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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Post #24: Traveling With Dogs

Henry and PD got along well.  We never saw any aggression between the dogs.  And Henry did his job.  He taught PD a few things about doggy manners.  Henry was always respectful of us. 

When we brought Henry home at three months old, Henry was smaller than 6 month old PD.  But, by the time Henry reached 6 months, it was obvious that we had a full-sized dachshund, not a miniature. 

With two dogs, we could not travel as easily as before.  To stay current in my field, I attended a lot of workshops.  We had taken PD with us to a hotel when Wife decided to join me at a workshop in a distant city.  PD did fine, and we were good tenants in the hotel.  We took PD down and out to the little postage sized green space the hotel had for regular walks.  There were no “accidents” in the room. 

Leaving PD in the room in his crate by himself was a little scary, though.  We could readily see that two dogs in a hotel room would be difficult to manage.  

Our solution was to buy a travel trailer.  We found a used trailer in a local lot and took it out for a test drive.

The dogs really enjoyed the experience.  While we were on the road PD and Henry would take turns sitting in my lap, then sitting in Wife’s lap.  They expressed their creativity by producing “nose art” on the side windows of the truck as we traveled down the road.

Sometimes they would bark out the windows to scare away people or animals walking down the streets.  Apparently the barking worked, since we were never attacked by street people or animals while pulling our trailer.  Sometimes the two would spend their time just watching the scenery go by.  But most of the time, they just napped on our laps.

Every once in a while we would watch as their heads would rise up off our laps in unison.  They would begin to sniff the air, and then put their faces directly in the path of the air flowing out of the vents.  Their noses would twitch as they strove to catch every nuance of the scents that were being directed into the cab of the truck.  Something interesting was outside nearby.  Sometimes it was cattle, or it could be horses.  Most likely, it was some dead animal flattened by the traffic.  The dogs usually knew when something was coming near long before the people in the truck did.

Once in the campground, we enjoyed our time walking our dogs around the RV parks.  PD was little and cute, and he was always the one to get the most attention.  He was also the one who did not trust children.  Kids would come up and ask if they could pet PD.  We advised that they pet Henry, instead.  Henry loved kids, and loved the attention he got from them.  PD, however, would prefer that children just leave him alone.  He would allow an adult to pet him, but the result was usually a wet shoe, since PD was a submissive pee-er.

One thing that Henry did not like about RV parks was people cooking outdoors.  The smell of smoke cowed him for the first couple of years when we traveled.  I would notice that Henry would suddenly stop in his tracks and refuse to go forward.  Then I’d realize that I could smell someone barbecuing nearby.  I was eventually able to get him to walk with me past the smoking barbecue. 

After about a year with our pull-behind trailer, Wife and I decided it was time to invest in a new Fifth Wheel.  The new trailer was fabulous.  PD and Henry really enjoyed their new set of wheels.

The Fifth Wheel was also a bit higher off the ground.  Since the whole purpose of the trailer was to be able to take our dogs with us, I needed to find an easy way to get the dogs in and out of the trailer.  Larger dogs can just bound up the steps.  But when you are born with silly little legs that let your chest drag in 1 1/2” high grass, steps can be a bit of a challenge.  So I bought a board that they can use as a ramp.  Now lumber can be slippery when damp, so I had to modify the board.  I added outdoor carpeting to let the little guys gain traction.

And if I’ve got a ramp to help them get into the trailer, why not a ramp to let them up on the couch while Wife and I are out site-seeing every day.  I think I went a little “ramp – crazy.”  Because the idea of a ramp in the trailer soon grew into ramps in the house. 

In between road trips, I started building ramps.  We had ramps to help them get on couches, a ramp for the bed, and of course, a really long ramp to let them go outside from the house.  We lived in a house on pier and beams, and the house was about five foot off the ground.

And ramps are a good thing, if you happen to be a dachshund.  But that's another story.