Are We There Yet?

Chronicling the myriad mishaps endured and lessons learned when traveling with dogs.

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I’ve owned dogs for more than 30 years, and have spent a fair amount of time traveling with them. My husband and I have moved 10 times since we got our first dog, Ginger, a Saint Bernard-German Shepherd Dog cross, in 1977. Two of those moves were big ones – from New York to Arizona and back again. In between moves, there were visits to family and dog shows. After Ginger, we started adding Pembroke Welsh Corgis to the family, and that meant lots of dog shows. Traveling with dogs can be scary, funny and educational, but it’s rarely dull.

Not-so-good eats
I’ve learned that traveling with dogs is not for the gourmet. It means quick stops at fast-food restaurants. If it’s hot outside, one person stays with the dogs in the open car (in the shade, if there is any) while another person runs in for food. If you’re traveling alone, you need to use the drive-through window. Once you’re in your motel room, you don’t want to leave your dogs alone, so the best options are pizza or room service.

Passenger accommodations
All my dogs travel safely in crates now, but that wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, the dogs rode loose, which is not a good idea. Loose dogs can be thrown through the windshield in a crash, or escape into traffic if a door opens in an accident. I know better now, but in the early years, Ginger sat nicely on the back seat, or when she got tired, she’d lie down with all four feet hanging off the seat’s edge.

Our male Corgi, Brecon, rode on the floor, under the driver’s legs between the seat and pedals. I shudder now to think of what could have happened if he’d blocked the gas or brake pedals. They say God watches over fools and children, and that must be true because Brecon rode there for years without mishap.

When my husband drove and we had all our dogs with us, Megan, the only Corgi not thrilled with a car ride, would lie on my feet on the passenger side. This was quite pleasant during the colder months, but a bit of a trial in the summer.

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