my low-travel job wants me to travel more — but boarding my dogs would be expensive

A reader writes:

Here are the background facts before I ask my question:

* I am a professional in a large company.
* My position doesn’t require travel on a regular basis (though I expect any professional position to require travel occasionally – perhaps a few days a year – whether it’s attending conferences or visiting with clients).
* I have multiple dogs (they were with me before I worked here).
* My husband’s position is almost 100% travel and we have no family or friends nearby who can stay with our dogs while we’re out of town (or that our dogs could stay with).
* In the city where we’ve recently moved, it costs roughly $100/day to board our dogs.
* We don’t have a dog-walker/pet-sitter option.
* I completely understand that pet care is not expensable or deductible (I know there have been similar questions raised here about childcare).

I’m required to attend a conference and am boarding my dogs at a cost to me of about $300. No big deal, sometimes unexpected expenses come up. My boss recently asked me to also perform approximately 10-15 days of out of town work next month. I told him that I couldn’t because it’s a financial hardship for me to board my dogs for that amount of time (I acknowledged that this doesn’t sound like a legitimate reason to a lot of people, but that it is just the reality of my life and my financial situation).

He got a little…exasperated. He’s a very nice guy. He could have told me he didn’t care, that he needed me to do the work anyway, but he didn’t. I felt simultaneously guilty for not being able to do the work and frustrated that he seemed to think that my reason wasn’t valid.

It looks like more and more of these extended travel assignments are going to come up, so I want to know what to do. I want to clarify that I am not asking this question to be snarky, but am legitimately wondering: Am I expected (either by most companies or just by professional standards) to rack up thousands of dollars of credit card debt to pay for dog boarding for a job that didn’t explicitly require extensive travel when I was hired?

You’re right that something unexpected comes up, and generally you’re expected to roll with it — when it’s occasional. And yeah, in those cases you can end up incurring extra costs for child care or pet care.

But 10-15 days travel in a single month is a lot in a job that doesn’t normally require travel. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still roll with it — it’s hard to know without knowing more about what the job is and what the travel is for. It’s possible that most people in your field would expect you to suck it up and do it. It’s also possible that your boss sees this travel as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, and that if you say it’s just not doable for you, he’ll be able to live with that.

I don’t know which of those contexts you’re in, unfortunately. But there certainly are plenty where it would be reasonable to say, “I’m sorry, I’m not in a position where I can be gone that much time. I have family responsibilities outside work that I can make arrangements for when it’s occasional and short-term, but this is more travel than I can accommodate.” (You could also add, “My husband travels regularly for work, and we’re not in a situation where we can be both be away that much. I specifically looked for a job without regular travel for that reason.”)

As part of that conversation, though, you should also talk more broadly about whether the travel expectations of the job are changing. If the role is evolving into one that does require regular travel, you want to find that out now and have an honest conversation (first with yourself and then with your boss) about whether the job is still right for you.

But in some cases, even when your boss would like you to travel more, you can say “hey, I just can’t do this” and they’ll work around you, especially if you’re highly valued. In other cases, they won’t — so I’d have a conversation about how much flexibility there is on this.

On the dog care question specifically: Yeah, it’s an annoying thing that some employers don’t take this kind of thing as seriously as they’d take it if you explained that you didn’t have child care for a week or two or three away. For that reason, I’d probably frame it more broadly — less specifically about your dogs and more about “family/household commitments that prevent me from doing that much travel.”

{ 456 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jerzy

    If you had kids rather than dogs and a partner who travels as often as your husband does, I would hope your employer would accommodate you. I’m normally not a fan of people equating having dogs with having kids, because I think the daily demands are quite different, but in the practical terms of getting someone to watch them, they are VERY similar.

    Expecting an employee to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to travel for work is asking a lot. If the travel is truly necessary and you MUST be the one to do it, maybe your boss can help alleviate some of the expenses for you, perhaps by offering a small stipend for boarding your dogs.

    Reply
    1. Ted Mosby

      totally agreed. In general, it’s annoying, but in this kind of situation there’s not really any difference. Finding someone to care for them is 100% not optional.

      Reply
      1. Former Museum Professional

        And 10-15 days is excessive* even for family, either for dogs or kids. A few days here and there is doable, but that’s nearly two weeks, even if it’s non-consecutive — which I actually think would be more disruptive for routines and stability.

        Plus, it really is a financial burden — grandma and grandpa might watch kids for free but boarding dogs at $100/day for 10-15 days could be $1500!! Since travel in that high capacity has never been expected of the position, I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to chafe against it.

        *excessive is my diplomatic term because I’m really thinking “bananas.”

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          grandma and grandpa might watch kids for free but boarding dogs at $100/day for 10-15 days could be $1500

          This is like saying “well your friends can walk your dogs for free but daycare is $$$$”. The issue isn’t kids being cheap and dogs not, or vice versa, but that OP’s job requirements are suddenly shifting to lots more travel and it’s a hardship.

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          1. MashaKasha

            Agree. Grandma and grandpa might watch your dog(s) for free too! (BTDT) or they can watch neither dogs nor kids. Or they can watch both and charge for both. Or they could be living across country or, heaven forbid, be dead. It’s really irrelevant to OP’s problem. What is relevant is that OP’s new job requirements are equivalent to a giant pay cut, which her management is aware of.

            Also, dogs or no dogs, 15 work days out of a month is 75% travel! That’s enough of an issue for a lot of people I know to turn a job down or not apply, if warned of it beforehand. How did OP’s employer suddenly jump from no travel required to 50-75% travel required and expect the employees to be able to accommodate it just like that?

            Reply
    2. VintageLydia USA

      Agreed. Dogs aren’t kids and at least there are overnight services for dogs that don’t depend on family for an OCCASIONAL conflict. But if you can’t afford it, and your job up until now didn’t require it, the boss would be unreasonable to be upset that you aren’t jumping up and down at the opportunity to pay hundreds of dollars extra just to do your job.

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        1. Collarbone High

          I used to live near a daycare in D.C. that was open 23 hours a day and I was always mildly curious what the one hour was that they were closed.

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          1. Vicki

            I’m wondering if the reason they say 23 hours is to ensure that the parents do come and pick up their kid at some point. Because 24 hours might give some parents the idea that they could just drop the kids off on Monday morning and pick them up on Friday afternoon.

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    3. Kate M

      I hate when people say “I’m not a fan of equating dogs with kids.” I don’t have either, but 1) I think that most people are smart enough to realize that we’re dealing with two different species here, and 2) daily demands can be very different between children too, depending on how many you have, whether they have special needs, etc. People who make a point of saying that dogs and kids aren’t the same seem to me to just set up a competition for who has it the hardest. Can we just agree for this conversation that we’re not talking about kids, but for people who have pets without kids, those are the things in their lives that they are in charge of taking care of? Nobody needs to come in and point out that they aren’t the same thing.

      It sets up the “oh you’re single without an responsibilities? Must be nice” –> “Oh you only have pets and no kids? Must be nice.” –> “Oh you only have one kid? Wait until you have more, you have it easy now.” –> “Oh you have all healthy, neurotypical kids? You don’t know hard.” –> and so on, and so forth. Everybody has their stuff, let’s not set up a competition.

      (Not just necessarily pointed at you Jerzy – I know you said that for this situation they are similar, I just don’t understand the need to point that out in the first place.)

      Reply
      1. Allison

        BOTH pets and kids are living things that depend on adult humans to take care of them. Pets, when they reach a certain age, may require less supervision than children do, but for the most part you can’t expect someone to leave either one alone for days on end.

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        1. Green

          Not to further the competition aspect, but kids (usually) at some point utilize toilets. Dogs are like: “It’s snowing? I’m gonna go riiiiiiight here in this warm corner of your living room.” On the plus side, I can just put them in a crate when I go out to a bar on a Tuesday night. :)

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      2. Renee

        I agree. I have both, and either would be a hardship to leave for two weeks if I didn’t have other options. And neither my pets nor my child would be well-served by my two-week absence. Even without pets or children, I might have good reasons for not traveling. I have a medical condition that would make me miserable if it were to flare while I was out of town. The point is that people have all kinds of reasons they look for the kinds of jobs they do and substantial changes to the arrangement can cause hardship for many reasons. I hope Letter Writer’s boss is reasonable because that kind of change would be a deal breaker for me.

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      3. Biff

        Given that much travel, anyone who keeps a garden or greenhouse would probably be having a fit too! That much travel out of no where is very disruptive.

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      4. Vote for President Bartlet

        Thank you for saying this. When someone says that, all I think is “I didn’t realize we were playing the suffering olympics!”.

        In my experience, people with kids tend to be the ones resenting people who equate having dogs with having children. Yes they are different, but that doesn’t make one more important or valuable than the other. For some, the love they feel for a pet is the same as the love they feel for their child, and I think it is incredibly cruel to imply that is somehow wrong.

        My father had a little shelf in the corner of his old office, and there were three pictures in a kind of triangle formation: myself, my sibling, and his (long deceased) dog. The dog’s picture was in front of the kids. Always made me laugh.

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    4. Linguist curmudgeon

      Very similar? Really? Because I haven’t heard of any baby kennels in my area. (Obligatory parent joke: SIGN ME UP!) ;-)

      Reply
  2. Amber Rose

    I know you say you don’t have a sitter option, so I hope you won’t consider this out of line, but when I was a kid our neighbor was a professional hockey player who was gone a lot. I got $10 a day to drop in, hug his dog, fill it’s bowls and run it around the backyard for a bit.

    Have you considered non-professional options? Kids looking to make video game money or whatever?

    Reply
    1. Jerzy

      If you’re going to do this, please make sure it’s someone your dogs are really, really cool with. I have a friend who has about six dogs, and some of them are super friendly, while other I would not be comfortable being on their turf alone with them. My friend is also a little oblivious to how intimidating some of his dogs can be on their own and how intimidating they are as a pack.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Yeah, I thought about that but maybe the OP’s dogs are not stranger-friendly or need professional handling for whatever reason.

        But if not, Craigslist/asking around could always be something to look into.

        Reply
      2. Shan

        This is very important! My dog is has special needs and if I go somewhere, there’s really only one boarder that will take care of her needs, give her meds, etc. I don’t know about OP but there are many situations where “just have the neighbor kid watch the dog” isn’t going to work.

        Reply
      1. Retail Lifer

        I found a great sitter through Dog Vacay. But even though her rates are half that of boarding, I couldn’t afford to use her as frequently as the OP is going to need someone.

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        1. Brittany

          I popped in to add this. It might not make it feasible financially, but I do have neighbors that travel constantly, and they’ve started using someone through Dog Vacay. They’re able to drop their dogs off at this woman’s house–she has a yard, trained in animal care, they did a meet and greet before the first trip to make sure the dogs were comfortable there–and they really prefer it as an alternative to a kennel.

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          1. Kathleen

            Yes, we have had great suce3ss with DogVacay. ( and I am not related to them in any way). Our dog now has a Vacation family she stays with. She enjoys their dogs and they love her ( she sleeps on their bed!) I’m sure this is more complicated since you have multiple dogs, But I think it’s worth investigating. Also a lot of Vet techs moonlight as dog sitters also. Good luck!

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      2. Honeybee

        There’s a Care.com for pets – it’s called Rover.com. I’ve used them several times and haven’t had any issues so far. It’s a whole lot cheaper – even in expensive NYC I could find someone to take my dog for $20-40/night depending on when it was.

        Reply
    2. OP

      Yeah, pet sitters are my normal go-to option because there’s less disruption to my pups’ lives. However, we’re in a new city in a rental with no fenced yard and so my dogs have to be walked instead of just let out. They’re big and energetic and it’s really hard for one person to walk all of them (I’ve become a pro, but I’ve had years of experience with them!) I just don’t trust someone else to be able to do it in a way that is safe for both them and the dogs.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Are there professional dog walkers (who you can quiz extensively about big dog handling experience) you can look into?

        Another option is to spend some time training them to heel correctly, which would help a lot but be a more long-term solution.

        Reply
        1. Zillah

          While I understand where you’re coming from and that you’re trying to be helpful, dog training tips aren’t really what the OP came here for, and I don’t think it’s helpful to assume that it hasn’t occurred to them to train their dogs to heel. A professional dog walker also doesn’t take care of the bigger problem, which is that the dogs need someone to care for them – and paying for a dog walker to come by several times a day might not leave the OP much ahead, money-wise. The issue isn’t that the OP has literally no options – it’s that the options they have are cost prohibitive.

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          1. Anony-Moose

            +1. I sympathize with this OP so much. We have a little pit mix who is just…an idiot on walks. Completely useless. Can’t figure out how to act around other dogs. And since he’s a pit he’s STRONG.

            I know my shit when it comes to dog training and he has fantastic trainers. But I also know what a speshul snowflake of a dog he is and I wouldn’t trust just anyone to walk him in our neighborhood which is full of other dogs, people, terrifying strollers, etc.

            Not all dogs are created equal. People need to assume that dog owners do know what their dog needs.

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            1. OP

              Lol, yup, I love that you described your dog as an “idiot” on walks. I love when fellow dog people can recognize their pups’ short comings and still love them to pieces :-) My guys are trained and typically good, but you never know when another dog may be off leash or something and I don’t trust anyone else to be able to handle them in a situation like that.

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              1. simonthegrey

                This. We trained our basenji as well as we could to heel, but they aren’t a breed for whom training sticks if there is something they want more (like a squirrel, a cat, or a car). We never trusted anyone to walk him who wasn’t us because he was a Houdini about slipping his collar if he really wanted to – even a harness could be removed if he had time, and a harness gave him more pull leverage – and we didn’t want someone else to feel guilty if he slipped the collar and bolted into the street in front of a car.

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                1. Jessilein

                  Aww, I had a Basenji growing up, and he was just like you describe yours! He got kicked out of obedience training for refusing to obey, howling, and upsetting the other dogs, he escaped one night and got hit by a car (was at the vet for 6 weeks, but survived), and if he had his sights set on something, no amount of training was enough. Such a great dog though–I want another one, even though I’m well aware of all the hassle that comes with them!

                2. Simonthegrey

                  Jessilin-they are awesome dogs, but no one understands when I say how destructive they could be. “He’s only 25lbs”. Yeah, he’s a tornado, not a hurricane, but he can do all the damage. I would love to have one but not till I live somewhere with enough room in the backyard to run.

                3. Jessilein

                  Yep, destructive too. I almost forgot to mention that he chewed everything, including my aunt’s fur coat. And the contents of the litter box. We always argued about whether he was too dumb to learn his lesson or so smart that he didn’t care!

              2. Mary in Texas

                This isn’t an overnight fix, but I met a great young woman at the dog park. After seeing her there several times, we struck up a friendship b/c our dogs got along so well. Now we’re the best of friends and she watches my dogs when we go out of town, and we watch her dogs. We get together regularly, so my dogs know her and she knows them. It has been such a great friendship and arrangement. I trust that she’s going to take care of my dogs b/c I know how she takes care of her dogs. She comes to my house when we travel b/c I have more dogs than she does, and a big yard. So keep your eyes open when at the dog park (if you don’t have a yard, I would guess you’re a regular at the dog park?) and see if you can make a new friend. Just a suggestion.

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                1. Mabel

                  We had a similar situation with neighbors in our building who had a big dog who was doggie friends with ours. We would sometimes pick up their dog on our way out for a walk, and vice versa. One time, when our dog caused a flood in our apartment (don’t ask), we had to go stay in a motel for a few days while the apt. aired out, and they didn’t take dogs. So our neighbors took him in for a few days. I’m sure he didn’t remember about the flood after about an hour over there and had a great time with his dog friend!

              3. Ad Astra

                Our bulldog hasn’t actually been trained to heel, but he’s so obsessed with his humans that he’ll never stray more than 15 feet from us. He’ll walk fine on a leash and stays close enough without one, but he would have no idea what “heel” meant. He also doesn’t know “sit” or “stay” and is not a particularly well-trained dog. I’d let just about any adult take him for a walk, but I wouldn’t let someone walk into our house to get him without me because our dog is fearful of some strangers and we haven’t been able to identify a pattern yet.

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              4. MT

                YES. Mine is an idiot on walks too. And she’s 10, still thinks she’s a puppy and loves a good squirrel chase.
                But she sits. Sometimes lays down on command.
                And she’s good at chasing plush squeaky toys, so she’s basically perfect ;)

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              5. Kelly

                My parents’ Weimaraner can be a weirdo at times. He has suffered from severe food allergies since he was a puppy. He’s allergic to any food that has meat as an ingredient, so it’s expensive prescription kibble and soft food for him. He also has an autoimmune disorder that caused him to have one of his toes amputated last year. Because of the autoimmune disorder and my mother having had cancer last year, he’s behind on his vaccinations so he can’t be kenneled. My parents have an arrangement with one of the vet techs at the clinic where they take him to come to the house to feed, water and walk him a couple times a day when they’re gone.

                He’s a dog that went to multiple obedience classes but as soon as he catches a whiff of something that smells attractive, all that training vanishes. Part of it comes from the fact that he comes from a hunting breed. Walks after a rain can take double the time because he has to stop and smell everything, not to mention marking his presence.

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              6. Honeybee

                Plus, many dogs are crafty. My dog KNOWS when she’s got someone new who doesn’t know how to handle her, and she’ll ignore their commands while she’ll listen to mine. She can even tell the difference between her harness and when I clip the leash to her collar – she pulls strongly when I do the latter because she knows that I have less control. When I put on her harness, she walks correctly. She knows how to heel…she just doesn’t want to. LOL.

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            2. Stephanie

              Aw, my pit mix is an idiot on walks too. He’s got the strength and stubbornness of a pit and the energy of a lab. Walks can be…tiring.

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              1. Anony-Moose

                I’m lucky that 80 percent of the time he’s a fantastic, low-key dog who would rather sleep under the covers than chase squirrels. But I’m reminded of just how freakin’ strong he is when he takes off down the stairs or lunges at another dog (who he is then immediately frightened by.)

                I’d kill for someone I trusted to walk him so we could have a house-sitter. Luckily mom-in-law’s got a fenced in yard and a dog buddy.

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            3. HRChick

              My dog is an extremely well-trained idiot.

              He’s been to boot camp, daily and weekend trainings with us, constant vigilance and reinforcement, but he is such a big baby. He’s scared of almost everything – especially children. He is obedient and relaxed and adoring to us and our other dog, but not trustworthy around other strange people or dogs.

              We board him with a specialist, who is not cheap.

              I hate it when people will say, “Oh, you just need to socialize him! Oh, you just need to do this or that.” You know what – I know. Please don’t insult my intelligence when it comes to my dog. He’s been socialized since he was a bitty baby. We’re doing everything we can to make sure he feels safe and that others are safe from his fear. He’s just so very… special.

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              1. Mabel

                One of mine is cautious around children, too. They move quickly and unpredictably, so I understand his fear. The other one loves kids – probably because they usually have food on themselves that he can lick off.

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              2. AnonAnalyst

                My parents had a dog like this. She was adorable and loved pretty much everyone when she got to know them, but she was terrified of new people and extremely skittish. She was a rescue dog, so we could never figure out if her fear was due to experiences in her past or just her general personality, or a combination of both. They tried for most of her life to socialize her so she would be less afraid, but it never really seemed to help.

                Usually she would just hide when unfamiliar people were around, but we were never sure what she would do if she were cornered or otherwise unable to hide and worried that she might attack or injure someone in that situation. Fortunately, she quickly came to love all of the people at the vet’s office, which provided boarding services, so we were comfortable taking her there when they were traveling. Unfortunately, it was not cheap; if they had to start traveling as much as the OP is, it would be a significant cost burden.

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              3. MousyNon

                That’s so frustrating, but at least it just goes to show that dogs (like people) are a combination of nature AND nurture. Training/socialization is important, sure, but dogs aren’t blank slates you can write on. Sometimes, we do all the right things and they’re still furry pains in the bottom!

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            4. LawPancake

              Yes, this is so true. Dogs have as many different personalities as people do, some are easy and some are just not, I’ve got three and they are each completely different. If you meet my lab you’ll think I’m the best dog trainer in the world. If you give him a command he doesn’t know he’ll start doing anything he can think of in the hopes that’s what you wanted, not for a treat either, your happiness is his reward. If you meet my other two, you won’t. They’re just different dogs with different personalities who like different things. If you have a dog who just isn’t naturally a people pleaser you’re going to be doing 10x’s more work to get him to a basic obedience level. Same if you have a really anxious dog. So if you see a dog pulling on a leash, you have no idea whether three weeks ago he was doing wind sprints on it.

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          2. TL -

            Sorry! Commented before I thought – I recognize that there are special cases out there, for sure, but dogs that don’t heel are a special pet peeve of mine (that doesn’t belong here.) AndI shouldn’t make assumptions about the OP.

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          3. AnotherFed

            I’ve got some snowflakes myself, who have consistently acceptable or better leash manners with me (and usually better, except when they see irresistible evil enemy CAT), but who will completely ignore a command from a stranger

            … bottom line, I think we’ve got to accept that the OP knows their situation best and trust that they are here for boss discussion advice, not pet training/boarding advice.

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        2. Vote for President Bartlet

          Even the best trained dog in the world can still be difficult to handle if they are large enough. A former supervisor of mine had two dogs that were basically the size of small ponies, and they were incredibly well trained (professional training, etc). My supervisor had to be incredibly careful with who walked the dogs because if something happens and the dog gets spooked or scared, only a very strong person is going to be able to control the dog. Sometimes ‘safely walking a dog’ isn’t about proper dog training. If the OP has large dogs – especially given the fact that are more than one – it would be unsafe for most people to walk them regardless of any other circumstances.

          And yes, even the best trained dogs can get spooked or scared.

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      2. michelenyc

        Have you tried dogvacay.com? The people offering sitting on the site are usually a lot less expensive then kennels and the they will be covered under dogvacays insurance if your dogs should become ill or get hurt.

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      3. DMC

        I occasionally use live in house sitters and I have multiple dogs. I’m not sure if it’s an option, but a stay-in housesitter/petsitter would be cheaper than $100/night usually and I always leave explicit instructions (both in person when I meet them and in writing) that they are to walk the dogs separately. Granted, I only have two, so your situation might be different. It could be an option. I’ve found their rates to be anywhere from $25/night to $70/night for two dogs.

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    3. Zillah

      I think that that’s a reasonable option for many cats – though not necessarily for the period of time the OP is talking about – but I’ve had dogs my entire life, and I can’t imagine doing that for one two week period, let alone multiple trips. It just isn’t feasible.

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    4. Heather

      I don’t always think it’s realistic for this kind of solution. For one thing dogs need more care than say cats (drop in, feed, clean litter box, play and pet) and dog dynamics can be much different than cats. Secondly professional pet sitters and kennels are licensed, insured and bonded and most importantly are trained in the animal behaviour. This is why I will pet sit for friend and co workers if they have cats but not for dogs since I don’t know and understand dog behaviour.

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      1. Katter

        Yeah, I would be *really* hesitant to leave a dog (or dogs) with only a few minutes of human contact per day for feeding and so forth. Cats, yes. My bunnies, yes. Dogs, no. Last time my housemate went out of town for more than a few days, one of her dogs started having diarrhea on the carpet on a daily basis from stress until we gave in and dogproofed another housemate’s bedroom so they could sleep with her. The dogs still had the same amount of human contact as normal other than sleeping alone, and the result was diarrhea. I don’t want to find out what would happen if they were alone almost constantly.

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        1. TL -

          My parents’ dogs, on the other hand, are fine being on their own for a couple of days to a week (I don’t think they’ve ever gone longer but can’t imagine it would be too much of a problem.)

          But they’re ranch dogs that can live outside during that time just fine, and they can be free-fed – a friend will pop by every day or three just to make sure they haven’t done something dumb and their bowls have food in them but they’re fine on their own.

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        2. Ezri

          I’m not even comfortable leaving cats alone with someone checking in on them, for trips longer than a weekend. But that might be my cat-mom paranoia. :P

          We were out of town for a week this month visiting family, and we ended up boarding our three cats for the duration. I know they’d rather stay at home, and husband’s brother does live nearby as a drop-in food option. But at the same time…. the idea was causing me too much stress. Brother is not terribly responsible, and I know he’d just fill the food bowls and leave. My cats are silly: one is on a diet due to a food complex that causes him to try to steal everyone else’s food and immediately vomit it up; one likes to break into the storage room downstairs and shut the door so he can’t get out; the third spends her days sleeping under dressers and beds and might not come out for food at all because OMG strangers.

          I just feel better knowing that they are somewhere that minimizes the trouble they can get into.

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    5. Katie the Fed

      It might serve the OP best if we assumed that, as she indicated, she’s explored all of those care options and didn’t find them viable. Otherwise we risk going down a rabbit hole of suggestions that aren’t really related to the question she asked.

      Just my two cents though.

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      1. OP

        ^^ yes, please :-) Sitters won’t work for me at all right now. I’ve spent a lot of time agonizing about it and I’m very sure.

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        1. Nea

          I don’t think you need to agonize about anything. I have no kids, low-maintenance pets and love to travel, and *still* if my boss said “Hey, I need you to be gone one third to one-half of next month” the answer would still be a big, fat “NOPE.”

          There are two issues here – the first is springing that much away time in the first place, and the second is springing it on you with what sounds like at max 3 weeks to get ready. That’s ridiculous. In addition to ignoring the needs of the dogs, your boss sounds like he’s blithely assuming that you have no life – no appointments in that time period, no outside commitments, nothing else planned.

          Reply
          1. Charisma

            Yes, seriously. Who springs that kind of extended travel on an employee on such short notice. Regardless of someone’s home situation, that struck me as completely absurd. I have a life scheduled outside of my job, am I supposed to suddenly cancel my plans and be grateful because of a surprise 15 day business trip?

            Reply
            1. V

              Lots of employers, unfortunately. I hadn’t traveled for my job in 2 years, and was told on a Wednesday they wanted me somewhere next Monday. It was not an emergency.

              Reply
          2. Chinook

            “I have no kids, low-maintenance pets and love to travel, and *still* if my boss said “Hey, I need you to be gone one third to one-half of next month” the answer would still be a big, fat “NOPE.””

            This is me in a nutshell. If he could guarantee this is a one-off and not going to be a regular occurrence, maybe I would do it grudgingly. But, if this was going to be my new reality, I would quickly point out that I turned down a job offer to take this job because the other job, at twice the pay, involved me being gone half the month at a time. I thought long and hard about all the volunteering I do and community involved and realized missing out on that just wasn’t worth the gobs of money I would have been making (think over $100,00/year to do paperwork plus room & board while away)

            Reply
          3. Brandy in TN

            Agreed completely. I purposely took a job with no travel, so don’t be springing it on me. Im you without the “love to travel”, Im single, with pets (low maintainence to be decided, cats + dogs) and would be on the look out for a new job if travel springs up.

            Reply
        2. DMC

          Shucks. I guess there are no easy answers. If your boss won’t ease up on your travel (and you’ve talked to your boss about the situation, I know) then it might be time to start looking. If you’re valued, and your boss knows this is a deal breaker, you might get some more flexibility.

          Reply
    6. T

      I live a lone (and in a new city so I know almost nobody) and spent a lot of time researching this topic before getting a dog. While there are always a bunch of high school/college kids in the neighborhood that would love extra cash for playing with a dog for 30 minutes a day, there are multiple factors. The biggest issue for me is giving a key to my house to some kid. Even if I’ve known the kid for years and know her parents, young people often make poor decisions and I would be nervous about leaving my house unattended when traveling. An elderly person would be a much better choice but my dog can be a lot to handle. Another issue is sick days, holidays, family vacations, etc. As much as I hate paying for a professional dog walker, I feel good about that decision every time they get sick or quit with no notice and another walker or the owner fills in without missing a beat.

      I’m willing to board my dog a few days here or there for work but I would absolutely not be OK with boarding my dog 15 days a month, even if it were free. This is the same as with children in that it would be too much time for my dog to be apart from me. Plus, the cost would be crazy for that much time in boarding. I would be looking for a new job if my company told me I needed to radically increase my travel.

      Reply
  3. the gold digger

    We pay the neighbor kid $5 a day to come twice a day to feed the cats, scoop the box, and give them some sugar.

    He is a high school junior (he started with us when he was in sixth grade) and I am dreading the day he goes to college.

    Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I’ll bet! Part of me hopes he’ll turn into a big loser who moves to his mom’s basement and plays video games all day long rather than either going to college or getting a job once he graduates, but he is too nice a kid for me to want that for him really. I need to get the other neighbor’s infant up to speed really fast!

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          There’s a 32 year old on my parents’ street who did just that. He now has almost 20 years experience taking care of my parents pets. He’s super reliable taking care of animals because he loves them (and his parents don’t allow them in their house, so he can’t get his own), but is apparently woefully unable to hold down an actual job.

          So… win for my parents, lose for his?

          Reply
    1. Chinook

      “He is a high school junior (he started with us when he was in sixth grade) and I am dreading the day he goes to college.”

      Now is the time to teach him the value of being a good reference and that some people will pay for a solid referral. He probably knows someone who would be able to take over what is really a solid gig for a kid.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        And you want to avoid people like the junior-high dog walker my family hired when I went away one summer, who stole our car. (I think it may have been a failure to return from joyriding rather than an escape across state lines, but still, not what you look for.)

        Reply
    2. hamster

      Automated feeding systems? :) like a vending machine that drops an amount of food per day and a self-cleaning litter. :) Do they exist ? Should i invent them?

      Reply
          1. L McD

            Yeah, I don’t want to know how much money i’d pay for something that would (kindly, of course) convince my cat to stop eating my dog’s food.

            Reply
          2. alexcansmile

            There is a feeder that you can associate with microchips so only cat 1 can open the feeder with cat 1’s food and only cat 2 can get into the feeder with cat 2’s food. It’s called the Sureflap feeder. They’re not cheap, but when you have cats with different diets they’re amazing.

            Reply
            1. DMented Kitty

              Oh good to know, I’ve been wondering if there’s a feeder that does that. My cats have been doing well with their shared diets, but I’m glad I don’t have to wire up something to do that exact same thing.

              Now they should have that for pet doors, as well. If you want to keep one pet away from another without having to lock them up/let them out every time while keeping the room secure.

              Reply
              1. They do!

                They do have that for pet doors! Electronic pet doors that only open for a micro-chip that you attach to the pet’s collar. That way you don’t get a raccoon through your dog/cat door.

                Reply
          3. Chinook

            “(While you are inventing, would you invent a cat-fur-repelling fabric?)”

            My pleather couch is the best thing ever. Between the cat, the boxer and the wolf, my floor had a light dusting of fur everywhere but none of it stuck to the couch!

            Reply
        1. Brandy in TN

          I had a bowl that looked like a water cooler on the floor, that held a gallon of water and kept the bowl full. One cat has a water fixation, popped the jug hard and flooded the kitchen floor (luckily I was home). So that had to go away.

          Reply
      1. A Dispatcher

        Skymall definitely used to have that for both food and water. It was ungodly expensive (because well, Skymall), but I’m sure there are other options out there now.

        I just know I’d constantly worry it would malfunction.

        Reply
        1. Anony-Moose

          Or, like my cat, they just HAVE to have human contact. My cat will throw up IN HIS FOOD BOWL after like 48 hours without us home. Even if someone pops in to make sure he’s alive and has food. He just cannot. (I have…clingy animals.)

          Reply
          1. fposte

            My friend’s cat is pretty okay on her own, but boy, you can sure tell her people are away by how velcroed she is on you when you stop by.

            Reply
          2. teclatrans

            My cats really want interaction too. My boy cat will meow and meow to be fed, despite food being already in the bowl. Sometimes I need to touch the food before he will then eat, but other times just walking into the kitchen and looking at the food bowl will be sufficient.

            Reply
      2. Nena

        Automatic litter boxes are out there. I have the litter robot and I love it! Only have to empty the tray every few days and add litter when the leve starts to go down.

        The Cat Genie kept clogging on me- had too many issues.

        Reply
    3. Heather

      I don’t think that’s a realistic solution for dogs. Lots of dogs get destructive when they are on their own too much and need more exercise (walks, outside visits and more than once a day) than cats do and than they can get in a half an hour visit. Cats (most cats) are much easier in that way.

      And to be honest a lot of people would rather pay for the care. I’m sure this kid is wonderful but for me unless it’s my mom taking care of my cat I pay for a pet sitter. That’s just the way I am. Pet sitters for cats aren’t a big expense but if kenneling is your only option.

      Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        Yes, when I was a kid we had to start boarding our dog, even for short weekend trips, even though we had great petsitting neighbors who would come 2 times a day to feed, walk, and play with him (and he had a fenced yard to run around in), because he would howl if he was left alone for longer than one day/night. He had separation anxiety since he went through four homes before we adopted him as a puppy. And that’s really hard to train a dog out of doing because it by definition happens when you aren’t there!

        Reply
    4. A Teacher

      Not an option for my dogs. My pitbull has separation anxiety and either has to be boarded with a trainer I trust that did his work or with a few pet sitters that will stay overnight. If he goes over 8 hours without someone with him, he gets really destructive–like chew through a crate destructive. My chow mix is on meds and needs them on a consistent basis where I would need a pet sitter in house. She doesn’t board well so that’s out for her.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Yep my pit mix chewed the entire bottom tray part of her crate into a thousand pieces and another time drooled on herself until she was wet enough to somehow bend the door and squeeze out! And scratched her face a bit in the process. This was just after a half day in there but I haven’t crated her since.

        Reply
        1. Karowen

          drooled on herself until she was wet enough to somehow bend the door and squeeze out!

          That sounds adorable and I really wish I you had that on camera to share.

          Reply
      2. AnotherFed

        Ouch! When you can’t crate them (or contain them in the crate), it’s so much harder to contain the destruction. I had one dog that ate the bottom tray of the crate, flipped the crate, and then squeezed out the larger size holes in the bottom of the crate…

        Reply
        1. Raptor

          You guys might considering getting a camera called Nest. You can pick it up for like 100 bucks from best buy. You plug it into your wall and connect it to you wireless, then you can see what is going on in your house with your Iphone.

          I set it up so I can watch my dog while I’m away. So I know what she does, if she howls, if she sleeps, or if she decides to get destructive. The camera alerts you when there’s movement or sound and it has a fish eye lenses so it gets a wide field of view. It’s pretty sensitive and can be zoomed in to focus on a spot for movement (like the door of the crate). You can also talk through the camera, which might help some pets to settle down to hear your voice (though I’m always afraid it’ll make them more nervous).

          Reply
    5. AnotherFed

      When it’s 3+ big dogs who need walks, that’s way, way more than you trust to the neighbor kid even if they’re the laziest Newfies ever. If they’re dogs who chase birds or squirrels, aren’t welcoming of strangers, only accept family members as authority figures, or even just have a strange fear of an ordinary object, that’s not safe for the kid or the dogs – the kids is way out of their weight class.

      Reply
      1. AFT123

        You have 3 Newfies?! Are you on Instagram? I have one petite Newfie gal and I love her to pieces. I would quit a job that asked me to travel 15 days in a row… my dog would probably die of sadness if I was gone that long. Although she does love the neighbor guy who lets her out sometimes.

        Reply
        1. AnotherFed

          I have 3 big shelter dogs of dubious descent (one’s probably a pit bull, the others are Heinz 57), but no Newfies currently. I picked Newfies as an example because they’ve got a reputation as big, friendly giants. My dogs are not fond of strangers, and would freak out if a petsitter showed up – they wouldn’t even let a petsitter near enough to them to clip a leash on, let alone walking nicely for them!

          Reply
      2. anonanonanon

        Exactly. I love my Newfie and he’s the laziest idiot ever and I know that I’m strong enough to handle him if he gets too excited, but some stranger might not. (That or they won’t put up with his drool or the way it takes him 20+ minutes to sniff EVERYTHING in his path before he decides to go to the bathroom). He gets super excited when he meets new people and some people mistake that for aggression because he’s so large.

        Reply
      3. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        Yup. A friend’s bf has a berner, and this dog is perfect on the leash when the bf is walking him. When me and my friend have tried the dog suddenly forgets to heel (even though the owner is right there exasperatedly saying “heel!”). For some dogs the “who” is very important!

        Reply
          1. AnonEMoose

            We told our current cat sitter that it was an enormous compliment when the more skittish/stand-offish of our two actually sniffed her fingers on the “new client set-up” visit. And it was.

            Of our two cats, Xena is reasonably social, and will often come out to check out new people. She’ll even solicit pets from some people. Gabrielle is pretty firmly “Mama’s Girl”. She solicits pets/lap sitting from me, and will sometimes deign to allow my husband to pet her. Pretty much anyone else? She might allow herself to be seen. Maybe.

            So her sniffing the new cat sitter’s fingers was kind of a big deal. That was with me right there, though. Although the cat sitter’s notes did indicate that Gabrielle did allow herself to be seen at least a couple of times the week we were gone.

            Reply
            1. That a song, was as merry

              That’s our cat Hairy(named by the 5yr old because…well…he’s covered in hair. Obviously.) . The only way a pet sitter knows he’s alive is that the litter box is used and the food disappears-they never actually see him; I think he believes that all non-family members are cat serial killers.

              Reply
          2. sam

            My catsitter excitedly sends my texts with lots of exclamation points and cat-emoji when my cat deigns to be touched without hissing. It’s an ongoing process.

            Reply
          3. V

            I once pet sat for a pair of cats for two weeks. Never saw either of them in that time; all I knew was that the food was being eaten and the litterbox used.

            Reply
    6. Linguist curmudgeon

      My neighbors joked about torching my personal reference with them (when I was applying for real jobs) because I was such a reliable dog sitter. :-D

      Reply
  4. Viktoria

    Yes, I think the framing here is great. It really shouldn’t matter to your boss what your outside obligation is specifically — there are tons of reasons that even people without children would have a difficult time traveling that frequently. Off the top of my head, I can think of: caring for a sick family member, a health treatment they are undergoing, extensive volunteer responsibilities, your prize-winning rose garden, etc. In your case, you do have dogs, so it’s somewhat irrelevant if your boss thinks that is a stupid reason- you have them, and you must board them when you travel; presumably a reasonable boss wouldn’t ask you to neglect or abandon your pets due to a change in work responsibilities.

    On that topic, going from occasional business travel to 10-15 days of travel in a month is a HUGE shift in job responsibilities and should be addressed, I think. Take it from me, as someone who used to travel 20 days in a typical month- traveling that much has many ramifications, not just the cost of pet care (as you’re probably aware from your husband’s travel, too). People who are interested in that level of travel can seek out those jobs, but otherwise it’s a bit too much of a difference to fall under the catch-all of changing job responsibilities that can be expected.

    Reply
    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      On that topic, going from occasional business travel to 10-15 days of travel in a month is a HUGE shift in job responsibilities and should be addressed, I think.

      This is what I came to say. My former company kept uping the travel for roles that typically were zero travel and some of the hire-ups didn’t understand why people were unhappy.

      I used to travel for weeks at a time (so much so that my stuff lived in storage) and I just crashed at my boyfriend’s when I was actually home. But it was something I took on by choice, I couldn’t imagine my job shifting to that!

      Reply
    2. Ted Mosby

      In your case, you do have dogs, so it’s somewhat irrelevant if your boss thinks that is a stupid reason- you have them, and you must board them when you travel

      Exactly. Your boss doesn’t get to have an opinion on of this is a “good” reason or not. If you leave for that long, your dogs will need care, and that care will cost money. It’s not up for debate. It’s not some extreme “crazy animal lady” point of view. It is a totally non-debatable fact. The fact that they’re dogs not kids, and dogs aren’t as important to most people as their kids are** doesn’t factor into whether or not they need to be taken care of.

      **I’m sure some people would argue this point, possibly including my mother

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        Ding ding ding. You can’t leave a dog alone for a week just like you can’t leave a child alone for a week. It doesn’t really matter if someone’s boss doesn’t think having kids and/or dogs is a good use of your time and resources. You have an obligation you can’t get out of.

        Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      Yes, that’s the rub in this conversation. Even if the OP didn’t have any outside obligations, if it were me, I’d still want to have a conversation about why such a big travel requirement has popped up all of a sudden.

      As for the sitter, I had to pay quite a bit just to have someone come feed Psycho Kitty twice a day while I was in the UK. Those trips had plenty of notice and I was able to budget for them, but they were still expensive, even though I got a discount because she didn’t need (or want!) cuddle time. If I suddenly had to travel as much as my colleagues do, or my boss pulled this out like the OP’s boss, I’d be up Sh!t Creek without a paddle.

      Reply
    4. TootsNYC

      In your case, you do have dogs, so it’s somewhat irrelevant if your boss thinks that is a stupid reason- you have them, and you must board them when you travel; presumably a reasonable boss wouldn’t ask you to neglect or abandon your pets due to a change in work responsibilities.
      Not to mention, it would be illegal to neglect or abandon them. (Well, maybe not illegal to give them away permanently, but that’s a pretty high price!

      Reply
  5. UKAnon

    On this one I am sort of torn. On the one hand, the company can require you to travel, and I don’t think that in most cases your personal factors should be taken into account (obviously if it’s something like “my [friend/relative/spouse] probably doesn’t have long to live so I’m afraid I won’t be available for any extra travel/overtime for the next three months as I have to care for them” that’s different, but for an ongoing commitment I don’t think it should be factored in in the same way) In much the same way as you would be required to continue meeting the requirements of the job, travel can just be one of those things, particularly if you’ve been in the job a while and are seeing it evolve.

    On the other hand, you should be having a say in how your job evolves for something as intrusive to your time as travel (on the understanding that they can decide you are no longer the right fit if you can’t reach an agreement with the company) and if this is a one-off thing, particularly if somebody else would be equally appropriate job-wise, this is something that they should factor into account.

    So, on the whole, I guess I come down on it being up to you whether or not to push back (would this be a fantastic career opportunity for you, or in some other way compensate for the amount of money? Would it interfere with your private life in other ways, like missing a celebration or event?) but I don’t think the company’s being unreasonable either – particularly as your boss doesn’t seem to have pushed you in a major way to change your mind. I would definitely clarify if this will be a feature of the role going forwards though.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      The biggest factor to me is how much travel is being discussed. If this were 2-3 days, I’d agree completely with you – realistically, even if a job “doesn’t require travel” I think you should always assume that a random conference or trip to a distant office may be required as you stay in the role because that’s just part of what comes with having a good reputation and gaining visibility. But asking someone to be gone for half a month is a huge commitment, even if it’s a one-off instance that will never happen again. That crosses the line from potentially inconvenient to a serious burden – that’s the type of travel you factor in when determining someone’s compensation, because I really think someone who’s spending half a month away from home should be getting paid more.

      Reply
      1. UKAnon

        I can understand that. Ultimately in a general sense I think it depends on a lot of factors (mandatory training for whole nationwide company in one place once a decade v boss wants his team to take a golfing holiday with him) as much as actual time. In the OP’s case, it seems to be optional enough that they’re prepared to drop it, so given the length I don’t think OP was unreasonable in pushing back, either.

        Reply
      2. INTP

        I agree, and there’s all kinds of reasons that being away from home might be very costly to someone financially. If someone accepted a job specifically because it required little travel, I don’t think they should just be expected to “roll with” new responsibilities that create a significant cut to their take-home pay or require them to take on debt as the OP mentions, whether it’s dog boarding, childcare, a house sitter, a medical treatment out of network, or whatever else. The employer can decide that the travel has truly become mandatory in the role and that it would be cheaper for them to replace that employee with someone with no extra travel expenses and that would be fair, but it would not be out of line or entitled to bring up. I’d focus on the $$ in the conversation of course and leave out any “dogs are children” sentiment.

        Reply
        1. WLE

          On the other hand, travel can be very cost effective. Most companies pay for meals and other travel expenses while you’re traveling on business. This might not be enough for OP to come out ahead, but perhaps she’s only losing $40 per day vs $100.

          Reply
    2. Meg Murry

      I am curious if, given that it is a big company, OP’s job description specifically had an amount of travel on the description when she was hired. On one hand, 10-15 days of travel in one month does stink. On the other hand, if the job description said travel: 5% or 10% – 15 days out of 250 working days is 6% – so not completely out of the job description. On the other hand, if when she interviewed, she was told what she is saying here, “no travel other than a few days a year”, I can see how this is changing the terms of what she agreed to in the job description.

      When I took my current job, the posting/job description said “travel – less than 5%” and I have been reassured by my boss, and my boss’s boss that in my role, that means no more than 2 trips per year, each no more than one week, and all with months of advance notice – which is a huge improvement from my previous job, where I would be told “you are getting on a plane to go to XYZ place sometime in the next month, probably for 2-4 days, but we won’t know exactly what days until a few days in advance, and if it goes badly (due to circumstances I had no control over) you’ll be going back again the next month”. While technically this also was within the “less than 10% travel” of the job description, it was really not a setup that worked well for anyone that had commitments outside of work in any way.

      Separate note: if it appears that travel is going to become more common, OP, you may want to at least shop around for kennels/boarding options. Maybe even though it was $100/day, they have a deal like $350/week? Or maybe if you are willing to drive to the outlying/suburban area it might be cheaper, and worth an hour drive for a long trip.

      Reply
    3. BRR

      I think the op has a great attitude of “hey there’s travel sometimes and dogs are my decision so I just have to pay.”

      But to then spring on someone “we need you to travel 50% next month for your non-travel position.” That’s a huge deal. That’s really an entirely different job.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        This. It’s the lack of advanced notice that is most unreasonable here. It’s like telling someone a week in advance that they have to work the night shift half the month from now on, when it was previously a day position.

        Reply
    4. Jennifer

      Also, a key thing is that her husband is already on major travel duty, which makes it a hardship in general if they’re BOTH gone a lot.

      Reply
  6. SJP

    I don’t get why some Bosses cannot understand that sometimes nowadays a lot of people don’t want children, but see their animals/dogs as their children so for them to incur the cost of boarding them can be as costly as child care, and also they take jobs without travel as being away for long periods from their pets can be like being away from their children..

    It’s a legit thing and people need to realise that

    Reply
    1. Lee

      While I agree with this in theory, what about single people who don’t have children or pets? Tough luck to them?

      I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution. I can see some people (with children or without) getting upset if pets were given the same consideration as small human beings.

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        Well, there are a lot of things a single person might understandably miss if their job forced them to spend time away from home: the charity they volunteer for, their significant other, their close friends, their running group, their personal trainer. Not every individual is equally disrupted by business travel, but it’s not something you want your employer making assumptions about.

        Reply
        1. anonanonanon

          YES. At my last company, the department head assumed people who were single/unmarried/without children or pets had nothing else going on in their lives so could work late or attend weekend conferences. As if I didn’t have friends or grad school or outside activities I wanted to spend time doing. It was annoying.

          Reply
        2. Chinook

          “there are a lot of things a single person might understandably miss if their job forced them to spend time away from home: the charity they volunteer for,”

          This is me – I once missed an event I organized because of a conflict with the only business trip of the year. I literally was taking last minute calls about the event (about people running late) from work but I atleast knew it would run without me. But, now I represent said organization as a voting delegate at various meetings and am required to go or not have our voice represented. I took this position because I knew work was flexible with minimal travel. If things suddenly changed like it did for the OP, I would literally have to choose between a commitment to 100+ women or my job. The job would probably win out (because I could probably find someone to replace me at the events) but I would not be impressed by my job and would probably start looking elsewhere if I saw this being the new normal.

          Reply
      2. Retail Lifer

        I don’t think kids or pets should change what’s expected of you at work, but what will be expected of you really needs to be disclosed up front, before you decide to take the job. Then you know if it’s something you can (or want to) handle. It’s incredibly unfair that such a material apsect of this job changed, as the OP didn’t go into this job thinking this would be an issue.

        Reply
      3. Helka

        I do think there’s a difference between “Rearranging my schedule for this would really suck and I would miss out on things I want to do” and “there are living beings depending on me being at home for X amount of time per day and if I’m not there, arrangements that cost $$$, stress, etc have to be made.”

        Reply
    2. OP

      I see my dogs as family, but I know that not everyone has this point of view. So, while I don’t understand having a pet and not loving it like a kid, I try to remember that more people are like that than are like me (I think). Also, people that are super obnoxious about their kids being special snowflakes annoy me so I don’t want to be that way about my pets.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        Is there a particular reason why your job has suddenly required more travel than it used to? That alone would be worth discussing with your boss and deciding whether or not that is a good fit for you, since your dogs mean so much to you and your husband. If you decide that you want to stay (and/or you feel you don’t have other job options), you could have a heart to heart with your boss about what is going on, framing it in a positive way that you really enjoy your job and want to be the best employee you can be, but changes to your current position are affecting your finances, you cannot be away from home for long periods, etc.

        If you frame it in such a way that you’re trying to be the best employee you can be and you want to do right by the company, any reasonable boss should help recoup some of these expenses, especially if 1) they recognize you’re the right person for the job and 2) they want to keep you. My brother’s employer pays for the boarding of his dogs when he has to travel cross country for training, which to me says they recognize he’s really good at what he does and they don’t want to lose him to a competitor.

        I actually interviewed for a job last year where they advertised that the job had 15% travel and I was excited about that prospect because I’m in a period of my life when I’m not tied down and can do that. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

        Good luck! It seems everyone who posts on here has, shall we say, difficult supervisors :)

        Reply
        1. OP

          There have been some staffing changes and limitations (trying to keep things vague :-)) that are causing this potential increase.

          Reply
          1. Menacia

            I think the key thing to note here is “change”. We may all have gone into our jobs thinking they would be one way forever, but change is inevitable. I recommend you speak with your manager, and see how serious it is for you to travel. Are there other options you could use (video conferencing?) instead of physically traveling?

            Good luck!

            Reply
          2. Not Myself

            So, I just had a thought which may or may not be practical. My sister used to bring her dogs with her when she travelled. Motel 6 is very dog friendly, and, depending on the location, is also quite clean and decent. What if you asked you boss to pay for the cost of transporting your dogs contingent on the reduced lodging cost that would come with you staying in Motel 6 or a similar accommodation? I’m not sure how far you’d be going or how well your dogs travel, but this way you could fulfill both of your obligations without excessive cost to you or your company.

            Reply
            1. hodie-hi

              I’ve never found a hotel or motel that allowed dogs to be left alone in a room, even when crated. If they determine that has happened, they ask you to leave.

              Reply
      2. Bunny

        Ehh, I don’t think you need to worry about being a “special snowflake” here.

        You have living beings that are dependent on you for their survival and wellbeing. Feeding them is not optional. Toilet trips are not optional. Some amount of exercise is not optional. If you are not available to provide those things, you must pay for them to be provided by someone else.

        You took this job and took on those pets based on a specific amount of expected travel per year, and your own budgeted estimates of how much you were prepared – and able – to pay out for this.

        What your boss is asking of you is a wildly unusual amount of travel in a short period, at short notice. 15 days travel in a single month – whether that’s a fortnight away out of a month (so about 50%) or 15 separate working days spent traveling (so 75% of the working days) It would be difficult, impractical and a huge imposition on someone who was single with no pets. This would not be a reasonable request to make on any member of staff who has not specifically accepted a job role that they knew at the outset would involve significant amounts of travelling.

        Staffing issues and changes at work aside, this is something a reasonable boss would know is an imposition, and would come to you about knowing they were making a request that you could not guarantee you could do. I think the first conversation that needs to happen, ASAP, is as Alison says – you need to know, going forward, if your job is now going to involve more travel than it used to and, if so, how much.

        Reply
    3. INTP

      I don’t think employers need to recognize pets as children by any means, but I still think they should recognize the expense here. It’s a mandatory expense for the OP to incur if she goes out of town. It would be the same if she needed, say, regular medical treatments that are costly out of her insurance network, a special diet that drives restaurant meal costs significantly above the per diem rate, or whatever other reason might make going out of town especially pricey for someone. It’s reasonable for someone to not just “roll with” incurring debt for their employer’s benefit or a significant cut to their take-home pay when they’ve specifically accepted a job that wouldn’t require that travel.

      Reply
      1. SJP

        Just to clarify that’s what I meant, like the expense is the same..
        It is still the same for a couple of a single person.. a lot of single people who want to remain single and not have children treat and see their dogs as their children and as mentioned the expense is the same. Looking after something either a child or an animal is an expense that equate to the same inconvenience

        Reply
      2. dawbs

        This is huge and often ignored.

        I spend a very piddling amount on food per month (relatively) because everyone in my house brown-bags. For me to suddenly have to deal with eating out 3 meals a day for a week (or pack a cooler of PB&J onto an airplane…which…no) is expensive.

        And also, it’s a time suck. Time off that isn’t where I want to be (like in a hotel room eating bad food instead of on my own couch eating bad food) isn’t the same value to me.
        I schedule things in my time when I’m not working–in ‘after work’ time this week I have a girl scout meeting, a volunteer in my kid’s classroom thing, a appointment to donate blood and a drive 2 hours away for a specialist doctor appointment. None of these things are anything my work is aware of. If I were ‘out of town’ I’d miss all of those, because I wouldn’t be home for the hours from 6-8.
        So it’s still a time suck.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yup. While it matters that there are some mammals who can’t be left on their own, ultimately it’s going to be a big disruption for anybody to be away from home half the month, and that needs to be recognized and addressed.

          Reply
          1. INTP

            Yes, the fact is that many people have financial or scheduling or other reasons that they need minimal travel, and those people have a right to live their lives as they wish. If they accepted a job under the understanding that it involved minimal travel, and suddenly it’s going to be 50% travel some months, I think it’s fair for them to not just “roll with it.” Maybe the needs of the job have genuinely changed and the travel has to be a must, but the employer should at least recognize that this could be a huge disruption, and it shouldn’t be seen as unreasonable or entitled if the person has to explain that traveling is a major disturbance for them and that realistically they cannot swing it without X days of notice, Y increase in compensation, etc. You wouldn’t expect someone to go along with a major slash in salary, a switch to night shift two weeks per month, an increase from 30 to 50 hours with no change in pay, etc, and consider it just part of working life.

            Reply
        2. INTP

          Yeah, I’m pescetarian and gluten free, and I avoid unsustainable seafood – I just feel ethically icky about it. If you’ve looked at the special diets menus at restaurants, you’ll notice that there is often zero overlap between the vegetarian menu and the gluten free menu. Basically, I can eat the salmon (priciest thing on the menu) at an American business dinner chain type place, or I can go to a health foodie type place ($$, and often unpopular with the other people you might be expected to dine with). At home I’m fine, GF pasta is cheap at TJs, and rice, corn tortillas, and potatoes are cheap everywhere, but if I had to eat out every meal, I imagine it would become $$$$$. I wouldn’t be happy about it if my no-travel job suddenly required extensive travel and they didn’t allow me to expense those meals.

          Reply
    4. TL -

      It sounds like OP and husband could theoretically switch job types, where OP travels a lot and husband didn’t, and that would be fine for pet care (not suggesting this as a solution though!!!), so it’s not that OP has pets, it’s that the OP has commitments at home that don’t let her travel much, which is why they took a job that didn’t involve much travel.

      Having pets doesn’t mean anything about your ability to travel; it all depends on what the rest of your life looks like.

      Reply
    5. LBK

      Even if you don’t see your pets as children, they are still living things that need to be taken care of somehow. I don’t know what a manager who doesn’t think they’re important expects is the alternate solution – take them to the pound? Leave them to their own devices and hope they don’t die?

      Reply
      1. teclatrans

        Yes. It doesn’t really matter how OP thinks of her dogs, they are dependent beings that she is respnsible for and her (very reasonable) assessment is that they cannot be left at home alone. She accepted the job recognizing that she would occasionally have to pay to board the dogs, but it was reasonable to assume this would be an occasional and manageable expense.

        I got sidetracked there. My intention was to highlight the fact that OP has responsibilities which will not allow her to travel. If this were a one-off trip she might be able to board the dogs if she is reimbursed, but this is an ongoing responsibility, and she can’t have a job which requires her to be away for so much time. Any cultural baggage around whether pets are like kids or how central dogs are to one’s life are irrelevant.

        Reply
    6. MashaKasha

      I’ve had both and I prefer to look at it from the responsibility angle. I’m responsible for my kids and my dogs while they’re living in my house. This requires me to be available at certain times to do certain things for the kids and/or the dogs. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. Further, while my kids can grow up, be able to stay home on their own, watch younger kids, eventually move out to live on their own, pets are not going to do any of that. A dog will require an owner’s care for as long as he lives. Heck he can’t even relieve himself unless someone is there to let him out. Neither can he go grocery shopping, buy his own food, and put it in a bowl for himself to eat. This is serious stuff. And it gets more serious if the animal has a health condition. I don’t care if bosses nowadays see people’s dogs as fluffy toys, aliens from outer space, mobile furniture, or whatever, but the fact remains that, if there are no humans in the house to care for the dog for several days on end, the dog will die, end of story.

      Reply
    7. simonthegrey

      But it’s also just a responsibility thing. For example, I have two snakes. I do not at all think of them as my children (my cats are a different story). However, while I could be gone for 5 days before the snakes would be unhappy about their lack of mice, after about that many days I would need to be able to feed them. Many petsitters in this area would be willing to glance in to see if the snakes are still in the tank and have water, but asking someone who is unfamiliar with reptiles to feed them is chancy. It is not a responsibility I can put on anyone else. Being gone for 15 days consecutively is way longer than my snakes can go at this time.

      Similarly, my MIL had one son (my husband) and they didn’t like pets, but after my son was out of the house, she had orchids and bonsai plants. They aren’t pets, but they’re a responsibility that other people often aren’t able to just take on. It doesn’t sound as legitimate to say “I can’t travel because of my orchid” or “because of my snake” so I wouldn’t use that as my reason, but I think “my obligations are such that I can’t do that” should be sufficient no matter what.

      Reply
    8. Allison

      Seems like a lot of bosses still operate under the assumption that everyone who works for them has someone at home, or someone with a less important job they can somehow easily blow off, who can take care of things, so their employees can make work their biggest priority and be available to work whenever they’re needed. Need your employees to work late, even though many have kids? No big deal, surely the other parent can take care of the kids tonight. Need someone with kids to travel at the last minute? Sure! I mean, they’re obviously the “working parent,” so what’s the big deal? Kids need to go to the doctor? Car needs to be taken to the shop? Cable tech coming to the house? Someone else can take care of all that!

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        While this has never been my experience, that’s a ridiculous assumption. Frankly, most jobs are not exactly exciting, fulfilling, or cutting-edge. And a lot of them are stressful, requiring us to work long hours or take calls round the clock, or just plain old lie without sleep at three AM because of the work stress. There’d be a LOT less people working those jobs, or willing to replace those who leave, if most of them didn’t have a family to support. Work can never be our biggest priority; our families are. But on the bright side, our families are the reason we work at those jobs in the first place. Thankfully everyone I’ve worked for, has so far been able to understand that – probably because they could relate themselves.

        Reply
      2. teclatrans

        Yes, yes, I started to address this but got ranty about our breadwinner-centric cultural expectations and deleted that part.

        (I think there is some tendency for people, when imagining a scenario that does not apply to them, to draw from what experiences they *do* have, which are often based on their childhood observations and/or experience. So, I don’t have an adult as a dog, but my family had one as a kid and we never sent him to a kennel.)

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          The only dog I had, I had as an adult and you’re right on, it is hard to send a dog to a kennel. Ours was a shy, fearful dog that would’ve been super depressed in a kennel, so we never even considered sending him. When we got him, we were a family of four and my parents, who lived nearby and were in their 60s still, came to our house every day and helped with the dog. Whenever we traveled, my parents helped with the dog. Otherwise, one of us was always home and the dog was never alone for more than a few hours while the kids were at school. Fast forward nine years – I’m divorced, both kids are out of the house, my dad has passed away and my mom is 77 and, while she was still willing to come over help look after the dog when I was out of town or working late, it was hard work for her. Basically we went from six people and a dog to pretty much just me and the dog. (We lost the dog to a heart disease this year.) And it was not an easy situation. Dogs are pack animals and thrive around their packs, and require a good deal of care. As much as I love dogs, I’m not getting another unless there’s another person living with me in the house. It’s that critical. And to take both people that are living in the house away from the dogs for extended period of time, that’s just insanity.

          I guess this means that OP’s experience applies to mine! Well not exactly, but I’ve got a bit of an imagination and am not afraid to use it! Her boss should try doing the same, he might like it.

          Reply
    9. sam

      I don’t see my cat as my child – there’s certainly a difference, but I still couldn’t drop everything and leave her alone in my apartment for a week or a month. She still needs to not starve to death.

      Reply
  7. Florida

    I’m one of those people who would roll my eyes if you told me it was because of your dog. Honestly, I would think, “You bought the dog. Boarding is comes with the territory.” And I probably wouldn’t have much sympathy.
    BUT if you said it was because of family or other commitments, I probably wouldn’t ask additional questions. So going forward, I would frame it that way instead.

    Reply
    1. Dana

      But if you took a job that says “travel 5 days a year” and it turned into “15 days a month” that is a very, very different job. I don’t think “you took the job, being gone 50% of the time comes with the territory all of a sudden” is reasonable, no matter if you have kids, pets, a sick relative, you don’t like flying, you get carsick easily, or you just don’t want to be gone so much.

      I think a very clear conversation about the changing demands of the role and either a re-evaluation of compensation or a re-evaluation of whether it’s a good fit or not needs to be had.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Yup. Whatever the reason for deliberately picking a travel-light job, probably the job becoming travel-heavy will significantly disrupt your life.

        Heck, I would be not happy about transitioning to a two-person travel-heavy household even without pets; who’s going to do the laundry/cleaning/grocery shopping/maintenance if both people are gone all the time and don’t have it in their budget to pay someone else?

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          Yep. Not to mention – as I discovered this year – travel is hard on a relationship. At the very least, it takes a big adjustment.

          Reply
          1. sam

            Heck, I was a one-person no-pet household, and my former travel-heavy job was hard on my life. I got sent overseas two weeks after I moved into my new apartment, while it was still being renovated and I hadn’t finished unpacking for what was supposed to be a two week trip. Six weeks later, after the hotel laundry destroyed half my clothes, I had to threaten to quit my job to come home.

            My boss acquiesced and let me come home.

            For five days. During which time I also pulled an all-nighter in New York and then promptly got back on a plane (ah, the joys of being a law firm associate!).

            One of the other high points (low points?) of traveling for that deal was when, on the flight back to NYC when we finally finished the big launch after multiple all-nighters at the printer in London, we finally got to go home for a few weeks – 20 minutes before landing, the flight attendants seated an elderly, senile passenger next to me in the business class bulkhead row so that they could de-board her quickly. She was very intent about getting off the plane. As in, she kept trying to get off the plane while we were still 20,000 feet in the air. while the flight attendants were stuck in their jump seats for landing. When I wouldn’t help her open the door, she started punching me. And then she tried to make a break for it on her own, at which point I and the guy across the aisle from me had to try to restrain her while she kept yelling about how her sister was meeting her at 11 o clock (the plane was late, so it was after 11).

            This is glamour of travel. Even when you don’t have children or pets or spouses to worry about.

            I think somewhere in the middle of this deal, my best friend in the whole world had her first child. who I finally met when he was about two months old.

            This deal actually became one of the “legendary travel hell” deals that got passed around the firm for years.

            Reply
        2. AnotherFed

          Exactly! We’ve done the household with one person travelling 75% and the other only~25%, and even with that, it’s hard to juggle all the normal stuff like getting a repairman visits, yard work, picking up the dry-cleaning before the 24 day window expires, etc.

          That’s probably even less of ‘good excuse’ to some people than pets, though, so I really think framing the situation as family responsibilities is the only way to go.

          Reply
      2. Sadsack

        I agree with you. The issue here is that OP’s job seems to be changing drastically and all of a sudden causing her a huge expense, and it doesn’t really matter what is the reason for the expense. Saying that a person should know that having a pet costs money is sort of pointless.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          Yep. Having a pet costs money. Having a pet and having a travel-intensive job with boarding needed costs more money – and presumably one would consider that when evaluating the offer for a travel-intensive job. Or seek one that isn’t. Having one that isn’t morph into one that is – that’s a big deal for many people, for a variety of reasons. (Pet care. Child care. Elder care. House care. Health care. Actually receiving and paying your bills. Etc., etc.)

          When we consider jobs, it’s our responsibility to make sure they fit our lives. But when they change in ways we didn’t want – well, that bites. Sometimes something can be done to make it work and sometimes we have to find a new job, but it still bites.

          Reply
    2. Viktoria

      I think it’s fair to say that boarding for occasional business trips (conferences, visiting clients, etc.) is reasonable and part of the expense of having a dog. But I think the big change here is more relevant. In my previous job, I traveled most weeks from Monday-Friday, and it would have been ridiculous for me to get a dog, let alone expect my company to make some accommodation for me. After I quit that job for one that requires little to no travel, I did get a dog, and I think it would be unreasonable for my boss to suddenly ask me to travel 50% of the days in a month. Likewise, it would be unreasonable and irresponsible for me to apply for a job requiring lots of travel now that I do have a dog.

      In any event, I agree that this can fall under a more general “personal commitments.” It’s not the fact of the dog per say, it’s that the OP has outside responsibilities that do not mesh well with this level of travel, and should have a say in whether they can take on that travel or not.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Exactly. The “well you knew it was part of the territory” argument is silly and frankly is just as pointless in reference to OP’s dogs as it is to any other commitment (kids, marriage, social obligations). Whether someone has “sympathy” to the reason for OP finding ramped-up work obligations a problem is irrelevant, and is less about OP’s question than about shifting the focus of the discussion to whether OP is sufficiently deserving. Ick.

        Reply
      2. MashaKasha

        I totally agree. As a bizarre example, when I had a dog and was in between places to live, none of the apartments I looked at allowed dogs. So I ended up buying a house specifically because I had a dog. Now what if one day I woke up and there was a flyer on my door saying something like “you’re now a part of our brand-new homeowners association and one of our rules is, no pets allowed!” (Not that this would ever happen.) I’d feel pretty let down and trapped – here I’d gone to huge extra expenses to buy that house, just so my dog could live in it, and now you’re telling me it can’t. What kind of weird bait and switch is that?

        It’s really the same thing with OP’s situation. I’m assuming she may have chosen to take that job in the first place specifically because it required little or no travel, and OP was looking for a job with little or no travel because of her dogs. Then one day she wakes up and surprise! It is now a high-travel job. WTH?

        Reply
    3. A Dispatcher

      I get that in a sense, but would you say to someone with children, “Hey, you popped out a kid? Childcare comes with the territory”. Both are true, but it seems pretty callous to me.

      That said, your comment is very helpful, as you are probably seeing the situation the way her boss is, so your advice is likely to be useful for her.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Right now I adore you, because you are kindly assuming someone would not say that. I promise you, it has been said – I have two kids and have absolutely been told that. And, honestly, in many ways they’re right! I mean – I chose to have kids; the costs and limitations to my life are a choice I made. Just as OP chose to have dogs, and the costs and limitations thereof are a choice OP made.

        If I take a high-travel job, then my husband does more solo child care – if we both take one then we have child care difficulties to solve. Those problems are not the company’s problem.

        But if one or both of us take low-travel jobs, and then the company tries to make it a high-travel job – then we planned and worked around our limitations and it still didn’t work, and that’s the time for the honest discussion. Also, bluntly, I’d expect more compensation for a job that had me traveling half the month or more, on the regular, with or without kids. It’s inconvenient to all sorts of life styles. (And conversely, for someone whose commitments allow it and who enjoys travel, it can be awesome – but it still comes with extra hassle and expenses to get normal life done, usually, and it still deserves extra compensation. IMO.)

        Reply
        1. A Dispatcher

          Ew really? I am without kids (assumed I always would be but there may have finally been the guy to come along to change that) and so I occasionally get the bitter thoughts about how so-and-so gets more consideration because they have kids thoughts*, but it’s on the same level as my annoyance with smoke breaks as a non-smoker, so basically a passing annoyance. Then I remember that using more paid leave because you have kids is not a perk, it means you’re up all night and day dealing with a sick kiddo!

          *Less so at my current job because I’m not the one getting stuck working holidays so those with families don’t have to (we ALL work holidays here) or things like that.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            I’m more than happy to allow coworkers with children some extra flexibility when it comes to emergencies — sick days, accidents, occasional hiccups in an otherwise reasonable childcare plan. All absolutely fine. What I don’t care for is the idea that John is free to duck out an hour early for little JJ’s football game while I have to stay late because I don’t have kids. We’re all equally entitled to our leisure time, regardless of how we spend it.

            Fortunately, I haven’t seen a single example of that in my new job.

            Reply
            1. Rita

              Agreed. If I join and organization that meets at 5:30pm on Thursdays, I’d like to be able to have the same accommodations to leave right at 5pm as someone who wants to watch their kid play little league every Tuesday at 5:30pm. Luckily my job treats both equally.

              Reply
            2. moss

              Yeah… I have kids and I wouldn’t want better treatment because of it; I want everyone to be treated better. I don’t think ANYONE should have to stay late on a regular basis, kids or no kids. I don’t want to lose my privilege … I want everyone to have the same privilege.

              Reply
            3. AnonEMoose

              This is pretty much where I land. I’m happy to work with you if you need some flexibility due to something with your kid(s). Just as long as you work with me when I need some flexibility due to volunteer stuff, a sudden trip to the vet with one of the cats, etc.

              Be willing to return the favor on occasion, and we’re golden. Try to play the “but my kids are more important” card…and We. Are. Done. The way I see it, we both have lives and commitments outside the office that are important to us, so no value judgements, please!

              Reply
          2. Revanche

            “Then I remember that using more paid leave because you have kids is not a perk, it means you’re up all night and day dealing with a sick kiddo!”

            Thank you! Yes, we chose to have the kid, that doesn’t mean that fulfilling our responsibility is a perk. And considering the number of times I’ve cheerfully covered for kid-free coworkers, for whatever reason, whether or not I had a kid on deck, it would be nice to not be dismissed as getting perks because of the additional responsibility. Of course, I often cover holidays so that my team (single and childfree, most of them) can have a legit day off when we need the coverage, so it feels like we should at least not be assumed to be playing the kid card.

            Reply
    4. Aim Away From Face

      And I would roll my eyes if you told it was because of your kid. You decided to have the child childcare comes with the territory.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        I think “kid or dog or something else” is a red herring here; the real issue is that OP chose a job based on low travel requirement, and now it looks like it’s having a high travel requirement. That’s a pretty big change in job duties, and lots of people without children or pets would find it unwelcome or problematic, I think. The discussion OP needs to have is more about whether this represents a shift in job duties that will continue going forward, and if so, what if anything can be done about that – because it’s not the job they signed up for.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Yes. Even if there weren’t a single personal life factor to complicate being away from home that much, it would still be perfectly reasonable for the OP to say “That’s a huge lifestyle change for me to spend that much time traveling and it’s way outside what was explained when I took the job – any flexibility here?”

          Reply
        2. simonthegrey

          This. I have cats and snakes (both pretty low maintenance) and my partner and I travel a fair number of weekends for our small business. However my “real job” doesn’t require any travel aside from the occasional conference which is usually just a day trip. If all of a sudden that changed, it would be a HUGE disruption. Cats and snakes still need food and water, even if they don’t need daily walking. My small business needs my active participation even if I am not drawing wages from it. I have grading, gaming sessions with friends, and a hardcore video game addiction. If I had to suddenly disrupt all of that to travel for fifteen days a month, there would be definite push-back and that’s with a husband and a roommate who do not travel for work.

          Reply
  8. INTP

    I’m not sure if this is a popular opinion, but I also think the employee’s salary is relevant here. OP suggests she will incur thousands in credit card debt, so I’m assuming her salary is not high enough that $100/day is no big deal to her. I don’t think it’s fair to expect employees at a lower salary to just “roll with” things that can create large unexpected expenses for them – whether that’s due to their pets, children, frequent healthcare needs and non-national insurance network, or whatever might create expenses for them out of town. It’s certainly unthinkable to me that someone be expected to go into DEBT for their job! “Rolling with it” for $100/day might be reasonable if the OP’s take-home pay is, say, $500/day, but I’ve had professional office jobs where mine was maybe $125/day. If I were suddenly expected to do things that cost 80% of that for work on a regular basis, I’d look for a new job. I mean, to the employee it would work out to be cheaper to take unpaid leave. (Total disclosure, most of my work life has been in California and I think it’s horrifying generally that other states don’t have the same laws we do to protect employees from being expected to bear their employers’ cost of business.)

    I think it would be reasonable for the OP to have a frank talk with her boss about the non-feasibility of these extra expenses, and that she won’t be able to perform this travel without some sort of solution (a raise, an agreement to an increased per-diem, approval to expense it). Again, the salary is relevant here, if she’s making a very high salary for her city’s COL she might just wind up making herself sound financially irresponsible, but I’m assuming that’s not the case. I guess this will sound entitled to some people – but given that this travel is for the employer’s benefit, if it’s not worth the expense to them, why should it be worth the expense to OP?

    Reply
    1. the gold digger

      Even at $500 a day take home, $100 a day expense is a pretty big chunk! I can see why my brother (who has an Australian shepherd) has a dog-sitting swap with his ex-girlfriend. I think he has stayed on good terms with her just for the petsitting.

      Reply
      1. alter_ego

        Plus, regardless of how big of a chunk of your pay $100 a day is, presumably you got dogs because you want to have dogs, not board them for half the month every month.

        Reply
        1. Ann O'Nemity

          Thank you for pointing this out. Even if cost wasn’t a concern, it’s not reasonable to board dogs for half the month every month.

          Reply
        2. Elsajeni

          Yes, good point. I pay to take care of a cat because I like having a cat; I don’t want to pay for someone else to take care of a cat that I don’t get to hang out with and pet.

          Reply
      2. INTP

        It’s definitely a significant amount of money, it just might not be seen as reasonable to refuse to spend by your employer versus if you are making much less, kwim? Percentage-wise, it’s the equivalent of the person with the take-home pay being expected to spend $20 on lunch. I don’t think it’s fair (again, California), but it’s in the range where many people are going to think you really need to suck it up, versus if it’s literally your entire pay for those days.

        Reply
    2. Bostonian

      This is a good point. My wife’s a lawyer at a big law firm, and people at her level are generally expected to pay for all travel up-front and then be reimbursed, rather than using a company credit card. She recently flew to Europe business-class and had to buy her ticket pretty last-minute, and the flight was over $10,000. That was an unusual example, but she is very well compensated and so it’s just part of the expectations of the job that she have a credit limit to accommodate that sort of thing, and be able manage any cash flow issues that might come along with the billing cycle on the card. They do reimburse quickly, though.

      Out-of-pocket expenses like boarding dogs are different, but I do think that you have a good point about what an employer might consider reasonable to ask of particular employees.

      Reply
    3. Zillah

      I agree. To me, it’s kind of like requiring people who make just over minimum wage to adhere to an expensive dress code. It’s tone deaf. It’s foreseeable that extensive travel could introduce significant expenses to many households, especially if someone isn’t expecting it.

      Reply
      1. INTP

        My experience that really bugged me on this front was with hours expectations. I know that entry level people are supposed to “pay their dues” and all. However, it’s very frustrating when the expectations for how many hours you should be available to work and on what notice come from someone making 10-100x what you are. Its easier to work a 70 hour week when you can afford housing near work, healthy takeout or convenience food, a dishwasher and laundry machine, CSA delivery, housekeeping services, and perhaps most significantly, have a stay-at-home spouse that you support. Meanwhile I’m having to cook my own meals if I want to eat healthily enough to not get sick, do my own grocery shopping, do my own cleaning, wash my own dishes by hand, do laundry only when the laundry room is open or drive to a laundromat, commute from wherever I can actually afford to live, which may not have parking anywhere near my building when I get home late and require a long walk in a sketchy area…and the perception is that I am LESS busy because I don’t have a spouse or kids.

        Reply
      2. Ad Astra

        That’s a great example. It’s 100% legal and it definitely happens with some frequency, but it’s still tone deaf. A good manager/company will consider how their requirements affect their employees and adjust either the requirement or the pay accordingly.

        Reply
  9. Katie the Fed

    OP – I get you – it’s a huge burden! I have a pit mix who doesn’t like other dogs which limits my options even more. And she’s my family – I turned down a job in England a few years ago because they have a nationwide pit bull ban. :/

    But…we’re not everyone. To many people dogs are dogs and you just deal. So definitely frame it in terms of family commitments and time away from home – you don’t need to provide more details unless asked.

    Reply
    1. Anony-Moose

      I tried to post earlier but the interwebs ate it. Basically – yes – pibbles = family and England can suck it.

      But the real story: we were visiting family in England (where we’d love to move but, again, pibble) and were talking to a cousin’s husband. His dad had a much-beloved puppy who they thought was a Staffordshire Terrier but grew up to resemble an American Pit Bull Terrier. They live in a small city outside of Manchester. Rural. Everyone loved the hulking pibble.

      And then one day the cops came and confiscated the dog.

      So NOPE. England is on hold for the next 10 years.

      Reply
      1. Dana

        :-O

        Mom here to a pibble, a “pibble,” and foster mom to a pibble. I keep joking I’m moving to Canada if a certain person gets elected president and Ontario is less than 45 minutes away…but has a pit bull ban so it’s unfortunately an empty threat.

        Reply
    2. Oh Anon

      We have two pitties and my husband’s work requires us to travel to different locations, usually for 3-6 months at a time. Found out real quick that staying in hotels and rental units are a pain in the arse, which is one of many reasons decided to purchase an RV. Even still, we have to check for BSL in cities before we arrive and find RV parks that allow pits, which can still be difficult at times. However, they’re our puppies and we do what we have to and make it work.

      Reply
  10. Lee

    Not sure where you live, but there are plenty of sites online where you can find a someone to pet sit/house sit while you are away.
    If you have privacy/control issues, you can also install nanny cams and monitor the progress.
    These people usually have good references, and places like angieslist.com and craigslist.com can usually help.

    Reply
    1. misspiggy

      But three Newfoundlands and no fenced in yard, as the OP explains above, requires someone with very strong animal management training, putting the cost right back up.

      Reply
  11. My 2 Cents

    It’s fine that your boss wants you to travel, but it’s not okay for your boss to require you to do something that will incur an additional $1,500 of expenses to you, that’s just not feasible for most people who probably bring home only twice that per month, so that’s what this situation is all about.

    My husband travels all the time for work and my boss knows that, which is why I chose the job that requires no travel. On the few times that I have needed to travel for work, once was specifically with my husband so my boss knew I had to pay for dogsitting, my boss happily paid for it because he knew I had that additional expense for something I wasn’t expecting when I took the job. (My hubby was traveling somewhere and since the room was already covered and I wanted to go along, my boss asked me to go along to take some meetings for my job, so it was a win-win). Other times when I have to travel for work if hubby can’t be home I bill my boss for dogsitting and he knows that, he doesn’t expect me to incur $50 a day of expenses for his company.

    So, don’t say that companies can’t/don’t/wont’t/shouldn’t pay for dogsitting expenses, they can/do/will/should.

    Reply
    1. OP

      Hmmm, while this is intriguing, I can’t imagine this expense getting approved in my company. I’m wondering if there are many other folks who have been able to expense pet care?

      Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        It’s VERY rare. Even with military moves – pet care isn’t covered and that gets super expensive, especially if you’re moving overseas.

        Reply
        1. My 2 Cents

          I have a neighbor who works for the State Department and was just moved overseas for a new post. They have a dog and the State Department paid for all of the costs of moving the dog too, which isn’t cheap, so I know that even the Federal Government covers these sorts of costs, as they should, as any company should, they are the costs of doing business when you want an employee to move.

          Reply
      2. Kyrielle

        Yeah, I think it’s awesome that M2C’s boss is willing to cover that. Nowhere I’ve worked would have, though – about a decade ago I had a coworker who had a non-travel job, they sent him to a client site for two weeks straight, and the cost of having his cats boarded (one had special medical needs, I believe) came out of his pocket. That _was_ a one-off situation, luckily, but he wasn’t happy.

        Reply
      3. Meg Murry

        I worked somewhere that allowed for a “hardship bonus” for situations like yours OP – a person in a job that required little to no travel being asked to do extended travel on short notice. It basically was a short term pay bump from the rate paid to jobs with no travel to the daily rate of the consultants who were paid to be on the road constantly.

        That said, if OP is interested in going the extra mile and getting a promotion down the line, this also could be seen really favorably in her next annual review as “taking one for the team” by traveling so much when it was outside of her job description. It is possible it could be the kind of ammunition OP could use to ask for a good sized raise, or a bump to the next level of responsibility. However, it would be a gamble that OP would have to pay $1500 now in dog boarding, in order to maybe earn an unspecified raise – so probably not worth it in terms of short term dollars and cents – and especially not so if OP would have to finance it on high interest credit cards.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          Raise or not, that amount of travel is not conducive to her lifestyle now. Nobody wants their dogs to be boarded half the time and it’s hard on them too.

          Reply
          1. Zillah

            Yeah, that’s my biggest concern with commenters talking about finding a long term solution for potential future trips. Once in awhile happens, and putting money aside for a minute, it is what it is. A regular thing, though? People don’t get dogs to board them, they get them because they want to spend time with them – and it’s also not fair to the dogs to stick them in a kennel half the time on an ongoing basis.

            Reply
      4. Jady

        It doesn’t necessarily have to be framed as ‘petcare expense’.

        A company I worked for years ago had daily allowances for the employees who were traveling. The allowances were expected to cover all generic expenses that weren’t billed up front – gas, restaurants, businesses dinners, public transit, tolls, etc. Any money left over went into the employee’s pocket

        In general I don’t think it’s a common thing for companies – but there may be ways the employer could assist you with the financial burden. Hell – it could even be a “I’m sorry you traveled a lot” bonus or raise.

        It may be possible to have a meeting with the bossman and say something akin to “If the expectations of this job are changing to include more travel, these are going to rack up some additional expenses for me in the terms of $X per day. This puts a significant strain on me financially. Can work out a way to compensate for these additional expenses?”

        Generally jobs that travel more tend to pay more directly because of the burdens and inconveniences, so if it is going to be a norm now on, framing it as a raise could be a good strategy too.

        Reply
  12. Ad Astra

    Alison’s framing is perfect. It doesn’t matter why, exactly, increased travel doesn’t work for you. It only matters that you can’t do it. “My dogs have to be boarded” sounds frivolous, but it’s really pretty reasonable. If you’re correct that the expectations of the job are changing, this might be a deal-breaker. Which really sucks. I would be pretty upset in your situation.

    Some suggestions that may or may not be helpful:
    Are there any coworkers you would trust to walk and feed your dogs while you’re away?
    Do your dogs have special needs or difficult temperaments, or are they easy going enough that some non-professional help would be sufficient?
    Would it be possible to book pet-friendly hotels when you travel and take the dogs with you?
    As far as your actual job goes, are there any possible adjustments that could minimize the need for travel?

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      (I wrote this post before OP reiterated that non-professional pet sitting is absolutely not an option, so feel free to ignore that suggestion.)

      Reply
    2. blackcat

      “It doesn’t matter why, exactly, increased travel doesn’t work for you. It only matters that you can’t do it.”

      This is exactly the point. A friend of mine has a medical condition where she needs to have blood drawn 2x weekly. She’s taken jobs that say “travel less than 5%” or “none” only to be told to go to week long conferences. At least she has the ADA to protect her when she says no, but this required disclosing, which she wasn’t very comfortable with (she’s amazing at finding labs with 8am or 5:30pm appointments). And even then, one job decided that no travel more than 2 weekdays in a row was not a reasonable accommodation and fired her.

      Some bosses just aren’t reasonable about this. In my friend’s case, she has noted that every boss (now at N=3) who sprang a travel requirement on her was a man with a stay at home wife.

      Reply
    3. JGray

      Agree that the extra travel is creating an extra expense that it is ridiculous for any employee to have to absorb especially when there were expectations going into the job. I can also sympathize with the OP because I am in a somewhat similar situation in that I need a job where I can’t travel due to the nature of my husbands job. We have pets and kids which makes it difficult just for us to even go and do things as a family. I also want to say that when you have someone watch your pets (or your kids) you are putting a huge amount of faith in that person. One time when I was moving I had my mom watch my dog and he 1) broke a toe nail and 2) got out of her yard and ended up at the dog pound. The toe nail we couldn’t do anything about per the vet (we just had to hope that it grew back normally otherwise it would require surgery) and getting him from the pound cost $150. So really the “free” pet sitting wasn’t free and not that my mom is completely to blame but why didn’t she watch my dog so he wouldn’t get out(!). Things happen so when we talk about just the board fees there could end up being other issues that come up that make the travel impossible. This can be applied to any responsibilities at home that would affect travel.

      Reply
  13. the_scientist

    I think the whole question of whether the dogs are a legitimate reason for turning down travel is a bit of a red herring here; the real issue is that OP’s job is now requiring 10-15 days of travel per month. There are what, 22 or so weekdays in the average month? 10-15 days of travel is more than 50%, and that is a HUGE change from a job described as minimal travel required! It’s completely reasonable that someone would balk at that, and that’s why high-travel jobs are advertised as such- so people know what they’re getting into.

    I mean, I am childless, pet-free and live with a spouse whose job doesn’t currently require any travel. I would not be able to accommodate this kind of travel schedule, especially on short notice- for the last 6 months, I’ve been taking a medication that requires monthly blood work and monthly appointments with a specialist ( who is so busy that appointments for new patients are booked 6 months out). That kind of regular monitoring isn’t super compatible with an intense travel schedule. I also have volunteer commitments that are time-sensitive. Not to mention that I’m a homebody; that’s why I chose a job with minimal travel and I’d be kind of peeved if this was a sudden and unexpected change to my job.

    Reply
    1. sunny-dee

      And that’s assuming that the boss is allowing the OP to travel on regular business days. I’ve had five trips this year, and my manager has required me to travel on at least one, sometimes two weekend days for every single one. With no comp time. And two of those trips were on holiday weekends.

      I have to fly out Sunday evening for work, as a matter of fact.

      Reply
      1. Not Myself

        I hate this. I recently had to travel for a class to help me get a certification that will be used solely for my company’s benefit (unless I move on). They paid for the class and travel, thankfully, but it took all three of my weekend days (I’m on 9/80s and salaried). When I asked about perhaps flexing some of that time, they told me I should be grateful that the company was covering it at all! When I’m doing it at their suggestion and for their benefit, and have spent hundreds (literally) of hours on my own time studying in the last 6 months. It really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

        The good news is this will make me really really marketable in my field…

        Reply
    2. Sarahnova

      I actually have a child and so don’t want to travel for that reason, but I’ve done significant travel, and even when childless I found it… well, exhausting and boring. I’m just not going to be taking a significant travel role again in my career, even if/when my kids have flown the nest.

      Reply
    3. Gallerina

      I agree – the dogs are a Red Herring and the travel increase is a bigger problem. Does the boss view work travel as a “Treat”? My boss does and can’t understand why I’m not delighted that my travel has turned from 3/4 shirt, regional trips a year to regular last minute trips from East to West Coast.

      Reply
    4. UKAnon

      Well, this seems to be a one-off thing, which all else being equally makes it more of a temporary PITA than an ongoing nightmare (I’m with you though – every month, especially suddenly, would be an ongoing nightmare)

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        It actually doesn’t seem to be a one-off, as the OP mentions that she feels like these trips will be coming up again in the future. So it’s all the more important that she address the significant change in the requirements of the job ASAP with her boss. A reasonable boss should not be surprised that an employee is a little bit frazzled by a sudden change to a 50% travel schedule.

        Also, OP, I feel you- my parents have a high-needs rescue dog who doesn’t do well with strangers or other dogs, so boarding is difficult and extremely expensive for them! Luckily, they don’t travel often and if they do, my siblings and I live close enough to help look after the dog, and he’s really good about being left home alone.

        Reply
    5. Rose

      I totally agree! That being said, it’s quite easy to move this from a short-term problem (‘oh, you want me to spend two weeks next month in Reno? I’m sorry, I can’t find a dog-sitter and the kennel costs $100 a day’) to long-term (‘Hmm, seems like the [position] is going to need to be traveling around 50% of the month going forward. I’m ok to travel 2-3 times a month or if there’s an emergency and we need coverage, but I’m not going to be able to be on the road all the time. Is there some other way to do this, or….’) Heck, you’re perfectly fine to just say ‘I just don’t want to be traveling that much, I’m sorry’ and that’s that. There’s a billion reasons why from your marriage to flying that much sucks, you don’t need to give an itemized list.

      Reply
    6. INTP

      Yeah, I’m on a medication that requires me to visit a doctor monthly to get my new prescription. It can’t be called in or written with refills, the prescriptions must be filled in the state where they’re written, and some urgent care is not going to write a prescription for it. Sometimes a doctor that trusts you will write you an RX for a higher dose on occasion, but I don’t know how I’d swing that if I had to travel monthly – especially if the notice was too short to plan my appointments around. And it’s for a condition I don’t particularly wish to disclose to my employer due to stigmas and assumptions, so I would be…not happy if I had to do that due to a bait and switch in my travel responsibilities.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        My roommate’s on a similar medication but her doctor wrote her 6 pre-dated monthly prescriptions after the dietary month or two. (I’m actually not sure how okay that was but it works well for her.)

        Reply
  14. Episkey

    That’s tough. I have a dog also, but my husband & I rarely travel for work. When we vacation, I’m lucky to have my parents who will take care of her. I did live out-of-state for about a year (without my husband) and I had to travel for my job a few times — I found a really nice family that owned a boarding/training business and my dog would stay with them. They were very reasonable cost-wise and my dog loved it. I know, though, that this type of scenario would definitely not work for all dogs — mine loves children (of which the family had 2 small ones) and is great with other dogs (the family would board up to 10 dogs at a time in their house).

    I guess I feel like the main problem here is that your job is changing drastically. Even if you had no pet/no kids, changing from very infrequent traveling to being gone 1/2 of a month is a HUGE change. What if you just didn’t like traveling and didn’t want to be gone so much? I think you need to have a frank discussion with your manager about this and mention you specifically took this job because of not much traveling.

    Reply
  15. The IT Manager

    I’m torn. This is the first time it’s come up (other than a conference perhaps) and to refuse to travel seems bad. Jobs with infrequent travel has some travel sometimes. OTOH that’s a long time to be away from home. And the context that it looks like the job may be changing to having more trips like this changes the situation a bit.

    It’s time for a discussion with the boss. LW should figure out her limits before the conversation, and be prepared that the job may be changing to a point where she’s unable to accommodate it. I would not recommend asking specifically for reimbursement for dog boarding (that’s an expense that results from personal decisions); although, if frequent travel is becoming part of the job, that may be the time to ask for a raise overall because the nature of the job has changes.

    I agree, though, specifically mentioning the dogs may not have been to your benefit. People with kids or with other obligations might also have issues with such a long business trip especially if it becomes frequent.

    Reply
  16. Dasha

    OP, I don’t have much to add. I think everyone else made pretty good points I just hope you update us after you talk to your boss.

    Reply
  17. Parent

    I’m genuinely curious, for all the dog people here: is there usually an impact on dogs from boarding them for that long, or do they tend to roll with it, or does it vary?

    I am not a dog person but do have young kids, and I sometimes wonder a little bit about the comparison when talking about travel because my toddlers would fall apart emotionally if both of their parents were away for two weeks – they aren’t used to more than short-term care from others, and they’re too young to understand an explanation of why their lives have suddenly been totally upended. Even one of us being gone for more than a couple of days means a rising level of crankiness and general family stress.

    I don’t at all think this makes the OP’s problems less legitimate – OP has made a commitment in her personal life that precludes lots of travel, and she has to manage those obligations. I’m just looking to understand a little more about what that commitment is actually like for dog owners.

    Reply
    1. Malissa

      Depends on the dog. My dog hardly eats when we board her. I’d be very leery of boarding her for more than 3-4 for that reason.

      Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        Yep, mine too. She’s VERY attached to us. And when we get back she is exhausted for several days – I think she doesn’t sleep well without us there.

        That being said, I have no qualms about boarding her for 2 weeks if I need to. They’ll make sure she eats by adding gravy or whatever to her food, and she bounces back. But she is one pitiful thing when I get back.

        Reply
    2. Claire (Scotland)

      It definitely depends on the dog. My brother’s dog loves the kennels they board him at and is totally happy there, while my aunt’s dog gets super-stressed by being boarded so I dogsit whenever they need to be away.

      Reply
    3. A Teacher

      It varies. Dogs crave consistent routine so to change that routine can be problematic for some. I have 3 dogs of my own and I foster for a rescue (currently on foster 66) and I’ve seen the gambit of reactions from dogs. Some do great with adjustment, some it takes time, and some have anxiety with the slightest change. My pitbull cannot be crated more than 6 hours at a time, he eats through the crate and gets sick. He only boards with a trainer that we worked with or with a very trusted friend that comes and stays at my house. He has a very set routine that I try to follow. My 9 year old Aussie mix has zero anxiety and likes to visit my parents and my sister’s house a few days a month. She can come and go and change routine with no problems. My chow mix is a mix of both–doesn’t mind overnighting at “grandmas” but one night is enough.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Ha, maybe it’s an Aussie thing -both my parents’ dogs are Aussies or mixes and they’re happy with pretty much everything. (They prefer their people around but they don’t get stressed when the humans are on vacation.)

        My parents always try to have two dogs so that the dogs aren’t ever forced to be alone, though, and I think that helps.

        Reply
      2. Parent

        Thanks, everyone. I’m not surprised to hear it depends on the dog. People tend to talk about it as if the main hurdle with something like this is financial, but I’d imagine in a lot of cases it’s more complicated than that, with emotional/behavioral issues beyond just “I enjoy spending time with my dogs and would miss them if I were away for a while.”

        There are ways that it depends on the kid, too, or at least on the overall family picture. There are plenty of families with school-age kids who have family nearby that they’re close to, and for some of those families having the kids stay with their cousins for a week wouldn’t be a big deal. With my particular kids at their ages and with our child care circumstances, both parents away for a week would be a nonstarter.

        Reply
        1. simonthegrey

          It can be the same way with cats, too. My cat Simon, who died a few years ago, got very upset when I left for a trip and would go to the bathroom outside the litter box at my mom’s home the whole time I was gone. Of my current two cats, they’re really chill, but I am definitely Primary Food Giver and Love Distributor, so they get vocal and upset if I am not there after about 2 days. They will pay attention and affection to visitors, but one has a tendency to try to bolt out the door (they are indoor only) and the other acts like a limp rag. The cat we had growing up didn’t seem to notice whether we were there or gone. So it can really depend.

          Reply
    4. Traveler

      Depends on the dog. One of my dogs would “pout” for weeks after being boarded, and want nothing to do with us for awhile. Another one knew what suitcases “meant” and would go ballistic the second he saw them, and would physically remove things or run off with them to prevent us from packing. A third one didn’t really care – if there were people there to feed him and play with him, he was generally happy. Happier when we got home, but not like the other two that would get very visibly upset.

      I don’t want to compare dogs to kids either, as I know its a sensitive issue for a lot of parents and I appreciate that. But – in the same way you can’t describe to a toddler – you can’t explain to a dog that you’re just leaving for a couple of days either. For all they know its forever – doubly so with shelter pups who have changed homes a lot.

      Reply
      1. Sospeso

        But – in the same way you can’t describe to a toddler – you can’t explain to a dog that you’re just leaving for a couple of days either. For all they know its forever – doubly so with shelter pups who have changed homes a lot.

        Yes, this is so important to consider. How strange would it be to experience such a big change with no explanation?

        Reply
      2. Katie the Fed

        Yep – my dog crapped the floor the first time I got out a suitcase to pack. Now we don’t get the suitcases out until she’s already at boarding.

        Reply
    5. Sospeso

      Oh, what an interesting question! Looking forward to other responses.

      I can imagine that what you mention for your child would generalize to most young children spending significant time away from their parents. I think some part of that is because many children seem to benefit from predictable routines, and – in my experience, with my particular puppy – dogs may do best with predictable routines, as well. I am sure this varies for individual dogs, but, for example, I know that if I just give my puppy a meal without making him have to “work” for it in some way (e.g., going through tricks we’ve learned), he looks at me with that sideways head-tilt that can only mean, “Uh… what?”

      Conveniently enough, though, I *did* just board my dog for 2 1/2 weeks while I did some international travel. Although I’d boarded him before for a night or two here and there, this was the first big chunk of time he’d spent somewhere else. The feedback I got from the boarder was that there was initially a ton of whining, barking, and general confusion… but that he quickly adjusted to the routine there, which thankfully included tons of exercise and supervised interaction with other dogs. I don’t know that he would have adjusted so well in a less-structured and social environment. And now that he’s home, he’s slowly remembering our routines. Otherwise, all seems to be the same. Overall, I wouldn’t want to board my dog for that long more than once a year… and probably not even that, because as someone said upthread, I adopted a dog to spend time with him.

      Reply
    6. Stranger than fiction

      Yes generally most dogs I would say have at least a little separation anxiety to severe separation anxiety. They’re very emotional animals and some are extremely attached to their owners. I imagine an exception would be a farm type working dog thats never slept in the house. But all animals need looking after in case they get injured or sick while their owner is away.

      Reply
    7. Elizabeth West

      No dogs, but I have a mostly antisocial outside cat whom I cannot board. I have to hire a pet sitter who comes to the house and feeds her and checks on her (they also will water plants and make sure the house isn’t burgled/falling down). This takes place twice a day because I can’t leave food out for her–raccoons, possums, and other cats would eat it all. I had been asking my neighbor to do it and he was happy to, but he’s older and I worry that if something happened to him while I was gone, no one would take care of her. That is why I found the pet sitter before my first (long) UK trip.

      I realize I made this my problem when I accepted her (her former owners dumped her on me), and sometimes I wish I hadn’t done that, but it is what it is. I can’t leave her to fend for herself now that she’s dependent on me. If my job suddenly changed like this, I’d be in the same boat as the OP. There is no one else in the household who can take care of her–I have no kids, no housemate, and no spouse. The only family nearby either works nights or is completely undependable.

      Reply
    8. anonanonanon

      Depends on the dog. I had dogs growing up that were fine being boarded because they got to hang with other dogs. My current Newfie freaks out when he doesn’t see anyone in the family and won’t stay outside by himself for more than 5 minutes. The one time he was boarded for a weekend, he refused to eat and barely moved and as soon as I came to pick him up he immediately grabbed my hand and tried to lead me out the door (before I could even pay….and let me say, a 160 lb dog trying to move you about because he has separation anxiety is trouble enough lol). I’m paranoid that if he had to be boarded for a week or longer he’d die of heartbreak or something.

      Reply
    9. Just Visiting

      We have cats, not dogs, but one of our cats goes absolutely feral if we leave for longer than a day. Acts like she doesn’t recognize us, won’t let herself be touched for a few days, etc. She had a hard life before we adopted her so I think she has abandonment issues. Of course, a troublesome cat is much less of a problem than a troublesome dog, especially a big one. (For instance, we don’t board the cats, just ask the neighbor to change litter and feed them. Cats are the lazy man’s pet.)

      Reply
    10. Episkey

      Def depends on the dog. Mine is fine at boarding, though when I say “boarding” I don’t mean a kennel in a cage most of the time. I honestly don’t know how she’d do (probably OK) because I’ve never left her in that situation. She either stays with my parents who she loves, or I’ve boarded her before in a family home situation where she is not kenneled, she just lives with the family like she does with me except it’s obviously different people. She’s been totally fine in both of those situations.

      Reply
    11. Zillah

      It definitely varies. For my current dogs:

      One of them requires a lot of exercise and consistency in her routine, or she’s bouncing off the ceiling (as opposed to her usual bouncing off the walls). She’s okay with family and friends who she knows well/who know her and her routine, but leaving her with a stranger or boarding her really wouldn’t be good for her, and I’d jump through a lot of hoops to avoid that. It would be an option once in awhile in a worst case scenario, though.

      The other is really skittish, sometimes to the point of being a nervous wreck. She’s not a rescue or anything – we got her as a puppy and I can’t imagine there being any significant trauma in her past – I think it’s just her personality. She’s very, very sweet and affectionate, but she’s not good at dealing with unfamiliar things – she just gets scared and won’t eat much and vomits up what she does eat. I would literally never board her – she’d be so uncomfortable and freaked out that it just wouldn’t be fair.

      Reply
    12. Gorilla

      Mine is fine if she’s with family. But we once boarded her at a kennel and when we came back at the end of the week, she was shaking. We never did that again. Now we have sitters come twice a day and stay over every other night to be with her.

      Reply
      1. DMented Kitty

        One good test of a sitter/boarder is how the pet is doing when you return. Part of it could be the pet’s personality and how attached he/she is to you, but part of it could also tell how he/she was being treated by the sitter/boarder.

        The first time we left our cat at home with a sitter for a few days I was really anxious, but when we came home to find my cat doing just fine (albeit a little hyper now that we’ve returned) and not cowering in a corner scared of something, I knew we made a good choice with the sitter (she even left notes daily on how kitty is doing while we were out). And our cat isn’t even friendly to start with (she is very cautious with strangers).

        Reply
    13. AvonLady Barksdale

      It always depends on the dog. Mine does great at boarding, because he has to be somewhere else– if he stays in his own house, he spends the entire time looking for mama and papa and while he doesn’t always display it (he’s a pretty stoic buddy), it exacerbates some of his anxiety issues. The longest we’ve left him is 8 days, at the daycare he attends regularly– if he’s at a place where he knows we don’t belong, then he’s usually fine.

      I have a friend who travels constantly and internationally for work. She’s single. Her dog has some serious issues with separation anxiety and dog aggression that would absolutely be minimized if her mama didn’t leave so much.

      Reply
    14. JHS

      My dog, who is a rescue, has an anxiety attack if we bring out suitcases. Twice in the past, my husband has started packing for business trips (when I am staying home with the doggy!) and he bites his own foot out of anxiety and ends up with an infection requiring weeks of antibiotics. He also gets extremely depressed when one of us is gone and isn’t interested in eating or playing. We have never boarded him because we’re too nervous he will freak out and self-harm in the kennel. However, he has stayed with my MIL who has a dog for 4 days before and was okay, but he has a TON of separation anxiety.

      Reply
  18. OP

    I just want to clarify why I told my boss the reason I couldn’t travel was because of my dogs and not because of a more nebulous “family obligation.” He knows me and my husband really well. He knows we have no kids or nearby family. Our relationship is relaxed and open enough that it would have been bizarre for me to just say, “Nope, got some family stuff going on” and even if I had, he probably would have asked what it was (whether or not that’s ok is probably a separate discussion) because he would have been confused, knowing I have no local family, and because we have a friendly rapport.

    I do need to meet with him and discuss the changing needs of my role though. Thanks for the perspective, Alison and commenters! That’s why I love this site.

    Reply
    1. Traveler

      This is exactly why I’ve become more standoffish as I’ve moved on to new jobs. I hate it, because I don’t want to be that way but it opens the door for more probing questions when you try to just give a blanket answer to something.

      Reply
      1. Shan

        I agree. I’m in my first professional job and I wish I hadn’t been so open with my coworkers about everything I do. It’s not that I don’t want them to know ANYTHING about my personal life, but I wish I had been vague on occasion so I could get away with leaving things vague when needed. Sometimes you want to withhold details but when colleagues are so used to getting all the details, it opens the door for probing questions, like you said.
        It really sucked when I was out of work for a week earlier this year with some serious medical problems that I wanted to keep private, but everyone kept asking me what was wrong because it was obvious I wasn’t sick with a cold or flu, and in the past I always let them know what’s up when I’m out (on vacation, getting wisdom teeth removed, etc.)

        Reply
    2. AndersonDarling

      I’d mention exactly how much it costs to board the dogs a day. I’d bet he thinks its just $20 and no big deal. Once you say it’s $100 per night, you may get a more understanding reaction.
      My family was planning a week long trip and didn’t understand why I could only go for 4 days. Once I explained that boarding 2 dogs, two rabbits, and a cat totaled $90 a night, it made more sense. I can’t spend half a month’s salary on boarding + the expense of the actual vacation.

      Reply
      1. Dana

        This is a good point to bring up: the actual costs. Even framing it in terms of what you actually make, in case that’s not top-of-mind for your boss either. People love data, so including the percentage of your salary that would have to go to boarding each month might kind of demonstrate why you aren’t so into travel.

        Reply
    3. Argh!

      I was going to suggest asking for a per diem beyond the normal travel expenses. Even for someone without pets or children, taking more than a few days off when it’s not a regular thing incurs additional expenses. You will have to get your clothes laundered or dry cleaned on the road. You will need to hold the mail or have someone get it for you. You may need to have someone mow the lawn, etc.

      Even if the per diem doesn’t cover the whole cost, it would help.

      Also, ask the boarding facility if a week costs less than 7 days. Sometimes they have a weekly rate, or can offer a regular client a special deal. They know that you won’t run up a big bill and then abandon the dogs at the kennel (that happens sometimes!)

      Reply
  19. LabTech

    If the job responsibilities are changing significantly, wouldn’t it be reasonable to revisit the salary, too? Namely, the salary should cover the additional costs and stress that 50% travel would incur.

    Reply
    1. Charby

      Agreed. At a bare minimum they should be helping with the dog care expenses during travel. It could be incorporated into her compensation if there are tax concerns for the employer.

      Reply
  20. insert pun here

    Yeah, 10-15 days in a month is a lot, unless you’re in a job that was advertised as a high travel job, or you’re a traveling assassin, or something. And it’s not just the doggies — being away from home that much impacts all facets of your life, from your relationship with your partner to your ability to get grocery shopping done. I think it’s unreasonable of any boss to just assume that an employee would be okay with that!

    That being said, OP, I’d watch your doggies for you! We’d go for walks in the park and fetch sticks and do snuggles and I’d read them bedtime stories and give them ear scritchies and and and…

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      LOL dog bedtime stories. One of my three published stories is from the point of view of a cat. Though I don’t think the doggies would like it; it’s kind of scary.

      Heyyyyyyywaitaminute….*smells a writerly opportunity; starts writing pet bedtime stories*

      Reply
      1. Dana

        I would totally read pet bedtime stories to my pets! I’ve seen an adorable dog meme around the internetz that says “Tell me the story of how I was adopted again” with a cute pair of puppy dog eyes.

        Reply
  21. Big Toast Crunch

    I think you either get rid of the dogs, find a new job, or get a house/dog-sitter. If I was your boss, I’d laugh.

    Reply
      1. A Dispatcher

        Ditto – here’s hoping an ice floe wouldn’t be suggested for an elderly relative you’re caring for had that been the case instead of a dog. Yikes…

        Reply
      2. Student

        This person framed it in a very disrespectful way, but there’s a point hiding in there. Many people manage to deal with exactly this problem with a lot less trouble than you are having.

        You’ve backed yourself into this corner through several personal choices. Those personal choices are yours to make, but there’s no reason that your and your husband’s jobs need to cater to those personal choices. It looks like you’ll either need to change some of your personal choices or change your job (either through negotiating your way out of travel and likely limiting your career in some ways, or through an actual job change, or a change to your husband’s job). Options to consider might be: negotiate for a raise on your part or your husband’s part to cover the expected yearly kennel costs, finding cheaper care for the dogs, moving someplace more dog-friendly, reducing the number of dogs you have to something you can afford, changing jobs to something where travel isn’t required, getting your husband to cover the dogs on the rare cases you have to be out of town (vacation? sick days?), or something else.

        If I were your boss, I’d be exasperated by this too. I would expect you to figure out a solution to a problem of your own making. I’d be reminded of many people I know who manage to own pets and travel occasionally for work without it becoming a serious financial hardship, and I would not be moved by your explanation that your husband can’t take care of the dogs for a few days a couple times a year because your husband’s job is not my problem. If I were your boss and you told me you couldn’t travel because of this, I’d accommodate you if I could and explain how this limits your career. If I couldn’t accommodate you, I’d move to demote/fire you immediately to find someone who can do the travel required of the job.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Do many people deal with this problem without trouble, though? The people I know who do stuff like this have a lot of trouble even without pets and children, and they mostly rely on spouses–okay, wives–to handle their personal lives or paid assistance to keep the household running, which means some significant financial compensation needs to be involved.

          It’s a big deal to be away from home for a long time, regardless of what’s in that home, and I think having trouble with it is more common than not.

          Reply
        2. Dot Warner

          1. 10-15 days a month isn’t “occasionally” – that’s half the freaking month! That’s a huge change in job responsibilities for her

          2. OP did not choose to take a job that requires a lot of travel; she chose a job that did NOT require much travel, and now it’s changed into a job that requires a lot of travel. As other commenters have mentioned even if she didn’t have pets, it’s reasonable to be upset about that.

          3. Her husband can’t take care of the dogs because he travels for work too, which is why OP chose a job that did not require travel.

          4. Yes, if this truly isn’t going to work, the OP should find a new job… but you could stand to be a little less harsh.

          Reply
        3. SR

          “travel occasionally”

          Isn’t that’s the entire point though? This is much more than occasional travel, and the OP didn’t sign up for that. The OP is fine with a few days of travel here and there.

          Reply
        4. TL -

          But the OP was reasonable about travelling a few days a year – in her letter, she says that she understands that 2-3 days 1 or 2x/year is part of most jobs and she is prepared for that.

          So..this isn’t about a small amount a few times a year. This is quite a large amount that looks like it could continue on in the future.

          Reply
        5. Zillah

          This comment makes me feel extremely uncomfortable; it’s callous, unsympathetic, and minimizes the OP’s problem rather than addressing it.

          The OP explicitly states that paying to board her dogs for occasion short trips for work is not a big deal. She did so recently when she had to attend a conference and shrugged it off as an unexpected expense. She’s writing in because the job that she took in part because travel was minimal seems to be morphing in a job where extensive travel is expected. 10-15 days/month is not “traveling occasionally for work.” 10-15 days/month is traveling a lot for work.

          I would also argue that no, many people do not “manage to deal with exactly this problem with a lot less trouble than [the OP is] having.” IME, the vast majority of people who travel a lot do not own dogs, in part because of the issues the OP is struggling with. Dogs are high maintenance.

          And this?

          reducing the number of dogs you have to something you can afford

          This is deeply, deeply disturbing to me, particularly since it’s delivered in such an offhanded way. Pets are not furniture, they’re living beings, and people who give pets away that easily shouldn’t own them at all. It’s fine not to be a pet person, but it’s not fine to act like pets are of minimal importance to the people who own them, both because it’s incredibly rude and because it in no way actually addresses the OP’s problem.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think it would also be weird and blamey if it were about an inanimate object–if the OP had said she couldn’t afford to cover outsourcing the maintenance on home ownership with this new travel schedule, saying “Move to something you can afford” would be really dismissive.

            Reply
        6. LQ

          The problem here is that it’s actually the boss who created the issue by significantly changing the job. 10-15 days a month isn’t what the OP signed up for.

          Ignore the dogs. The dogs are completely irrelevant. If the boss suddenly said I’m cutting your pay by 50%. Yeah you’re still over minimum wage so deal with it or I’m going to fire you immediately what would you say? Sure jobs change but this is a bait and switch at this point of suddenly going from low travel required (which the OP sounds ok with) to very high travel required. This is a different job and was not require in the job the OP took.

          Reply
        7. OP

          Why are you (and Big Toast Crunch) reading this site? If every problem in which work and personal life conflicted were as easy to solve as you suggest, there would be no need for Alison or HR departments. Humans are complex, emotions are complex, and employment is complex. Maybe you don’t see it that way or understand it, but most people do.

          Please don’t ever get a pet, by the way. “Getting rid” of one is not a “trivial” thing.

          Reply
          1. HRish Dude

            I believe “Student” told someone to get rid of their kids once. He’s one of those people that does not grasp that there are actual humans submitting these comments. Some people are jerks, ignore them.

            Reply
          2. DMented Kitty

            This. Maybe some people can “just get rid of” their cats when they move because their new place doesn’t allow them, but I cannot even think of considering this option, unless it’s a situation that would greatly diminish the quality of life (for either me or the cat). In my opinion, those people who can just dump their pets at the drop of a hat probably should not consider getting a pet at all. A pet is a living thing that you not only have financial investment on, but also an emotional investment.

            Reply
    1. Samantha

      That’s a little harsh. The OP probably wouldn’t have taken the job if she knew she’d be traveling so much. Since that appears to have changed, her boss should absolutely work with her to find a reasonable solution.

      Reply
      1. Retail Lifer

        Exactly. With the husband being gone all the time for work, the OP likely would have never accepted the job at all if these new travel requirements were presented back then.

        Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      1. You can’t just “get rid” of dogs because taking care of them has become inconvenient. That’s not how adoption works.
      2. Finding a new job is a possibility, but we all know that’s easier said than done.
      3. Dog-sitters cost money just like boarding does, so that’s not really a solution.

      Reply
      1. mskyle

        I also like the suggestion to get a house in order to avoid $1500 worth of boarding fees… that is not good long-term thinking! But trolls be trollin.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Eh, I’m not even sure it’s trolling so much as a certain type of commenter who loves to point out how (in their opinion) the OP’s situation is all their own fault for making bad choices, the commenter would totally have handled things differently, and the OP deserves to be in a tough spot. Because then the commenter can back-pat themselves for being so much smarter than OP and knowing everything. /shrug

          Reply
        2. Ad Astra

          I’m very much considering buying a house specifically so I can get a second dog, but that’s not just something you can snap your fingers and change. If you don’t have the time or money to board your dog, you probably don’t have the time or money to buy a new house and move.

          Reply
      2. Student

        Actually, it’s trivial to get rid of pets that have become inconvenient.

        Sometimes, doing this is also in the best interests of the dogs – there’s sometimes an option to give them to others who will love them and also have better resources to care for them. At current, this family doesn’t have the resources to care for their pets, which is why this OP wrote in. If she gets fired for not traveling, will the pets be better provided for? Probably not.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          This is weird, though. You can also surrender your baby if you’re unable to take care of her, but that would seem to be a strange suggestion in response to somebody entitled to no time off who is negotiating work demands.

          And there really isn’t this huge waitlist of homes desperately hoping to take in people’s relinquished dogs. Most surrendered dogs aren’t adopted, and life in a shelter is tough. And you might be okay with suggesting that she euthanize the dogs instead if that’s likely to be more humane, but I think that’s a statement that’s suggesting that your priorities are the same thing as practicality, and I don’t think that can be assumed.

          Reply
        2. A Teacher

          From the board member of an animal rescue and someone that fosters, please don’t ever own a pet. No, its not a “trivial” decision and when I read why people surrender pets its frustrating–most aren’t for great reasons, but stuff happens. Please don’t manage people if this is the attitude you take on.

          Reply
          1. Jessica (tc)

            A Teacher, thank you for the work you’re doing with animal rescues and fostering! All of my furred-ones have been adopted, and I always appreciate those who make it possible for me to find cats that need a patient home due to “behavior” problems that are most often just “lived with crappy humans in the past” problems. We’ve had our newest one a year, and she’s still coming out of her shell more and more every day. :)

            Reply
        3. simonthegrey

          The family does have the resources to care for the pet. They don’t have the resources for this unexpected change, but that isn’t the same thing. You might as well say someone shouldn’t look at getting a car if they don’t have the immediate resources on hand for a sudden, catastrophic engine explosion or that someone should not join a team sport if they don’t have the immediate resources on hand for emergency care should they get injured in said sport. It’s ludicrous.

          Reply
        4. Ad Astra

          There are some situations where the best thing is to find a new home for the dog. Like when you lose your home, or a health problem renders you unable to care for the dog, or your elderly uncle starts showing signs of dementia and can’t take care of his dog.

          Giving up your dog, much like giving up your child, is the nuclear option. It’s an absolute last resort. And there’s no reason to believe the OP’s situation is anywhere close to that dire. “Getting rid” of your pets is not a decision to make lightly.

          Even finding a new job is preferable to getting rid of the dogs, supposing you’re in a position where you have some career options.

          Reply
        5. Sarahnova

          I am genuinely speechless. What the hell?

          The OP cares for her dogs just fine. The vast majority of people, with and without caring commitments, would find it a significant hardship if they suddenly had to do significant travel.

          I am gobsmacked that we are living in a world where someone seriously suggests getting rid of a member of your family instead of or before negotiating or changing jobs.

          Reply
        6. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’m speechless too. Student, I think you might have misread the letter or something, because there is nothing here that indicates that this family doesn’t have the resources to care for their pets.

          It is not “trivial” to “get rid of pets that have become inconvenient.” That’s … I don’t even know how to address that, actually, because I’m so taken aback by that. At a minimum, you should understand that that is a fairly radical view to put forward.

          Reply
        7. Tinker

          …. oooookay.

          So, I’m going to briefly pass over the reprehensible implications of your statement and take it as given that it is trivial for me to be converted to a non-cat-owner. That said, while I suppose I can’t rule out that there is an offer sufficiently appealing for me to responsibly rehome my cat in order to take it (as far as becoming a non-cat-owner any other way, there is no such offer), it would have to be an offer with truly astounding appeal. To put it very mildly, in this exchange you are not sounding like an astoundingly appealing person to work for.

          So, in this situation — well, I’d be dignified enough not to laugh in your face if you lectured me about limiting my career and threatened to fire me immediately over not disposing of my cat? Probably? And next week I’d have an amazing anecdote to tell my new coworkers over beer.

          Fairly obvious that you should not own a pet. Don’t go into sales, either.

          Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            Yes. I am trying to think of a job change that would be appealing enough to convince me to rehome my cats, and about all I can think of is if I was going to literally be homeless if I didn’t, which is highly unlikely in most situations. (And “lose your job” isn’t synonymous with “homeless”–if someone threatened me with being fired if I didn’t get rid of my cats, I’d be fairly confident in my ability to find a new job, so it wouldn’t be much of a threat.)

            I’m particularly boggled at the idea that they should surrender the dogs because if OP gets fired it’ll be even worse for them. The idea that I’d be a bad pet owner if I lost a specific job because then I wouldn’t be able to “provide for” them is bizarre; it assumes that owning cats/dogs would make me not only unemployed but unemployable, which is patently ridiculous. Plenty of people (understatement) have animals and careers.

            Reply
            1. Cath in Canada

              ” I am trying to think of a job change that would be appealing enough to convince me to rehome my cats”

              For me: Astronaut? Maaaaaaybe? Failing that, you will take my kitties from my cold dead hands.

              Reply
            2. Tinker

              Yeah, and also I think “it’s about the cat, but it’s not about the cat”.

              A career exists to serve the purposes of the person whose career it is — whatever those are, which can include valuing stability, submission, or money/power progression to such a degree that it eclipses all other priorities, but which for most people includes supporting whatever lifestyle they prefer for themselves. So, like, not “limiting” your options and clinging to a job which isn’t designed to support the lifestyle you want, particularly when it is quite likely that a job that DOES function properly is readily available, is like going to the store and saying “Well, I’m looking for something to serve soup in, but I’d better not limit myself by ruling out colanders!”

              So to me, even before we get to the matter of the cat — I’m pretty much not-sold on working for a person at all who doesn’t understand that we’re negotiating a business deal that meets our mutual needs, or who is consciously or unconsciously trying to manipulate me into not pursing my priorities so that I can make a flatter doormat. Add in the animal factor — that I rather like my cat in himself, and that I tend to think that casually dismissing fairly basic responsibilities of animal ownership are red flags for a variety of problems that I have no desire to deal with — and the proposition isn’t just unappealing, it’s ridiculous.

              Reply
              1. Rana

                This is very well put. Student’s position, taken to its logical conclusion, is that none of us should have anything in our lives that interferes with our jobs. Nothing. Not spouses, not children, not pets, not hobbies. And heaven forfend if any of us develops a condition such that we ourselves interfere with our jobs.

                What an incredibly heartless and robotic way of viewing the world.

                Student, I really hope that this is not in fact how you see life, because if it is, that is incredibly sad.

                Reply
              2. Turtle Candle

                Yes, this is brilliantly put. “I’d better not limit myself by ruling out colanders” is going to stay with me for a while, I think!

                Reply
    3. TL -

      I think the OP took the job under good faith that she’d be able to easily take care of her dogs – it sounds like she did her due diligence in making sure the job would accommodate her lifestyle.

      If the job is changing to become a travel-heavy position, she may not have any choice about changing jobs, but it doesn’t sound like that’s on her; it’s on her boss for changing the job requirements.

      Reply
    4. Not Myself

      If you actually did this, I think you’d discover that finding a reliable employee who is willing to travel 50% of the time is actually really hard to do, particularly when the one you’ve got just quit without notice. Employment relationships go both ways – the boss needs OP right now just as much as she needs him, and recruiting and training is time consuming and expensive. Presumably, OP is being asked to do this because she’s proven herself particularly well suited to the task, so plucking a similarly awesome employee from the resume pile is unlikely to happen.

      Reply
    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Really? I don’t know any good manager who would react that way. Lots of bosses would try to find a way to work with the employee. And if in fact the needs of the job are changing, that’s a really big deal that would require a lot of thought and nuanced discussion about how to jointly proceed.

      Reply
    6. Stranger than fiction

      And this attitude is why thousands of pets are euthanized in shelters every year – people like you view them as disposable.

      Reply
    7. Katie the Fed

      I find it’s much easier to manage when I trust people to know what’s important to them.

      I have someone needing a day off for a Cross Fit competition. OK, totally not my thing, but I get it. Go forth and grunt or whatever it is you do. If you want to spend a week cuddling your ferret – that’s cool.

      My job is how it impacts work. If the financial burden is so severe that unexpected travel causes you this much hardship and I might risk losing you, I need to know that.

      Reply
    8. A Teacher

      Seriously? In the words of Carolyn Hax, “Wow.” That’s got to be one of the meanest and most unhelpful responses I’ve read in 5 years on this site.

      Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        Right? Virtually every problem ever submitted here could be resolved with “deal with it or get a new job” but then it really wouldn’t be much of a blog :)

        Reply
  22. caryatis

    I’d like to point out that often, in this situation, we tend to assume that the man’s job is nonnegotiable and the woman’s job is always the one that has to give. Presumably the husband also chose to get the dogs, so why should the wife always have to be the one to compromise for them? OP, it’s worth having a discussion with your husband about what it would take, hypothetically, for him to decrease his travel commitments, whether that means a conversation with his boss or a different job. Maybe that’s not necessary in this case, but it’s good to keep in mind that the dogs are his responsibility too.

    Also, the boss might not recognize how expensive dog care is, maybe find a way to mention that.

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      In this case, I assumed that the husband knew his job was high-travel when he accepted the offer, which probably makes it difficult or impossible to adjust that arrangement. If he thinks he might be able to finagle something, it might be worth a try — but I’d be surprised.

      The OP has more leverage here because the increased travel isn’t what she signed up for.

      But yeah, in general I do notice we tend to assume the wife’s job is less important than the husband’s, and that’s not great. You see it a lot when babies are born and nobody thinks to ask the husband if he’s coming back to work or staying home with the kids.

      Reply
    2. Bostonian

      I think this is projecting a lot when we really don’t know the OP’s situation. I think we’re better off assuming that OP and her husband are making the choices that work for them when it comes to their careers and having dogs. OP didn’t write in to ask about her husband’s travel (and a job that is 100% travel is not likely to be that flexible about it and is something they probably thought about together very carefully), or his share of responsibility for the dogs or about how to negotiate these issues within her relationship. We’re better off sticking to the questions she did ask about how to manage the travel demands of her own job given the responsibilities for the dogs that she has outlined.

      Reply
      1. Bostonian

        I also want to point out that there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that the OP is female, though it is statistically more likely since there was mention of a husband.

        Reply
      2. Retail Lifer

        The husband’s travel requirements probably factored into the OP’s decision to take a job with little to no travel.

        Reply
    3. AnotherFed

      I don’t think that is really relevant to this situation – if the job is 100% travel, that’s the job. OP and spouse presumably took the set of jobs they did under the expectations that the jobs were going to be as presented. There’s no evidence that the OP is unhappy with not getting to travel, or that this was a compromise from the desired job, or that the OP is a woman and so must take care of the house. The OP is just the one with the job that was supposed to essentially not require travel.

      Suddenly increasing to 10-15 days of travel in the next month is rough for all kinds of reasons, but unless the OP’s spouse can take that much vacation on that short of notice, putting it back on the person whose job has not materially changed to somehow be back to do dog care does not seem like a good solution. Even if he can take time off, that’s probably just about all the PTO he’s got!

      Reply
    4. OP

      I agree, this kind of stuff almost always falls on the woman and it’s frustrating. In my husband’s field, though, 100% travel and long days are the norm and we’ve always known that. I’ve typically shouldered the dog care, as I’ve never had to travel much before.

      Reply
      1. moss

        Yeah, if OP’s spouse is out in the oil rigs or something there is no way to decrease the amount of time he is gone. 100% travel is 100% travel.

        Reply
        1. Stephanie

          Another example: my friend is a consultant and does exactly that. She goes to the client site all week and comes home on the weekends. I didn’t get at first why she was going to live with family (as she was making six figures in an affordable city) and then I realized she’d be paying for housing she’d never be home to enjoy.

          Reply
      2. DMented Kitty

        LOL my husband’s home most of the time but I think I do most of the pet care at home – he cleans up one litter box (out of three), I feed them, groom them, toothbrush them, give them their monthly maintenance meds, and take them to vet visits.

        And he sometimes wonders why they prefer to hang around wherever I am in the house vs. by him. :P

        Reply
    5. neverjaunty

      While I agree with you completely, this doesn’t seem to be a situation where OP is asking how to negotiate two high-travel jobs; she’s in a job where she had little to no travel and suddenly long trips away are going to be the norm. That’s the problem, and while one solution might be for them to revisit Mr. OP’s job, the first step is to talk to her boss about her job changing.

      Reply
      1. Zillah

        I agree. And, it’s worth pointing out that even if the OP’s husband could negotiate less travel (which may not be possible), coordinating their travel likely wouldn’t be possible, which means that they’d be left relying on luck that the OP’s husband would be home when the OP was assigned to travel.

        Reply
  23. Brooke

    This weekend boarding my dog with dogvacay.com (aka, folks in our neighborhood who are vetted) for $36 a night. An option worth checking into. Nicer and cheaper than kennels!

    Reply
    1. Brooke

      Sorry for the grammar.. that should have read “I’m boarding my dog…” and for reference, I live in Los Angeles, though the site is nationwide I believe.

      Reply
      1. Retail Lifer

        Dog Vacay is great, but it was hard for me to find someone on there who was able to care for my two big dogs when I was on vacation. One person I contacted declined, and the other person that I met up with was wonderful but her dog and mine didn’t hit it off right away. There were a few others but their daily rates were too high. The woman we eventually chose is amazing and we’ll definitely use her again if we go anywhere, but I couldn’t afford her on a regula basis.

        Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      I have a friend who uses this service when she travels for work and highly recommends it. OP, this might be worth looking into — at least as a short-term solution — if you haven’t already.

      Reply
  24. AFT123

    I’m kind of surprised by how much this discussion is revolving around the financial aspect of OP’s question – even if it wasn’t a financial hardship, being away from any living thing that depends on you (pets or kids) for 15 days a month is an unfair burden to ask of someone who didn’t “sign up for it”. As usual, I think the OP has the options to fight for it, suck it up, of leave, but I just want to point out here that there is more at stake than dollars. Especially for some of the commenters that disregard or are flippant about dogs – you don’t have to agree with how OP regards her animals, but you do need to acknowledge that not everyone feels the same as you do, and many people love their pets as members of their family. Even if you don’t understand or agree, a bit of empathy would be called for here. These are living, breathing beings that have emotional needs, and your discounting of pet-lover’s feelings towards their pets is discounting something that people love very dearly. This is very poor taste, and frankly, mean.

    Reply
    1. Parent

      This is why I asked the question upthread regarding how the dogs would handle it. I could be asked to travel and be away from my spouse, and I would miss her during that time, but I think most people would say that’s not really sufficient reason to decline to make the trip. With my kids, there’s the same fact of missing them because I enjoy their presence, but there’s also more complicated emotional/behavioral/disciplinary effects when young children spend significant time away from their primary caregivers.

      With dogs, I’m a lot more sympathetic to the financial argument and the fact that travel may cause behavioral issues or other problems than I am to the people whose issue seems to boil down to “But I’d miss them!”

      Reply
    2. Dana

      I think we’re taking that cue from the boss’ reaction–basically shrugging it off. For pet people, OBVIOUSLY their pets’ well-being is first and foremost, but you can’t usually convert non-pet people (OP’s boss) to pet people (OP) just by sheer will. So getting OP’s boss to care? Not likely. Framing it in a way that OP’s boss will be sympathetic to? Much easier (hopefully!).

      Reply
  25. AnnieNonymous

    Hmmm, this kennel vs. dog-sitting situation is one of those things that strikes a weird note with me. I’ve never liked it when people say, “This difficult service is worth $x. I think I’ll just ask my friends and family if they can do it for free.” I feel the same way when people ask their friends for help moving. So I feel that the OP is taking the right approach in assuming that she’ll have to kennel the dogs as a matter of course.

    Make sure that the boss hasn’t dropped this travel on you because you’re the only one who doesn’t have kids. If that’s his thought process, there might not be a lot of wiggle room.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      Although you’re not really asking them to ‘do it for free’, so much as you’re asking them to do it in return for your being willing to do the same for them. (If you have somebody who always wants help but is mysteriously busy whenever you need them to return the favor, obviously that’s different.)

      Reply
      1. Traveler

        This. You’re theoretically trading services in some way. You’re paying them by offering labor at some point in the past or future in exchange.

        Reply
    2. Katie the Fed

      There’s a wide range of dogs though. Some are really low maintenance and are fine with someone checking on them and walking them a couple times of day. My dog would eat all the furniture and then curl up and die if we left her home alone for that long.

      Meanwhile, the cats are a different story. The neighbors and I are happy to check on each other’s cats when we’re out of town. It’s not a big burden.

      Reply
    3. Anony-Moose

      I have a much beloved friend who has asked me to watch her pets often. It’s a LOT of work. It adds an hour to my day (commute out of the way, checking in, staying for a while, commute back home).

      I cat-sat for two weeks (two different friends) over the summer and it was incredibly trying. I agree with your assessment!

      Reply
      1. AnnieNonymous

        It sticks in my craw because I know a lot of people who like adopting animals even though they, strictly speaking, can’t afford pets. If you know you like to go on vacation every year but you can’t afford to kennel your dog, you have no business owning a dog.

        Reply
    4. LQ

      I think this depends a lot. I have a close family member who I puppy sit for quite often. She pays for the cost at my apartment (so I can have the dog at my house instead of going to her house) and sometimes gives me a gift when she returns from her vacations. But for me it isn’t a problem, it’s just the right amount of dog. Even in the middle of winter when we have to go out 10 times a day to get the right amount of play in, it’s nice to have the pup what amounts to a weekend a month and then a longer trip of 2-3 weeks each year.

      I think it’s very important to have this conversation, but sometimes it’s totally welcome. (Being a very very part time pet owner is perfect for me.) On the other hand I’ve had other pet owners who’ve asked me to watch their pets, generally a huge no because not as well behaved, would require a ton more work, they are jumpy or barky or frustrating for me dogs. So the pup I watch is good for me but that doesn’t mean all pups are.

      Reply
    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      It depends, which I feel like has been happening a lot in this thread, and for good reason. :) I absolutely agree with you on a macro level, but everyone’s life– and every dog– is different. I paid to board my dog in New York until a neighbor, whom we trusted and loved and whose dog was our dog’s bestie and walking partner, BEGGED us to let him take the dog for the weekend when we went away (there was a big ol’ love affair between that man and our dog). Did it save us money? Of course! Did we start to take advantage of it? Of course! It was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

      We have since moved, and the dog is always boarded. (Also? Way cheaper here.) We don’t know anyone well enough to trust with our dog or to ask such a big favor. So I see exactly where you’re coming from with the kennel vs. sitting thing, just wanted to point out that it’s not always completely black-and-white. When I think about myself, if a friend asked us to take his dog for a week, I’d say yes in a heartbeat.

      Reply
  26. F.

    I didn’t see anything about this in the original post, but is it possible that some of the work can be performed remotely, thus reducing the number of days out of town? (Just trying to think out of the box a bit here.) I realize it doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it might be a way to reduce the hardship somewhat. This is a complex problem that will probably take a patchwork of accommodations from both the employee and employer to resolve.

    Reply
    1. Sparrow

      That’s a good suggestion. Due to expense reasons, my company does not allow any travel unless it is VP-approved. We have a lot of conference calls and have web conferencing software where we can share our desktop, documents, etc.

      Reply
  27. Retail Lifer

    I’m having a really hard time finding a job that doesn’t require at least semi-regular travel. If I finally do find one and then the terms change, I’d have to quit. I hate traveling for work, but even more so, even the cheapest option for my two big dogs isn’t affordable on a regular basis.

    Reply
  28. Zillah

    OP, I hope you’ve gotten some good suggestions. I feel like the ship has unfortunately sailed on family/personal commitments vs. dog-sitting on this particular trip, since you brought up the dog issue to your boss. Since you’ve mentioned it anyway, I would quantify it if you haven’t done so: say, “I’ve done research and based on my particular situation, the only option is to board them. For 10-15 days away from home, it would cost me between $1000 and $1500. I can’t afford that.” However, I do think that you’ve still got room to talk about travel going forward in more general terms; you can say “While the dog issue prevents me from doing extensive travel as even a one-time thing, I have other personal commitments in addition to my dogs that make it very difficult for me to accommodate that kind of schedule in general. Is this something we can talk about?”

    Because my major concern for you is that even if your boss either relents on this trip or offers you a bonus for it, this will continue to be a problem. If you do get that sense, can you see about switching to a different job in your company that theoretically doesn’t require this much travel? Or, barring that, can either you or your husband start searching for a new job?

    Reply
    1. Jerry Vandesic

      Maybe you could let your boss take care of the dogs while you are away? That might give him a sense of what is at stake.

      Reply
  29. Student

    This may also be a good time to try to get some local friends. There are lots of good reasons to have a couple local friends, and this is one of them. I’m one of those people who can’t have pets due to the constraints of my job, and I would be thrilled to dog-sit for someone for a short period of time. I check in on one of my co-worker’s cats whenever he’s out of town (for free) because I enjoy getting to play with the cats for a bit and it gives him some piece of mind that they’re okay while he’s gone for long trips.

    You could also try hiring local neighbors to dog-sit at your house (college kid home for the summer, stay-at-home parent, older teens, retirees if your dogs are good-tempered, and fellow workers who already care for dogs are good candidates to ask first) . You don’t have to be great friends to know a neighbor well enough for this kind of favor. Even if you don’t trust your neighbors unconditionally, you know where they live so it’s really hard for them to rob you successfully. Plus, if they do rob you, they have to worry about repercussions from you for as long as they live near you. Same deal with co-workers – they don’t need to be great buddies to do this kind of thing successfully. The key to these kinds of arrangements are that you either need to pay something for their services, or you need to reciprocate with favors of similar quality when asked to maintain the relationship.

    Reply
    1. Traveler

      I wouldn’t be concerned with them robbing me so much as what are they going to do if my dog is suddenly ill or injured? Are they going to respond quickly enough? Are they going to take them to a vet I trust? My pets are super important to me. There are few people I would trust to care for them. Even if its someone I am close with, that doesn’t necessarily translate to them being the kind of person I want to take care of my dog.

      Reply
      1. Student

        Frankly, I find this comment horrifying. It’s a little bit more understandable if you have a pet with a long-term illness, but still.

        Do you really think a pet-sitter would refuse to take your pets to the vet if needed? You must think people are monsters. All you have to do is talk about the possibility and explain that you’ll happily repay them for any vet services needed and your favored vet is XYZ. The only reason someone would do such a thing is if they can’t afford it, and offering to cover it should alleviate that concern.

        People leave their human children in the care of strangers all the time. Often, they leave their children in the care of other children! It takes very little effort to explain what to do in case of emergency and make sure all the appropriate info is available. People manage it all the time under much more serious stakes. It’s really trivial, everyone manages it, and you’re being extremely over-protective. I’d say so if they were kids instead of dogs, but they are dogs. Dogs require a lot less maintenance than human children, and there are a lot less things that can go wrong with them than human children.

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          Eh, I had a bad experience when I deployed years ago. I had a pet sitter who specifically offered to pet sit military pets during deployments. I paid her for it and paid for all their food. We also had a contract that clearly stated my cats were indoor cats.

          As soon as I left, she turned them loose to be outdoor cats. At some point, one of them ran away and never came back. The other one has spent the rest of his life trying to escape the house and go outside after his freedom was taken away. I was so upset but there wasn’t a thing I could do about it after the fact. She apparently just felt that cats should be free to roam.

          Reply
          1. Window Seat Anon

            I’d like to second the bad experience comment to Student. Once when my family was on vacation visiting relatives our beloved family dog was hit by a car. The people in charge of watching her didn’t even bother to take her to a vet, they took her out to their farm and shot her and buried her claiming it was the more humane thing to do.

            Obviously, this is an outlier case (I hope) but the fact is, what others consider an acceptable response to a pet emergency may not be what YOU expect it to be. Especially given the whole pet vs kids debate, which isn’t really even the point of the OP’s letter here.

            Reply
          2. Brandy in TN

            My dads this way. He could never live with me since I have a large indoor dog and he feels by size that large dogs should be outside. My pup would loose his mind. And my dad would be trying to let my cats out too. He feels cats should roam.

            Reply
        2. TL -

          Hmm…
          I would be hesitant about someone who has no pet experience – do they know what to look for? Animals aren’t always obvious about when something’s wrong.

          Also, I have been pet-sitting before and had to have an animal put down. It’s a deeply unpleasant experience and it does happen. (And it was lucky I was the one who was pet-sitting; because the symptoms were relatively subtle but I knew enough to take the cat into the vet and it was a serious problem.)

          Reply
        3. Turtle Candle

          I don’t think that people leave their human children in the care of strangers for 10-15 days per month “all the time,” though. The OP says expressly that they’re okay with boarding for short periods of time–that’s very different than a third to a half of the total days in the month. And this isn’t necessarily a one-time thing, either: part of the reason that they wrote in is, “It looks like more and more of these extended travel assignments are going to come up”. (And yeah, if someone did think it was peachy to leave kids with a stranger for ten days at a go, especially on a semi-regular basis, I’d find that pretty horrifying too.)

          It’s the same with dogs. I might be inclined to say “it sucks but you may be best off just eating the cost this time” if it was a genuine one-time unusual-circumstances crisis or something, but it’s not. And that’s what’s making people suggest that a serious talk with the manager about changing job expectations, rather than just “suck it up and find a petsitter.”

          Reply
        4. Zillah

          Horrifying? That seems like an overreaction.

          It’s not that people are monsters – it’s that not everyone has the requisite experience to recognize and respond appropriately to a problem, and as the stakes get higher, it’s natural to be more reticent about trusting people to do so. It’s not about people being malicious – it’s about them being inexperienced.

          It’s similar to the way that people who have dietary concerns will often double check when people are cooking them food – it’s not that they assume that most people are malicious, it’s that they assume that people who are inexperienced won’t always recognize practices or ingredients that might be a problem.

          People do leave their children in the care of strangers all the time, including children – but that’s generally just for a few hours. I don’t know many people who’d be okay with leaving their children in the care of strangers or other children for days on end, which is what Traveler and the OP are talking about. It’s apples and oranges in more than one respect.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            And having animal-experienced people come to your home and do excellent pet care costs–this isn’t five bucks a day to the neighbor kid territory.

            A friend had an amazing animal sitter who worked for her vet and who ended up delivering skilled nursing care at my friend’s home while she was out of the country. I don’t know what it cost and I bet my friend thinks it was worth every penny, but I suspect it wasn’t much cheaper than boarding.

            Reply
        5. simonthegrey

          They do specify that the person would take them to a vet they trust. Our family’s dog when I was a kid was a basenji, and he could be very aggressive to the vet. There was one vet he liked and responded to, and no one else could treat him, but that vet was 45 minutes away from my parents’ house. Taking him to a closer vet would mean someone muzzling him or anesthetizing him, and when he got older the vet told us that anesthetizing him could kill him. So I would be trusting a teenager to take an older, belligerent dog to a vet 45 minutes away, possibly while that dog was having seizures (as ours did in the last year of his life). That isn’t fair to the dog or to the person.

          Likewise, if I had someone petsitting my snakes and there was a problem, they would have to take them to a reptile vet, and there isn’t one in my city. So now I am asking a teenager to drive my snake to the nearest vet, which is over an hour away. Again, it isn’t that the person is a bad person or that I think they are a monster who wouldn’t care for my animal. The question is, will they provide care that will help the problem or exacerbate it.

          Reply
        6. A Teacher

          I have a specific routine to let my dogs out. My female chow mix is reactive to my female aussie mix but only in the backyard. I have to have a certain collar on her to allow them to be together outside and even then, I only let them out together if I’m there. I also feed them separately and they get different amounts of food. Very few people would work to take care of my dogs.

          Reply
        7. Almond Milk Latte

          A kid can go, “Hey, babysitter, I think I’m dying” while a cat might just hide under the bed. It’s hard to tell what’s an emergency when so much about identifying illness in pets is relative and nuanced. Is my cat puking everywhere because he’s sick, or did he just eat too fast? Is he hiding under the bed because he’s mad that I’m not home, or is she in pain? I know them well enough to tell the difference, but I can’t expect someone who’s a paid visitor to know.

          Reply
        8. the_scientist

          Well, to start with, I really don’t think most people are leaving their human children with babysitters/the nanny/strangers/ the teenager down the street for 10-15 days at a time every month. That’s not a reasonable request and that’s one a lot of parents would laugh at if you dared suggest it to them. Even if parents have family close by who can look after the kids, that’s a significant disruption to a child’s routine and one that a lot of parents and kids might not be thrilled with. Not to mention that the grandparents might be able to watch the kids for a short stint, but might not be up to the physical challenges of watching young kids for an extended period of time.

          Also, human children can typically verbalize what’s wrong with them if they are upset/feeling ill, at least to an extent. Animals can’t do that, and a stranger who’s not attuned to the animal is probably going to miss behaviour cues that something is up. Plus human emergencies are a little more obvious, usually, whereas unless the pet has been hit by a car/mauled by another animal the problem might not be obvious, or might not look serious.

          At the end of the day, if something happens while you’re gone, you can’t get your pet back. Understandably, that’s not worth the risk for a lot of pet owners.

          Reply
        9. Traveler

          I think “horrifying” is a bit of an overreaction. I’d also really like to stop comparing dogs/kids because we are getting off on tangents about who is more important and I don’t think its relevant in the context of this conversation.

          I have family members that think their pets should “tough it out”/ let nature take care of it and family members who take their pet to the vet the second something is wrong. I’ve known people that have had pets die because they ignored signs of snake bites, and others that rushed them madly to the closest vet and they lived because of it. People have different reactions to things. That’s not a judgment of their character in general, just would be a factor in my judgment call of who I would let watch them for me. Some random person I just befriended in town is not going to watch my pet for me, that’s my prerogative. I don’t think people are monsters just because I have a threshold for who I want caring for an animal I love. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

          Reply
      2. Not Myself

        Or just not knowing all the relevant information for caring for your pet. My family once pet sat for a friend’s very expensive beloved parrot. We were unaware that parrots can catch pneumonia, so when my sister became ill, we didn’t take any precautions, and we didn’t know what a sick parrot looked like. The poor bird caught it and died.

        Reply
    2. Anony-Moose

      I think the OP is less worried about someone being in her house than she is about trusting her dog to someone else. If my dog hurts someone, gets off a leash, runs into traffic, chases a kitten, etc, that’s on ME. I wouldn’t entrust someone I don’t really know to take care of my dog because it’s just so much more work, responsibility, and liability than checking in on a cat.

      Reply
    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      As I said before, this doesn’t work for everyone– or every dog. The OP has several dogs– that’s a lot of dog! Also, my buddy does best when he boards, so there’s that. I would take a friend’s dog for a few days, but I couldn’t do multiple dogs for several weeks, and I love buddies and know something about their behaviors.

      Reply
  30. NickelandDime

    I’m glad several posts brought up the issue of this much travel coming out of the blue for the OP. This has happened on my job and without more money or a promotion. I went from going somewhere maybe once a year to all of a sudden, I have four trips scheduled before December. I hope there’s an update to this letter, after the OP has a long talk with her manager on if this will be a common occurrence.

    Reply
  31. Richard

    Some of the comments don’t seem to acknowledge that things change. I had a job that was 0% travel, until it was bought by another company – and suddenly, I was traveling 50% to their offices. I could have said no – but then, I wouldn’t have been a team lead in the combined teams. If you can’t change with the times, then you may become less valuable, even though your skills haven’t changed, and even though, when at home, you’re still the most valuable person around.

    I’ve been in a similar position to the OP’s boss, and what frustrates me isn’t that I’m upset someone won’t travel, but that I know that a valuable person is making a career-limiting choice that will have long term repercussions, and that may, in the long run, mean that I lose them because of it. I’ve had people choose not to go, who within a year were being laid off or getting passed over for promotions. (Not saying that’s the way your boss thinks. He could just be a jerk and not understand.) I’ve had that conversation with them, but the impact never seems to hit them at the moment – not until they get the pink slip or are reporting to someone who used to be their assistant.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      But that’s why OP should have that conversation, correct? Maybe there’s a good reason for all this travel that will benefit OP as well in the long run. Maybe this is temporary. Maybe OP will be more limited in her ability to get promotions, and she is OK with that.

      A company that simply expects it can radically change a job and expect people to drop their lives or else is going to find itself losing a lot of good employees.

      Reply
    2. Turtle Candle

      I don’t think I see people failing to acknowledge that jobs change? I see a lot of people saying that it’s reasonable and in this case perhaps wise to have a discussion with the manager about the change, though. Things may change, but that doesn’t mean they have to change without discussion, and the discussion can involve indication that a particular change could cause a hardship. There may be alternate solutions.

      If I were managing a good performer through a possibly-significant job change, I’d rather they said “this would be extremely difficult for me” and give me a chance to find a workaround or alternate solution than to just suck it up and silently start looking for another job.

      Reply
    3. Shell

      Well, yes, things change. But if such a drastic change occurs–and changing from “occasional travel” to “10-15 days a month of travel” is a drastic change–then there needs to be a conversation about it. OP and the boss might work this out somehow. If that’s not possible, and if this much travel is the way OP’s job is heading towards, then yes, OP may elect to find another job/give up her dogs/other options. But stating that OP is limiting her career unilaterally, when she wasn’t the one who made this change to her job, isn’t fair. And it’s not unreasonable to push back when this was a sudden change; in fact, the onus should’ve been on the boss to have a conversation with the OP about it if this is the new reality of this job.

      This much travel isn’t what the OP signed up for. If the finances/dog wasn’t a problem, OP can still push back on this much travel because it wasn’t part of the job, and if the boss decides that it must be part of the job going forward, she should open up a dialogue with the OP about it with or without the dogs.

      Reply
    4. Ad Astra

      Lots of people make what could be interpreted as “career-limiting choices” when their companies present them with unreasonable demands, like 50% travel when they signed on for 0%. People who will drastically rearrange their lives in order to meet their job’s changing demands are the exception rather than the rule.

      But that’s why you start with a conversation, so both sides can look for opportunities to make this situation work. It would be reasonable to quit over the travel issue, but it may not be necessary.

      Reply
    5. Kyrielle

      Things do change. But this is a fairly humongous, unreasonable change for someone who didn’t want to travel. I would absolutely recommend OP have a conversation about what things look like going forward and whether there’s any flexibility. Otherwise, it sounds like they are going to be leaving on their own rather than take this on – so they might as well have the conversation and give their boss a chance to find another solution. Maybe there isn’t one. But the career doesn’t trump everything.

      Reply
      1. Jerry Vandesic

        It is a big change, but it isn’t unreasonable. Reasonableness doesn’t really play a role. The job is the job.

        That being said, reasonableness does apply to the interaction with the boss, and it looks like the boss dropped the ball on this one and assumed there was not going to be any problem. They should have talked about how the role is changing, and discussed whether there was still a fit between the OP and the job. If the answer was no, then they could work out a plan to exit the OP from the job.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I wouldn’t assume they’ll need to remove the OP from the job. Lots and lots of bosses would rather keep a good performer and find another way to handle the travel. This stuff is often not black and white.

          Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            That’s what’s confusing me about some of these comments. I mean, are there bosses where, if you say “I have responsibilities at home that mean that I can’t leave for 10-15 days a month, especially regularly,” they’ll respond “Well then you’re fired”? Probably. But I think reasonable bosses will at least have a conversation with you about that and see if something can be worked out. The idea that you have to ditch the dog or start job searching without even talking about it baffles me.

            Reply
    6. LBK

      While I see your point, this takes a micro view of a career – there’s more than one place to work in the world, and what may be limiting at one office or one company may not even be a factor at another. I don’t think it’s fair to feel frustrated on an employee’s behalf, certainly not to the extent that you’d use your authority as their manager to push them into a choice because you decided it will be better for their career.

      Additionally, maybe what’s best for advancing their career isn’t best for them as a whole person; if I were forced to give up my cat to keep a job I’d probably harbor guilt about that for the rest of my life. We’re talking Sophie’s Choice-level life-ruining anguish that would probably end up affecting my work performance anyway – every step of my career after that I’d be reminded of the choice I had to make to get there and how that choice involved leaving behind another living creature that had been entrusted to my care.

      Is that really a decision you feel comfortable making for your employee just because you’ve decided their priorities are out of order?

      Reply
  32. Transformer

    Is there any way the dogs could travel with the OP? Find a pet friendly hotel? For smallerish dogs some of the airlines only charge $25 and the dogs can travel in the cabin in special areas. Just wondering if bringing them with would be an option.

    Reply
    1. Sospeso

      Hm, interesting idea. In my (very limited) experience trying to find a dog-friendly hotel for a particular trip, lots of the bigger chains seem to have a qualifying statement to the effect of, “Pets must never be left in the room unattended.” I guess if you’ve got quiet pups, you might be able to fly under the radar?

      Reply
    2. Lia

      I’d caution against this if it’s a longer term thing. For a night, maybe two, most hotels are going to be OK to skip your room for housecleaning (the chain I worked for briefly forbade housekeepers from cleaning pet rooms if the pets were in the room) but longer term, you’d need to plan to remove the dogs for cleaning.

      and with 6 dogs, most hotels are going to just say no. Ours allowed 2 pets/room max.

      Reply
  33. NickelandDime

    It’s not fair, but Richard is right. When you start saying no to things at work, it hurts you. I hope the OP and her manager can work it out, but if they can’t…OP may have to make some changes either with her job or her pets.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      It may or may not hurt you, depending on what you’re being asked to do and whether there are other ways to do it. But rearranging your entire life every time the boss says ‘boo’ is no guarantee of promotions or even having a job, as a lot of people find out the hard way.

      Reply
      1. OP

        I agree that it could hurt/limit me and that’s why I wrote in. The fact is that I’m not one of those people who is “passionate” about work. I’m grateful for my income and benefits. I’m glad I have something productive to do everyday. I’m glad I can work in the field for which I went to school. But I would never (ever, ever, ever) choose something as ephemeral and uncertain as a particular job over the life of another living being (so, yeah, I’m not “getting rid” of my dogs). I wrote to Alison because I wanted to know what reasonable expectations I should have. Should I hands down expect to be let go because I can’t/won’t up my travel commitments? If so, ok, I just want to know to expect it. Am I being unreasonable? Is my boss? I don’t need a lesson in how much more important my career is than my dogs’ lives, because it’s not (the majority of people on here have been great, but a couple of comments have been so insane they’ve made me angry, which is completely ridiculous since I’m dealing with internet strangers who probably write dumb shit just to get a rise out of people like me :-))

        Reply
        1. Sarahnova

          OP, you are not being unreasonable.

          I’m kind of curious what the people who have expressed eye rolls at ‘I can’t travel because of my dogs’ are actually, practically suggesting. That you magic $1500 out of your butt? Put it on a credit card (every single month)?

          Reply
        2. fposte

          I don’t think anybody’s being unreasonable, at least not from what I’ve read so far; that’s often what makes a situation difficult.

          Sometimes organizations need more travel in a position than they anticipated. That’s reasonable.
          Sometimes employees can’t do what management hopes in a position. That’s also reasonable.
          Organizations rarely compensate employees for additional personal expenses incurred by employee travel. That’s at least standard, and one could therefore argue reasonable.

          I think it would be reasonable for an employee to leave when the changing needs of the job meant it wasn’t for her anymore, and I think it would be reasonable for an employer to terminate an employee who couldn’t fulfill the changed needs of a position.

          But that doesn’t mean those are the *only* reasonable options. It’s up to you and your boss to see if you can find another reasonable option that might work better for you. Like not going, if the travel isn’t important; like having somebody else go, if it is important but not important that it be you; etc. I hope you can find one of those other reasonable options.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            Exactly this. The choices are not “meekly STFU and do what you’re told” vs. “take this job and shove it”. There are too many facts that you know (or will know, after talking to your boss) and we don’t: how important is the travel? Are there other ways to get the same results, like teleconferencing? Can travel be broken into smaller trips? Is refusing more travel something that is negotiable, and if it negatively affects your job, what will that be like?

            And yes, there are always doofuses posting because they want to get a rise or they just want to show how much smarter they are than anyone else. ;)

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Yeah, the abstract and the concrete are really different here. The concrete isn’t Employee Won’t Travel and We Need Travel So Goodbye. The concrete is Jane is really good at a bunch of stuff and we want her doing that stuff, and we like her. We also want her doing more travel than she’s doing now and that might not work. So are there things we could do to make it work?

              Reply
        3. Ad Astra

          I’m with you. My career matters to me because I need money to live, but it’s not where I find fulfillment. That comes from my family, my pets, my friends, and the cool stuff I get to do with the money I earn from working. This is not a dream I’m chasing.

          Based on how you described your relationship with your boss upthread, I would expect him to work with you as much as possible to minimize the long bouts of travel. But without knowing your company or your job, I have no idea how feasible it is to get by without traveling so much.

          Reply
        4. Green

          I’d ditch my career for my (dumb but lovable) dogs. We don’t have kids. But they’re both my responsibilities and my family, and my family matters to me!

          That said, from your job’s perspective, I do think it’s unreasonable not to suck it up for a one-time or occasional (once a year or less) two week travel, make it work, and just mentally view your salary as $1500 less (and decide whether or not to keep the job based on that “new” salary and condition). It’s also probably unreasonable not to suck it up for a longer period of time for a work crisis-type scenario (all-hands-on-deck at client’s location for a month and they don’t ask you to do that again for years and give everyone a bonus for making it work). But if these two-week trips are quarterly or more, you’re going from incidental travel to 15-20%+ travel and that’s usually something employees usually negotiate up front. At that point, you need to decide if there’s an amount of money that you would be willing to increase your travel for and renegotiate based on the changes in job responsibility.

          Reply
        5. MissDisplaced

          OP, 10-15 days per month is quite a lot of travel (but not unheard of).
          If this is just a one-time thing (say for one long trip or just a particularly busy month), then yeah, ok, maybe you do need to suck it up and pay the dog sitter, and you chalk it up to a once per year expense.

          But if this amount of travel will become an ongoing expectation, then your job is seriously changing and you need to have that conversation with your manager about what amount of travel you can reasonably accommodate moving forward. It is not unreasonable to push back a little as your job did not previously demand so much travel, and this change in travel seems to have developed recently. Of course you can present this in a calm and professional manner. The reasons don’t matter. What needs to be address is 1. Why the sudden increase in travel needs and what this entails, and 2. How can they be met most effectively (and do they indeed require the travel versus web meetings, etc.).

          It goes without saying that travel also incurs a lot of expense for the company as well (coming from someone now under a travel freeze until the end of the year). So, it is good to examine the travel increase from this perspective as well. It may be necessary, or it may not (or could be handled other ways).

          But regardless, you need to have the talk now, before you travel for that first 10-15 days.

          Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Making a change in your pets because your low-travel job suddenly becomes a high-travel job really isn’t something that most people who love their pets would consider reasonable.

      Reply
      1. Green

        Nor is it responsible pet ownership. In adopting or purchasing a pet, you agree to be the provider for that animal’s needs for its entire life. There’s some point at which you actually *can’t* provide for them (i.e., serious illness) and it’s OK to find someone else who can, but this doesn’t hit that bar for most responsible pet owners. Most of us would ditch the job instead of the dogs.

        Reply
    3. Tinker

      Thing that is also true: never starting to say no to things, in work or otherwise, is pretty much a guaranteed way to turn yourself into human wreckage. Life is like a bowl of Jello — if you don’t have boundaries, you’re going to end up oozing all over the floor. And nobody likes a sticky floor.

      Reply
  34. JM

    When travel comes up where I am I have the same issue.
    The thing that chaps me is my “excuse” is not valid, but someone can say “I have a young child” or “I don’t like to fly” and that is acceptable.

    Reply
    1. Stevie Wonders

      When I had to travel (not much fortunately), I was surprised to find my last company reimbursed pet and child care, no limit! Very nice, and quite unusual. Anyway, for this situation might work to say that “dependent” care is too costly, without specifying the type of dependent.

      Reply
  35. ChrisH

    Why does it matter whether it’s a dog or a kid?

    Bottom line is that we’ve become senseless about air travel. Weekly overnight travel only works for post-college employees who have no dependents and no relationship commitments. Seriously. If you have anything that requires care, attention or feeding, you will fail. Once your boyfriend leaves you, or your pet care costs as much as two car payments each month, your plants are all dying, or your lawn/garden evaporates, you will feel a lot different about working under these conditions. Add: stress of the additional time commitment involved travel, constantly being exposed to sick people (and then bringing illnesses home to loved ones), additional expenses of not having things regularly available, and so on. If you’re traveling across multiple time zones, this can play havoc with your routines, especially sleep and waking hours. When you’re home you’re spending all of your time recuperating from travel – just to go out and do it again the following week.

    Anyone who tells you that it’s exciting to travel for work hasn’t grown up yet. Anyone who tells you that it’s a great way to see the world is an idiot. I had to travel to Paris and London for work last year. After spending 13-15 hrs/day working under duress and deadlines – and another 2-3 hrs/day working with US based people coming online, the only thing I saw of either city was the cab ride to/from the hotel. If that’s true in 2 of the top destinations in the world, how awesome is it going to be hanging out in some Podunk 3rd rate town?

    This is no way to live.

    Travel commitments of any kind should be treated like a hardship, and you should be compensated for this extensively. In a lot of cases it simply doesn’t work. People convince themselves of a lot of things.

    If your job didn’t require travel and now does, go find a new job ASAP. This is called duplicitous hiring – not cool.

    Eventually you’ll get ‘the speech’ about how the needs of the business have changed. My response is ‘that’s fine. my requirements have stayed the same – no travel (or minimal travel meaning 1-2 days/month). since you knew my requirements when I was hired, how would you like to handle it?’

    Chances are good that your answer will be ‘just travel this little bit and we’ll work something else out’. This is a baloney response – they have no plan. If you stay on the road they don’t have to deal with you directly, and it is nigh impossible to job hunt while engaged at client sites while on the road. Your only options are to leverage HR or quit.

    Lastly, any agreement that you make regarding limits of your travel is 95% wasted effort. Employers will tell you whatever they think you need to hear because they will just say, ‘the needs of the business have changed’. In my experience travel is binary – it’s either a ‘1’ or a ‘0’, yes or no.

    Traveling to a conference 1-2 times a year doesn’t count as a travel commitment in my book. That’s pseudo-professional vacation time.

    Be sure that you are willing to give up your life before you commit to recurring travel. It’s a risk assessment, and you actually have a lot to lose. If you have children at home and value family time, don’t do it. You don’t get that time back.

    Reply

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