Once a year, I usually end up taking some kind of road trip with the dogs (summer feva and all that jazz). I check the leashes and collars to make sure that I’m not going to be running wildly down the highway after one of the dogs because they’ve gotten loose. I pack everything neatly in a big canvas bag. I take a cooler for water, and make sure it’s accessible while we’re on the road. I pack all the other bits and pieces neatly in a separate knapsack. I make sure everyone has enough room to travel comfortably. I make sure I have the vaccination papers and microchip info stowed away.
Inevitably, I arrive at our destination with dog-things strewn all over the car, water spilled in the back-seat because SOMEONE is a messy drinker, leaking water bottles because SOMEONE pushed them over while rooting around trying to find the treats, tangled long-lines and probably an empty plastic bag with a hole in the side where someone has taken unauthorized liberties with the snacks.
This year, I told myself, I will plan. I will think AHEAD and not attempt to pour water into a bowl on the front seat while I’m driving 70 miles an hour down the highway (yes, highly unsafe, I know). I won’t try to dig around in my car trying to find a plastic bag for poo, I won’t make a scene of myself trying to juggle two dogs on two leashes that have to pee and one’s going north and the other south and I happen to be trapped in the middle. I will be ORGANIZED.
So I tell myself.
I’ve begun researching items that will hopefully Make My Life Easier While Traveling With Animals. And because I’m giving like that, I want to share this list with you (in hopes that someone, SOMEONE out there suffers from the same kind of dog-related disorganization I do and understands the pain).
Number one on my list:
This Gulpy Water Bottle that was recently featured on Dog Milk.
How neat is that? Dish and bottle and water, all in one. No more trying to pour water into a bowl
at high speeds!
A waterpoof dog cover for the backseat. I have faux-leather seats in my car (which, by the way, I would never willingly go back to cloth as all spills, fur, drool and dirt just wipe right off), and the dogs slide around on it like it’s their own little mobile ice-skating rink. Even when I had cloth seats in my car, the resulting effect after a road-trip was as if someone dropped a fur-bomb in the back seat. Also: waterproof! Highly important for the spill-prone.
Calm your Canine in the car (Through a Dog’s Ear) CD. Bean can handle short trips in the car, but long-trips usually end up with her having terrible anxiety. The last time, she whined for two hours straight. And not a loud whine, but the kind that’s like a mosquito in a quiet room. Since the Calm Your Canine CD worked so well for her, I’m dead-set on giving this a try. It HAS to be better than listening to Ms. Mosquito-Impersonator-Dog.
Seat Belts for dogs Important, in case of a sudden stop. We don’t want anyone to get injured, now. They will probably hate them, but on a long trip, it’s probably way better, both for vehicular safety, and so I can actually get a leash on their collars before they hop out of the car. Bonus: it will probably help me avoid that awkward I’m-opening-the-car-door-don’t-jump-out-yet dance that I always end up doing.
Popware Collapsible Pet Bowls. No more big, unwieldy plastic dishes! Ever since I saw those collapsible bowls on television (I think they were for pasta draining or something), I’ve wanted to get something similar for the dogs. It’s a pain trying to pack regular metal or plastic bowls, especially if you have large dogs. I mean, you can just throw the regular bowl into the backseat, sure, but this packs flat, is dishwasher-safe, and comes in pink or blue. Bonus: rubber for less slippage on tile floors.
Nature’s Miracle in a travel-size spraybottle, and Bounty-To-Go Paper towels. Ok, so this is actually 2 items (or three, if you can count, unlike myself). The dogs are usually well-mannered, but there’s always accidents: vomit, mud, occasional blood because someone has romped over a weird stick… Nature’s Miracle can get all of that out of clothes, fabrics, and your host’s carpet. Travel-size spray bottle: essential. Bounty-to-go: prepared for any situation. You can find travel-size spray bottles at pretty much any big-box retailer in the travel-size-toiletries section.
Kong Toys and Treat Toys. I don’t know about you, but this is how the dogs deal with New Places: Wow! Look at that! What is that? A Bed? Let’s jump on it! Lookit these pillows, man, these are AWESOME! Oo, this smells like Cheetos! Look over there, a window! Let’s go look out of it! Wait, there’s this thing that smells in the corner, wow, what is THAT? Oh, look, Mom’s opening something! It’s a DRAWER! What’s in there? What’s that book thing? Look! Automatic water dispenser in the bathroom, just like at home! This smells AWESOME! Come check this out!
New Place Sniffiness is usually followed by a rousing game of What’s That Sound In This New Place, which is played jointly by Let’s Take Over The Furniture And Bark At Stuff. Most places we stay have some sort of freezer, whether it’s a tiny hotel freezer or the kitchen freezer of your gracious host, and it’s easy enough to shove some peanut butter in a Kong, let it freeze while the New Place Sniffiness is playing out, and then replace the What’s That Sound game with OooOO Look Peanut Butter! Treat toys are always good too, but I try to be considerate of the other people in the hotel/home and get softer treats to put in them or use rubber treat dispensers. Not everyone find a Border Collie throwing a hard plastic Tug-A-Jug around on a hardwood floor to be amusing, I’m pretty sure.
Pet Head Magical Deodorizing Spray. Usually, if we’ve spent eight or ten hours in the car together, among possible vomit and liver treats, we’re not smelling too pretty. While I can just freshen up with a shower and a clean pair of jeans, what do you do for your dog? You get some Pet Head Magical Deoderizer. It’s like Febreze for your dog. Honestly, this stuff smells delicious. I have a bottle of their limited-edition Blackberry scent, and Sam gets an occasional light spray between baths because he likes to roll around on dirty laundry and sleep in the shadow of the recycling bins in the backyard (I can’t bathe him too often or he itches 24/7). It wears off after awhile and I haven’t noticed any significant issues with his sensitive skin, so I’m calling it good.
Eco Nap Recycled Fleece Dog Mat I like the idea of these. While there are a million dog beds out there, and by all means choose your favorite, when I’m traveling, I like to keep things light. I have wanted to get a rollable dog bed of some kind for awhile now, but to be frank, $140 for two large rollable mats is out of my budget right now, so I have a plan to DIY a similar project. However, if you’ve got the Benjamins to throw at a good quality dog bed, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this mat.
Doggy First Aid kit The beauty of a DIY Doggy First Aid Kit is that it can also be used in case, you know, that burrito you had at that not-so-classy rest stop dive is making you uncomfortable, in addition to canine emergencies. I have a small lunch-box I carry mine in when I travel. It has all the first-aid type supplies, plus Pepto Bismol, Dramamine, aspirin, peroxide, eye drops (make sure you get a kind that’s safe to use for pets! your vet will be able to recommend a type or possibly give you some for travel purposes) and a folded copy of this document for pet first aid. I also look up several veterinarians near the place I’ll be staying, just in case.
There you have it, my probably-not-comprehensive travel items for dogs. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to throw a comment my way!