10 AUG 2019: Taking your pooch on a driving holiday can beat the heck out of travelling with your kids or grandchildren. “Rover won’t whine” Are we there yet, are we, huh?” and any field is a restroom when Fido has to go and you have a bag.

Mind you, we weren’t too sure about travelling with a pooch until Jessie, our Golden Retriever, wagged along when we drove down to the Alabama gulf coast for a quickie vacation.

You’re taking the dog on your holidays, without reservations?” said our friends in disbelief.

“Yup, we’re a little nervous about it, but it’s a lot cheaper than two weeks in a kennel.” Said himself. These were the days before Trusted Housesitters International.

Before we left, we took her off to the vet for a shampoo, to make sure she had no fleas to pass on, and to get a letter from the vet, stating her shots were up to date. You need that letter to cross borders.

We packed dog dishes, toys, the leash, and made sure she was wearing her collar with her name, address and phone number clearly displayed. She was chipped as well. Her luggage also included all the medication she’d ever need, her dog brush, and a large dishpan, so she could wash her paws after visiting the beach.

On the highway, she lay in luxury on the entire back seat. We filled her dog bowl with ice and placed it on top of the picnic cooler, which was on the floor. Ice worked well; it always provided cool water and all she had to do was lean over for a drink.

Every three hours we’d stop so she could stretch her paws. The poop and scoop bags were kept right beside the leash.

We’d stop early to search for a room. She and I would head off to the lobby, where I’d enquire about a room for the three of us. “Does she need her own bed?” asked one front desk person. Little did he know, what her answer would have been. Not one hotel turned her down, not even the one with signs that said: No dogs!”*

“Is she housebroken?”’ asked the desk clerk.

No problem in that area, but he should have asked if she was the type to go swimming in the ocean and roll in the sand. Show Jessie a beach and she brought home her own sand dune. That’s when the dishpan came in handy. And on one occasion we borrowed the apartment’s garden hose for a minute or two.

We solved the problem of leaving her in a hot car while we ate, by eating at rest stop picnic areas. Sometimes we’d have fast food, other times we’d barbecue our own. We liked the dog walking areas. We won’t talk about the rabbit she caught in Pennsylvania.

All in all, she was a great travelling companion. She was as relaxed as she was at home, where she only barked when something was wrong, and we needed to know. She preferred that we not leave her instantly, after we checked in a motel. No problem, the three of us would have drinks together, while she got used to the strange room.

Everywhere we went, she introduced us to people we wouldn’t ordinarily have met, locals, other tourists, and other pet owners who missed their own pets. On several occasions, we were invited for visits simply because of Jessie’s introductions.

“Come for drinks with your dog,” people would invite us.

Mind, you we could have lived without the folks we met when she suddenly decided to visit a couple eating in their room two doors down. They’d left their door open, and our door was open, so I guess she thought it was another picnic stop. Enough to say, they did not like dogs.

If you are contemplating taking your fur kid along, spend some time brushing up on its training. A dog that barks constantly or eats the furniture will not be a welcome hotel or Airbnb guest. And we’ve had plenty of those pets over the years.

An otherwise perfectly behaved Sheltie was so annoyed at driving to the cottage, he purposely lifted his leg on Tom’s pants. We had two cats and two dogs once who had to be tranquilized for the four-hour trip to the cottage. And heaven help us if we got the amounts wrong…. one would sleep for 12 hours and another would sleep for an hour and then bark for the rest of the trip.

We had a cat that yowled for four hours, and a dog that knew how to stand on the power window switch, so the window would roll all the way down.

Pets...they sure liven up a trip!

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*Editor’s note: As a frequent traveller with a four-legged friend, I cannot claim the same friendly approach to my guy. On the road La Quintas are always pet friendly, some Best Westerns, and a handful of other chains – or select hotels within the chain. If you're going upscale - Fairmont is hard to beat for pet friendly,  and the Soho Grand in New York deserves special mention. But unfortunately, as a rule, lacking the charm of the Ions - ‘No Dogs’ has always played for us as NO DOGS!

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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