I love Rocky. She is perhaps the greatest dog—golden retriever, anyway—you will ever come across: trained to near-perfection (most times), friendly with kids and capable of remedying any sour mood in record time. (But you have a dog, you're reading this and thinking silently to yourself: "My dog is the same way—only better." It's the perennial problem stuck like gum on shoes with dog owners: "My dog is the greatest; your dog, while cute enough, is sub-par.")
But I, like you I'm sure, feel the warm breath of summer, drool over the thought of chilled chlorine and look to take a break from it all—including the mutt. Let's get honest here, your dog is a lot of work and most likely requires the equivalency of a part-time job (especially if you have more than one). You work hard and there's nothing wrong with wanting a break in the hot summer heat.
So you've picked out a vacation destination, and now you're sitting on a couple of options. You could bring the runt with you (but depending on how far you're traveling, it might be logistically difficult), you could pass the dog to that friend you always wave to but don't necessarily trust or your could admit the dog into a kennel.
I've done the traveling with the dog thing—in fact, I think that's what we're doing this summer. My finding: it ends up not really being a vacation. While traveling with your dog may selfishly provide you with a reassured sense of comfort knowing that the little guy is in your own trusted care, pool time slowly gets chiseled down, the spontaneous moments that make memories revolve around the dog's potty schedule and the week you've set aside to relax becomes just another week with palm trees.
Many families with dog(s) know others with dog(s)—mainly because the parks in this area are so often crowded, despite the historic "leash law" drama—and sometimes confide in fellow owners to dog-sit while they soak up the sun. The departing family figures the family they have chosen is good, responsible and trustworthy when it comes to canine care because they, themselves, have a dog. Not always the case. You trust them if you want, but I'd think about it.
The third option is to explore local kennels or shelters. To be honest, just a few months ago I thought kennel and I saw Rocky in a mucky cage amid hundreds of rowdy, barking dogs. I think it was an image from a movie. Since then, I've come to discover there are many wonderful options around the area. One boarding facility my family recently discovered is in Stamford. We decided to give it a whirl last weekend when we went out of state for a wedding.
Rocky was in a clean facility with a trained staff, but perhaps more satisfying was the fact that we could check up on her whenever we wanted—from hundreds of miles away, if we so chose—via video feed on my iPhone. Video cameras are stationed around multiple play areas to ensure that you are able to check in on your dog. The $2 app might just be the poolside reassurance you need to relax.
One of the biggest problems with these professional boarding houses, however, is the price tag. Shop around.
Dogs are like Blackberries: admittedly essential to normal routine, but often prohibitive to the serendipitous nature of a meaningful, restful, memorable vacation. Maybe there doesn't need to be a winner of the Rocky/vacation showdown.