Responsible Pet Travel NASCAR Raceway Style
We All Love Our Pets
We all love them and they are legitimate members of our families, often going wherever we go, even on vacations. Sometimes, it's a matter of necessity -- your trip is going to be for a number of weeks and your dog or cat are not candidates for boarding. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to remember that pets have special travel requirements.
Travel is stressful for pets, as they are creatures of habit, sticklers for routine, and prone to motion sickness and anxiety when traveling. However, with proper pre-trip planning you can make this experience a pleasant one for both your family and your pet.
Every year, thousands of NASCAR fans travel great distances to watch the races, many of them traveling with their pets. To illustrate some of the pitfalls in pet travel, I've included a true NASCAR "pet adventure" that taught us some big lessons in responsible pet owner travel.
Travel Requirements for Pets
- Check to make sure your destination(s) allow pets
- Schedule a pre-trip veterinary check-up
- Make sure that the pet's collar includes proper and updated vaccination tags and identification information
- Be sure that your pet is on a leash whenever they are outside of your vehicle
- Take enough food and water, not only for the ride but also for the entire trip. This is not time to introduce new foods or new brands of pet food.
- If you already know that your pet is prone to motion sickness -- prior to the trip, start taking them on short car rides to make them less stressed.
- If that doesn't work, discuss with your vet about the options of medication to alleviate the problem
- Make sure your pet's ID tag is securely attached to it's collar in case it should get lost.
- On the underside of the collar -- put your pet's name and your phone number in permanent ink, should it get lost and lose it's pet ID tag.
The Gentle Giant Who Adopted Us
Fondly remembering my grandmother's pet Chihuahua, so small that she was carried around in Gram's purse wherever she went - I answered an add ran by a local dog breeder. The gentleman met me halfway to our farm, at the local convenience store, with a wooden crate of puppies of various breeds on the back of his pickup. He, of course, failed to mention on the phone, that he no longer had any Chihuahua's.
The pups were cute but all over-priced. As I chatted with this pleasant, but crafty man, it didn't take long for him to ascertain that we lived on the last farm on a dirt road with a number of ponds - all of which were well known to locals, as a prime fishing spots. Thus, came the usual inquiry, of "Can I bring my boys out to fish?" It was a little hard to say no this single father of three little boys, when their little faces were eagerly pleading from the back window of the truck.
The next day, he showed up with fishing gear and boys and more. Chained on the back of his pickup was a fawn Great Dane. She was so skinny, you could see every rib and every bone along her spine. By his definition, she was supposedly "well trained."
I guess it was my fault for agreeing to him letting her loose to run. Run, she did, right for me! She was so happy to see me that she stood on her hind legs, front paws on my shoulders and twirled me around like a long lost dance partner. Though underweight, she was the taller of the two of us. There was no way I could escape the slobbery wet kisses, because I was too busy trying to maintain my balance. All I could think of at the time, was that somehow I was now living a Marmaduke cartoon.
Safe Pet Car Travel Tips
While in a moving vehicle, your pet should be:
- Fastened to a canine specific seat belt; or in a
- Pet crate
The reasons for this are many:
- Unsecured pets are a danger to not only the driver, but passengers and others on the road (pets suddenly jumping on the driver, or under their feet have caused many accidents);
- Unsecured pets, in an accident situation can get out of the vehicle, run into traffic, and possibly cause a secondary accident;
- Additionally, unsecured pets in an accident situation can become frightened and aggressive with rescue personnel, hampering and delaying needed medical attention that could save your life or that of a loved one;
- Also, all pets should be restrained in the back seat to avoid them coming into contact with a deployed airbag.
Starved for Love and Attention
It turned out that "Queenie" was a rescued Great Dane. The breeder was trying to find a good home for her. By the time he told her sad life story of being locked the basement day and night until rescued - I was completely aware that this animal breeder wasn't just an avid angler. He was desperately looking for a home for this dog. Before he left, needless to say, we agreed that she could stay "temporarily."
Well, we may have had seven hundred acres, but we only lived in a 25' x 25' cabin. The dog could hardly turn around in some rooms. She'd never lived outdoors and as thin as she was, she'd never survive outdoors even for a night.
Queenie stood taller than our kitchen stove top, and taller than the kitchen sink. She was so starved for love, that if I got up to do anything, even go to the bathroom, she would not only walk with me, she would lean on me the entire trip. Queenie just simply could not bear to be alone!
I would soon find out that just stepping outside to take out the trash or feed the chickens without her, was to court trouble. Big dog, spells big trouble! Desperate to be with me, she would chew anything in sight in her efforts to get outside to be with me.
Later, we would discover that the only place you could safely secure her, was in your car, truck, or van. Apparently, she was an avid traveler and getting in the car translated in her mind -- an exciting road trip. Indeed, if you left the car windows down when she was outside, she would crawl through the window and be waiting to go! Then, you would have to explain to her that she didn't have a driver's license, as invariably you would find her behind the steering wheel.
Head Out the Window and Ears Flapping in the Breeze
No matter how much your dog loves to hang it's head out the window of a moving vehicle -- this is not a safe or responsible pet owner thing to allow:
- Debris and road litter can fly into your pet's face and cause serious damage;
- Road dirt can damage their eyes;
- Your pet is not truly secured inside the vehicle, if it is up in the window area;
- Your pet can accidentally leap out the window or fall out the window.
As anyone who has ever owned a Great Dane knows, they earn the nickname, "Gentle Giants" and are perhaps one of the most loving dog breeds on the planet. Queenie was no exception in this department. Soon despite all of our initial objections, she wormed her way into being a permanent member of our family.
When you love someone, even a pet, you accept his or her quirks. She didn't exactly give us a choice on this one. Her paranoia about being left alone exhibited itself even in very short abandonment's. Even after she had settled in to being a full fledged member of our family, and began to feel more secure, she would still go crazy if she wasn't with us. Soon, we just gave in - wherever we went, she went.
We had an old camper type van. It was the kind with a back bunk bed, Captain's seats. It was large and roomy that suited us well, considering we had to take a Great Dane everywhere we went. She'd sit in the passenger Captain's chair, quite like a person, with her rump in the seat, feet on the floor - looking out the window, clearly enjoying every ride.
This of course, was very hilarious to others on the road. We were very popular with both children and adults. You got used to being a traveling circus act. She was a great conversation piece, who loved every moment of the extra attention.
Travel With Dogs
Pet Travel Pitfalls
We often traveled from West Virginia to Florida to visit our granddaughter and it was on one of these trips that we had one of our "Queenie" adventures. This is where we learned first hand the pitfalls of traveling with a pet on vacation.
My husband, being a NASCAR fan, decided to break up the long drive, by stopping at Darlington Raceway, in South Carolina, for a few hours to take in the race. We were careful to find a place to park for these several hours that was in a heavily shaded area. We parked in an RV area where there were many campers, trailers, etc.
As you read this, keep in mind, that our van was equipped with a ceiling fan/air conditioning system that was run by an outside auxiliary generator and we left it on for the duration of the race. The back of the van was equipped with a folded out full bed, the roomy floor had a five-gallon automatic pet watering dish and an automatic food dish. We truly believed we were being very responsible
Also, remember the van was the only place we could leave her, that she felt safe. Prior to this trip, we had tried both boarding her (only to have her grieve so much, the vet refused to board her a second time) and having her stay with trusted friends (who still loved us but declined to try again). Therefore, we left for the race, thinking this was a nice break in our long trip and she was absolutely safe. We also felt secure in the knowledge that Queenie with air conditioning, had it better than we fans did, in the South Carolina heat.
Someone Stole Our Dog!
After the race, you can imagine our surprise, to find our van windows broken into, air conditioning still running full blast, and our dog gone! Campers nearby, of course, knew nothing. The cop directing traffic nearby saw nothing.
Immediately behind the shaded area of parking, was a swampy treed area that my husband proceed to search for Queenie. Meanwhile, I searched and interviewed the crowded camping area for anyone who had seen anything of our dog or the break-in to our van. Of course, no one saw "anything."
Certain, our dog was stolen, we were beside ourselves with anger and disbelief and worry. The longer we searched, the more people left the area, the traffic having thinned out with the race being over. It was then, that I found a tiny note on the ground near our van. The wrinkled and muddy note read, "Sorry I broke into your van, but I love animals so much that I could not leave that poor dog sitting in the van in this heat! Shame on you! If you want your dog, I'm taking her to the SPCA."
Insult Added To Injury
This isn't the end of this tale of woe. Either my husband or the dog, somehow picked up poison ivy during this little escapade. Sleeping three to the king sized bed (us and the dog) at the motel that night -- I awoke, itching in all sorts of places you would not want to scratch. I had a several week reminder of all the fun we had in Darlington.
Overwrought that night, I dreamed the whole debacle had been reported in our hometown newspaper. The headline was, "Queen Samantha of the Chesapeake arrested at Darlington International Speedway" - a dream and an adventure I'm not likely to ever forget.
The moral of the story, of course, is -- don't leave your pets unattended when traveling, even in an air conditioned van, camper, or RV -- because you just never know what can happen.
Headline: Queenie Arrested!
By this time, it was nearly evening and we quickly beat it to the nearest animal shelter, fearing that they were closed. They were open, but didn't have our dog. Just as we were leaving, we spotted a local police officer and inquired about the possibility of there being another animal shelter. Yes, there was, but he assured us our Great Dane wasn't there, because he knew exactly where she was!
We followed him just down the road to the local prison and waited for an inmate to bring her out. Seems she was too large for the local kennel. When she spotted us, she ran so fast, the inmate couldn't keep up, nor could he let go. We all watched in horror as the poor man was yanked across the parking lot on his stomach.
Our ordeal didn't end there, because we got to pay a $125.00 fine for the privilege of returning our dog. By the time we got back on the road, we were all exhausted, hot and dirty. We drove only five down the interstate before stopping for the night at a motel.
NASCAR Races and Traveling Pet Options
Even though we thought we were being responsible pet owners at the time of this trip, by leaving our pet securely in an air conditioned environment -- we have now adopted a different approach to handling any stops at race tracks, theme parks, etc. We now pre-arrange pet day care for our canine family members, it's easier on us and on them.
For those of you who may be planning to include a stop at a NASCAR race on the way to or from your vacation destination, here are some options for pet day care:
Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA (1) Moroz Sharon DVM, 11500 Tara Boulevard, Hampton, GA 30228, (770) 472-8610; (2) Animal Amour Pet Care Center, 11500 Tara Boulevard, Lovejoy, GA 30250, (770) 472-8610.
Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA (1) Coventry Pet Resort, 412 Tennessee St., Redlands, CA 92373, (909) 583-2480; (2) Regency Pet Hotel, 10917 Cherry Avenue, Fontana, CA 92337, (909) 829-0626.
Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN (1) Jones Animal Hospital, 603 Volunteer Parkway 1, Bristol, TN 37620, (423) 968-7011; (2) Ferguson Animal Hospital, 636 Anderson Street, Bristol, TN 37620, (423) 764-8335.
Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL (1) Karen's Pet Grooming Boarding, 2419 W Jefferson Street, Joliet, IL 60435, (815) 730-6811; (2) Timberline Animal Hospital, 950 Ne Frontage Road, Joliet, IL 60431, (815) 729-1555.
Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC (1) Bar C Pet Grooming, 505 Old Florence Road, Darlington, SC 29532, (843) 395-0750; (2)Anderson Animnal Hospital, 1015 14th Street, Hartsville, SC 29550, (843) 332-3011;
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL (1) Groomingtails Pet Resort & Spa, 307 Seabreeze Boulevard, Daytona Beach, FL 32118, (386) 258-7297); (2) Tomoka Pines Veterinary Hospital, 750 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, (386) 672-3137.
Dover International Speedway, Dover, DE (1) Best Boarding Kennel,682 Bison Road, Dover, DE 19904, (302) 697-2002; (2) Animal Inn, 2308 Seeneytown Road, Dover, DE 19904, (302) 653-5560.
Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, FL (1) Advanced Pet Care Center, 600 English Avenue, Homestead, FL 33030, (305) 248-6536; (2) Homestead Animal Hospital,1250 N Flagler Avenue, Homestead, FL 33030, (305) 247-3845.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN (1)Noah's Westside Animal Hospital, 5901 Crawfordsville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46224, (317) 244-7651; (2) Keystone Pet Hospital, 4410 N Keystone Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46205, (317) 546-2476.
Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA (1) Show Time Dog & Cat, 529 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 939-0117; (2) Casey's Place, 690 1st Street West, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 939-1928.
Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS (1) Luv Dogs, 2416 South 34th Street, Kansas City, KS 66106 (913) 789-7810; (2) Stewarts Lake Kennels,8700 Kansas Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66111, (913) 334-0974.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV (1) Pet Medical Center, 9140 W. Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89117,(702) 228-4000; (2) Doggies Oasis Day Care, 2924 Lake East Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89117, (702) 734-3647.
Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, NC (1) Pampered Pets, 2010 Wilshire Court, Concord, NC 28025, (704) 784-5606; (2) Groom Room, 10002 Pioneer Mill Road, Concord, NC 28025, (704) 455-3533.
Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA (1) Shadetree Kennels, 1365 Chatham Road, Martinsville, VA 24112, (276) 632-4969; (2) King's Pet-Sitting Service, 1939 Stultz Road, Martinsville, VA 24112, (276) 632-8271.
Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI (1) Hollywood Pets, 144 N Main Street, Brooklyn, MI 49230, (517) 592-6699; (2) Paws N Wiskers Resort, 7887 Riverside Road, Brooklyn, MI 49230, (517) 592-6552.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudin, NH (1) Von Jorro Warrendale Petcare, 44 Coaster Road, Loudon, NH 03307, (603) 783-0011; (2) At Your Paws Pet Sitting, Box 4035, Concord, NH 03302, (603) 774-2286.
Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, AZ (1) Estrella Animal Hospital, 10865 W. Indian School Road, Avondale, AZ 85392, (623) 877-1088; (2) Yerbrier Kennel, 5447 South El Mirage Road, Avondale, AZ 85323, (623) 925-1350.
Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA (1) A Dog Gone Cute, Long Pond, PA 18334, (570) 646-9109; (2) Animal Hospital of Mt. Pocono, Pocono Lake, PA 18347, (570) 646-6607.
Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA (1) Courthouse Road Animal Hospital, 3530 S. Courthouse Road, Richmond, VA 23236 (405) 745-2323; (2) Stay 'n Play Pet Care, 730 Research Road B, Richnond, VA 23236 (804) 379-9700.
Talledaga Super Speedway, Talledaga, AL (1) Doggie Day Spa, 218 Battle Street West, Talladega, AL 35160, (256) 362-4850; (2) Petite Pets & Grooming, 106 Johnson Avenue South, Talladega, AL 35160, (866) 383-7180.
Texas Motor Speedway, Ft. Worth, TX (1) American Pet Spa & Resort, 8827 Highway 377, Argyle, TX 76226, (940) 464-3300; (2) Claws Paws & Jaws, 500 Aurora Drive, Euless, TX 76102, (817) 692-4404.
Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY (1) Rio Vista Veterinary Hospital, (607) 962-0931; (2) Lake Road Animal Hospital, 3605 Lake Road, Horseheads, NY 14845, (607) 733-6503.