Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Travels with Charlie...

Ok, ok, so "Travels with Charlie" isn't exactly MY title...those paying attention will know that I "borrowed" it from one of America's literary greats (10 points if you can name who I'm referring to!), but the fact of the matter is that traveling with your pet can be one of life's truly great joys. As a wise friend once said "my dog taught me to drive with my head out the window." And so we could all stand to learn a few lessons in unbridled joy and how to be carefree from our pets.

But travel with your pets (don't even bother to try it with cats) can be your worst nightmare too if you're not prepared. Whether you're going for a walk in the park or a 2 week cross country vacation, if you go prepared, you'll go happy.

The basics are simple. You need the standard dog equipment- a leash, collar or harness, and proper ID. PERIOD. If you're going to be out for more than an hour or so or in the heat, make sure you take some water and a bowl with you. And it doesn't hurt to pack a few snacks either ;) If you're going for a real "hike" of more than a couple of miles, you need to be sure that you're covered should something unexpected arise- especially if your hike is in a remote area. Now I'm not suggesting you pack a blanket to use as an emergency stretcher if you're going out for a stroll, but it might not be a bad idea to take a bee sting kit and some styptic powder if you catch my drift.

I realized pretty quick from the volume of water that Sadie drinks when we're at home, and how far her tongue hangs out after we walk for a ways that I needed to take plenty of water for her on our longer walks (anything over a mile). To that end I devised the pack above (made from a "fanny pack" purchased at a large misc stuff retailer, with an extra strap attached as a "chest strap"- All for about $15, a lot less than those things sell for at pet stores!) to carry 1 liter of water (in 2 half liter bottles), a small bag of food, a collapsible water dish, some treats, and both Sadie's and Tyke's leashes, and there's room for my wallet, car keys and cell phone if I don't want to pack them around myself. Pretty handy!

When you're traveling farther from home- away for the weekend for example, you just need to make sure that your pooch has all of the comforts of home- pack plenty of food (although my dogs aren't usually terribly big eaters away from home), some bedding and preferably your pup's crate, leashes and I always throw in the proverbial pooper scooper. I generally pack a couple of towels and I pack their food and treats into a couple of buckets with lids that double as food and water dishes once we reach our destination. And if you've got a young dog don't forget toys! I learned the hard way on a recent camping trip that Sadie's enjoyment of any activity is GREATLY lessened if she doesn't have a squeaky toy (I packed her a chewy and a rope toy, but shame on me for forgetting the Squeak!) I have the added convenience of being able to pack all of the dog gear into Tyke's small crate (which has a handle), but you could just as easily pack a tote bag. If you've got a dog with naughty tendencies, make sure you take PLENTY to keep their brain engaged if you're staying anywhere that your pup might make a mess or tear something up.

Those are the main points. Obviously, if you're going back country camping, you'll need to make sure that you've got a well stocked first aid kit- both for you and your dog, and if there are any other special situations you'll want to make sure you are prepared.

Now get out there and enjoy!

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