Travelling with your family...
Yes, I known I have called this travelling with your family... but for many pet owners, especially dog lovers, their favorite pooch is part of the family... and when you are like us, childless, we call our dogs our children. Ok... they may be a bit old to be called children, our dogs are 3 and 4 (or 21 and 28 in human years), but they are still playful, a handful and spoilt.
Our pets came to us, born into a world without love... our first dog wandered into work, a timid puppy, already abused with scars and a broken leg. It was fortuitous, and meant to be, as we were in the process of moving out of a rental unit into our own home. Well of course we had to take 'Pup' (that's what we ended up calling her) to the RSPCA and our local veterinarian.
De-sexed, micro-chipped and with one leg heavily bandage, she was an adorable sight, one to melt the heart. The bandage seemed to be on her leg for ages, there was at least three vet visits to get the bandage changed, but Pup was able to get around quite happily, once she knew she was not allowed to chew on it. It continues to surprise me even today, that an animal who has obviously been abused at such a young age, could be so loving and trusting.
I love animals, having been lucky that my parents allowed us to have all sorts of animals as pets. When I left home, I was renting for quite a while, so I could not have a pet and it was always one of my wishes to have a pet dog of my very own.
Then I met my partner and whilst we both wanted to have a pet, there was not the opportunity as we rented and were often travelling. So it seemed like it was meant to be, when the very week we purchased our first home, a puppy walked into our lives.
In our new house, I was lucky that I could set myself up and work from home. It mean't however with a demanding workload, I could not devote as much time as Pup wanted, even though I was there, she wanted me to play with her all the time. So the thought of having a second dog to keep Pup company was realised when we were given the opportunity of adopting a new puppy that we named Sheba.
We knew that Pup would make a good mother, even though she was young herself, and she demonstrated that by being very caring, very doting, although she was not quite sure what was wrong with Sheba... Unfortunately we had to return Sheba on the third day, as she was becoming progressively sick, and sadly when the original owner took her to the vet, was advised that the puppy had to be put down.
After that sad episode, we knew that we had to adopt another pet so we went to our local RSPCA and low and behold, there was another pup, similar in colour and cute as a button. After the usual get to know each other, de-sexing, vaccination and micro-chip, we now had another member of the family... we named her Ro...
Acclimatising Your Pets to Your Vehicle
We currently spent most holiday periods and short breaks travelling around Australia, so we knew we needed to get our gals acclimatised to travelling in our 4 wheel drive... No problem, they loved travelling in the vehicle. Of course, we had to get them car restraint harnesses, which in themselves became an excitement trigger whenever we picked the harnesses up, as they automatically knew they were going for a ride. We did try having them ride in the rear of the vehicle, but they found it stressful and would throw up. So we thought we try letting them ride in the back seat. They loved it. We even raised the seat by purchasing a thick piece of firm foam, went to the thrift shop for a doona cover to cover the foam, and now they could comfortably see out of the vehicle window. We also brought a large spill proof dog bowl for their water.
Now we were ready for some practise runs taking our dogs out for longer and longer drives. For those wanting to know about pet friendly locations within a town and region, one of the best sources is the local government council, who should be able to advise you where you can walk your pets on and off leash, and the protocols and behaviours required of the owners. Usually this information can be found on their website, which is great for those planning a holiday with their pet dogs, as you can easily look online for those pet friendly parks and venues where you can walk your dogs. For those who live in Alice Springs, there are a number of dog friendly park and venues. We would often just drive a couple hundred miles out of town just to let the gals have a run. A couple of great spots popular with the locals include Ilparpa Claypans and Redbank Gorge in the Owen Springs Reserve.
Booking your dog accommodation
Now we were ready for the many fantastic adventures travelling around Australia with our pet dogs. Our longest trip so far was from Alice Springs, through Cooper Pedy, Peterborough, Broken Hill, Bourke to Sydney where we were staying with family and friends. Being our first big adventure we were pleasantly surprised to see how well everything went, the gals settled in to the travelling really well. We made sure of pit stops, although Ro would give us a good indication if she wanted a toilet break.
Whilst we stayed at pet friendly accommodation, most of them being camping sites, we did yearn to stay in a cabin occasionally, and not have to worry about pitching a tent. Then at one town we arrived really late in the afternoon and had trouble working out where we could stay with the dogs. We wanted to stay in a cabin and not have to pitch our tent, so at one place we came to, we asked if they would allow us to book a cabin instead of a camp site for us and our dogs. We said that the gals were well trained and well behaved, so we were pleasantly surprised and relieved when they said 'yes'. So, this was a lesson learnt that you can always ask, but don't always expect a positive response, as another place we asked, they said 'no', blaming bad behaviour by other people travelling with their pets.
With the rise in the number of tourist travelling with their pets, we have noticed that more accommodation providers are offering dog friendly options. The most important thing is to ensure that your pets are well behaved and obedient. Abide by all the rules set by the accommodation provider. It is the responsibility of dog owners to pick up after their pets and to ensure they do not bark excessively. A good traveller and their pets will be remembered by those you come in contact with, a bad traveller will only make it worst for all of us dog lovers who like to travel with their pets.