Archive for the ‘Day Trips’ Category

Great Travel Dogs are Born… and Made!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Dogs retained the wolve's skills of travel and adaption.

The dog comes from the wolf, as we just love to say, and the wolf is capable of many kinds of nomadism: linear, peripheral and random.  Wolves can live on the move for years before finding a home territory.  The domesticated dog, appearing around 5,000 years ago at the latest, was a ranger initially, setting up in an uneasy liminal space outside the campfire of human settlements.  Smart thing, the dog adapted beautifully to helping with the hunt, the herd and the general warmth and cheer of the campfire circle. Certainly, without the dog, there would have been no domestication of sheep, goats and cattle.

So the dog has those travel genes- all of them from the most couch oriented English Bull to the escape artist Jack Russell.  To help create a great  ravel dog, it must be stated, you have to be a traveler yourself.  I mean, if you don’t like to travel, just stop reading.  Your dog is probably perfectly happy in your house with you keeping things cozy.

But if you plan to travel with your dog, here are a few tips to awaken the natural travel spirit of the domestic dog.

Pollo con arroz para mi pequeño amigo, por favor.

Go out with your dog all the time.  Desensitize your dog to the randomness of each outing.  Allow strangers to pat and admire your dog, always  reassuring your pet that everything is fine and saying “hi” is fun.  Do not keep your dog away from noise and activity on your outings.  A confident, friendly dog is a good traveler.  (Raja began his adventure training attending hockey games.  Loud, chaotic and random, the hockey bleachers were the place to learn to be cool and calm.)

Help your dog maintain a safe haven even when out and about. Small dogs can retire to the calm interior of a well-built tote.  Large dogs can learn to face inward to their human companions when the social scene becomes too much.  Gently holding your big dog’s head with your hands over his ears and eyes can give him a sense of retirement so he can regroup on a busy street.  (Raja always selects a toy to have in his tote.  When he’s had enough, he ducks in and chews the toy in peace.)

Always have water and snacks. Your dog needs to know that an outing is an adventure, not a survivalist exercise.  (We think the collapsible bowls are the best.)

Be aware of heat and cold. Small dogs often need light jackets even at 40 degrees F.  Thin dogs always enjoy jackets as the weather dips.  Carrying an instantly activated sports cold pack can save the day when things heat up.  All dogs, regardless of size, can overheat easily, but they cannot cool down as easily as humans can.  (Traveling in hot places, Raja likes a frozen water bottle zipped into the inside pocket of his travel bag.  We ask hotels to freeze them for us overnight.)

If you are planning a big trip, practice first. Overnight stays in a hotel and extended day trips prepare your dog for wider travel.  If your dog will fly, practice using the airline flight bag for local trips extensively before stuffing him in it and flying away.  Travel in cargo is always a risk.  The Travel Dog Blog has no wisdom to share on cargo travel.  While many, many dogs travel safely in cargo, we would grow wings and fly before  attempting cargo travel ourselves.

Food is easy if your dog eats a canned or dry commercial meal, but, if your little gourmand is less accommodating, do research into
local foods available in travel zone.  (I freeze and last-minute pack one home cooked meal for Raja to eat when we land, and after that, I make friends with local sources to cook something for him.  Almost every single culture in the world can manage chicken and rice.)

Bring a toy and a favorite blanket. Sharing your suitcase just a little will help your dog find a home away from home in your campsite, hotel or camel caravan.

Training a Travel Dog is the art of teaching calm while encouraging curiosity, play and optimism- the cardinal traits of the domestic dog.

Make Yourself a Serious Pet Medical Emergency Kit

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Blog Fan Cyndi Bender, owner of the famous Duffy McDuff, writes:


“I have recently returned from Wisconsin where we attended a Scottie Rally and parade. It was a 4 day road trip with a total of 6 dogs. Three dogs rode in the same vehicle with Duffy. For the most part they all got along with the exception of one female who would growl and attack the males if they simply looked at her. We were almost back home when this female and a male got into a fight for no reason. One of the dogs sustained minor wounds, more like scrapes than puncture wounds. Anyway blood was drawn and we pulled over to discover that we did not carry a first aid kit amongst us. It got me to thinking that if anyone is active with their dogs outside of their home they should carry a first aid kit. Have you covered this in the blog?”

Good idea Cyndi!  We did this once, but not as thoroughly.  Assisted by Three Rivers Veterinary Clinic in Madison , New Jersey, we recommend the following in every pet  travel medical kit:

4 oz. Eye and Skin Wash or saline solution

artificial tear gel for after eye wash

mild grease-cutting  dish washing liquid to wash animal after skin contamination (pesticides, etc.)

muzzle to protect against fear inspired biting

non perishable can of your pet’s favorite wet food

cold pack (breakable cold sports packs are best)

styptic pencil or styptic powder for small bleeds

thermometer with case

4″ x 4 yd. flexible, cohesive, stretchable  gauze wrap

alcohol prep pads

2″ x 2″ and 3″ x 3″ sterile pads

gauze pads

two 5″ x 9″ trauma pads fpr comperssion

1″ x 2 yard adhesive tape

3 ply towels

iodine solition

hydrocortisone cream

tripple antibiotic intment

cotton swabs and cotton balls

latex or vinyl gloves

1 pair scissors

4″ plastic forceps or tweezers

hand wipes

antiseptic wipes

hydrogen peroxide, 3 % to induce vomiting

turkey baster to administer the hydrogen peroxide

blanket that can douoble as a pet sling carrier

Yes, this is a lot of gear, and you don’t need all this if you plan to shop the glitzy stores or visit a well equipped friend, but, if you plan on travel where you are n your onw, nar or far, just imagine the uses you could find for all this in a pinch.  So many thanks to Cyndi and Duffy!

Raja and I are going on the road in a couple of days to the Canine Performance Events National Championships in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  We’ll link up with former blog- featured canine athletes, Chloe (Maltipoo), Skamp (mini Aussie), Cara, CT, and Cy (Shih Tzu) and be there on site to film and record how this awesomechallenge of champions goes!  Until then, everybody please root for our athletes!

Raja & The LA Times Festival of Books: 100% Dog Friendly

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

With author Dennis Kormick, children's pet book author.

Last week, Raja attended the LA Times Festival of Books on the gorgeous University of Southern California Campus. The venue has changed locations from previous years. Some bibliophiles were critical of the new location, but we guess that meant they had to drive further through the LA urban sprawl. We loved it! (Either way, we have to fly across the USA to get there.) The campus has one of the most livable and enormous central quads of any school in the US. The booths and exhibition stages were laid out in elegant little pavilions and the attendance was huge (yes, the exit from the freeway was seriously backed up!). AND, best of all, the event is entirely dog friendly, with well-behaved, sociable dogs strolling throughout! Some people set up camp on a blanket on the lawn and took their time to stroll the show.

Helping cartoonist Leigh Rubin sell more books!

Raja attended as an author at large, making his appointments with book store owners and generally greeting the fans. But he has his critical thoughts.

Firstly, there was no specific pet books section. Considering how many pet owners attended, a pet section could have been a big draw. Secondly, zoning for the different types of booths could have been done more strategically, so that artisan presses didn’t compete with Disney Classics. Thirdly, if you go next year, pack a picnic.

What began as a commercial opportunity for book lovers to find book sellers has become big business commercial over the years. Major corporate sponsors like Target give the fair its polish, but they also tend to redirect buying toward the licensed products and the TV and film stars’ products. There’s nothing wrong with this type of entertainment arrangement, as long as everybody knows they are being heavily directed toward the biggest advertisers’ products. Of course there were not only Hollywood celebrities. Pico Iyer, possibly the best contemporary travel writer, was there for a signing.

Book fans, please look for Raja signing his book The Journey of the Shih Tzu at the New York Book Expo in the Jacob Javits Center in New York City on Wednesday, May 25th between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. He’s so excited he can’t sleep.

Day Trips: Harvest Festivals Welcome Dogs

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

As we always say, “Happy Travels, Near and Far” and sometimes “far” can mean “far enough outside of your beaten path.”  One of the pleasures of the end of summer is that we all can vicariously participate in the traditional harvest festivities of local farm country beginning in the final weekend of August and extending straight through Octoberfest.  Usually these venues work out well for travel dogs because events are hosted outside and are defined by a sort of jolly relaxation.  Nobody’s too worried about maintaining the fading petunias any more. 

Raja recently visited a 4H Fair; the Woodstock, NY farm festival and he hopes to trot through a few vineyards next month. (Concerning vineyards, you do know that grapes are not edible for dogs, right?  No natural raisins either.  Just amble through, don’t nibble.) 

Dogs who visit fairs with animal exhibits need to act like guests.  We mean, if your dog is not scheduled to run amok for a scheduled educational program, then no running amok.  Walking sedately on leash will attract patters.  Guardians of the sheep and rabbit houses must be asked before your dog can enter.  Raja was not allowed in the sheep house because the official said, “Dogs are natural herders; he will harass the sheep.” which is just SO likely, right?  Well, that demonstrates an egregious lack of knowledge about the genetics of Shih Tzu (which Raja’s upcoming book hopes to rectify).  BUT, he was welcomed in the rabbit house and invited to meet the bunnies, even though he actually was a little shy, himself. 

He enjoyed personifying a bunny.  (Who knows why?)  And he loved watching the Service Dog Skill Demonstration from a prickly seat on a bale of hay.  Of course, he enjoyed seeing the fair’s prize tomato, radish and enormous blue potato.  Impressive!  Kudos to the 13-year-old who did the lovely pastel of the Angora goat. 

At the Woodstock Farm Festival there were more Shih Tzu dogs per square yard than we have ever seen.  I don’t know how to explain this.  The second most common dog was the Black Lab.  Who knows why?  But everybody loved all the dogs and everybody patted them and the produce was awesome, organic, enormous and tasty. 

Since late summer, or Indian Summer as it has been called (whatever that means) is usually dully sweltering mid-day, be sure to take water and portable bowl.  Take a water bottle for yourself too and leave room for funnel cake, 20 grain bread and local honey comb. (Sure, a nibble for puppy too is OK.)