Have dog, will Travel

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I love my dog. Who wouldn’t? She is this cute little cotton ball full of love and energy.  But when your secret identity is that of a vagabond, having a dog that is as excited about travel as you are is crucial.

Mine isn’t, and she lets you know.

So along the way, I have learned a couple of secrets, tricks, and hacks to help the even faint of heart pooch tolerate travel.

 

The Pet Suitcase

It says a lot on how spoiled my dog it, that she has a own suitcase, but it’s a life saver. Most dogs and cats are pretty clever when come to learning the habits of their masters. And one of the quickest things they learn is when the suitcase comes out, it means the masters is going away.

When our suitcases come out, she starts to pacing and crying, and sometimes she even tries to climb in. So the rule is when my suitcase comes out, hers comes out too. I make sure she see it and I will put a couple of things in it, like her extra leash. Usually this will calm her down and let her know she isn’t being left behind.

Designate a small bag or suitcase to be theirs. Always use that one to pack their stuff in, even if it is a day trip to the park.

EXTRA HINT: If you are traveling without your pet, pack the suitcase in another room, one that the pet doesn’t hang out in, if that is possible. Me, I used my upstairs office. Out of sight, out of mind.

Have a travel kit

We keep a small travel kit in the car. Here is our list for Skyy

  1. A traveling bowl of water
  2. Wipes (if she gets sick)
  3. Her blanket
  4. Extra poop bags and zip lock bags (just in case there isn’t a trash can)
  5. An extra leash
  6. Some chew toys (something she can play quietly with)
  7. Treats

Make them Comfortable

Most pets (especially dogs) are not used to be cooped up without room stretch. In a plane it is kind of hard to do this. But in a car, a couple arranged suitcases and a blanket turns you back set into an area they can take a nap or chew on a toy.

If it is a cat, try investing in a large carrying create. Something that the can move around in.

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Car Sickness

My mom’s dog used to get car sick, so they learn not to feed her until they arrived at the location. Less in the stomach, less to throw up.

The Book

When I first got Skyy, I created a book for her. Not only did it have her registration, family tree, and proof that she belongs to me, but also carries her vet records, the contact number for her microchip, her chip number, her insurance records, and up to date pictures of her. Every trip that she goes on or if I leave her with someone, we bring it.

Just in case something happens, she either gets lost or hurt, I am not trying to find important documents.

Microchip

I cannot stress how important it is to have your dog or cat (or rabbit) microchip. I have lived through two hurricanes and those chips were the only thing that reunited pet owns with their pets.

Collars can get lost, tags can get lost, but the microchip stays with them until they die.

Know the area:

Before I hit the open road, whether it be a quick weekend up at my parents, or a long road trip. I already have the contact of a local vet, and emergency hospital. My little one likes to hide her stuff animals in her stomach, and it is usually 2 AM when she decides to retrieve it. This usually means an emergency trip to the local vet hospital.

I have this information not only stored on my phone, but also a hard copy in her book.

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Getting her used to road trips.

When I first got Skyy, she was only 9 weeks old and barely 3lb. So the only trips she took, were back and forth from the vet. I started to realize that she was associating the car with vet visits (which no dog like). So I started to take her on fun trips.  A trip to a local farm so she could meet other animals, a run to the pet store, a walk along the beach, and even a quick trip to the park, helped her to realize that not all car trips are bad.

 

Exercise them before hitting the open road.

I try to plan most of the trips that Skyy will be traveling with me around a stop at the dog park. If that isn’t possible, we go on a very long walk to ensure that she will not be too energetic at the start. Energy usually equals nervousness.

It also helps to take a break during the traveling. If you are flying, sometime during delays and layovers, take the dog for a walk or find a quiet area and play with them. On one trip, I saw this guy walking his rabbit.

A lot of rest areas on the highways now include a dog run.

Extra hint: For all my solo vagabonds out there, this is a good way to meet people. In the hour that I watched him, Rabbit Guy had about 20 different women stop and talk to him. A couple of times I saw the exchange of numbers.

Make sure every place you are going is pet-friendly.

Thankfully this hasn’t happened to me, but one of my friends had plans for a great weekend in the mountains only to find out that when they got there, –no pets allowed.  It ended up costing them a small fortune to board their dog.

Another friend of mine arrived at “pet-friendly” hotel only to find out that there was a $25 per night fee and that she had to let them know 14 days in advance. So while other dog owners were enjoying their vacation with their pooches, hers was boarded up at the local vet. Even if the hotel or place you are staying says pet-friendly or pets allowed, call up and see what the policy is.

Extra Food

Sometimes plans go astray, sometimes you never want to leave, and sometimes your car breaks down. Pack extra food so that you are not worrying about food for your fur babies.

Extra Hint: I measure and put Skyy’s food and vitamins in a bag for each day. It saves space and makes it easy to feed her.  Just grab the bag, and dump it in her bowl. Plus, if you accidently leave the bags at the vacation site, you still have food when you get home.

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And last trick –

Roll down the window, and let your pup feel the breeze, let her smell the air. Unless you are on a plane.

Remember to plan things they will like too. A dog doesn’t want to spend his/her vacation locked up in a strange room.

 

With a little planning, your cat or dog can have a great time exploring the world with you.  If you have your own tip, please leave it in the comments below.

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You’re in Gator Country Now

It was on a recent trip that a conversation happened that inspired this post.

I was sitting at a local Starbucks, wasting time, when I heard two people talk the alligator attack in Orlando earlier this month. One of them wondered out loud what an alligator was doing up in the Orlando area. The other one chimed in, it was probably someone pet.

“It’s Florida, it’s a body of fresh water, there is going to be a gator in it,” I said. Both people looked confused, and the one said, “But it’s up in Orlando, alligator don’t live there it isn’t a swamp.”

I said again, “It’s Florida, it’s a body of fresh water, there is going to be a gator,”

The two of them looked at me oddly, and I said to them. “You are not from Florida are you?”

Wasn’t too surprise when the answer was no.

Living in what some would consider paradise, there are four things that stop Florida from being perfect. Flying cockroaches, mosquitoes, hurricanes, and gators, in that order.

Since gators don’t rank very high on a Floridian scale on what we considered dangerous or unpleasant, it is a wondered that most people think we are nuts when it comes to our laissez-faire attitude about gators. The truth is, we learn to live with them.

So I figured I should let you on to a couple of gator secrets that will make your next trip to the Sunshine state, a safe one.

Tip 1: The minutes you cross the state board; YOU ARE IN GATOR COUNTRY!

Jacksonville – Gator Country

Orlando – Gator Country

Tampa- Gator Country

Key West- Gator Country

Miami – Gator Country

St. Petersburg – Gator Country

Any town, village, retirement community, tourist trip, small town, farm – Gator country

Gainesville – The capital of Gator Country.

 

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Tip 2: Floridians have a love/hate relationship with the gator

Think about it, when you’re from Florida, you are either a Cane, a Nole or Gator. That is how we Floridian classifies ourselves.

We don’t think it is strange to see a gator out on the golf course or lounging by the side of the road. And we usually have one news story a night about a gator in a pool. They are here to stay.

 

 

 

Tip 3: The Gator Test

All you have to do is ask these two questions

  1. Is the body of water fresh?
  2. Is the body of water in Florida?

If you answer yes to both of these questions, then there is a gator nearby, in it, or around it. If one of them is no, then it is up to debate whether there is a gator or not.

By the way, a gator cannot be removed until it reaches at least 4 feet. Then they are hard and expensive to catch, so most communities and parks don’t bother until it becomes a nuisance.

Tip 4: Don’t feed them

For some reason tourists think it is a good idea to feed them. But what tourist don’t realize is that alligators have a natural fear of us, and by feeding them they start associating us with food. And that is never good.

When they lose that natural fear of humans and decided that they are going to get lunch from us one way or another, then it becomes a problem. If you happened to see one out in the wild, take a picture of it, but don’t give it your ham sandwich.

There is enough wildlife in Florida that our gator population will not go hungry.

Tip 5: Gators don’t make good pets

One of the funniest (or saddest) thing I read in my grandmother’s diary when she was young, was about a trip to Florida. She talked about how you could buy baby pet gators from the side of the road and her father wouldn’t buy one, because it might eat his prize Kio. Smart man.

I wonder how many gators end up being flush down the toilets are let go in Central Park in the 30s and 40s. Maybe the rumor about alligators in the New York sewer is true.

No, gators aren’t cute, and they don’t like to be cuddled. They just want to be left alone. If you want a gator, stop by one of the local tourist stores and get the cute and cuddly ones that are stuffed with cotton. Less money, fewer headaches, and you wouldn’t lose a limb.

Tip 6: Swimming in fresh water is never a good idea

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Growing up in Florida, that was the one thing that was stressed over and over again. Never swim in a fresh body of water, unless you can see the bottom.  Gators love to hide in the muck. Most of us will tell you, we even check our pool before diving in, and yes, I have had a gator in my pool before.

I had a hard time swimming in fresh water lakes even when I was in Hawaii. And to the amusement of the locals, I kept asking, “Are you sure there aren’t any gators in there.” They laugh, but when it has been ingrained in you since early childhood, that any fresh water, whether it be here or on an island out in the middle of the Pacific should have a gator in it, you will question it too.

Because the idea of fresh water without a gator just boggles the mind.

Tip 7: Gators are not cold blooded murder

A gator will attack humans for two reasons. Reason one is that we threaten them or their nest in some way.  Reason two is that they are hungry and started to associate us with food (thanks a lot tourist).

So as long as you leave a gator alone and don’t feed it, the chances of you get attacked are slim. I have lived here for 30 years, and not once have I been attacked.

Tip 8: If it is salt water, you are probably safe from gators, but sharks are another story.

That is another post for another day.

Tip 9: If you want to see a gator in wild be safe.

Every year, we hear about tourist getting lost or killed out in the Everglades. If you have this desire to see a gator out in the wild, then be safe. Either go to a park that offers airboat rides, or go to a place where gators are kept at a safe distance.

I encourage everyone who visits Florida to take an airboat ride.

Tip 10: Gator meat

Yes, you can eat gator and yes, it kind of taste like chicken.  There are some bars and local hangouts that serve fresh gator meat. Ask a local; they can probably point you in a direction to one the many places in Florida to get gator tail or gator meat.

Tip 12: Keep small, medium and large kids and dogs away from a body of fresh water.

Gators love a small prey, whether it be a duck, a turtle or your dog. It is never a good idea to let either your kids or your dog go swimming in a fresh body of water that isn’t either a pool or a natural spring (it’s too cold for a gator).

Most Floridians know someone who lost a dog to a gator

So there you have it, a Floridian guide to being safe around gators. To recap, don’t go near one, assume any body of fresh water in Florida has a gator in it, don’t feed it and don’t try to make it a pet.

I hope your next trip to Florida is a happy and safe one.

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Would you believe that some people think this is an alligator

Tourist