by Debbie Walsh
I love traveling, and I love my dog. Sometimes the two just don't go hand in hand, but I do try to take him with us every chance I get. Before we take off, I do have a checklist that I go through so as to make sure our trip is a good one.
First, I make sure that I have a copy of his rabies certification. I have never had to produce it, but it's nice to know that I have it on hand in case of an emergency. I also go on the Internet and look up locations of vet or emergency services in the area of our destination. Pets are like kids only with 4 legs instead of 2; one never knows when they will become sick or have an accident.
Second on my list is checking hotels in the area for their pet policies. The guilt one feels for having to leave a cherished member of the family sleeping in the car can cause a night of restless sleep; take it from one who knows.
Next on the list is car prep. We have leather seats in our car, and nothing scares me more than having his claws rip the leather, so I've purchased a seat cover for the back seat and a pet barrier for between the front seats. He can put his head over the seat to nudge when he needs something, even if it's just a little attention, but keeps him in the back when we have to stop the car. Dogs, like kids, should be restrained while traveling in the car for their safety and yours. We also open the windows a little for fresh air, but never enough to allow him to put his head out the window. Sure, he loves to do that, who doesn't! I remember doing it when I was a kid, the feel of the wind blowing through my hair, until that dang bug hit me in the face.
Dog supplies come next. I pack a backpack of dog supplies. One or two of his favorite toys, his brush, bag of snacks and his favorite dog food. I keep a jug of fresh water in the back of the car for a quick drink if he needs one. He has his leash, collar and favorite bandana. His collar has his ID on it. When he was a pup, we had the microchip inserted. If you don't want to go that route, they now have gps locators on collars, which I think is a great idea. Although, I don't think our dog would ever take off, you never know what could grab their attention and have them bolt away from you. I seriously thought about purchasing one for each of the kids.
After several hours in the car and countless "Are we there yet?", I swear the dog can say it, we arrive at our destination. I've found that the best thing to do is to find a location where they can all run loose. Some of the places where we have stayed had tennis courts, which is perfect because they are usually fenced in and the dog can be let off his leash. Some have a court area, and others have parks nearby. Even just an empty field can make a great ball field.
During our stay if we have plans to visit attractions where our dog is not allowed, I check with the front desk to see if they have a kennel or run available so he doesn't have to stay cooped up in the room all day. If not, I check to see if there is a doggy daycare nearby or perhaps someone on staff that would be willing to take him out for a walk. This should be a trip that he also enjoys. What fun would it be for him if he had nothing to tell his buds about when we got home?
Life's experiences have taught me that traveling with a pet is no different than traveling with a child. But it has also taught me that it can be a rewarding experience for both of us.
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