Road Trip with a Dog

Trip after trip and year after year we’ve left one of our family members behind. Her eyes droop and her tail sags when we tell her, “We’ll be back,” as we close the door behind us.

Dog For 8 1/2 years, we’ve left her in someone else’s care when we’ve traveled all over the U.S., to Europe, and to Africa. But last week, she came with us. She never liked the car. As a puppy, we coaxed and pleaded before finally lifting her into the back. Often, she would tremble as we started to drive. So, except for short excursions across town, we left her at home. Then this fall, after turning 8 1/2, she changed. Now she would rather go with me in the car, even when no walk is involved, rather than being left behind. This Christmas, instead of flying to Alabama, we decided to drive, just so we could bring her with us.

The trip was an ambitious one, even for the human passengers, 1100 miles one way; two long days and one overnight. With a box on top of the car and bags tucked around our feet, we found a space for her bed in the back and drove from Boston to Alabama. She never whined or fussed. Here’s how we did it:

Food – we packed food in a plastic container and doled it out each morning and evening, using her water dish as a food dish on the road.

Water – we used a dog water bottle to give her water each time we stopped.

Bathroom – when we had to go, we made sure she did too. Each one of us took turns taking her to the “trees”  to do “her business.” We brought plastic bags to use when necessary.

Canine Rest Area

Overnight – we used a few websites to determine where we could sleep: bringfido.com and tripswithpets.com. We discovered that several hotels are now willing to host pets, as long as their owners are willing to pay. You can pay $10 or $100 extra for Fido’s stay, depending on the type of hotel and the size of your pet. We stayed at three hotels during our 2500 mile trip and never paid more than $10 to legally bring our 65 pound dog into our hotel room.

In the hotel. IMG_1691 Would we do it again? Absolutely. It turns out, our dog is a great traveler in her middle age. There were no accidents. She never whined or cried, and she was excited at each new place we arrived. Should you bring your dog on a long road trip? Only you can decide if it’s the right, smart, or convenient thing to do. Next time, why don’t you ask her?

IMG_2008Trip taken December 2013.

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