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I thought you guys could help me decide what I want to do. The issue is christmas. Thing is, I live... umm, a very very long ways from my parents. I'm on the east coast of the northern USA (MA), they live on the west coast of Canada (just outside Vancouver). The original idea was that every year at christmas we'd alternate - one here with my husband's family, one there with mine. It's worked fine for the last 4 or 5 years.


This year it looked like we weren't going to be able to afford to go. When my mom found this out she broke down crying and begging and pleading. Recently we came into a little bit of money, enough that we could travel for christmas if we wanted to. I have not mentioned it to my parents yet because I don't want mom to get excited until we're 100% sure and the money's in our account.


Okay, so why am I posting this here on a dog forum? Here's the thing: I have Zoe. Leaving Zeeke was never really a big problem for me. Leaving Zoe? Is another whole issue. When we visited my parents in July we had my BIL stay here with the dogs. I'm not certain I would do that again, I don't think it was a smashing success and I don't think Zoe really got much care or attention. Plus I worried every day and wanted hubby to check in with them all the time. On labor day we went away for the weekend and both dogs went into the kennel, and they did fine. Zoe just followed Zeeke wherever he went. I survived being away. I was away for over a week, but my husband was only gone for a weekend and I knew he was there to look after her.


But more than that, I'm thinking it's CHRISTMAS. Christmas is important to me - important that I have my FAMILY with me. And to be bluntly honest, I consider my immediate family to be my husband and our dogs and cat. My parents and brother are of course very important to me, but they are not longer my IMMEDIATE family.


So I'm stuck with three choices:


One, I could choose to stay here for christmas with the dogs. My mom would have complete hysterics and I'd have to live with a whole lotta guilt. Plus I'd be missing out on christmas there, which is always lots of fun. Plus I did promise that, if we had the money we would go visit.


Two, we could go visit my parents for christmas and put the dogs in a kennel. We know the dogs do fine there. I would only stay for a week (because of Zoe), which would cause my mother to whine a lot (she wants me to stay two or three weeks at a time - my mother is... well, she's my mother, what can I say). I would be very sad to have christmas without Zoe and I would worry about her every day.


Three, we could bring Zoe with us. I don't think it would cost much more than kennelling her for a week, though I would have to check that. I'd have her with me, so I could stay longer if I wanted. I'd get to be with Zoe AND Oreo, and what more could I want in life?! The part that has me very worried about this plan is, well, Zoe. You all know Zoe. She's terrified of strangers. She doesn't like car rides. A cross-country flight? I just don't know. I know I'd have to sedate her somehow, or she would be an absolute mess. I guess I worry about causing her serious mental harm during that flight. She'd be away from me for the flight, she'd be in a scary, noisy place, she'd be very scared. Would sedatives help her enough? Am I an aweful mom for considering putting her through that? Am I totally overreacting? I just keep thinking that a flight is around 5-7 hours of her being away from me (which causes her to freak out a little bit), as opposed to an entire WEEK away from me. (I'll note that if we do it that way we'd fly to Seattle, not Vancouver - shorter, one less stopover. I don't know if it's even possible to fly direct from here to Seattle, but I would absolutely try to do that. It's only a 3 hour drive from Seattle to my parents' - maybe less - so it's not a huge deal. And much, much cheaper.)


So I just don't know. But my heart gets all twisted up when I think about it. I want her WITH me. I know she'd get along with my parents' dogs - Zoe is very submissive so Oreo probably wouldn't bother giving her the time of day (Oreo accepted Tessa, my brother's dog, who is similarily very submissive), and Tessa is a big ol' mushball as well (even though she's half rottweiler).


Oreo's the reason we could never bring Zeeke, though, if you're wondering. Zeeke is big, pushy, and obnoxious - all the things Oreo HATES in a dog. She's older and it's her home and we would NOT want to have a big dogfight on our hands.

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Who's older, Zoe or your mom? Sorry, I am a hopelessly practical girl. If you expect them both to be around a long time, that gives you the luxary of a choice. If there is any chance your mom might not have a whole bunch more Christmas's, you will never forgive yourself for missing this one.


Hard one, Natalie, I feel for ya.

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Here's another option if it would work...how about taking the money that you would spend on you, DH and Zoe, giving it to your parents to buy a plane ticket to come spend Christmas w/ YOU! Or buying the ticket yourself and sending it to them. They could even bring Oreo along maybe. One Christmas away from their home wouldn't hurt would it?!?! It would even be like a Christmas present from you & DH to them.


Just a thought anyway!!

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LOL! Linda, you're funny. :rolleyes:


Tammy - I expect both to live very long lives! Actually, I expect my mom to live longer than Zoe, lol. I'm only 24, so my mom is... well, she's not TOO old. :D


Nicki - I mentioned that to my mom, and actually her reasoning follows Tammy's - HER mom lives there and is very elderly and frail. Mom wants to spend as much time there, especially holidays, until she passes. (I am not close to my grandma, though mom wishes I was.)


Blah. I hate hard decisions! Plus, not making the whole thing any easier, is the idea that with this money coming to us.... we have SO many things around the house that need doing, and blowing most of it on two flights makes me feel slightly disgruntled. But that problem isn't exactly going to change, unless the cost of fuel goes WAY WAY down (hahahaha!).

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I like to take my animals with me when I can, so if it weren't too life altering I would take Zoe, otherwise I would opt for the kennel if she feels safe there.


My folks live only 6 hours away (which is good for somethings bad for others) it can be a pain to cart everyone north. Life is short, we really do need to take advantage of each other while we have us. So I do it mostly not complaining.



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If your grandmother is that fragile, I'd do what it takes to go west for Xmas. I sure wish I'd seen mote of my grandparents before they died. As a kid, I was determined that my parents were just acting as parents to keep me safe from the Russian Soviets. But my Lithuanian grandparents were really related to me and there to make sure that those nasty surrogate parents were taking proper care of me.


Is Zoe small enough to fit in a cloth carrier that you can take as carry-on? If so, take her. If not, board her and go. Forget your mother's guilt trips, but enjoy what time you can have with Grandma. That's a special bond. Get her to tell you stories that no one else can give. Record (however you prefer) all that she can offer you. Now.

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Agree w/ Nancy; given your grandmother it sounds like you should go home for xmas this year. I also agree that if Zoe can't be in the cabin, staying home may be for the best; tranquilizers can cause more fear issues if they only paralyze the body w/o addressing the anxiety (like Ace does) and they also can suppress respiration and heart rate.

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Unless you could take Zoe in the cabin with you (some flights allow small dogs but I don't know if Zoe fits) I wouldn't fly her. I think it would do more harm than good to do that.


If we ever manage our get-together or the many (?) more we might need to do with the cookbook and Zoe feels comfortable with me, I am willing to watch her for you (Zeeke too if you like). Unfortunately, she would need to be crated during my workday, though.



Doesn't solve your problem about wanting her with you, but it might be more comfortable for her. I tend to think shy dogs view all the excitement and hoopla that comes with holidays with dread.

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Thank you all for your input! I think you all echoed what I've been feeling, even though I dislike the outcome. No, Zoe won't fit in the cabin - my CAT barely fit in a carry-on (I hate that the limits are SO small!!). So I guess it really is best to leave her behind. Unless I can find an airline that allows big dogs to fly with you. Ha.


I've never been close to my grandma, I'm not sure why. But Nancy, I do think you're right. I've been thinking about bringing a big pad of paper and pen and just writing down family history and going through the old photographs with her. She has some really really old ones, of her when she was a little girl, and even older ones. And maybe through that we can connect a little more before she passes on.


Kerry - That might be an idea. She's used to being crated during the day... both dogs are. I generally am home all day, but when I'm away they're crated while hubby's at work. They both have no issue with it.


Last christmas was so nice, actually. It was just hubby and me and the dogs and cat on christmas morning. We opened our presents, Zeeke helped his daddy open his (he's very good at ripping up paper, and for once we let him do it, lol!). The family dinner was at DH's mom's, we didn't take the dogs for that.


And y'all reminded me that there I will have Oreo. She's not Zoe, but she certainly is special to me. And she DOES have the temperment for big family gatherings, she is fabulous now. Plus I have to yell at my dad about how to take care of her. I've heard he's gone back to feeding them crap food and I'm livid...

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Also agree w/ Nancy. I know you will worry about Zoe, but time spent with family is important.


You know that she will be comfortable boarded with Zeeke. Flying is an unknown, and might really stress her. Yes, you will worry more, but she will feel secure.


I had to leave my dog a couple times over Xmas to go visit grandparents in FL. I worried, but she suvived just fine, and we were happy to see each other when I got home.

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Flying a dog


Airlines typically only accept 2 pets per flight in the luggage compartment which means you should book well in advance.


Dogs can be checked as baggage but there will be an addition fee; I was charged $100 one way to fly Jody to Oregon.


There are temperature restrictions. High temperature will not be an issue at Christmas but Delta (for example) requires an Acclimation Certificate (from a Vet) for below 45F.


You'll need a health certificate to fly your dog.



The use of pet tranquilizers at high altitudes is unpredictable. If you plan to sedate your pet, you must have written consent from the pet's veterinarian. This information must be attached to the kennel. Please keep in mind that Delta agents cannot administer medication of any kind.

Source: Delta: Pet Travel Requirements & Restrictions


There are more requirements/restrictions for international flights. (Delta: International Pet Travel)


Choosing to fly a dog, IMHO, would depend upon the need to bring the dog and the temperament of the dog. Don't forget that when you fly with your dog, you'll have to pack all their stuff (bowls, food, meds, treats, toys, etc.) in a suit case and you are limited on how many you can bring.



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What is your husband's opinion about continuing to alternate families for Christmas or making your own traditions? If you want to spend time with your family, particularly with your grandmother, maybe doing it after Christmas when there's not so much going on might be easier. If you're going to go for Christmas, you might want to go ahead and get your reservation in at the kennel for the dogs - the kennel I use is pretty much booked up by the first part of Nov for the Christmas holidays.

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I have always been the same distance from my family as you are now. Travelling at Christmas is horrible, as you must already know. I would start a NEW tradition of visitng Vancouver at a different time of year. The time spent with family is what is important. When you do it is not. That is what I did for years.


Your mother will survive if you don't go exactly when she wants you. As long as you go, you have nothing to feel guilty about.


When you do go, I wouldn't take Zoe. She will do better in a kennel with Zeke. You can always use your job as an excuse not to stay for an extended visit. Can't get that much vacation! Sooner or later, Mom is going to have to admit that you have your own adult life now with its attendant responsibilities. You are young enough that she still thinks your parents are or should be the center of your universe. I went through that with my Mom, too.


I think you can get at least one flight a day direct to Seattle out of Hartford (my "home" airport).


Kathy Robbins

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A direct flight from Seattle to Hartford would be excellent (Hartford's our home airport as well ).


My husband is completely fine about alternating christmasses. I'm the one having the crises of decision, he's fine with whatever I choose to do. :rolleyes:


When we have christmas here we definitely have our own traditions. We just bought a pre-lit, fold-up tree last year.. it looks great and is SO easy to put up. (Much easier than harping on DH to put up the lights! Ha!)


My mother is definitely not handling me moving away very well. Lots of weeping. Lots of, "You MUST do ____!" But then, my mom's always been like that. I hope it gets better. And we are making space in the house for visitors (we ourselves slept on a futon, nothing for guests... now we bought a new bed, the futon is available for guests, and we have a bedroom that is going to be available for use by guests). I really do hope they visit us in the next year. I certainly don't wish to be the one doing all the travelling.


Thanks for all your opinions about Zoe, I think you're right. Hubby agrees too, he thinks I'm nuts for even considering flying her over with me, LOL. (He thinks I'm a wee bit overprotective... shhhh!)

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I tend to think shy dogs view all the excitement and hoopla that comes with holidays with dread.
I agree very much with this statement. Tess is obviously miserable when a gathering involves more than me, my husband, and my parents. With my in-laws, there are two more dogs and at least two more people (sometimes more) and possible children, which she dreads and avoids at all costs.


I think you are wise to leave Zoe at home with Zeeke. And this way Oreo can have some special time with you.


For what it is worth, my husband and I insist every year that we stay home for Christmas. We go see our parents (all together--the two sets of parents live within 30 minutes of each other) the week before Christmas to do Christmas stuff with them. They are not overly thrilled with this, but they understand we like to have our own traditions and relax on the holiday.


Allie + Tess & Kipp


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On another note, just in case you were wondering... Christmas with all relatives within 30 miles can be very stressful, too!! My parents, all my first cousins, my dh's parents, two stepsisters are all very close. (distance anyway) His brother is 2 hours away and the rest of his extended family is 4 hours away. We gave up on the 4 hour away family at Christmas after we had kids. There was no good place for all of us to stay but they got very mad at us the one time we stayed at a hotel. We got stuck in a snowstorm EVERY time we went at Christmas as well. We visit them in the summer now!!!


But as for in-town Christmas, we go to (drum roll please....) 7 Christmas celebrations. That does not include work parties, church musicals, etc. My kids are such a mess by the time it is all said and done we all feel like we are about to DIE!! The dogs don't even notice. Lucky pets. You would not believe all the discussion that has to take place to get 7 different extended families to agree on a date when they are not all Christmasing with their 7 other extended groups!!! It is crazy.


That is the only time you will hear me complaining about in-town family. I love them dearly, and love to see them all at many other times during the year, but Christmas is viewed with dread and trepidation by anyone with any sense at my house (that would be only me and dh at this point!!!)


Good luck Natalie, good luck with your mom, I can imagine how she feels as a mom and how you feel as a daughter. Forging your own life and traditions is hard. Please don't forget, though, how much you may need her when your time comes for little two-footed dependents. I know how you feel about Zoe, so I know what kind of mom you will be (great), desparately crazy about your kids!!!


Then your daughter will someday run off across the country and want to live her own life and you'll be the one crying on the phone! (smiling as I type, expressed with all compassion)

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Honest. Take the word of a newly 60 year old. Ignore your mother. But do go to visit your grandmother. Even if she has been the b***h from h**l all your life. She has so many family memories that you won't ever get otherwise.


When my mother died, I inherited all the albums and loose photos. Heck, my grandfather had shown my mother his albums and asked "who are these people?" She had less idea than he had. I even scanned them and emailed them to relatives in the US and in Lithuania. We still have at least one guy in uniform (WWI?) and one guy with a bird on the table in front of him and a woman behind him, labeled a 50th wedding anniversary. We have no clue who either is. And I have photos of my parents where I'm guessing when (by the clothes) and where (by guess and by golly).


Let me tell you: I write who, when, and where on the back over every blessed photo I have. And I use only those old albums where I can write on the page what each is.


In Lithuania, under the Soviets, they could have photos and albums. But it was illegal to write anything about who or where or when. So the relatives all memorized all the details. And all the stories about the photos.


Kind of makes me be lots more conciencious because I can be.

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Would it be possible for you to go alone and for your husband to stay home with the dogs?


I know it sounds kind of sucky, but you see your husband every day and your family not so much. Other than the fact that it's a good excuse to see loved ones you haven't seen in very long, Christmas is just another day anyway.

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Tammy - OMG! I can't imagine SEVEN christmas celebrations! DH and I have two a year... either it's my mom's family and then my dad's family (they're married, but they spend christmas with both extended families), or it's my hubby's mother's family and then his dad's family (they're divorced). If everyone was in the same place... well.... it would get very messy!!


Kerry - Options are very good!


Nancy - Wow. That is amazing. I love photography and I'm discovering I need to keep PRINTED albums of photos... it's so easy to lose digital ones. I started the tradition young of writing details on each photo. It's definitely a good thing to do. And I know with my grandma's photo albumbs (which I had never seen before July of this year) I wouldn't have half a clue who was in them. My mom might. But it's definitely worthwhile to go through them with my grandmother to write everything down.


Melanie - That is always *possible*, but I would not do it at christmas. For me it is important to spend christmas with my husband. Even when we lived apart we travelled every year for christmas. But it is an option.


I guess part of the reason I'm reticent to go NOW is because we were just there in July. Luckily we did not have to pay for flights that time. But since I feel like I was "just" there I don't have that homesick feeling of wanting to go visit. So I'm humming and hawing. It's important to *my mother* that I go AT christmas. But if we went a different time.... well then we could sure do a lot more things, like go skiing. But I would be able to visit with all of the relatives. (I feel like every visit now is just a chance to run around and say a quick hi to everyone my parents know. Slightly aggravating.)


So much to consider.

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What got me started with the photos was that, after my grandmother died (at 90+) my grandfather brought out their albums for my mother - and pointed to lots of photos and said, "Who is that?" My mother had no idea. And I inherited those photos.

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