Thursday, May 13, 2010

Traveling with Pets, Part Two

See more cute dogs at I Has a Hot Dog

Traveling with a Dog

When I got my first dog, King, I immediately had to figure out how to travel with him, because I adopted him while vacationing in Florida, and needed to bring him home to Kentucky. It was a case of "learning by doing."

King was probably nine or ten months old when I adopted him, which is the perfect age at which to adopt a mixed-breed dog. At that age a dog is still easily adaptable, but is the size he's going to stay, and you can tell what his coat is like (how much grooming you will need to do) and any other physical characteristics.

That first trip, I had no special travel gear for King. I didn't even think to try driving him around a bit, to see how he would behave! Instead, I just put Six, the parakeet (in his cage) in the back seat, put King in the front passenger seat, put some bowls and food and water in the car for him, and hit the road.

Until later dogs, I had no idea how lucky I was! King chose the floor in front of the passenger seat as his spot, curled up, and slept all the time I was driving. When I stopped, he was happy to get out and go for a walk, then get back in the car again.

I would never do that today. I just lucked out to get a good traveler as my first dog. He even had the sense to choose the safest place possible to ride, as I had no way to strap him in. Today practically everyone crates a dog for travel. I got King a crate before our next trip, but it was only so I could safely leave him in a motel room while I went out for dinner. That first trip was just after Christmas, so I could lock him in the car.

I learned a lot about traveling with a dog from King. He was a happy, friendly dog, and on that first trip north he did not yet feel protective of me the way he did later. It was on my next trip to Florida that his protectiveness proved a problem.

It was so long ago that there were no self-service gas stations yet--the attendant put gas in your tank. When I stopped, King was asleep on the floor in front of the passenger seat. He sat up, but stayed where he was, because I hadn't opened the door so there was no chance at a walk yet.

But then the gas station attendant came to my window to collect payment for the gas--and when he reached for it, King obviously thought he was reaching for me. He charged up off the floor, snarling at the poor man who had no idea what was going on. I grabbed King's collar and held him back--fortunately he didn't connect.

But that was when I knew I needed some way to keep King on his side of the car! When I got to Florida I told my parents about what had happened. My father came up with a solution: he bolted a two-foot length of chain under the glove compartment, and from then on every time I put King in the car I fastened it to his collar. He could still get up on the seat and look out the window, still sleep comfortably curled up in his favorite spot, but he could not get onto my lap or reach the window on my side.

I learned from King what has proved true for every dog and cat I have traveled with since: they will not eat or drink while we are on the road. Get a motel room, and they know we're staying for the night. Then they will eat and drink.

King was easy--he loved to ride in the car, even if he spent most of the ride sound asleep. My next dog, Cuddles, was not so easy.

Next week: A different kind of dog teaches different lessons.


Choosing the Best Dog for Your Kids

Homemade Dogfood Recipes

How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Worldwide Pet Sitting Directory

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

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