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Tag Archives: moving

The Chaos of Travel with Pets

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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Leaving Connecticut – Part Two

Hi Friends –

Getting ready to leave Connecticut was so exhausting, you guys, that I had to give it some time before I told the stories. This time I’ll give you a taste of what it was like to leave my first forever kennel. Dad says this was bitter-sweet for him because the condo was the first home that he bought when he moved from his family kennel. I really don’t see the big deal, but he says most twenty somethings rent their kennel and Dad was proud to be in a position to own his. (Yes, your human twenties is late to be on your own, but we all know Dad is let’s say…”special” Woof.) Let me say this,  it really was a nice home, it had just become too small for our family’s dreams and we needed to stretch out in a big  “Dane – S” sorta way!

This all started pretty much as soon as we decided we needed a change. If you knew the Dane size load of things that had to be thrown in a dumpster you’d be shocked. We didn’t even think we had that much stuff crammed into the kennel. Dad worked really hard getting everything sorted into piles of keep, toss, donate and sell. Dad would go down into the land of the basement monsters and come up with bin after bin that could go to the dumpster. He sorted for hours at a time. When he’d find an item he thought was in good condition and needed to have a new home he would put it on the Internet and hope it found a home for a reasonable price. As time passed many of the items in the keep pile got shifted to the donate and sell piles. Even more time passed and the family settled on moving out west to Oklahoma. Dad knew this meant that once again he’d need to sort; after all, when you move that far it is reasonable to move as little as possible. The cost to ship what you haven’t touched in years, but may use some day does not keep a Dane fed, or in stuffies for that matter. Dad kept saying that he wanted to be done, and if someone would take everything he’d give it all away. I really thought that as the move date came closer and closer my bowls might just end up in the dumpster too. Of course that didn’t happen. (My favorite stuffie did, but that has been atoned for.)

There was a while where I thought Mom had given up and was tired of the place being a constant mess from upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms. She left Dad and I and didn’t come back for DAYS! Dad kept telling me not to worry but I have to watch out for him. She has never been away overnight before!! It turned out he was right; she was just in Oklahoma looking for our new kennel. Mom looked at so many places to find just the right one, and she did find one they made an offer on, but it was already under contract and she didn’t know. She came home only to find our new kennel on the Internet. Lucky for us there is a great contractor in the family who looked at the home for us, this made Dad happy, and  he bought the house sight un-seen (except for Internet pics, and we know how sketchy those can be!).

Around the same time as starting the process of buying the Oklahoma kennel we put the Connecticut one on the market. Things started out amazingly well, and we received two offers to buy on the same day! Mom & Dad thought to themselves that they had perfectly manifested these offers and were very relieved! Of course I advised that they take the higher offer, which was well over their asking price, and wanted to close on the day before we planned to leave. Now, this sounds wonderful, right? Well, it could have been, if the buyer hadn’t wasted two weeks to find personal reasons to rescind. By that time the list offer was no longer interested, and we had to go back on the market.  We did get another offer rather quickly, but it meant we’d have to carry two kennels for a while. I really don’t know how Dad can lift kennels and carry them? They seemed to be pretty solidly attached to the ground, but that is what he kept saying.

Before we left for Oklahoma we had “professional” movers come and they took all of our stuff and put it in a big truck. I’m not real sure about this you guys, but Mom says it is the way to go when you take that much stuff across the country. My biggest concern was they loaded my bed and stuffies into the truck! I guess it’s fair for me to wait with the rest of the family but I don’t like the thought that maybe someone else is playing with MY toys! I wish I could say that the packing of the truck went smoothly, but I can’t. The problem was that we needed to shop price first and Realtor recommendations second. This outfit appears to have farmed out our contract to people who showed up late, understaffed, and apparently dog-gone tired. It took them several hours longer than it should have, even splitting the load-in to two days (Dad gave them his only key so they could finish before dawn and they locked him out by leaving the key inside rather than in under the mat.) and leaving items behind that they were told ahead of time were to be on the truck.

Dad tried very hard to stay on their “good side” by making a gentleman’s agreement with them. He gave them items in the house in trade for them taking a couch and chair out to a dumpster. This seems wonderful, except for the fact that they broke their word in the end, leaving everything right where it was. (This added to our costs by having to pay others to do the haul-away for us; we were already on the road!) I didn’t understand that the truck wouldn’t be there when we arrived almost four days later, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. As we’re writing this the truck still has not arrived (It should be here tomorrow) and the company  does a very bad job at communicating with it’s customer’s. If Dad and I worked this way we wouldn’t be allowed in public, ever! I’m sure I’m putting this much nicer than it needs be, but take my word, it has been a nightmare of an experience. (Editor’s Note: They arrived Monday, the day after this was written. The gentlemen unloading were much more professional. We will tell you all about that to come.)

I wouldn’t want to end on negatives so I’ll change the subject and jump around in time a bit to tell you a little of what it is like to drive 1300 miles, in two cars with human puppies, basement monsters, and Harry Potter movies all the way to our new home. I can’t lie, it was stressful and tiring for Mom & Dad but they have both made the trip before so they were prepared. Being that they’d be in separate cars they did some smart things like taking almost four days to drive rather than two, and they got GMRS radios to talk along the way. This really helped in traffic, or when one car needs a restroom. (It really was a safety item I was glad we had.) Mom did a great job of scheduling rooms to stay in along the way as well as stops to see family who live along the route. Dad says meeting family was great, but Winkie and I loved the hotel beds the most! There was even a day when I didn’t want to leave the bed they slept in, so Dad gave me breakfast in bed! He says it’ll never happen again, but he loves me so much that I would be surprised if one day, maybe on my next “gotcha day” he treats me.

Breakfast in bed

I’m sure Mom (my editor) will fill in a few more details for you but I gotta get out to my new yard for zoomies!

(Editor’s Note: There will be a post all about family visits to come. Next post will be about traveling with animals.)