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Tag Archives: travel

Vacation: Part I

Hi friends –

It is good to be back at the keyboard. I skipped a nap on my sofa for this, the first chapter of my trip to the left coast. Yes, I am a dog and I do, in fact, know my left from my right. It’s one of the many skills I learned as a pup. This may not seem impressive but it allows Dad and I a way to weave through a crowd as if we were connected. (We are connected by a lead and a service vest but you know what I mean.) I’ll get back to the directional commands in a minute, let’s get this story back on track. I feel like I got distracted by a cat or somethin’.

The whole reason for our travel plans was so that I could meet dad’s sister, my Aunt Carrie, and her human puppies. Okay, well that’s not entirely true. We went because my human cousin was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah. There was no way we could miss that! Everyone meeting me is a happy by-product.

This trip required some planning because it was my first time on those big influenza incubators everyone calls airplanes. Mom and Dad did their research on airline policy to confirm which particular flu carrier (Oh,I mean airline) we’d choose. It was decided that we’d fly Southwest. There were several factors, one is that Mom worked for them a few years ago so she knew they’d love me. Another, was that general seating could actually work since we knew the bulkhead would be the best spot for Dad and me. This along with a pre-boarding pass would be the ticket. (ha-ha see what I did there? Airline? Ticket?) With that settled the day arrived for us to head west. We drove to the Tulsa airport, along with boarding passes I brought my ID card to prove that I had training from an accredited organization as well my current shot records and city registration verification. I know that many people are not as current on the laws as we are so I brought what I thought people may hassle Dad for, just in case it became a topic. (Good news, no one asked. They must know their stuff!)

We parked my truck at the airport and met a van to take us to the gates. The driver watched me hop out of the back along with our luggage; with a puzzled look he asked Dad, “Is he coming with us?” Dad answered with a definitive, “yes” and we climbed aboard. He shrugged and smiled. As we unloaded at the gates, he watched me closely and told Dad what a great dog I was. Dad thanked him with a nod and a few dollars for helping with the bags.

We let Mom and the human puppies take the bags we were checking, and we headed for the security lines, not knowing what could be in store for us there. Dad was telling me that every TSA check is a little different. We both emptied our pockets into trays and walked together through the big scanners. Dad was calm, and reassured me that we wouldn’t be hurt, they just need to ensure we are not carrying things we shouldn’t. I walked on, but when the big box beeped I got nervous. I thought for sure they wanted my cookies. I can keep those right? Dad explained that he was not willing to take off any more of my working gear, so they agreed to “wand us”. Once we made it through three agents all complimented us, one even shared a story of Danes he knew, while a second told us that the first agent came to our check point especially to help us when he saw us come in the door. It was a nice easy experience.

After we met up with the family again we stopped for coffee and breakfast, then headed to see where our gate was. Since we were close with a long time before we needed to load-up Mom got our pre-boarding pass and Dad and I went outside for a “business” break. Of course that means we needed to go back though security but that was easy enough.

We boarded the plane like we’d done it a million times and Mom helped with my Mutt Muffs. The flight attendants were shocked to learn that this was my first flight and couldn’t wait to take my picture. I just can’t get away from the puparazzi, but I do like to please my public!

I was perfect, OF COURSE, during the fight. I slept through most of it. People thought that was pretty amazing. If they think that is good they should see how well I sleep on my own couch!!! There was plenty of room for my by Dad’s, Lily’s and Alyssa’s feet and they brought a fluffy for me to lay on. Mom had to sit across the aisle, but she was able to get us stuff whenever we needed it.

We  had to change plane in Las Vegas. I have heard a lot about that place and even though there were slot machines near our gate I didn’t think it looked all that impressive. Dad said there was a lot more outside the airport. Whatever. We got on our second plane there and I did great, again. But Mom and Dad messed up. They forgot my Mutt Muffs this time! The noises made me a little nervous this time. Once we were in the air I was fine, though, and had another nice nap.

San Diego, here I go!!

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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.