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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The Pickup Lines

This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle.  You will be very happy to know that today is our official day back on the job.  Two weeks off has really taken it’s toll on all of us.  I look more handsome, Deputy Digby has figured out how to beg for pancakes more efficiently, the persons learned a lot about Italy and England, and that they can’t live without us, pretty much. 


The Big Blue Treat wagon however, learned that when you are mad that your family leaves you all alone in storage, there isn’t a lot that you can do about it.  Except make your dismay known with all the drama usually reserved for a soap opera.

As the persons went to go pick up the Big Blue Treat Wagon RV from storage so that they could get her ready for our homecoming, they talked about what they would say to her.  They prepared all of their pickup lines.  “Do you come here often?”  “Are you the color blue like the sky? Because even the blue sky looks dim compare to you.”


But if you have ever tried to use a pickup line that did not work, you know that there isn’t a lot that can comfort you with a failed attempt.  So as they tried to butter her up like a stack of Digby’s pancakes, they realized that not only had they failed in their attempts to get her on the road after two weeks of being alone.  But she wasn’t going to let them turn on the lights, or turn on anything else for that matter.  I am no mechanic, but even I know that you have to have lights to see yourself, and that was not happening.  I am also no electrician.  But I can light up your day.


So the persons decided that they would figure it out if it took all night.  And it took all night.  The first of their pickup lines worked a little bit.  They were able to at least start her and drive her to a campground about an hour away.  But then…that was it.  They thought about what to do.  Should they go stay somewhere else? Would they have to wait another day to pick up the Deputy and I? 


No. No. They could not let that happen.  They thought how they could sweet talk the Big Blue Treat Wagon RV into working.  So they ignored their clocks and the fact that they had jet lag, whatever that is, and they got to work.


They worked and they worked.  They cleaned and they cleaned.  They told the Big Blue Treat Wagon RV that she would shine like a diamond.  And as they kept working, the RV started to soften up.  It was going to be ok.  She had to put on a new attitude and realize that our family being together was only going to be possible if she turned on those lights. 

It was only going to be possible if she let her jacks down.  It was only going to be possible if she forgave and forgot the fact she was by herself for two weeks.  If she didn’t shape up, it was going to mean storage for her again.  And so when the morning came, so did the fact that now the persons could pick up me and Digby.  And they didn’t need any pickup lines for that.  We were never so happy to see them.  Although we love Aunt Veronica, well, there is no place like home.

Reunited.  Yep.  It felt so good.  

And all of the two weeks apart seemed to wash away when we pulled in that driveway of a campground that we had never actually been to before.  You see, anywhere is home where the Big Blue Treat Wagon is.


Maybe one day soon, changes will have to be made and we may have to part with the Big Blue Treat Wagon. But for now, until we make those decisions, and until the persons figure out our next steps, whether that be to Italy or somewhere else, we will keep sweet talking the Big Blue Treat Wagon.  Because obviously, home just isn’t where the heart is.  Home is where your failing RV is and where life decisions are going to be made.  While the persons get a few more days of rest, we are in this Florida place.  It’s where we always seem to end back up.  Until the RV back us up to our future. 


Sometimes, we have to realize that we even may have to sweet talk ourselves and find our best pickup lines!  There will be days when we fail or when life gets us down.  But if we stay parked in those feelings forever, how will we ever get back up?  Keep trying, keep telling yourself that you are awesome, and that others count on you.  So…question. Are you a bank loan? Because you got my interest.  Did it work?

-Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle

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