Friday, January 7, 2011

Traveling With Your Dog

I don't travel often without my dog, Max.  Max and I are a family so I take him most everywhere I go, which is how I like it.  I can't imagine my life without a dog. I've had several dogs growing up including Taz, Barkley, Ruffles, Sushi, Maggie and now Max. Three years ago, I traveled the country in my teardrop trailer with my dog, Maggie.  The past two years have been spent traveling with Max in a tent.

I adopted Max about three months after my beloved Maggie passed away.  I've always had larger dogs in my life and didn't think about adopting a small lap dog.  One day I went to the farmers market in Long Beach for strawberries and the next thing I knew, I came home with Max.  He was up for adoption from a local rescue organization called "Hearts for Hounds."  They told me that Max (or "Freddie" at the time I adopted him) was on his last day at a shelter before they scooped him up.  I am so glad they did.

A few weeks after adopting him, we were on the road.  My car was packed with everything I needed to camp with but I kept a kennel open in the back for him to go inside and rest if he wanted to and a bed with blankets in the back seat.  Eventually I noticed that he didn't want to be in the kennel or bed but on top of the piles of stuff in the back.  This turned out to be his new home.

Max is a great traveler.  He sits in the back and sleeps most of the time and waits to get out on breaks. He doesn't complain or cry and he got used to the routine right away.  At night, he sleeps inside of the sleeping bag with me and stays asleep until I wake up and decide to start moving around.  Sometimes he stays there and waits to get up.  I am not one to lay still when I sleep so if I have to roll over, I just tuck him in my chest like a football and roll over.

He went everywhere I went.  When you travel with a dog, you need to be aware of restrictions at national parks and everywhere else.  If the temperature is too hot, some parks have a dog day care inside of an air conditioned trailer.  I never kept Max in the car if it was too hot or too cold.  We did camp in twenty eight degree temperatures in Yellowstone, but once we are both in the sleeping bag, it wasn't that bad.

Along with keeping me company, Max is the subject of many of my photographs during our travels.  I usually take a photo of him wherever we go and I don't think he always appreciated it.  The only time I was a bit concerned traveling with him was in remote camping areas where we were the only people there with the wildlife.  I think Max might make a good snack for some animals, so I was a little concerned that his scent would attract bears.  Luckily, we didn't have any problems.

I met some people on the road who also travel with their dog, which I love.  Some are shown here on the blog. I think Max likes to meet like minded dogs on the road to play with.  If we wanted to take a break from camping and if the weather wasn't cooperating, we would usually stay at a Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn, which both allow pets.  Best one yet was Red Roof Inn in Myrtle Beach.

Max and I are looking ahead to where we want to go next.  He's lucky enough to have traveled all over the country with me, even a short time in Canada.  I can't imagine traveling without him.  If you are thinking about traveling with your dog, here are some tips:

1.) Max and I liked to visit dog parks across the country.  One app we especially liked and used a lot was the "Dog Park Finder"

2.) Keep chewies in the glove box.  There will be times when your dog might start to feel stressed and bored.  Handing a chewie to Max while driving seemed to do the trick for a while.

3.) Keep all shots up to date along with papers.  Some campsites will need you to show this documentation in order to stay there.

4.) Follow a routine as much as possible so your dog knows what to expect.

5.) Keep bear spray handy when you are camping in remote areas by yourself. Dogs will attract wild animals.

6.) Have several leashes handy.  You might lose your favorite so a back up is handy.

7.) Always have water in the car that easy for your dog to find and drink.

8.) Play.  Remember that you are on the road together.  Take walks, go to the park, talk during the ride. Do things you would do with a friend, but do it with your dog.  As an example, Max and I decided to take an old time photo together at Wall Drug.  Don't take yourself too seriously.

9.) Follow the weather.  Don't keep your pup in the car if it's warm out. Take breaks, sit in the shade.

10.) Take Pictures!


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