This post is not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach.
We decided to escape the frigid, snow-covered landscape of the Midwest and go to Florida for the first week in February to visit my sister Carol. (You might have seen the picture I posted.) We also decided that Arthur was ready for a big-time road trip. We travel to and from Columbus, Ohio with him, a two-hour drive, on a fairly regular basis. And last year Mark and I took him on a three hour trip to a cabin in Hocking Hills to try him out on the road. The Florida trip was a lot longer at almost exactly 1000 miles. We planned to do it in one long, eleven-hour day, and a second shorter five-hour or so day.
In honor of the event, I purchased a special car seat for Arthur complete with a suitcase for his supplies. The car seat sits on top of the suitcase in the car and raises Arthur’s head up high enough to see out the window. I read that this helps prevent pet car-sickness. More on that later.
I’m happy to say that Arthur made it down to Florida without any major catastrophes. Although he did spend almost the entire trip looking out the window. He did not sleep at all, which is his normal mode of operation at home.
We stayed overnight at a pet-friendly LaQuinta. Not deluxe accomodations, by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, but which were adequate, especially once the owners of the dog across the hall returned and he quit his incessant barking. All-in-all it was fine. Mark went next door to a restaurant and brought us back dinner that we ate in the room.
We arrived in Siesta Key, Florida in the middle of the afternoon the next day and checked into our apartment at the pet-friendly Gumbo Limbo. The room we had was small, but adequate as long as Mark and I weren’t both trying to work in the kitchen at the same time. The bad thing about Siesta Key, which is probably a good thing for many people, is that pets aren’t allowed on the beach. We came to realize in short order, that Arthur was fine with that.
We sneaked him onto the beach in this front-pack pet carrier that looks a mite too small for him even though it states it can accommodate up to a 20-lb animal and Arthur only weighs about 11 pounds. We were there early to see the sun rise. But it was an extremely chilly morning and the closer we got to the water, the colder it got, and the more Arthur was shaking. I think he was both cold and afraid of the ocean. Considering he is also afraid of many other things, like our refrigerator for example, this did not come as a big surprise.
Mark took him back to our room which was only a block away and returned to enjoy the sunrise.
We did take Arthur to Myakka River State Park, where pets are welcome. And he enjoyed the walking and hiking there, but we had to keep a close watch on him as small dogs are considered bait for the many alligators that roam along the waters’ edges. I’ll show you the alligators next time.
But mostly Arthur just hung around the pool with us and visited at my sister’s house, which was the primary reason for the trip anyway.
Here’s where the queasy part comes in. When our week of fun in the sun was up, we packed ours and Arthur’s bags, and headed north. Arthur was doing his usual looking-out-the-window routine and completely disregarding any efforts I made to command him to lie down. He was looking tired and miserable. So I decided to hold him on my lap for a bit so he could sleep.
Thank goodness it was raining at our first stop.
We all got out, and Arthur got wet, so I got one of the beach towels, my favorite one to be exact, and placed it across my lap for Arthur to lie on. Shortly after we started moving again, Arthur started expelling all his bodily fluids.
First he threw up. But as we had withheld food that morning, all that came out was a clear foamy liquid. The towel caught it, and no harm was done. I folded the towel over and gave Arthur one of the pills for nausea I had asked the vet for before we left.
It wasn’t until I felt warmth on my forearm and looked down to see a large brown spot forming on my sweater that I realized we were in big shit, literally. Little Arthur was having a bout of diarrhea of major proportions, and it was happening in technicolor right in my lap. Thankfully the beach towel was catching most of it. And thankfully Mark didn’t lose his stomach from the stench that was now permeating the car. And thankfully we were only a few miles from an exit where Mark threw the beach towel in the trash and where I was able to change my clothes in a BP bathroom and clean Arthur’s long white hair on his tail, bottom, and lower legs using paper towels and a bottle of water.
We put our last beach towel over Arthur’s car seat, put him back in his harness there, and hoped for the best.
I think Arthur was probably completely humiliated. I shampooed Arthur when we arrived at the Knoxville LaQuinta for the night. The next day we made it home without further ado.
Suffice it to say, if Mark has his way, it will be a looooong time before Arthur takes an extended road trip again.
But if that ever does happen, here is the list of items I will be sure to bring.
1. Plenty of plastic bags (which we had)
2. Plenty of paper towels (which we really didn’t have)
3. A couple of gallons of water in case of a necessary roadside shower (nope)
4. Plenty of old towels (which we did not have)
5. A few changes of clothes for me within easy reach (I only had two pairs of long pants with me. Another unfortunate event and I would have looked like a beach bum in the snow.)
6. Medicine to help Arthur sleep. (When I called the vet, she asked me if I wanted medicine for nausea or to make him sleep. I took the nausea meds. That’s a mistake I won’t be making twice.)
So tell me. Have you taken your pets on a road trip? Any tips? (Not that we need them. . .)