By Monday, December 30, 2019 14 No tags Permalink

With all the excitement of spending the holidays with my children, I never once gave any thought to the challenges of traveling with a senior dog.

I was too caught up with anticipation of seeing family and friends.

Harley turned eleven on November 25th…

Exceptional genetics, nutritional super foods, and an active lifestyle continues to give him A+ results after his annual physicals.

But he is still eleven years old. 

When I think about it – that makes him older than me in human years and I struggle with cramping, fatigue and anxiousness mid-way through a lengthy ride.


Ever since our retirement relocation, journeys away from home are generally spent with family. The human children always want to see the Boys, so Doodle Dad splurges on a huge rental to allow them plenty of comfort.

I thought I knew all I needed to know about pet travel tips. We had done this dozens of times.

As usual, a great deal of planning (and execution) went into scheduling this trip – 

  • Up (and awake) before dawn
  • Car packed with clothes, food, water and gifts
  • Travel doggie beds laid out 
  • Breakfast and a walk before departure
  • Plenty of potty breaks to stretch our legs as we traveled

But apparently, I never took Harley’s age into consideration.

Eight hours later we arrived in Virginia. I noticed Harley was happy to see everyone but he napped the rest of that day into the next…

His eating habits were normal, but he seemed to need/want additional time to re-group from the ride…

Two days later he had more energy and seemed like his ole self again. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, we would be leaving the following afternoon.


What should have been an uneventful return to SC turned into a twelve hour nightmare. 

There was so much traffic – it took five and a half hours just to go 82 miles. 

Jaxson was either stretched out in Doodle-land OR he was busy watching traffic and playing “punch-bug” with Doodle Dad and I…

Harley tossed, turned, panted (heavily) out loud, and couldn’t get comfortable.

His behavior was so unusual, I was growing concerned. 

Once we were home, he again, seemed to need an entire day (plus a few hours) to get back to the ole Harley-Darley…


The thought of leaving the Boys behind when we go visit the human children breaks my heart. They adore each other. I have to find ways to make the trips easier for him. 

We already stop multiple times along the way. They have plenty of time to snack, drink, walk and pee. What else can I do?

There are plenty of sites that offer great suggestions. Some I knew of and some I never thought about. Like, this one – 

Listen to your dog!

This article summed up my behavior pawfectly – 

The biggest mistake I made was thinking I could set a schedule to exercise, feed, walk and give water to my dogs during our five-day journey across the country.

For example, I had planned to walk Kyrie every two hours, to help keep her from getting stiff in the car. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as she would no sooner get comfy in the back of the car than I was waking her up and dragging her out to stand in a grassy rest area while big rigs whizzed by on the Interstate.

Eight tips for traveling with older dogs

That was ME!!!!

I wish I’d seen this sooner 🙁


Harley isn’t getting any younger.

I must begin thinking about other vacation options –

  • Do I test drive boarding them somewhere?
  • Should I have someone come in and stay with them in the house?

Many pet parents I know have a family friend stop by to feed, walk and cuddle with their dogs while they are gone.

So many options I just don’t know.

What do you do when it’s time to travel?

Stop back by on Wednesday to learn about “Jaxson and the bathroom caper” while we were on holiday!

Thanks for reading – 

2020 – go confidently in the direction of your dreams ❤️

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    December 30, 2019

    I know just what you mean about the challenges of traveling with a senior pet. Sam turned 14 in October and as a pet therapist, the periods of rejuvenation from those visits (not to mention traveling 110 miles to my parents’ home) take much longer. I have started giving him Bach’s Remedy before departing; it seems to make the travel easier for him, especially given the state of car travel these days #toomuchtraffic Happy New Year to you and the Doods!

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 30, 2019

      Wow! I had no idea Sam was 14 years old! That’s A-mazing. I’ve never heard of Bach’s Remedy – will have to check it out. The distance to VA is just too much for Harley, I have to come to grips with that and look at other options. Happy New Year my friend – to you and your family.

  • Kimberly Gauthier
    December 30, 2019

    Because I have so many dogs, I don’t travel with them, but I do have someone stay at the house with them when J and I are traveling together. When I’m traveling on my own for the blog, I have a pet sitter stop by daily to check in on the dogs, play with them, and see if J needs any help.

    Thanks for sharing this experience. Rodrigo and Sydney are going to be 10 years old in a few months and it’s a great reminder that they are getting older. Rodrigo is still very active, but I can see that he’s slowing down. And Sydney has become more of a diva as she ages.

    Happy New Year, my friend.

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 30, 2019

      This last trip has been a real eye opener for me. Harley is doing great, but like I said in the post – he’s eleven now and I’ve got to remember that. We got back home in the wee hours of the morning Friday and he really rested all day Saturday and early Sunday. He’s well rested now and back to his perky self. I am going to start talking to a few young single nurses who have always told me they would pet sit for the Boys at anytime. It’s time for me to make a change in how I travel. Happy New Year to you my friend, let’s talk soon.

  • Debbie Matos
    December 30, 2019

    If you must, I would get a house/ pet sitter so they will be comfortable in their own surroundings. Just my opinion.

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 30, 2019

      Hi Debbie, I think this is my best option. I would prefer to have some one stay at the house though. I can’t’ imagine them home alone with only someone coming in a couple of times a day. That would bother me, because they haven’t been left alone overnight before. Thanks for commenting, I appreciate connecting with everyone. Please come back and visit our blog again soon.

  • Madison
    December 31, 2019

    Mom says she always took Katie and Emma on trips and never had any issues. Emma loved to travel and nothing changed for her. Katie was a big dog and a lot older, but she always wanted to go along and enjoyed travel. Sure she slept more, but she was happy to be with Mom. Her arthritis made it hard for her to get in and out of the car, so Mom would lift her in and out. No extra breaks for them either. Never had any senior dog issues with travel. Now we are all younger, so who knows what we will be like down the road. Bailie doesn’t like to travel, it will probably only get worse as she gets older.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 6, 2020

      Madison, this was the first time I ever saw a change in Harley. I will try not to take him as often, especially when it’s a long drive and a quick turn-around.

  • Lindsay
    December 31, 2019

    I recommend having someone come stay with them, at home, where they are happy and most comfortable. That’s my two cents.

    My Baxter turns 12 in a couple weeks and Charlie is 13 in May. Time is whirling by and it breaks my heart a little bit.


    • Cathy Bennett
      January 6, 2020

      I am talking to a few medical students who adore them. They would love to stay at my house and they are familiar faces to the Boys. I know what you mean about breaking your heart. I ache sometimes at the thought of one day not having Harley with me everywhere I roam. Ugh…. But for now he’s healthy and thanks to Jaxson, very active for his age, so he’s living his best life and I’m making as many memories as I can. XOXO

  • Ducky's Mom
    January 1, 2020

    I’ve been using the same pet sitting “company” for about ten years already. They come and check on Ducky – cuddle, play, feed, etc. – on whatever schedule I set up. And I keep in touch with them numerous times daily. And one of my friends from church spends the night.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 6, 2020

      I’m trying to line up some really homesick medical students who would love a change of scenery and stay at my house with the Boys.

  • Jan K
    January 10, 2020

    Traveling with dogs has never been our thing, since we had four dogs at one point, and now have a reactive dog. We’ve always been lucky to have close friends or family that would come stay with them. Luke loves my sister and I think he’s happier just staying at home (but we rarely travel these days, and if we do it’s for one night only).

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 21, 2020

      Now that I have a grandchild, I will be traveling more often to DC. Harley is too old for me to try and board, so I will have to find someone to come in and take care of them. It’s an 8 hour drive which I also think is too much for Harley, and flights are not that expensive and it’s only an hour in the air.