Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking A Vacation Without Your Dog

This is part of our Saturday Editorial Series! Normally, we let the dogs do all the talking on our daily dog blog! Join rescue dogs Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake for their takes on life every weekday at

First of all, let me say this.  I love my dogs more than anything on this earth.  I love my dogs more than anything in this world.  Anything.  Everything.  All things.  My dogs have saved my life from that Depression Monster more times than I can count.  And I owe them my life.

But if you are like me, when you love your dogs as much as I do, you love with everything you have.  And you forget about yourself.  And that is just the truth.  That is just what happens.  That is what happened to me when we sold our home three years ago, bought an RV and dedicated ourselves to spreading the message of animal rescue with our two rescue dogs, Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake.


But for the past three years, because we have been working so hard, and the RV lifestyle is very time consuming, I found myself losing it!  Losing what?  Weight.  Energy.  My personality.  Who was I?  Was I simply a caregiver to everyone but me?  Sure was!  And I didn’t even mind this most of the time.  I really didn’t.  I love taking care of my dogs, cooking for my dogs and taking care of my family.  I love it.  I feel like it is what I was meant to do.  But I was losing sight of what everyone always says.  To take care of others, you have to take care of yourself.  Oh, sure. How could I do that? I had stuff to do. Animals to save.  Senior dogs that needed me.  Yeah.  Right.  I just didn’t want to leave them.  I was being selfish, actually.  I was ignoring the fact that perhaps…just perhaps..they needed a vacation from me.


So did I go on that vacation? Oh, it was a hard decision. In fact, my husband and I debated on whether to go just a day or two before. We refused to sleep in our beds but all of us slept on the couch in the RV up until the last day.  We were having separation anxiety before our plane even left.  I felt selfish, I just knew that they wouldn’t survive without me.  I imagined them getting lost, sick, broken hearted.  But it was to a point that we had to go.  We booked our tickets, our room, and our sitter insisted over and over we go.  Our family encouraged us to please go.  Our friends told us we must go.  So.  We went.  And let me tell you, we had a great time after about day three.  Yes, it took that long to realize they were ok…twenty pictures from our pet sitter later.

I knew that if I was feeling this much guilt, other dog parents were too.  So I made it a goal to tell others that the vacation you have been dreaming of, the one that you so need because you are an awesome dog parent?  You should go.  You need to go. And here are the reasons why.

  1.  You hold your family together. You take care of everyone and everything. Recognize this and give yourself credit. But even a car needs maintence. Don’t wait until you have a breakdown.
  2.  Your dogs can’t tell you to take a vacation. But they may need a vacation from you. Have you lost your temper lately? Have you raised your voice, or felt like you wanted to give up? Your dogs want you to be happy. That is what makes them happy.
  3. When was the last time you did something that reminded you of…you? What did you like to do as a kid? Read? Write? Hike? Take a nap? You are still in there. You are more than a caregiver. You are important and your role in your family is invaluable. Your dogs can’t survive without you, but are you..YOU? They need the real you.
  4. Do you find time with anyone besides your dog too much of an effort? It is not fair to wrap all of our hopes and dreams into one person or one individual, or our dogs. If every waking moment is dependent on them, that is a lot of pressure! It’s too much pressure on your dog.
  5. Does your partner love your dog too? We certainly hope so. Yet, sometimes, we let our dogs come into our relationship in negative ways. It is easier to ignore problems with our partners and substitute the love from our dogs. But those problems will still be there. You may need time just the two of you to get back in sync! It is not your dog’s fault. It is our fault if we let this happen.
  6. It’s ok to realize that sometimes, we simply need a break from responsibilities to learn that we LOVE the responsibility that comes with being an awesome pet parent.

So did I take my own advice? I did. It was actually harder than I thought to pull out of the driveway at the pet sitter’s house.

If you have done all of your paperwork for the sitter, made sure their vet knows you will be gone, and you have all their meals and treat schedules written down..yeah, we all do that, then go. I told my dogs the exact amount of days I would be gone. I told them why we were going. I told them to enjoy themselves. And every worse case scenerio I imagined in my head? None of that happened.

I am not telling people to go on vacation and leave their dogs with just anyone. I am telling you to do everything you think that you should and then give yourself permission to take some time away for yourself.

Because when you come back, you will understand that you should have done this long ago. For me, I now know that my vacation gave me focus and a new understanding of how I could be better for dogs. Before my trip, I was pushing myself too hard and I was pushing them too hard.

Time away gave me perspective to look at my routines and my life as an outsider. And I have made some changes. But it all started with a decision to go on vacation without my dog. Is it ok? It is more than ok. Give yourself some of the love and devotion that your dog gives you. Your dog will understand. Don’t feel guilty about taking a vacation without your dog. Feel guilty if you don’t go, because you will not be able to be the best you can be. Now…go!

-Rachael Johnson, Girl Person and Owner of 2 Traveling Dogs and Your Dog’s Diner

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