Long distance trips by car are a familiar means of travel, but this was a first for just Harley and I. Halfway to my destination, I found myself in a rather “delicate” predicament.
Please read on – I’m dying to know “what would you do” if you were me!
It was the end of June, and as I fixed DD‘s (Doodle Dad) breakfast, I announced I was going to the beach. He asked when and I replied “tomorrow!” He thought it was an excellent idea, said a day at the beach for both Harley and I would be pawfect. I smiled because he was thinking “local beach” but I wanted to go to Charleston.
I love South Carolina and all things Charleston. I am hypnotized by her climate, culture, and her people. She was calling for me and I wanted to go. This was a spontaneous decision on my part, and even though commitments wouldn’t permit DD to disappear for a week, I continued to pack my suitcase.
I wanted to start creating new adventures with Harley – so early the next morning the Doodle and his Mom were I-95S bound. It’s an 8 hour drive from our house to my sister’s house. This includes a gas re-fuel near the North Carolina / South Carolina State line at the famous “South of the Border” rest stop…
20 miles later as I approached the Welcome Center, I decided to stop, stretch my legs, and allow Harley to find a tree. Then it hit me! I also had to use the restroom, but I was traveling alone. OMD I didn’t have a plan!
Before I completely freaked out – I called DD. “What should I do?” I asked while rambling incessantly about rest stops, restrooms and Harley. After listening to me recount my dilemma, he assessed that I couldn’t go! Say what? I had already driven four hours and I had another four hours ahead of me. Not going – wasn’t gonna work. Between the tall pine trees lining the road and not enough bars on my cell phone, the call dropped as I pulled into the Welcome Center. I was on my own.
A parking space under some scattered shade from a really small tree was vacant. I rolled down all the windows and opened the sun-roof thinking I can at least cool the car down a bit while I take Harley on a walk through the dog area. He eliminated himself a dozen times, and we played his favorite “stick game” as we walked back to the car.
As he lounged in the trunk area eating his chicken chunks and drinking some cool water, I glanced at my car dash and gulped when I saw the car thermostat register 97 degrees…
OH MY DOODLE! I’ve got to use the restroom – what am I going to do? What would you do?
The “no pets allowed beyond this point” signs were visible and plentiful. I looked around at all the other pet travelers parked near me and I thought “huh, am I the only crazy person traveling 8 hours alone with a dog?” I saw couples, I saw family units. I watched as they handed off leashes taking turns going to the restrooms.
As my situation meter started to teeter towards “emergency” I could only think about what I was NOT going to do:
- I was NOT leaving Harley in the car – wasn’t happening
- I was NOT giving him to a friendly looking stranger to “hold on to him” while I went to the restroom
Six days earlier I lost Leo, now every ounce of my attention was on Harley’s safety and well being. He was my #1 priority and I was like a secret service agent assigned to POTUS.
I placed his chicken and water back into the cooler, locked up the car and headed towards the Welcome Center. Standing right next to the “no pets” sign, I held the door open for Harley. As we entered the women’s restroom, two ladies standing at the sink gasped “it’s a dog.” I smiled and said “yes it is” and scurried into the stall.
Poor Harley – he’d never been in a public restroom before – so trying to keep him from shimming under the door to visit the lady in the next stall was a challenge.
Our exit was swift, however we weren’t able to escape completely before bumping into the restroom custodian as she entered with her cart. She was not happy, but I remained courteous and pleasant as I acknowledged her with a smile.
People stopped to talk to me as we walked out of the building, they were supportive and shared my same sentiments. There simply was no alternative. I’m sure I am not the first or the last to travel alone with a pet. For me, endangering Harley’s life/safety was nonnegotiable.
We hung out in the parking lot for a little while meeting and talking to some really interesting pet people discussing how this one situation might be rectified. Then it was time to get back on the road. That was our last stop before arriving to one of the most enchanting cities on this earth.
The beach for us was just the right prescription…
Harley walked around like he owned the place…
One day we caught a pawsome 4th of July sale at PetSmart…
Every night around 9:30pm I poured myself a glass of wine and relaxed with family because this little Doodle was knocked out…
Those few days away didn’t cure what ailed us but it helped redefine our roles. Harley is my therapist (I talk to him when I’m sad) and I am his anchor (his mainstay) and that’s our “new normal” for right now. When my week was up, we were ready to come home.
Our return trip was uneventful, I skipped my morning coffee, and I chose a different Welcome Center – BOL.
I am not a bad person – I don’t intentionally set out to break the law or bend the rules – but what else could I have done?
Thanks for reading, thanks for waiting…