If you are heading out on a cross-country car trip this summer, why not take the dog? Most dogs love to travel and all dogs love to be with the family, no matter where it goes. With a few extra preparations, traveling with the dog is a great experience.
AAA and other travel services have motel directories which let you know where pets are allowed.
Red Roof Inn and Motel 6 allow dogs, although sometimes there are size restrictions. If you are polite and your dog is well behaved, you should not have a problem.
Locally owned motels in small towns most often take pets and if they do not, they can direct you to one that does.
It is annoying when you cannot find a place to stay with your pet. However, dogs destroy property, their owners do not clean up after them and the dogs are left alone in the room and bark constantly. In an effort to win back the confidence of motel folks, we must be very courteous, always let them know we have a pet and clean up any messes. Some motels charge a fee for a pet. Sometimes it is refundable if the room is clean when you leave. It is annoying to pay extra, but when you realize the losses suffered by these motels because of pets, it is understandable.
Roadside rest areas are everywhere and offer a great opportunity to walk and relax. Dogs must be leashed and kept in a restricted area. These restrictions have been applied because of people's failure to clean up. So it is important that we, as responsible dog owners, go out of our way to leave a good impression.
If you travel alone with a dog, it forces you to stop more often and the dog provides protection. If someone approaches you in the car, let the dog know whether it is friend of foe. Letting a stranger know you have a dog is a great deterrent.
Dog parks are located throughout the country. Check with the local chamber of commerce for dog parks or log on to www.dogpark.com for a constantly increasing listing. City parks are great for a leisurely walk and picnic, but dogs must be kept on leash. Ball parks and game fields offer opportunities for the dog to run free if he is trained to come when called.
Carry a copy of your dog's health records including all shots, the veterinarian's name and phone number and a supply of any medications. Know what dangers lurk in the area of the country to which you are headed. Lyme disease, flea-infested areas and high mosquito populations require extra precautions. Discuss with your vet where you are going and what you will need. If you are traveling into Canada, a health certificate is required.
Pack your pet's duffel bag. Include a food and water dish, leashes, tie outs, his blanket, a stuffed toy and a couple of chew toys, brushes, treats, paper towels, a towel to clean muddy feet and a good supply of clean-up bags. Also carry a supply of food and water as changes can cause stomach upset. A quart of water and a bowl within reach eliminate digging around during a quick rest stop. Keep a collar on your dog with rabies information and a number to call if he gets lost. This should not be your home number but a relative with whom you can keep in touch.
Dogs travel more safely when restrained either in a pet seat belt or crate. A crate can take up a lot of space, but comes in handy while visiting friends. The seat belt allows the dog to move around. The front passenger seat is the least safe place for a pet to travel.
Summertime or any time, take your dog traveling and experience a whole new world. You will meet nice people and be forced to stop and smell the roses and the wild flowers while relaxing under a shade tree. And the dog will never ask, "Are we there yet"?
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.