Hounds on Holiday — Traveling With Your Dog
Hounds on Holiday — Traveling With Your Dog
Surely you know folks whose lives seem to revolve around their dogs — they won’t venture out for more than three or four hours when their pooch has to stay home, and they’d prefer to bring their four-legged baby anywhere they go. I’m one of those people.
I’m not married and don’t have children, so the only living being around me to love is Cubbie, my adorable Chihuahua-Miniature Poodle-Australian Shepherd-Shih Tzu-Breed Groups including Terrier, Herding, Companion, Asian, and Hound. You guessed it — I had his DNA tested. Hey, it’s not like I have to save for college.
I proudly display a “Rescue Mama” decal on my car, but “Who Saved Who?” would be equally appropriate. My life has changed so much for the better since I rescued a scared little dog — he was shaking when I met him — in May 2016.
Since I work from home, Cubbie and I are almost always together. He usually goes to client and networking meetings with me, and he’s well known at our local drug and office supply stores. I travel just occasionally — to see family — and I know Cubbie and I are equally heartbroken to be apart.
So — I’m getting to the topic of this blog — when I started thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday, I knew it would have to include Cubbie. I’d “gone big” for 50, doing a destination birthday celebration in San Francisco, so I decided to low-key it for 60. A former neighbor had told me about a place in Cambria — on California’s Central Coast — that welcomed dogs and their owners, so I planned a Friday – Sunday stay, with my birthday being Saturday. Unfortunately, I had to pay a premium because it was Labor Day weekend.
How do you prepare a dog for a road trip? I talk to Cubbie all the time — and I think he understands quite a bit — so I kept chattering about our upcoming adventure. I wasn’t worried about him freaking our during the packing process, since he’d never been present for it. I was concerned about what he would think when his comfort bed made its way down to the car — since that usually signaled I was bringing him somewhere and would leave him — but he seemed unfazed.
Of course, when your traveling companion is a dog, you have to do everything yourself. It took four trips to get everything into my car — up and down 15 stairs each time, mind you — two small bags for me; a plastic box with Cubbie’s dry food, treats, toys, bowls, and extra poop bags; a small cooler with Cubbie’s refrigerated “toppers”; the pillows from our bed; an afghan that Cubbie cuddles up with at night; and the aforementioned dog bed. I was a bit frazzled, making sure we had everything and the house was properly closed up — again, no help from my canine buddy — but we got on our way pretty much as planned.
Oh, did I mention that Cambria is a little more than 350 miles from my home? Yup, we’d be in the car for a while — and we had to deal with potential traffic in Orange County and definite traffic in Los Angeles.
On The Road
Cubbie was a great traveler. For the first half of the trip, I had his bed in the back seat, so he was sitting in his usual shotgun position (with a doggie seat belt). After I topped off the tank — better safe than sorry — Cubbie had the experience of going into a gas station bathroom with me. He was unflappable.
It dawned on me that he’d probably be happier if his bed was where he could jump down to it if he wished, so I moved it to the floor of the passenger seat. I was correct. He was one happy camper — even if it seemed like the car ride was taking a really long time. It was 100 degrees when we stopped for gas, something neither of us was too jazzed about, but we were both happy to arrive at our oceanfront home for the next couple days to cool, foggy conditions.
Where Are We?
We checked in and received a welcome basket — for Cubbie. Yup, this place is dog heaven. The basket contained a towel, two bowls and a mat to place them on, a bag of homemade treats, some poop bags, a tiny flashlight that could be clipped to a collar, and a magazine about dogs.
Our room had some doggie touches that were clearly for humans — a bedspread with a dog motif and coasters featuring dog paws — and I also received a list of dog-friendly restaurants, beaches, and other places in the area.
I was instantly charmed by our room, especially its king-size bed, huge bathtub and gas fireplace that could be set to go off after a certain amount of time. Cubbie was a little warier, especially because there was no carpet to be found. He huddled in his doggie bed as I got us settled.
It dawned on me that Cubbie had no understanding of why we were in a place other than home. And there was nothing I could do about that; he’d just have to go with the flow. As I expected, he didn’t eat much; he didn’t even seem that interested when I had a pizza delivered.
He did perk up a bit when we went for a stroll on the boardwalk right across the road from the inn, steps from the beach, although he seemed a bit uncertain about walking on the weathered boards. I was blissful, as I’ve always loved being by the ocean and hearing the waves crash onto the shore.
Back on the inn property, I chose one of the slouchy chairs dotting a large grassy area to relax and watch the sun set. Cubbie had other ideas; he wanted to sniff, sniff, sniff. I came to another realization: while relaxing is an oddity for me — and it took me some time to really do it — Cubbie spends most of his life relaxing. He really doesn’t have anything to take a vacation from.
Back in our room, I had to hoist Cubbie onto the bed, since he seemed a bit tentative about jumping up himself. Turned out I had to place him on the ground, too; I think he was scared to jump onto the hard floor. And, despite the fact that we had a bigger bed than usual, Cubbie slept right next to me, nestled in his “blankie” from home.
Our Day to Relax
I woke on Saturday to the stark realization that I was 60 years old. Yikes! Cubbie, of course, just saw good ol’ mom — a welcome sight in a still strange place. We took our customary first thing in the morning walk before having breakfast in the room. The hotel delivered a continental breakfast in a picnic basket at 8 a.m.
Cubbie ate a bit more, but not his usual amount. I did get him to drink some water. We chilled out at the property until early afternoon — being surprised by the delivery of a birthday cake, ordered by one of my dear friends — and then headed into town. Cubbie seemed game, and was actually pulling me along Main Street. I chose a restaurant from the dog-friendly list and had a wonderful late lunch of salmon bisque and roasted Brussels sprouts. Cubbie, as usual, was very well behaved.
We spent an uneventful evening; Cubbie eyed the chocolate cake but of course didn’t get any. He stayed far away when I relaxed in the tub — he doesn’t like water too much — but was again right at my side in bed.
We repeated our early morning activities on Sunday, when Cubbie finally seemed like his normal self. Unfortunately, we were heading home. He watched me pack up everything and load the car from the comfort of the bed — no stairs to deal with this time — and after one last stroll down the boardwalk, we headed south.
Again, Cubbie traveled well — spending about 90 percent of the time in his little bed. He was untroubled by my angst at dealing with the LA traffic and a huge backup getting into northern San Diego County. Obviously thrilled when we finally got home, he romped around the house as I unpacked the car — all those stairs again — and gobbled up all his dinner, clearly back in his comfort zone.
Things to Think About
Would your pooch make a good travel companion? You probably already know the answer to that. Dogs that don’t do well even on short car rides aren’t good candidates for a road trip. You also need to consider your dog’s temperament — particularly his barking frequency.
The place we stayed at in Cambria has a VIP (Very Important Pooch) policy that can serve as a guide to help you decide whether your dog is travel-ready. No aggressive dogs allowed. No excessive barking. Dogs must be well behaved, house-broken, pest free, clean and up-to-date on vaccinations. And, you’re not permitted to leave your dog alone in your room or in your car on the inn’s property. You’ll be with your dog 24/7, something that was great for Cubbie and me, but might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Ready to go? Check out the Cambria Shores Inn at cambriashores.com. Also feel free to share any stories you may have of your travels with your dog.