Traveling Dog Lady

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Southern Dog Returns to His Roots #travelwithdogs

Hello readers, from hot, sunny South Carolina where Charlie Brown and I have just arrived after a two-day road trip. I'm sorry I have not written in a long time, but since the last time I wrote a blog post, I decided to buy a home in South Carolina, with the intention of eventually moving here. It has been a very hectic process, with lots of traveling back and forth, and complicated technicalities. That kept me from blogging, but I have been posting on Facebook and Instagram, so I hope you've been following along over there! 

Charlie in the Subaru

We left Cooper, Petey, Cali, Tux and Newman in Massachusetts with our trusted pet sitter, extraordinaire, Matt -- along with a few extra people as backup!

The drive through New York City, NJ, PA, MD and VA was pretty uneventful. We had done a drive that long together before, and I wanted to get past those cities during Day One, so we were not stuck in Friday traffic in any of those locations.

From last year's road trip to PA!

Well, unfortunately, our Motel 6 that I had booked ahead of time was not exactly ideal for a woman traveling alone with a dog. First of all, I wanted to get there before dark, and that did not happen. When I finally found the motel (it was not easy to find) it was in a pretty sketchy area all under construction. I had called the day before and specifically asked if the parking lot was lit up, was it safe for a woman traveling alone, and will there be a good area for me to walk my dog? The clerk told me "yes" to all three questions, but that was far from accurate once I got there on the scene and saw for myself.

We arrived to a completely DARK parking lot. Not one light on, and not even a sign to indicate where the entrance to the motel was. In fact, the entrance almost looked like a rehab hospital or something! There were at least half a dozen uniformed security guards (later I found out they were police), and I was totally confused. Since there was nobody else around, in a car, I chose to park in one of the SEVENTEEN handicapped-designated spots, just for the five minutes it would take to check-in to the motel. I left Charlie in the car, and no sooner did I click the lock on my key fob, when some guy who was loitering in the parking lot said, "Hey! [are]You handicapped????!" To which I replied, "No, but it's dark, and I'm just running in for a minute." He said, "You can't park there. That's handicapped."  AYKMRN? As if there are 16 other handicapped drivers lining up to get a space at Deserted Motel Dump? Honestly. I would NEVER take a handicapped space under normal circumstances. These were anything but.

I get into the motel lobby and a woman asks if she can help me. "Yes, I have a reservation. And boy am I glad to see THESE guys!" (and I point to an officer, standing right next to me). I told her there are no lights on outside, it's pitch black, and some guy just yelled at me about parking in handicapped parking. She said, "Oh him. He lives here. Just ignore him."  Oh, great. I am at a motel that people live at. Sigh.

She then proceeds to tell an associate to turn on the outside lights, while explaining to me that they had a power failure during the afternoon, and the police are on site making sure all the rooms, elevators and hallway are safe. I think she could see that this made me more than uncomfortable, because she quickly checked me in, and then walked outside with me. She helped me walk Charlie, then I re-parked my car in what turned out to be a shaded spot (I noticed the next morning), and then helped me unload our luggage. Two police officers rode up to the room in the elevator with me, and after that, I didn't leave my room until daylight. I figured, if Charlie needed to relieve himself, I'd let him do it in the room and I'd clean it up the best I could. Our room was really nice, though. And I was happy for that. Motel 6 is pet-friendly, no weight or breed restrictions, no extra fee for pets, and only $69 a night! I guess I can't complain. Once we walked around in the morning, it seemed safe "enough". Charlie even barked ferociously at a dude who was in the parking lot, so he's good protection. I whispered, "Good dog!" once the guy was out of earshot (after apologizing, on the face of it, but secretly yelling "wooo-hooooo!" in my head).  [By the way, this is NOT a sponsored post.]

This room is ok, Mom!
Charlie, in the Motel 6 room

One thing is for sure, we will not be staying there on the way back to Mass.!! If it were not for that lady, who told me she had 20 years in law enforcement under her belt, I would have high-tailed it out of there and slept in my car that night, or found another pet-friendly hotel!

The next day, from Virginia to SC was pretty boring. It's just one, long road (I-95) with not much happening. I had split the trip into equal portions by number of hours. 7 1/2 hours each day, give or take, including stops for gas, food, and rest.

We found some really pretty service areas in North Carolina, and they have great walking trails for dogs, including poop-bag stations and paths. Very safe, and easy to deal with.

I arrived at the house just as it was getting dark Friday night. My GPS took me through some corn fields which added a good hour to the trip. Really, Siri?! Won't make that mistake again. Honestly, I don't know what she was thinking [wink]. If it had not been broad daylight, I would have been flipping out driving through those areas. It was quite beautiful, and maybe it was one of those "meant to be" things, where you get to see the gorgeous countryside, even though it takes an extra hour. Just trying to see the silver lining in that cloud!

Yes, I am on the new couch.

We've been here almost a week.  It's taken Charlie almost this long to adjust to being an "only". I hadn't thought that he would get depressed, missing the two dogs and three cats that he usually fights with. But I guess that's "kids" for you!

Lemme in!
Not sure I like being an "only". I'll just stay really close by.
Well, all right, maybe it's not THAT bad. Don't have to share the couch.

Matt, my pet sitter, has been sending me texts, photos and videos of the other pets.  Last night we Skyped so I could see them in action! I miss them so much. In hindsight, and I was warned by a good friend, I realize leaving the rest of them at home was not good for either me or Charlie, emotionally. However, Matt takes really good care of them, and they LOVE him so much. He even told me that Cooper sleeps by the door, and Petey curls up with Matt, when they go to bed at night. Places, everybody! That's where they sleep when I'm home. Hey! Wait a minute! So, he's a stand-in, and it doesn't really matter to them WHO it is, as long as a human is there??? LOL!

Cooper and me, Skyping. I'm saying, "Coooop!"

Charlie and I have bonded, and it's been nice for us. However, it's been hard when I have to go out on errands, or to socialize. I feel badly leaving him alone in the house. I bought him two toys, and he runs around the house with them in his mouth. I'll look over and find him "cuddling" with a toy. Awwwww.

Thanks for the hedgehob, Mom!

It's ok, I'll just stare at this wall.

This one has TWO squeakers! 

The week has been insane with maintenance people coming to the house every five minutes, and lots of errands, shopping and appointments, trying to get the house set up. My plan is to move here permanently, eventually... but not immediately.

I know this will sound weird, but it feels like I lived here in a past life or something. I just immediately feel right at home, with a few exceptions. I know how to get to everything. Yes, I will admit it is laid out in such a way that it is easy... but it's something more than that. A feeling like I have been here before (well, I mean, I HAVE been here a few times... but you know what I mean! I think.)

Charlie, himself being from Tennessee originally, seems to not mind the heat and humidity. I feel like he's my southern dog who has returned to his roots, sort of. Tennessee isn't THAT far away.

Did you say Tennessee is not that far away?!

The sand is nice, but don't make me go in the water!

This weekend, I have visitors coming, so that will be fun. We are just a five-minute drive to the beach. And the beach itself is very similar to our "old beach" on Cape Cod. So much so, that I sometimes look around and go, "Oh yeah.... I'm in South Carolina." Like, as if I forgot for a minute. It's so similar. I think I love that part most of all.

Until next time.....


Friday, April 13, 2018

L is for Lady Kitty #AtoZChallenge

Continuing in the theme of yesterday's post for the letter "K", today's post is devoted exclusively to the only other female living in my house.... Lady Kitty!

Lady Kitty is Cali's nickname. G named her Lady Kitty, precisely for the reason mentioned above. She is the only female pet. The only other "lady" around here other than me! LOL

I sing a song to her all the time:  "Lady Kitty, She's so pretty, She's my Lady Kitty!"

I always say, "HI LADY KITTY!" whenever I see her. Even if I just saw her five minutes ago. I love her so much. She is SO beautiful, and just a lovely little friendly feline.

When I call her, I usually use her "real" name, Cali, and she usually comes running.... but not always.

Cali.....(I mean, Lady Kitty!) and Newman follow me on my dog walks. Tux does not participate. Don't worry, we live on a dead-end dirt road and there's no traffic. We walk up and down the dirt road, and the cats walk with us. They are so funny.

K is for Kitties #AtoZChallenge

Let me tell you about my kitties!

Oh my, I have had so many cats. So many, many, many cats.

It all started out with Nigel. He was a feral manx that showed up at my childhood home one day. We kept him for a while, but... well, there's a long story. The short version is, I hugged the cat and he scratched me so badly that I almost lost my eye. Some day I'll tell the whole story, but not in this post.



There was a second cat that came along and lived with us, at the same time as Nigel. Her name was Chi-Chi.

Chi-Chi was my first experience with pet loss and grief. Well, I guess Nigel was, but his departure was so confusing, I never really thought of it as loss and grief.

Those two cats would, I did not know until decades later, be the catalysts (yeah, I wrote CATalysts) that started this whole thing. THIS whole thing.

Chi-Chi had a few litters of kittens. We always managed to give them away, free, with no problems. This was the 1960s and people didn't really spay or neuter then.
After Nigel and Chi-Chi, the order of who came next is hard for me to remember. I think the next cat was Sylvester (no pictures!), and after him Slippers (aka "Hendrix" don't ask!). 



When I moved out of my parents' house, the saga continued. There was a gray feral cat that had no name. He was beautiful, but he wouldn't stay put. I never did find out what happened to him. He was gorgeous.

Then, I had Idgy and Ratsky when I lived in Princeton (Mass.)

Filkin and Charlie (and Timba the dog in the background!
After that, I got Love Kitty, Filkin and Charlie. Then, all the Long View Farm cats came along. There were 20+/- of those, and most of them didn't have names. We kept three when we left the Farm: Mr. Kitty, Maggie and Louise.  Love Kitty, Filkin and Charlie, of course were still with me at the time, too; and someone "dumped" an orange cat at our house that we also ended up keeping for many years. We named him Pointy, 'cause he had the pointiest nose we'd ever seen on a cat!

So, we lived in this little, tiny house with 7 cats, one dog, and two humans! It was pretty crazy.

Love Kitty

Filkin (daughter of Love Kitty)
Pointy. He was "dumped" at our house, and became one of our favorite cats.

Mr. Kitty! One of my all-time favorite cats. He was just an amazing creature

Believe it or not, when the last of those cats died (Maggie), I went two years without any cats. For the first, and only, time in my life... I had NO cats!!  It was weird!

G started bugging me to get a cat. I've never been able to buy just one of anything, so, I adopted THREE kittens at the same time. "Hey, I'll take three, please!" Well, you know what they say: Cats are like potato chips, you can't have just one!
Cali and Tux on the day I adopted them

Cali, Tux and Newman are still with me today, and I love them so much, I can't even put it into words. They entertain me and make me smile every day.

Homely, scrawny Newman on the day I adopted him!

Newman and Tux go paw to paw!

Bonus! One of my cats (can't remember who!) had a litter of kittens. I thought it'd be a great idea to give one of them to my mother as a gift. Please, don't give people an animal as a gift. What a dumb idea! This cat ended up with someone else in the neighborhood. I had named her Patches. She looks remarkably like my current cat, Cali.

So, K is for Kitties. Give yours a hug today!  But don't get scratched!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

J is for Jumping #AtoZChallenge

There are two different kinds of jumping for dogs.

There's the funny, or fun, kind. And there's the "stop jumping!" kind.

My new dog, Petey, does both. He is hilarious when he jumps WAY up off the ground, at least 5 feet. Like a circus act, or something. One of my previous dogs, Hobie, used to do that, too. Only he was a big dog! People used to say he did "little dog tricks".

This is where jumping is allowed! Play time!

When I was recuperating from a recent medical condition, a friend came to visit. I put the dogs outside so they wouldn't bug her, and so that I didn't have to deal with them in my condition. I wasn't allowed to lift anything bigger than a carton of milk, so to hold back three dogs was simply a no-no.

Anyway, Petey was outside on the back porch, and wanted to come in to be with us. He started jumping at the back door, repeatedly. He was jumping so high -- like I said, about 5 feet in the air! We were laughing so hard, and I had to be careful because I had had abdominal surgery so "busting a gut" might have been a real possibility!

But sometimes, Petey and Cooper (not Charlie, thank goodness -- he's such a GOOD BOY!), will jump on people who come to visit. They also jump on me when I come home after being out somewhere. It's not a good habit for a dog to be in, especially one like Cooper who has "the claw" (he only has one front leg, as you probably know).

There are a number of ways to use body blocking to avoid the jumper dog. The easiest one is to turn your back or turn to the side each time the dog jumps. Sometimes this doesn't really work, though. The dog just waits for you to face him again and jumps again.

But I LOVE to jump on YOU!

Another good way is to grab the dog's front paws, gently, and place them down on the ground while saying "No jumping". (People say not to use the command "down" because this is also used when you want the dog to lie down.)

And still another good way is to simply barge past the dogs so they don't have as much of a welcoming opportunity to jump on you.  Teach this to your guests. It really works. I tell people, "Come in! Come in! Just walk in. Barge right past them."  The dogs will naturally congregate at the front door and, rather than walking in, the humans plant themselves on the doormat and refuse to move. Wrong! Walk right on in.

I'm not a dog trainer (thought I am working on getting my certification one of these days), so if you really want help training your dog to stop jumping, please seek the help of a professional. I just write here about my own experiences. Disclaimer!

Until tomorrow!

Monday, April 9, 2018

I is for Including #AtoZChallenge

Well, I got busy and missed two days of the A to Z Challenge. So, I'll make it up with this post... I for INCLUDING (including G, H, and I!!)

Under the letter G, I would have posted about Grief Mentor. I am about to become a certified Pet Loss Grief Mentor. And I am already a Certified Widow Coach. So, I can walk the journey with people who have lost a spouse, and with folks who've lost a pet, and are grieving. I can't imagine anyone NOT grieving over the loss of anyone or anything. I am not prepared (yet) to start taking clients, but as soon as I am ready you'll hear about it here on the blog. So, stay tuned for that.

For the letter H, I suppose I would reminisce about my two dogs, Hobie and Hector (Team H!). How I loved them so. As much as I love my current dogs (and I DO!) no one will ever replace Hector and Hobie. They were with me through the very best years of my life (so far). I think about them every day, and feel their spirits with me, and they will live here in my heart forever.



And "I" is for Include! I included all of this in one post! hah!

Until tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!!

Friday, April 6, 2018