By Nancy Schlehuser
As with humans, every dog is different, so I can only tell you what we have experienced in traveling with our dogs. The one thing that all three of our Pyrs have had in common is their love for travel. With a few exceptions, they have been great travelers, which is a good thing since their owners have spent much of their time enjoying the road.
I’ll start with some basics. Make sure you have a good supply of water. In particular, bring a solid dog bowl that will not scoot or turn over so that you can have water for them at all times. Bring their own dog food and treats. This is very important. You don’t know what local stores at your destination will carry. A vacation isn’t the time to change your Pyr’s diet.
Stock up on plastic bags or pooper scoopers. It is rude to leave messes behind, and some places require pick up. It is worth the effort to pick up AAA travel guides in advance. They are very helpful because they show which motels allow dogs and, more importantly, up to what size. In general, La Quinta is Pyr- friendly as is Red Roof Inn although I think the rooms at most Red Roof Inns are smaller, which matters when you are sharing it with your Pyrs. When packing, don’t forget the leashes!
If you have never traveled long distances with your dog(s), you may not know what to expect. Start small. Prepare for anything. We’ve learned that over the years. Even the little things that should be simple sometimes are not.
We’ve adopted our third Pyr, Sophie, and still have Zeke, our second Pyr. We’ve gone on only one trip (to Florida) with Sophie, but Zeke has traveled extensively as did Alaska, our first Pyr, who passed away last year. True of all three dogs: they don’t like to do their business on the leash. Be patient! It will happen; it just might not happen as you want.
Up until the last few years, Alaska was very predictable. She would not do anything for two and a half days. You read it right: she held it for two and a half days. After that, she was fine. Zeke will water the trees and bushes but won’t do anything else. He also is predictable. He would not poop for two days.
On good days, he would wake one of us that morning, but many times we just had to take him for a long, long walk. Otherwise, later in the day he would try to dig a hole in the floor of the van. That’s when we knew we had to get off the road fast. Recognize the signals. As I said, Zeke tries to dig a hole; Alaska would get excited and pace in circles; and Sophie pants. Like human children, your Pyrs will tell you when they need something. Know how to listen to them.
Pack so that you make sure you leave plenty of room for them. We have a van with “stow & go” seats, and we stow those middle seats to give the dogs more room and so they can be closer to us. Got an extra suitcase but no place to put it? Leave it instead of cramping the space for your dog. You don’t need the extra clothes as much as your Pyr needs the space. Nothing is worse than a Pyr who can’t settle down and get comfortable.
Once, traveling with only Alaska, she wouldn’t lay down. She stood for four hours of driving time. At that time, we didn’t have a console between our seats; we had the net bag. When we removed that, Alaska happily laid down with her head between the seats. She just wanted to be closer to her people.
Zeke is fairly easy. He either lies down or parks his rear on the back seat. That way he can be more comfortable than standing and still look out the window. Zeke loves to look out the window. However, if for a short time we have three people on the back seat, he picks a lap to sit on.
Take the time to introduce your dog(s) to motel employees. Let them know that they are harmless but protective. I don’t think we have ever stayed in a motel whose staff didn’t love our dogs. If you are staying in one spot for more than a day, get acquainted with the head housekeeper. Keep that person informed on when the dogs will be in the room alone. Try, if possible, to arrange a time when you will be out walking with the dogs so that the room can be cleaned.
Traveling in hot weather can be a real problem, and it requires you to plan ahead for meals. Last summer, we took Alaska and Zeke and two granddaughters to Colorado for a family reunion. We knew it would be hot on the way there but expected cooler weather in Colorado. It was only cool for the three days we were in the Rockies. It was so hot on the way out that we kept the car running with the air conditioning on whenever we stopped to eat and left the dogs inside. Steve eats really fast which meant that he was the first one back to the car to turn off the engine, roll down the windows, and walk the dogs. Now that we have Sophie, I’m not sure we could do that — she would probably figure out how to drive the car!
I hope this helps you enjoy adventures with your Pyr! Happy traveling!