20 December 2010

Prepping for the holiday pilgrimage

Like many people, we're preparing for the holiday pilgrimage across the country to spend a few days feasting, connecting with family and feasting a little more. This includes T2, as we'll be driving.

The first time Toni made the trek, it was just the two of us. Chris flew in a few days later. We had only had Toni for a few short months, so we didn't know what to expect.  

As I got onto the expressway, it occurred to me that we had no idea at all if she got carsick. We'd taken her an hour-long drives up to that point, but that's nothing compared to 14 hours. What would I do if she spent the whole 14 hours heaving down the back of my t-shirt? Worse—what if she spent 14 hours heaving on my suitcase, full as it was with many of my favorite clothes (which were also all I had to wear for the next week)?! As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. A car on the expressway works for Toni the same way it works for a baby: like a giant sleep machine. No heaving transpired.

When we pulled up to our first rest stop, I realized there was another issue or two that we hadn't thought about. First, Toni is petrified of new situations. When she's frightened, even enticing treats that normally make her salivate become suspicious and dangerous treats in her fear-addled brain. Toni at that time weighed around 70 pounds. I weigh more than that...but not much. What would I do if, predictably, she refused to get out of the car? As it turns out, I did the obvious: I lifted her. (But if some day I write that I am posting from bed because my back has finally given out and I am bedridden for life, know that I blame it in part on this trip and all of the heavy lifting.)

I also realized that I had absolutely no one to guard her while I went inside to take care of my own business. Being from Chicago, we are sadly aware of what can happen to an unattended dog who gets snatched by someone with an interest in dog fighting. And although Toni does look intimidating to strangers, an experienced dog handler would assess that she's a gentle soul. And then he would snatch her. I had visions of my trip turning into some bizarre I-turn-all-Laura-Croft-in-order-to-rescue-Toni scenario. There was no way I could make it 14 hours without going inside somewhere to use the facilities. So I became the fastest facility user I could possibly be. No primping, no tucking, no dawdling under the hand drier. Hell, no hand drier at allmy jeans were as good a place as any to dry my hands on. Not that it mattered, after all of my worrying. No one probably even noticed us; I was just some lady filling up her gas tank like everyone else.

We've made the drive several times now, sometimes with Chris and sometimes just T2 and me. We've learned that Toni is more likely to hop out of the car on her own now that she has Téa to lead the way. We know that for some reason, storms, thunder and lightening are not scary when viewed from a car. We've learned that no one is stalking us in order to snatch our dogs while I'm honing my fast facilities use technique. We've also learned that Téa is more than happy to take her turn behind the wheel.

Wishing you and yours (the human ones and the furry ones) happy holidays and safe travels.


  1. Happy Holidays to you, too! When we moved from Maine to Texas, a ridiculously long and cramped ride, we learned a few things as well. We learned that no matter how tightly you hold the leash at a rest stop, you will still be terrified of losing your dogs in entirely unfamiliar territory. We also learned that Scion XB's are tiny for 2 humans and 120 lbs of dogness, and finally, that ferret poop smells far worse when wafted about by the open window than many other smelly things. Thanks for reminding me of this trip - made me laugh out loud!

  2. We've never driven more than 3 hours with the pooches, and I've never thought about some of these scenarios. Though I do like the imagery of you turning Laura Croft to save her. Have a good holiday!

  3. Love, love, love the pic of Téa behind the wheel!

  4. We've done a few long car rides (although not 14 hours long!) and had the same concerns. Luckily, it's all turned out fine. I have gotten some weird looks when I'm getting gas and have three giant dogs in the car though. ;)

    Happy holidays!

  5. I'm glad your travels are drama free, though it certainly sounds like you have your hands full, so to speak. Enjoy your trip, and happy new year!

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  6. Tommy sits behind the wheel just like Téa. It always cracks me up. I think those two have a lot in common actually. I'm glad Toni gets to rest like a baby when you drive and that your travels are drama-free. Have a great holiday!

  7. Happy Holidays. I am so glad the trip was uneventful. I have never taken this group for rides longer than an hour or so. But when I lived in Lake Tahoe I drove back and forth to L.A. several times a year with my Lab and Akita. We were great travelers :)