The husband and I finally took a vacation together! We drove to northern California for two weeks over Thanksgiving to spend time with family and friends, and we took the dog with us. Sugar had never been on an extended car trip before, or gone up stairs, and hadn’t stayed anywhere other than our house since we adopted her. With all of that, there was a bit of trepidation on our part.
We did a little preparation beforehand, but not as much as I would have liked. We went on one long day trip with her, but there was someone sitting in the backseat with her the whole time. We worked a little on her recall, but it wasn’t (and still isn’t) solid. I did, however, make her her very own suitcase.
Here’s what we ended up packing for her:
- Her seatbelt harness, which she wore while we were driving.
- Two leashes, her walking one and an extendable one.
- Her Rabies vaccination certificate, a copy of her city license, and a copy of her recent vet records.
- Her collapsible crate
- Her favorite toys, both stuffed ones and durable ones like Nylabones
- Her Kong and treat ball, with refills
- A couple of new toys (we were going for two weeks, after all)
- 3 days worth of food: we knew there was a pet store close to where we were staying that carried her brand and flavor of food, so we didn’t have to pack a lot.
- Food and water bowls: At home, she drinks out of a fountain, but I wasn’t packing that. Her bowls stack, so they took up less room.
- No Spill water bowl for the drive: she didn’t drink much out of this for the first day, but after that, she was fine. I picked mine up at a thrift store, and it lives in the car.
- Treats: I packed biscuits and bones to go in her Kong, and her favorite soft training treats for stressful driving moments.
- Long-lasting, dental-type treats: These are the edible ones that they have to work at to chew up. Sugar likes them, and they kept her away from the table when there was family over to eat.
- Her favorite blanket: This is the one that she sleeps on every night. It’s soft and fluffy, and smells like her. Having the blanket with us gave her a place that was her “bed”, no matter where we stayed. We just put it on the floor and that became her spot.
- Bags for waste: Because there are never any when you need them.
- Baby Wipes: Just in case. They make an animal version, but nowhere out here carries them, so I just bought the least chemical-ly ones here.
- Benadryl: Our vehicles have first aid kits that have things for both animals and people, but I brought a full bottle of this. It’s useful as a mild sedative or if someone (Sugar) eats a scorpion (again). As with all meds, check with your veterinarian before using to get important safety and dosage information. Also, if sedatives are truly needed, there are better, more effective meds available (hello, Diazepam).
We probably packed way too much stuff for her, but I’d rather be overprepared than to need something basic and not have it. Her suitcase was packed before I had even started mine. All but the crate and her blanket fit into the bag I made for her, so I was happy.
The night before we left, we took her crate down (it’s one of those wire ones that fold up relatively compactly) and packed it in the truck. When everything was loaded the next morning and Sugar had been run around the backyard for quite a while, we called her inside to leave. Normally when we leave, she stays in her crate, so that spot is where she headed. The poor thing was so confused.
She did really well on the trip. We didn’t make it to the beach with her, but she did get to meet wild turkeys and go for a walk in an oak forest. She was also spoiled a bit by our respective parents (and by us). She had her first visit to a pet store, which went well, and her first trip up a flight of stairs, which did not go as well but worked out in the end.