’t care to remember to the slammer, and then from the slammer to my mama’s house that smelled like Mexican food and laundry. Then the following year, I moved to a place with no fenced yard. The next year, I moved to my grandparents’ house for the summer, then back to the place with no fenced yard. Then the year after that, I moved to the place with the doggie door where I became a criminal. And then the next year, I moved from my home country of Texas to a cold place called DC, and lived in a narrow house where I got to play City Dog. And wouldn’t you know, only 9 months later I moved to the place with the big windows and the squirrel trees in the yard. Then only a year later, I moved to another house with squirrel trees, where we started our fosterings. And gosh, just when I thought we were settled, we dug up our cowdog boots and pearl snap shirts and moved right back to Austin where we belong! And that’s where we still live now, in the next year. So this whole summertime I’ve been pacing around wondering when it’s time to move again, and then I finally figured it out– there are no brown boxes and piles of paper, and I’m not feeling extra-nervous-like. We’re not moving. What a funny feeling!

But, I bet some of you are moving, or will move someday in the future. Since I’m such a moving expert, I thought I’d give you some tips on how to move like a pro without worrying your dogs too much.

1. Get your paperwork in order.

Before you get too far down the packing-and-moving route, make sure you have your pet’s vitals in order. Get your dog’s paw prints taken, Check your vaccinations with your vet, make sure your microchip info is up to date, double-check her tags for accuracy, and have a photo and description of your dog handy throughout the process — just in case. In the stress and chaos of moving, your pet is more likely to wander out an open gate or get spooked and bolt, and you want to be ready to act in case the unthinkable happens and your pal goes missing. I have never disappeared during a move because I’m more the cowery-in-the-corner type, but that doesn’t mean other dogs wouldn’t find themselves astray. Be prepared!

2. Make it a game.

If your dog is a worry wart like me, it’s nice to spend an extra day or two at the beginning of packing up making the move a game. Hide some kibble in a big mountain of packing paper, for example, or play a “toss the treat” type game in and out of assembled cardboard boxes. Feed your dog on or near a cardboard box, and play “fetch” or your dog’s favorite game while sliding heavy boxes around on the floor. My mama always plays these kinds of games with me, and even though I still worry a lot, the games make me get a little bit excited when I see the big brown boxes instead of just plain terrified. Thundershirts and herbal de-stressing tonics are also good to pull out during these times.

3. Exercise, exercise, exercise!

If your dogs are anything like me, stressiness makes them collect a little extra steam to burn off. So when we’re going through something stressy, like a move, or a rainstorm, or a long boring couple of days when mama has a cold and won’t play with us, there is one thing that always helps us relax: a good old-fashioned silly game. Sometimes we run zippy laps in the yard, sometimes we play fetch, and sometimes mama or dad takes us for a run. Exercise is always important, but extra important during move-related stressiness, when dogs sometimes don’t get the walks and individual attention they deserve. Even 5-10 minutes of intense play here or there make a big difference to me. After a nice rousing game of tug or fetch, I’m ready to snooze while mama spends the afternoon deciding which shoes to bring and which to donate. Zzzzz.

4. Make an “open me first” box for your dog.

No, don’t put your dog in the box (even though I like to nap in boxes). But do put her favorite things. Her favorite blanket or bed, her bowls, a few days’ worth of kibbles, her most special toys, and some puzzles and treats. As soon as you get to the new place, unpack your dog’s box and make her a nice, cozy spot that’s all hers. Having her things there will help her feel at home and make the adjustment a little easier. Go ahead and toss that Thundershirt and Rescue Remedy in the box, too.

5. Give your pooch a vacation.

Mama wasn’t clever enough to think of this until after our hundred bazillion moves, but it’s still a good idea for the rest of you: for the last day or two before the move date and the day or two after the move, send your furry friend to summer camp — whether that’s at a friend’s place, your favorite boarding facility, or grandma’s house. Even though kenneling can be stressful for dogs, it’s probably less stressful than winding up under foot while strangers are taking all of their things out of their house and putting them in a big van.  Or if you can’t gift your doggie a vacation, at least find a nice quiet spot in the house — a cozy crate or a remote bedroom, for example — where your dog can hang out during the commotion. Turn on the radio, fill the spot with comfy beds and pillows, and offer a steady supply of games and puzzles — like frozen stuffed marrow bones — to keep your buddy entertained while the humans do all the hard work.

And most importantly, remember to breathe. Moving is exciting and stressful for everybody, but you’ll get through it just fine! I’m the most worriest dog on the planet and I’ve managed to move nine times, only coming out with a few extra wrinkles in my furrowed forehead. You’ll be fine too!

25 responses

  1. Thank you so much for writing this! After emailing you a few months ago for tips about our move, I’m happy to report it went pretty well! The Beau-Man is still adjusting to the new neighborhood, but he’s definitely decided that house with backyard > one bedroom apartment in the city. Thank you for your advice!

  2. All good tips! Sam has moved with me when I got married, and took it all in stride, but Monty tends to fall apart when things change.

    Sam

  3. These are spot on (I would expect nothing less)!!!! One more thing I’d add (and this likely only happened to us) but Melvin injured his tail (and subsequently lost it) because he had less room to wiggle and wag as the boxes stacked up. Just a heads up for anyone who has a dog who has a back side that is always in motion!

  4. Poor Chick! Chaos knows how you feel! We’ve done 3 big moves in less than 18 months and when our house is finished, we’ll be moving again. (Hopefully, our last move for a few years.) You look so cute and worried in that last picture. Thanks for the moving tips; hopefully, our last move will be a less stressful one.

  5. Thanks! I recently moved from the suburbs to the city and it took my dog awhile to adjust to the noise, the people and the millions of things to smell on the way to well, anywhere. She also refuses to pee anywhere on grass, even since June, but we’re working on it! I’m keeping these tips in mind for next time!

  6. You and your mama are so clever! I’m surprised you haven’t moved to Madison Avenue with storytelling your talents! Glad you get to stay put for awhile :-)

  7. I tuned in when you were in DC. I had no idea you had moved so frequently beforehand! We’ve lived in the same place for almost 10 years. I hope we’ll be moving in the next year or two, so I appreciate the tips!

  8. Wow, very good post! I now realize how lucky we are that Wilbur is such a calm dog (I’m the one that stresses out). We moved from an apartment to our boat two times and Wilbur was a trooper. We were especially lucky that he’s trained to do his business on a potty patch. What we did on our two day car trip to the boat was roll his patch up and tie it to the bike rack on the back of our vehicle (it’s pretty stinky). When we stay at motels all we have to do is throw the patch down and Wilbur immediately uses it! Otherwise the little stinker will wander for ever and ever before he decides to relieve himself. Dump an ice bucket full of water over it for a rinse and we’re good to go.

  9. Congratulations Chick! Isn’t it a great feeling to finally stay put for a bit? Our last place I got to stay in for 3 years before we moved this September, and that was the only home Bruce and Alfred had ever known (at least since becoming a part of our family). We sent them on a little doggie vacation at their favorite place in the whole wide world for a few days while we finished the move and they did a great job adjusting. They especially like the part where they get to look out the window (at the squirrel trees!), but not the part where the back yard doesn’t have a gate. :( Also, your worry wrinkles are the best :) Happy Friday!

  10. Great ideas. We did move this last year and even though it was just to another part of the city, life was definitely a little chaotic for a while. Luckily, other than a little new house jumpiness, our pets handled the changes with grace. Hopefully there will be no moving for either of us for a long time!

    Happy Friday to you!

  11. Is that you smiling on the tennis court?! I think that’s the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on your handsome face. Good advice for those of us who move a lot. Thank you Chick!

  12. Your blog is amazing! :)
    I’ve only ever moved house 2 times in my life… my boyfriend, however, has moved 27 times and he’s 26!

  13. Great post!! My dog has moved cross country from Oregon to South Carolina and back . . very stressful for her and the kitties!! This is great advice :)

  14. Pingback: Chix-a-Lot Friday: On moving and not moving « From the Desk of Denman

  15. Pingback: Dear Doodlebug: Dog addictions, French grandparents, and being a dog model « Love and a Six-Foot Leash

  16. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to mention that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing on your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more very soon!

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