…TO GRANDMOTHERS HOUSE WE GO!
I’m sure you remember that tune. You know it’s getting close to the holidays when the leaves start falling, and the temperature starts changing. In our house this generally evokes another noteworthy tune: “On the road again..” or simply put – “road trip”. With a few memorable miles of wheel worthy experience, it is only fair I share some useful tips with anyone traveling with a dog, AND some explanations to anyone at an Interstate rest stop that sees a driver with a dog….
Every dog is different, and like anything else, riding in a vehicle for a lengthy period of time requires proper planning. My first question: “has your dog ever been in your car?” Harley was practically born in a car. At the tender age of 9 weeks, he was riding all over the place with me. Initially he threw up about three times and actually fell completely off the seat once. After that he was a pro, he loves riding EVERYWHERE, but this new veteran “road dog” buddy comes with a price. He has stipulations! Harley is a four legged version of the Charlie Brown character, “Linus”. He must have a blanket, towel, sheet, ANYTHING made of fabric when he rides. I imagine this “fetish” started after he threw up in my back seat. Not knowing if it would happen again (which it didn’t after the third time), I made sure I had something to cover the seat when we traveled. This is what conditioned him to think my car had special seat covers just for him. He also never liked the window down, not at a traffic light or even when the car was in park, if I rolled the window down he could have cared less. Now he’ll play “peek a boo” with the window only because Leo enjoys hanging out of one.
At six months old, Leo in a moving vehicle was like “Mr. T” from the A-Team getting on an airplane – just a bad combination. For weeks he got sick, sometimes before I even left the neighborhood! I had to keep taking him out for short rides because traveling is just something my family enjoys doing, he was part of our family now, so by golly we had to beat this beast (the sickness that is) once and for all. It got so bad Harley didn’t even want to share the back seat with him! Now that’s sad. After having Leo for a month it was time to journey about 500 miles and I was fresh out of options – there was no way we would survive. It was time to call “Super Vet Learman”, who told me to sedate him (just like Mr T) with Dramamine. She said this would calm his nerves, and help him relax. Let me tell you, I was at the CVS drive-thru so fast it would have made your head spin.
I gave Leo his cocktail appetizer about 30 minutes before departure (wrapped the pill in a piece of sliced cheese – it works well as a disguise). By the time he climbed in that backseat he was “gone.” That boy snored across two states! His twilight state of mind seemed to erradicate the demon inside his fears and by the time we returned home he was drug free and loving the white lines.
Now Leo’s become a “highway junkie”. He acts like his parents are GMC and VW. You mention going somewhere and he comes alive. If you take him out in the winter you have to bundle up, because he loves the fresh air. At his size his famous stance is to place his front feet on the middle console arm rest, and stick his head straight out the sunroof like “Simba” from the Lion King movie. I’ve often been tempted to ride down the street with his head out – hair blowing in the wind and all – and play the movie sound track through my IPod, to see the response! He’s definitely cured of his “car-i-tis”. Thank You God!
So if you’re traveling with a new member in your family this holiday season, here’s some helpful tips to make it fun and not frightening:
- Exhaust your pet the day before you travel – keep them busy all day
- Do not feed your dog heavy meals before you leave – I feed mine mid-trip and after we reach our destination
- Keep a little bag of dry food in the car with you – this way while you drive someone else can hand feed (treat style) while you’re on the road, with food they are accustomed to that won’t upset their stomach
- Splurge and get a sports squirt bottle – makes it easier to give them water at the rest stops without the mess of finding bowls, paper cups etc…
- Stop often – just accept the fact that this trip will be a little longer than usual – relax about it, after all you’re on “holiday!”
Now if you’re a holiday traveler and meet up with us at an interstate rest-stop, here are a few requests from me (and possibly others like me):
- Please be patient with me – I know it’s hard to maneuver in those little parking spaces, as I have three doors open trying to find the spoon to stir their food before serving in the parking lot by the curb
- Know that I intend to poop scoop – but first I must get the dogs back to the car to free my hands to get gloves, and bags to finish my latrine duty
- Try to understand – I’ve just spent 4.5 hours in a car with two dogs, possibly children, holiday suitcases, and extra stuff my husband said I don’t need, and we don’t have room for, so that’s why I’m the one running into the Starbucks not looking where I‘m going, because even though I’ve just had a “moment” and exploded with my family I still don’t want to get left behind on I-95.
- Lastly – If you see two Golden Doodles that look vaguely familiar, stop me in my tracks and give me a big hug, because I just might need it!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!
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