The Chaos of Travel with Pets

17 Sep

First off, let me apologize for taking so long to write this post. With the move things were already chaotic. Then as a favor I agreed to be the substitute librarian at an elementary school while the regular teacher is out on maternity leave. Then my immune system went bust with all the kiddos around me! Oh, and I am taking 2 online classes. So there is that.

So now, I am somewhat well and have no homework. (Actually I left my homework at the school library so have nothing I can do tonight.) Here we go.

I have wanted to write about traveling/moving across country with pets. This was probably the biggest part of the adventure. Honestly, it was something we were really worried about.

Our initial plan was to only drive one car from Connecticut to Oklahoma. We would have had 2 adults, 2 human puppies, the dane, and 3 cats all in one car. It could have been done, but not comfortably. Still, Dan and I are kind of disgusting in that we hate to be apart for any length of time so we wanted to be in the same car.

Well, that didn’t work out. I got a new car instead of just selling my old one and getting one in Oklahoma. That meant that we had more room, which was good, but we both had to drive, which was not so great. The biggest plus was that the human puppies could be split up. They were 9 and 11 when we left (the oldest has since turned 12) and they bicker ALL THE TIME. And, of course, the cats could be away from Casper. So our travel experiences were very different. I will start with Dan’s car, the one with Casper.

Traveling with a service dog is not the same as a regular pet. He is very used to being in the car, even for a long time. We did make sure there was plenty of food and water in the car. When you are traveling you don’t know when or where you can get that for your pet. We used clean seltzer bottles to carry extra water. Since Casper has a special diet it was extra important to have his food ready. We got meals ready in large zipper bags in advance. The process of getting his food ready is a chore. He has a few supplements plus allergy medicine in the morning. I had to even label AM and PM bags. Not much fun, but super convenient when we were on the go. We also put in an extra blanket for him.

Then there were the cats. That is never easy. I have never heard of a cat that likes to ride in the car. I had 2 separate carriers for them so they wouldn’t fight. I got soft sided ones for 2 reasons. 1. If there was a tight fit somewhere it could be squeezed and 2. It seems more comfortable for them.  Their food is easy. I just put it in Tupperware so I didn’t have to take the whole bag. I also had water for them just in case. The main thing was litter boxes. I toyed with the idea of having one in the car and letting them roam during breaks but wrangling them into the carriers was such a chore we decided they would not be let out until the hotel stops. (We did short days for this reason and I will get to that.) I also got some herbal supplements for them to calm and distress them. Sprit Essences is a great brand owned by Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy from My Cat from Hell. There are dozens to choose from. I got one called Easy Traveler and also Changing Times. They were sprayed in the carriers every day. They still meowed while we drove, but not nearly as much as I had expected.

Because the cats would get no breaks we decided short days were in order. If you were to drive from our old home to our new home and only stop for gas and food, it takes about 26 hours. Typically I do this in 2 days. This time we did it in 3. It also gave us time to visit with family on the way. (Another post should come for that.) Still, though, this was not enough. On the first night I realized one cat peed in the carrier and it leaked all over my new car! I was not thrilled. I had to find detergent to wash the carriers and a sheet I had in the car, and then I got smart. I lined the carriers and the car under them with puppy training pads. I ended up not needing them, but at least I was safe and I highly recommend this just in case.

Finding a hotel with a service animal is easy (or should be). By law all hotels must allow a service animal free of charge. With the cats, though it was a little more difficult. We were limited where we could stay. Thank goodness for the Internet. I calculated our drives and booked hotels in advance. You should check the pet policies when you do this. The pet fee is different everywhere. We stayed at the same chain the whole time. One place charged me $75, another charged $10. Don’t try to sneak them in. They will find out. I bought disposable litter boxes. If you have never seen them you should check them out. WonderBox is one brand. They are made of recycled paper. I use them at home too because after a week or so I can just throw the whole thing out. While traveling this is especially useful. You don’t want a stinky litter box in your car and even if you dump it, the thing still stinks. I packed one a day and brought in litter and large garbage bags too so you can wrap it all up for the cleaning crew.

Then there are your stops on the way. With Casper we can go in and enjoy our time out of the car. With cats, not so much. It was WAY too hot to leave them in the car. I thought I could leave the car running and lock it while we were inside. This could have worked, but was stressful so we didn’t. I tried to get Dan to go in and eat and bring me food, but he wouldn’t. Instead we got everything to go and ate sitting around the cars. (We don’t do fast food so drive thru was not an option. (Bob Evans restaurants are a life saver in the Midwest.) It worked. We just took turns in the bathroom.

Overall it was not nearly as chaotic as we had expected. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking forward to doing this again, but we survived. Just remember, if you have to travel with animals PLAN AHEAD.

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Getting Settled In

9 Sep

Hi Friends –

You may know that we have just made it to the one month anniversary of our new home in Oklahoma. I thought Dad said that we were going to live on a ranch. I had imagined playing with buffalo and horses and havin’ weeds that tumble n’ stuff. When I looked sad he asked what was wrong. I told him and he laughed as he said, “I’m sorry buddy, I meant the house was a ranch style, not a working farm.” Once he showed me my back yard and said I could do zoomies whenever I wanted because we had a fence, I started to forgive him. The kennel really is much easier to manage being on all one floor. I learned that’s what ‘ranch’ means, you guys. I can hardly believe that this is my new kennel, it’s great you guys. Mom & Dad bought me my very own king size bed and everything. Alright, maybe if you ask them it isn’t mine, but I lay in it most days so I figure since I use it more than they do I get to claim it. I really have a lot of fun; there is so much more living space here. One of the things I like is that the “basement monsters” aren’t able to hide from me like they used to.  That doesn’t mean they like me, it just makes it easier for me to try and make friends. I figure if I try at least once every day sooner or later they’ll decide to like me; it hasn’t happened yet but it could!

When I’m not trying to make friends with the cats in the house I try my brand of “aggressive friendliness” on the neighbor dogs. That’s what Dad calls it anyway. It’s not really aggressiveness, I’m just eager to make friends and don’t understand social queues so it comes across a bit awkward. One neighbor that I did have a good face to face meeting with is a Bulldog named Dozer. Haha get it, Dozer the Bulldog, Bull-Dozer? I just got that the other day, it’s funny, right? We met in my front yard when he and his humans were walking by and stopped to meet mine. I did my best to down-stay and that put us eye to eye. Mom said I did really well. The best part is we share a fence and he is a mostly outside dog because his momma has allergies, so when I go out we can meet at the privacy fence. I even tried to help him come over a couple times by digging at the base of the fence. (Ha-ha that was fun.)

Dad works from home all the time now, so we don’t have to go to the office any more but that doesn’t mean I don’t get out and make new fans. As a matter of fact we ran out of my business cards that I carry in my work vest and we haven’t reloaded yet because dad hasn’t found the box they are packed in. One day I remember, was going out on a breakfast date with Mom & Dad after dropping the puppies at school. I took them to this cool place that Grandma Patti told us about, called Indian Coffee Company. Mom and Dad say the coffee and food are wonderful, judging by the sniffs, I agree! I waited in my down-stay as they ate and talked to each other and to guests who commented on me. (I’ve noticed  that there are far fewer negative comments toward me here than back where we used to live; I like that a lot! Mom says its probably because so many more people around here have cows and horses so they are used to big animals.) When we were ready to leave I had to navigate Dad around some café tables that were setup outside. Instead of walking past one particular table though, I helped them meet some new friends who have a Dane (at home) by walking right up and sniffing his uniform. Dad was none too impressed, but they were super nice and said they didn’t mind meeting this way at all. As it turns out they live close by us and maybe someday we’ll have a play date. I made sure Dad gave them a Secret Service Card so they can contact us if they want. They even have human puppies the same ages as mine! So you see, I get Dad out of the house AND introduce him to new people. Just another service I provide (You’re welcome).

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