Making a trip cross country with animals is an interesting experience. Thinking about taking the “kids,” as we called them, across the country for the move was a cause of much anxiety for me. We didn’t have the puppy yet but had our old dog, and we knew she was going to be at least ok. She loves being in the car and is an amazing listener, and as long as someone is around her she’s fine. We were very anxious about the cat, though, because he had always yowled in the car when we brought him to the vet. We also knew that we could not leave him in his carrier for the 12+ hours a day we would be driving. There was a litter box to set up in the car, and we had to find a way for us to let him have his food without the dog eating it. I read stories online of cats working their ways into the underside of the front seats and then needing to be exrtracted by machine. Then there was the whole thing about us traveling mid-summer. Leaving the dog in the car in the Midwest in July was terrifying, not only because we wanted to make sure she was safe but because there was an increasing trend on the Internet of people smashing car windows and “rescuing” the animals. While I understand that there was really good intent there, I also was aware of how incredibly careful we were going to be and that people may not know that from looking. No matter what, though, it needed to be done. We were moving, and we were not about to leave our beasts behind.
We were extremely fortunate to have help along our journey. One of my sisters was extremely generous and flew to Colorado to pick up Daughter and fly back east with her. This one factor saved us hours and hours of travel. We would not have to stop every hour for the bathroom, would not have to attempt to help her stay engaged and entertained, and would not have to deal with motion sickness. Just as helpfully, one of my brothers was able to fly out and share the driving with us. We would now be transporting one dog, one cat, and two cars, one of them packed to the gills (including the passenger seat, where our house plants were) with three drivers. This was a pretty ideal situation. Everyone got alone time when needed, and everyone got company when needed. There was a lot of calling back and forth with random thoughts, a ton of weird road food, learning a lot about each other, even from Husband and me, and more laughs than can be counted. In those three days, I laughed until tears several times, and I would not change a single things about the trip. Even though I would not change a single thing about this trip, the behavior of the animals was what stood out to me the most.
Dog is a barker, and we were worried about her behavior in hotels and at rest stops. She is sweet and docile and, being a herder, ridiculously smart, but she’s loud. Not on this trip. She was uncharacteristically quiet, but not in a bad way. She was not timid or scared, she was on an adventure. Cat was unbelievable, too. Once we got past the initial hour or so of travel, he found a spot on the center console between the front seats and pretty much hung out. He loved the sunshine and even began to climb up to watch out the windows by the second day. His posture was like a dog’s, and he was loving it. We were able to find places to eat that had outdoor patios which allowed us to bring Dog with us, and Cat was able to eat in the car whenever we were gone. We even got a harness and leash for him and walked him around at rest stops and in hotels. No accidents were had in the car or in a single hotel. Nothing was chewed or messed up at all. In fact, they were more present than I had ever seen them.
About half way through the second day Husband and I were in the animal car together and noticed how amazingly happy they were. Everyplace we went, Dog had new smells and new sights, and Cat was just loving the warmth and togetherness. Then we realized, as far as these animals were concerned, this was our life now. We were travelers, gypsies, and destined to spend life on the road. They don’t plan ahead. They don’t know what we are doing next, and they honestly don’t care, I think. They trust us to make the best choices for them and keep them safe. They believe in us enough to let us make the choices that are best for them, even when it doesn’t seem quite perfect at first. They live in the “now,” and are able to enjoy the minutes as they experience them without worrying about what will be next. I can learn a lot from Dog and Cat, and you probably can, too.