Road tripping with a dog is much like road tripping with a child, except that you can leave them alone in a hotel room and you aren’t legally required to seatbelt them into the car. Like kids, dogs also whine, get finicky over food, and keep you from going out in New Orleans until 4 in the morning.
When we first told our friends and family that we were going to spend a month driving across the country on our move from San Francisco to New York, people asked if we were going to bring our dog Brewster. Of course we were going to bring him! What was the alternative – buy him a plane ticket and tell him to meet us in New York a month later?
Besides, he’s part of our little family and we wanted to have him with us on this life-changing transition across the country. Not that he really got much out of it, besides some long naps in the car and permission to sleep on our bed every night. Actually, for him it was probably pretty terrible. We had to swap dry kibble for the delicious raw food that we used to feed him, since it would have been too difficult to manage on the road. We went from San Francisco’s cool and comfortable 65-degree days to the American South’s hot and humid 95-degree days. And his daily routine changed from a run in the park with his dog-walking buddies to amateur-hour fetch with us in hotel rooms.
But he was a good sport overall, holding it in the car as long as he needed to between gas stops, and adjusting quickly to new a new “home” every few nights. Once we figured out the system for leaving him alone in a hotel room (basically, giving him a giant treat as we walk out the door, and building up the amount of time we were away), we were able to go out to eat or explore a museum, and he never barked or had an accident.
Even though he’s a dog, I like to think that he understood on some level that we were making a big life change and wanted him to be there with us every step of the way. He and I exchanged a lot of knowing glances in the car – like…“You ok back there? I know this is weird.” “Yeah, Mom, I’m cool.” “I’m happy you’re here with us. I love you!” “Stop, you’re embarrassing me.”
When we finally made it to New York City, Brewster was rewarded with wet food and we were rewarded with unpacking the car for the last time. Now let’s just hope that we never have to make the reverse trip with a dog AND a child.