Health And Safety Tips For Traveling With Your Pets

FOCUS ON PETS

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Higgins and I have just returned from our first trek in my new/used mini-motor home. We drove to Albuquerque for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival. Balloonists were there from 40 countries. It was spectacular.

Our parking area adjoined the landing field so the balloons came over our heads and landed right next to us. Many from my group ran out to help with landings.

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Pat Beaudet, from Marlborough, Mass., relaxes with a book, while her two greyhounds, Crystal Belle and Reggie, are safe in the X-pen.

Besides watching balloons, I talked with traveling dog people. There were 1,000 RVs on the grounds. At least one-quarter of them travel with pets. Most have dogs, but many cats were seen sitting on dashboards taking it all in.

Since I am taking a trip this fall with all three dogs, I thought I had best learn all I could.

Most important while on the road is proper identification. One greyhound was seen running across the landing field after a jack rabbit. Fortunately, he was caught and brought back to home base.

Dog tags, microchips and licenses increase your chances of finding a lost pet. It is a good idea to have a note near the door of your RV stating that a pet is inside in case of emergency.

One couple, full-timers in their huge converted bus, had recently adopted a greyhound. They also had a cat. The dog's racing name was RV, so they assumed this was a sign of the perfect match. They quickly discovered that RV was happy so long as the RV was parked. Though not fond of the moving vehicle, he is adjusting.

Dogs and cats that have not traveled much, need to have lots of short trips before heading out for the long haul.

Special equipment is needed when you are traveling in an RV. Since the dog will not have a yard in which to run, a chew-resistant cable is great. They come in a variety of lengths. A stake securing it to the ground will allow the dog to move more freely rather than being secured to the RV.

An exercise pen, also known as an X-pen, is very handy. They come in a variety of heights, from 24 to 48 inches high, and consist of eight panels connected together that are each 24 inches wide. It all folds up for easy storage. With large dogs that are escape artists, such as two of mine, the optional top is a must. My X-pen is 36 inches tall with a wire top and stakes to secure it to the ground. It is not big enough, 4-by-4, to provide adequate exercise, but it does provide them some time outdoors in safety. The X-pen can be connected to a folding wire crate or kennel.

Lots of walks are mandatory as you travel. A flexi-retractable leash, with lengths of 16 to 26 feet, allows the dog to get more exercise as you walk. It is not easy to walk more than two dogs with flexi leashes, however, because they are bulky in your hand. You cannot expect a dog, unless he is elderly, to ride all day and then sleep all night. And after all, that's what our pets do -- they force us to walk, which makes us all healthier.

Traveling with pets in an RV is fun and the pets provide a level of security. Generally, the pets love it and they are wonderful company.

Dog Day in the Park

Dog Day in the Park is Oct. 22. There will be lots of great games and contests. The Canine Good Citizen test will be offered. Watch this column or go to the AKC website and click on Canine Good Citizen to see what is required. The 10 steps of the test will be listed. All dogs are encouraged to receive CGC certification. Many states and insurance companies accept this test as evidence of a properly trained dog.

Town and county licensing will be available at the pet fair. Bring your dog's health record and proof of neutering. Microchipping will be done and dog tags will be made while you wait. There are charges for these services.

Plan to attend Dog Day in the Park, Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Payson Off Leash Dog Park across from the library. Bring your dog on leash for fun, games and lots more.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@ earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1Box 210,Strawberry AZ 85544.

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