If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been busy little explorers so far this year. Between March and June, we took two major road trips. In these two trips alone we have:
- driven 13,000 miles…
- through 29 states and one Canadian province,
- logged 1566 geocaches,
- camped at 9 different campgrounds,
- visited 12 state and national parks,
- and stayed at 12 different hotels
- for a total of 7 weeks of travel adventures.
And who was along for the ride? The beagle.
Toss in all of the other, less-insane trips he’s taken with us over the last two years and the dog’s got some serious travel cred. So I figured it was time to share my thoughts on traveling with a dog.
Great things about traveling with the dog…
- He’s quite a character and a lot fun to have around.
- On cold nights he’ll keep your feet warm in your sleeping bag.
- He’s a wonderful ice-breaker for Fred and George with other kids.
- The boys get to see the implications of traveling with a dog.
- He’s fancies himself a guard dog so he lets us know if something’s amiss.
Not-so-great things about traveling with the dog…
- Trying to find a restaurant with a patio.
- Finding a hotel that takes pets and even when you do, most charge pet fees.
- Not being able to go into stores and attractions or having to tag-team when you do.
- The constantly tangled leash around camp.
- Guard dog: Yep, this is a benefit and a drawback because while he does alert us to problems, there has never actually been a real problem. He’s a little too diligent.
- You’d think only urban locales would be a problem but most trails in most National Parks are off-limits. Other agencies have different management policies but if you want to go to a National Park with your dog you’ll be stuck on the main roads and in the campgrounds.
The big picture…
Dobby adds a lot of color to our lives and adventures…when we’re exclusively camping and outdoors… and not at National Parks. At home, he’s nothing short of a joy.
For us, traveling with him is a two-part problem. The first is Dobby himself. The truth is he’s an anxious, clingy dog. He’s fun, playful, and sweet, but very insecure about abandonment which makes traveling with him harder than it has to be. He gets upset is he thinks he’s going to be left alone…we’re talking just getting out of the car to fill the tank or when I walk to the next campsite to talk to a neighbor. That part makes him a little intense but otherwise he’s a very agreeable character. With some work, we could probably get his barking and anxiety reigned in which would make things a lot easier for us.
But our traveling woes are not entirely his fault. The second part of the equation is general lack of dog-friendliness. I know some cities are more tolerant than others but by-and-large because of health codes and such, they aren’t allowed most places. Some restaurants allow them on patios, but not all…and that’s of the small percentage that have patios in the first place. An occasional store will allow him inside. Museums and such, forget it.
Now, a lot of this stems from irresponsible owners not cleaning up after their pets. Add in owners bringing disruptive or poorly-behaved dogs who are better off at home and you can understand how these rules came into being. So in reality, most of these “dog” policies are actually “people” policies in disguise.
This sucks for us because in general he’s a well-behaved dog. When he’s walking with us someplace, he’s perfectly fine…quiet, friendly, etc. Plus, we always clean up after him and he’s absolutely friendly meeting strangers. We pay very close attention to him to make sure he’s not getting underfoot, for his safety as well as other people’s.
Moving forward, here are my thoughts on traveling with a odg in tow:
- Short, exclusively camping trips = yes.
- Long mixed trips = no.
- State parks, National Forests, etc. = yes.
- National Parks = no.
So knowing this before we set out on our big adventures this year, why did we bring him in the first place? Truthfully, for our length of travel, the expense of boarding or the imposition of asking a friend to watch him were prohibitive. I went into these trips knowing we’d have a lot of limitations but that it would still be worth it.
I love our dog and I’d love to be able to have him with us all the time. We can work on his barking and anxiety but I can do very little to change the policies that are the biggest travel issues for us. I’m simply going to have to get more creative about finding him a happy and inexpensive place to stay when it comes to our next big adventure.
Having said all that, I give him props for tolerating all of our adventures. He’s one of a kind.