Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Have Dog Will Travel - Pet-friendly Travel

I recently adopted an amazing hound mix from our local animal shelter. Like many shelter dogs, she had been on her own for quite awhile before being picked up. Once in the shelter, she was spayed and then, after a brief recovery, was ready for adoption. I didn't know if she would like travel or not... but I am learning.

Finding Cinnamon
I had been going to the shelter for two weeks looking for a canine companion. While there, I signed up for volunteer training to walk the shelter dogs. I visited the adoption area several times a week and actually got to know some of the dogs. I spent some time with Cookie, the Bloodhound who had been abused and Zola, the wary escape artist. She was also a hound.
But when I got down to the last cage one day, I saw big brown eyes and huge feet that clawed under the door wanting out, out, out. I researched this hound-mix named Cinnamon and was told they didn't know much about her. She appeared, they said, to be 4 years old.  I asked to take Cinnamon out to the exercise pen. She was friendly and just leaned against me for warmth in the snowy pen and loved being petted. She seemed to be a quiet dog. I visited her two more times and on the last visit, I asked to adopt her. Of course I had already made her a bed of old quilts, purchased a dog kennel and a leash. I bought the same food that she was served at the shelter so that her tummy wouldn't get upset during the transition.
I was ready and I knew Cinnamon wanted to be sprung!
Home with Cinnamon
With a few enticements of chopped hot dog, Cinnamon easily went into the kennel in the back of my car. As I closed the door and began to drive off, she howled. Oh no! She hated it, I thought. But by the time we go to the end of the road leaving the shelter, she had quieted and I didn't hear a word from her the rest of the way home.
The next few weeks were busy with a vet appointment, tons of walks up the Arroyo, learning about each other, and realizing that Cinnamon loved being adopted. I learned that she was not a morning person and liked to sleep in to about 9am and that she loved playing ball and tug-o-war.
At the vet visit, I learned that Cinnamon was closer to 2 years old. The vet looked at me askance and said, "Are you sure you can handle her?" I knew what he meant. She was energetic and, like the teenager she was, she tested me constantly. She spoke to me with those deep brown eyes, and I believe she understands everything I say!
Traveling with Cinnamon
At first I took short car trips with Cinnamon in the kennel in the back of the car. It was for her safety. But as I found out more, I tried allowing her into the front seat. (Yes, I know I need to buy a harness). What I found out was that she loved going for car excursions... anywhere. Cinnamon gets bored easily and, like her travel-writer owner, she enjoys looking at the scenery, the people and the dogs we pass on our journeys. She sits quietly, entranced. She's even happy to drive to the store and remain in the car while I buy dog treats and dog food!
The Decision to Plan a Road Trip
What Cinnamon enjoys about riding in the car, is the changing scenery.  I decided at that point that I could plan a cross-country trip with her to visit my family in Florida. With their permission, I started planning.
I'll be writing a series of blog entries about pet-friendly travel and let you know how she does. My first important article was on what pet owners fear most... losing a pet on a trip. That is also my fear and I am doing all I can to ensure that I do not lose Cinnamon on our first trip. I've enrolled in dog obedience classes at the local community college and have several months to train Cinnamon and myself so that doesn't happen!