Our dogs travel with my wife Kim and me just about everywhere we go. The only time we leave them at home with a pet sitter is when we attend an event that doesn’t allow dogs. Lucky for me, I’m an animal consultant and most places not only allow dogs but they encourage dogs to attend the events.
Our daily trips to the coffee shop, stores, and the park are always fun. But, nothing beats taking a longer vacation with our furry family.
We recently found a wonderful beach house to rent on St. George Island in Florida. It’s one of the few beaches in the Southeast that will allow leashed dogs on the beach. Since we went after spring break was over, it was less crowded than usual and we had the beach almost completely to ourselves. It was quieter on the island than I expected and very slow-paced. I noticed that almost every beach rental home had a dog vacationing with them.
We decided to drive to the vacation home with our puppy, Dusty. We anticipated that it would take us about seven hours. What we didn’t anticipate was how many extra times we’d need to stop since we had a puppy riding with us. Since she was a puppy, taking her first long drive, she needed to stop for a potty break every couple of hours. Since we were in no hurry, it wasn’t a big deal on the way to the beach. However, on the way home, we encountered torrential downpours of rain which made driving very stressful and stopping for potty breaks more of a challenge. Overall, the seven hour drive turned into a nine and a half hour drive. We learned that we should have gotten Dusty used to a longer drive by taking her on several shorter drives in advance. Also, we learned that taking her for a run in the park before leaving town would’ve been a good idea to help disperse some of her high energy.
The beach itself was wonderful. There was plenty of thick, fluffy, white sand where we stayed and there was always a steady breeze blowing. There was an abundance of sea shells that kept Dusty busy and she loved running in the shallow waves. All the people and dogs we met were friendly and, thankfully, everybody picked up after themselves and their dogs. Other than a few painfully prickly sand burrs that would need to be removed from Dusty’s fur when she walked near the saw grass, it was a wonderful trip.
I remember another “family trip” that we took with our late Schnauzers, Buzz and Woody. The trip was a couple of hours up the road to the North Georgia mountains. We booked a cabin at a place that one of Kim’s coworkers highly recommended. This was the first trip that we took with Buzz and Woody, excluding the holiday visit to grandma’s house. We spent the whole week preparing, packing and explaining the details of the trip to Buzz and Woody. We kept reiterating the words “family trip” to the dogs so they would know the key words and not be nervous when we left the house.
On Friday night when they arrived at the cabin, it looked nice enough, at least from the outside. The dogs got out of the car to investigate the grounds and mark every tree in sight. While they were preoccupied with that task, I proceeded to unload the car. When I opened the door to the cabin, I noticed that it smelled old and musty. So, I opened all the windows to air the cabin out.
Once everything was unloaded, Kim walked Buzz and Woody into the cabin. They looked around, investigated everything and immediately began looking intently at the carpet. Initially, it looked like they were just sniffing the carpet. But when she bent down to see what had captured their attention, she saw red fire ants everywhere!
The owner offered to move us to another cabin. However, he said the other cabin would only be available for one of the two nights we were staying because there was a wedding party coming that had booked that cabin. Knowing that we couldn’t get our money back, we decided to relocate to the other cabin.
Upon entering the second cabin, we noticed that the furniture was newer and, thankfully, there weren’t any fire ants. None of us were comfortable on the property the whole weekend. It was more than just the ants. It was also the energy of the whole place. But, we were stuck until Sunday morning when we could finally leave.
We tried to make the most of the weekend, watching movies by the fireplace, walking the trails with Buzz and Woody and just spending quiet time together. Sunday morning was finally here. We let the boys out of their crates and Buzz ran to the front door of the cabin and sat down. At first, I thought that he really needed to go potty. So, I proceeded with putting the leashes on both dogs, letting them out to do their business and then came back in for breakfast.
Buzz immediately took his position at the front door again. He didn’t want breakfast. He didn’t want to play. He didn’t want anything except to leave the cabin and end this “family trip”. We skipped breakfast, packed up the car and we were out of there. From that point on, we never mentioned the words “family trip” around Buzz and Woody.
Some of our vacations were fun and others were more challenging. However, having my furry family with me made a perfect vacation. There’s nothing better!
Do you take family vacations with your dogs? Share your stories and pictures on Dogster.