So last week, Eric and I traveled approximately 20 hours between Houston and Kansas with Charleston and Indiana along for the ride.
Bringing the puppies to Eric’s parents’ house was kind of a big deal to me. I mean, I wanted to be prepared enough that they looked at me and thought, Oh, wow, she’s going to be a great mom to our grandkids some day, but I still wanted to be sure to drink enough that they thought, Someday…but not someday soon.
The month leading up to this trip, Eric and I worked even harder to turn our two puppies into two little gentlemen. We took them on longer walks, were extra diligent about housebreaking, and sent them to doggie day camp nearly every weekend so they could socialize with other dogs.
Here are a few things Eric and I did to prepare for the actual road trip.
We bought them sweaters. In general, I’m opposed to dogs in clothes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think it looks adorable…but then it looks less adorable when you see that the dog looks suicidal. However, I am not opposed to dogs in necessary clothing, and that includes sweaters on small dogs when it’s really cold outside. (And I was ready to tell that to anyone in his family who tried to act like I was That Girl who just dresses up her toy dogs for funsies. Defensive? Yes. But this is just what people assume when they see a pretty girl, a masculine guy, and two small dogs wearing cable-knit sweaters.) So Eric and I bought them sweaters for Wichita’s chilly temperatures, assuming that the first time they felt 40-degree winds would be similar to the first time they walked on grass (which was on our first drive home with them; they were so bewildered and traumatized by the long green stuff and just couldn’t figure out how to walk around on it). Our plan was to only put the sweaters on them when they needed them to go outside, but one cold day, we just left the sweaters on after their first walk. I returned to let them out of their crates a couple hours later and discovered that Chuck had gone all Harry Houdini on his and had completely destroyed it in his effort to escape from it. This is unsurprising, as he’s on his fifth collar now. I like to pretend he’s a free spirit and cannot be contained, as that is the best way to justify behavioral problems that are probably your fault, but I wish his spirt had been contained, because after this incident, he just shivered whenever we went outside. So then I looked like That Girl who wants toy dogs but then doesn’t take care of them properly.
We got them health certificates. Did you know that you’re required to get a dog a health certificate before you take it across state lines? I didn’t either! Luckily, I found this out the week before the trip so I had them certified at Petsmart. I kind of wanted to need the certificate at some point on the trip (“What, officer? Why, yes, these dogs are certified!”) just to show off the fact that I had covered all my bases and had official paperwork to show for it. Similar to how I feel after I get an STD test. Of course, no one asked for the certificates (Who would? When would they? The answer is no one and never.) but it still felt good to have done it.
We strapped their tails in tight. There are few dog-related things that get on my nerves more than dogs who travel unrestrained in cars (actually there is probably only one: people who refer to their dogs as “children” or “babies” or their owners as “mom” and “dad;” every time this happens to me, I just want to act super proud of the fact that I’m a medical freak of nature, a human woman who just birthed a puppy!!!!). Dogs riding free in cars is just so ridiculously unsafe for all parties involved. When I see the world’s cutest little lapdog riding up front on the driver’s lap, all I can think of is that poor little thing getting decapitated by the air bag when someone runs a stop sign. And I my dogs are cuddly but I don’t think they’d make very cuddly projectiles if they were knocked from the back seat into the front (into me in the front!) during a crash. Not to mention that most dogs love people and want to crawl all over their owners like a drunk dude in a bar trying to get all up ons. Would you want to drive with a drunk dude licking your face as he awkwardly gyrates against your leg? No, so you shouldn’t let your dogs do the same. Chuck and Indiana rode in their travel carriers, but I’ve used special harnesses that you can strap to the seat belts with other dogs, and those work really well. There are a lot of options for car restraints; the point is, you should use something.
So was I prepared? Yes, totally. Were the dogs gentlemen? …well, there is some debate over this. I think they were good, given the fact this was their first trip to totally unfamiliar circumstances — which included another dog at the house who was approximately 15 times their size. They weren’t perfect, but they were fine. Eric thinks they were dead-set on destruction from the time we arrived at his parents’ house. We both agree that they have never, ever, ever pooped that much, ever, but we disagree on the reasons behind it (I think it was nervous tummies; he thinks it was part of some diabolical plan to make us look like unfit owners). Hard to say for sure. And yeah, the sweater did get destroyed. But I sort of think they did exactly what I had hoped — made me look good, but not too good. Did I force Indiana to take a dump in the house every five seconds to ensure that no one was eyeing my uterus and thinking it’s open for business? No, I did not…but I’m also totally not sorry that that was the unfortunate side effect of his nerves.