Posts Tagged ‘traveling tails’

A Dog’s First Car Ride

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

When you’re a dog, a car ride is pretty magical. It can be pretty magical for a human, too, especially when it’s the first car ride with a new four-legged best friend.

I had the opportunity to share that first car ride recently when my friend Bob adopted his new dog. We’d spent several days visiting shelters before finding her — a beautiful two-year-old black lab mix — at North Shore Animal League.

Shadow Dog

Newly adopted dog Shadow enjoyed her first car ride!

The adoption process can be stressful for a shelter pet, but she was surprisingly calm, as if she’d already realized that she was going to a great home and had nothing to worry about.

Shadow (as she would later be named) got into the car happily enough, and immediately curled up on the back seat with a sigh; she might not know where home was yet, but she seemed content to be taking the ride.

Unlike my still-insane lab mix — who thinks car rides are about sticking her head out the window, rubbing her body against every part of the car she can reach in case there’s a Shedding Olympics she’s inadvertently been entered in, jumping from front seat to back seat to the compartment where the convertible top folds down, and occasionally gnawing on a seatbelt — Shadow seemed a natural for car rides. She sat quietly, moving her nose just enough to nuzzle Bob’s hand when he reached back to pat her.

No barking, no whining, just a quiet sigh, almost too soft to hear. As if she, too, knew that this first car ride was special, something to be savored.

She’ll have plenty more car rides in her future. Dog parks, vet trips, pet store visits, meetups, holidays with friends and relatives, and of course her annual dog vacation as a staff dog at Canine Camp Getaway of NY.

She’ll probably stuff her head out the window at some point to take in the scents, whine in excitement as she develops and recognizes new favorite places, poke Bob looking for a pat, or maybe even scoot up to the front seat looking for a taste of some drive-through dinner one night. She’ll grow more confident each day, and with each trip, more bonded to her human buddy, more excited about getting into a car that will take her to extraordinary places, places that will help her experience all the joys of life as a traveling dog.

But nothing will ever be the same as that first trip.

When we adopt a rescue dog, it’s an act of faith. We don’t really know about the dog’s past, or what the future will hold. We don’t know the dog’s quirks, or if there are latent behavioral or medical issues. We don’t know if the bond will “take.”

But we rarely realize how much more of a leap of faith it is for the dog. The dog doesn’t know she’s being “rescued.” She follows the person on the other end of the leash, hoping that she will end up someplace safe, where they will feed her, shelter her, care for her. She hopes that the person who picked her out from hundreds of other dogs won’t grow tired of her. She hopes someone in her new home will play with her…exercise her…cherish her. And keep her safe forever.

Even though her having been dumped in a shelter in the first place probably means someone already failed to live up to that trust.

Thankfully, Shadow is one of the lucky ones.

But watching her on that first car ride to her new home, it was clear she already knew that.

Fall Road Trips

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Ever since I launched my first dog vacation business, my dogs have played the dual role of companions on the home front and doggie road warriors, up for any adventure, any time, anywhere.

And while their annual Canine Camp Getaway vacation may be their favorite trip, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy all the little side trips we take throughout the year — to dog fairs like  Hounds on the Sound, dog charity fundraiser events like the Canine Companions for Independence DogFest and friends’ homes where they not only welcome my dogs, but would be disappointed if I showed up without them (in at least one friend’s case, I think she’d actually be less disappointed if the dogs showed up without me than the other way around!).

Last weekend we spent at Fido’s Festival in Woodstown, NJ, which is some of the most fun you can have if you’re a dog (according to Lexie), and not a bad time for humans either (despite the absence of the kettle corn guy, which I had to admit was a tiny bit of a disappointment).

For the dogs, they had dock diving, lure racing (an obstacle course that dogs run while chasing after a squeaky toy or “lure” that runs on a pully system on the ground — often referred to as “crack cocaine for dogs”), agility, games, treats, vendors and a costume parade. For the humans, there were educational sessions in the open air pavilion, hayrides, shopping galore, rescue booths with adoptable dogs, games, free samples, a food court filled with every type of food you can imagine (except for the aforementioned kettle corn…yes, I know I’m harping on it, but I’m STILL disappointed about that) and lots of fun dog people and dogs to hang out with.

It was, my dog and I agreed, a nearly perfect weekend (and could have edged into perfect territory if only there’d been less traffic on the way home. And a kettle corn booth).

Hounds on the Sound

Hounds on the Sound is another of our favorite dog festivals.

Still, it was one of those weekends that makes you love fall, even though it means summer is over and won’t be back for what seems like ages.

This weekend, we were hoping to make it out to Barktober Fest at Camp Bow Wow in Cherry Hill, NJ (another really cool event), but bad weather and a temperamental car but the kibosh on those plans. So instead, I’m sitting on my couch, wrapped in a blanket with a cat on my head and a dog on my feet, trying to keep warm while the temperatures drop as if Mother Nature got confused about which month it is (Note to Mother Nature: October is the month where you dress up and get candy. December is the one with the snow. They’re totally different months, even though they both end with “ber.” Or, in this case,”brrr!”).

It’s not that I mind a day curled up on the couch all cozy and warm, wrapped in a blanket and surrounded by pets and whatever sweatshirt/shoe/toy Lexie has decided to carry into the den in hopes of enticing me into a game of keep away. But it’s also not as much fun as a road trip on a sunny fall day, walking around with the dogs, enjoying the fresh air, seeing new places and meeting new friends.

Sadly, by next month, the outdoor dog events will peter out in the Northeast as winter begins to take hold. That means fewer road trips.

Oh, there’s Winter Woofstock in Toronto, which I’m told totally rocks, but I’m not convinced I can do 22 hours of driving in one weekend (especially since my car now knows I’m looking for a new car, which has made it testier and more temperamental than usual).

And of course there are always the various Pet Expos, but you can’t bring your dog, and my dogs have an issue with me attending dog events without them.

Do any of you road trip in the cold weather with your dog? Any great dog-friendly, cold-weather destinations you would recommend? Feel free to share!