Monday, February 20, 2012


In many parts of the country, folks are starting to think about road trips they would like to make later this spring or during the summer.  I know that Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have been talking about it.  As more and more pet owners have started to take their pets along with them on road trips, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not that is a smart thing to do and, if so, what should a pet owner do to assure the trip is problem-free. 

Even more basic than heading out onto the interstate for a road trip with your pet is the idea of having your dog with you just "driving around town."  There has definitely been a trend toward pet owners having their pets with them almost all the time, in just about any situation or surrounding.  As a result, pet owners need to be aware of the circumstances to which they expose their pets, including whether their pets are creating problems for other people and whether there are any safety considerations for their pets.

As an introduction to the basic question of, "Should Dogs Go Everywhere?", let's begin with a short discussion of the pros and cons:

Should Dogs Go Everywhere With Their Owners?

Recently, the New York Times "Complaint Box" column took on a thorny issue: Are dogs too welcome in the city's public spaces?

After seeing dogs cavorting around Banana Republic, the Gap, furniture stores and even grocery stores, Barbara Rosenblatt wrote that she's had enough. "Animals are joining the ranks of small, bored children who must accompany their grown-ups just about everyplace," she wrote. "Perhaps what it will take to keep animals out of stores is a few too many paw prints on the merchandise, or a deposit by a dog that mistook a rug for a sidewalk."

Erica Manfred fired back, arguing that her 11-pound mutt deserves to go where she goes. "Well, I'm into my second adolescence and I've become a rebellious old lady. I take Shadow wherever I go because he makes my life bearable, and I don't care what anyone thinks," she wrote.

Whether or not Manfred cares if she's annoying other patrons with her canine cutie, plenty of readers were worked up enough to get into the fray. In fact, the Times received more than 500 comments from readers on both sides of the debate. One reader complained about health violations of dogs sniffing, licking and even pooping in food-service stores.

Another was more irritated by dog owners than dogs themselves. "Dog owners are worse than smokers in their inflated sense of entitlement," the reader commented. "Because they think their dogs are 'cute,' you should excuse their rude behavior."

Not surprisingly, there were dissenters. One commenter argued that most dogs are better behaved than most kids. "I don't like listening to wailing babies and whining children or their parents hissing at them," one reader wrote. "Leave the kids at home, please, and bring the dogs on!"

Clearly, New Yorkers are sharpening their claws over this contentious issue. Which side of the debate do you stand on?

Adapted from:

OK, did that arouse any feelings, one way or the other?  Helpful Buckeye doubts that there are very many of you who don't care, one way or the other.  And, since you're spending a few minutes each week reading this blog, you most likely would prefer to have your pet with you a lot, albeit in a responsible manner.  So, taking that approach, what are some of the considerations you should be aware of for taking your pet with you in a vehicle?

Is your pet travel-ready?
Here's how to safely satisfy his wanderlust - and yours.

Third wheels aren’t a standard feature of honeymoons, but when Joanne and Jonas Banner were planning a camping trip to the redwood stands of Northern California, the newlyweds had no intention of leaving behind their 10-year-old pointer mix, Sandy. “Getting married was really important to us, and she’s a big part of our lives,” says Joanne, who lives with her husband in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. “So we wanted to take her on that important trip.”

The Banners’ desire to share vacations with their pet isn’t unusual. In a survey of more than 6,000 pet owners worldwide, 61 percent of respondents reported taking their pets on a trip of more than 50 miles at least once a year. Dogs are the most frequent traveling companions, but some plucky cats enjoy getting out of the house, too.

Vacationing together can be a rewarding experience for you and your pet, but multi-species travel requires thought and planning. Before you hit the road with a four-legged copilot, assess whether the trip is in his best interests. If your plans include activities where animals aren’t allowed, consider whether your pet will be happy and well-behaved when left alone in a hotel room. And as much as you may long to watch your pup frolic on the beach or to share a cozy mountain cabin with your feline friend, animals who suffer from motion sickness, anxiety in new environments, or other conditions that make travel unpleasant for them should be left at home with a trusted pet sitter.

For first-time travelers, start by preparing them for the long road ahead. Sue Percival and her husband introduced their dog and five cats to their new motor home by “camping” in the driveway of their St. Johnsville, N.Y., home for several nights. “This way it’s not a strange place,” Percival says. “You’re not just … throwing them in there and heading down the road.”

When your pet is comfortable in the new space, you can follow up with short jaunts around town to accustom him to the vehicle’s motion and evaluate his suitability for longer trips.

If he proves to be the adventurous type, start mapping your itinerary by checking the many websites that list animal-friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, parks, beaches, and events. Call ahead for reservations and ask about any size or breed restrictions, deposits, or extra charges. And double-check the pet policies at the sites you want to visit; not all recreational spots allow dogs on trails, and some dog parks are open only to local residents.

Jennifer Fearing did plenty of pre-trip planning when she and 7-year-old pit bull mix Yoda took a cross-country adventure from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento in 2008. The trip wasn’t a vacation; Fearing was reporting to a new position as The HSUS’s California state director. The journey was lengthened by daily stops at dog parks along the way, but the effort enhanced the experience. “One of the pluses about having dogs in the car is that I think you take better care of yourself,” Fearing says. “We stopped more and walked around more because we had him with us.”

The Percivals enjoy traveling with their pets so much that this summer they’re accompanying their dog Sterling on his vacation. The 7-year-old pooch and his owners are heading to Four Paws Kingdom, a North Carolina campground that offers agility classes, obedience training, canine massage, and activities for the human tagalongs. The cats will stay behind in the RV, content with bird-watching and climbing the 72-inch cat tree inside their home on wheels.

In for the Long Haul

Not all travel is optional. If you’re moving, your pet may need to weather a road trip even if they loathe it. Here are some steps to make the experience easier and more enjoyable for both of you:

• PREP WORK: Help prepare your pet for moving day by introducing her to your vehicle and taking brief drives together.

• UNEASY RIDER: If your pet turns out to be a poor traveler, ask your vet for a mild sedative or homeopathic remedy that will calm her but not knock her out. Do a trial run with the treatment to make sure she doesn’t have an adverse reaction.

• CALMING TRICKS: To soothe rattled nerves, try providing your pets with some cover, such as a blanket to snuggle under. When Aaron Dean moved his family from Florida to Colorado, his two dogs were experienced riders, but the cats were quick to vocalize their complaints. After four hours of nonstop yowling, “we wanted to drive into oncoming traffic,” Dean says. Eventually, he draped blankets over the carriers, and the darkened den atmosphere calmed the kitties for the rest of the trip.

Happy Trails, Safe Travels

Safety is a priority on any road trip, but pet companions necessitate extra precautions. Even mild fender benders can be life-threatening to those who aren't properly packed in. Loose cats have been known to wedge themselves beneath brake pedals, and a hard stop can throw an unrestrained animal into the windshield.

• SHOW SOME RESTRAINT: To prevent injury, pets should always be secured in the backseat when the car is moving—dogs in a seat belt and harness, cats in a carrier. As much as your pet may want to ride shotgun, the explosive force of an expanding airbag can crush a cat carrier and seriously injure an animal in the passenger seat. If you have a station wagon or SUV, another option is installing a barrier behind the backseat that keeps your pet confined to the cargo area.

• PACK IT IN: If your car is piled with luggage or household goods, make sure everything is securely tied down to prevent heavy objects from toppling onto your pet when the vehicle is in motion.

• EVERYBODY INSIDE: Don’t let your dog ride with his head out the window. As much as he enjoys the wind in his fur, flying rocks, debris, and bugs can cause injuries and the increased airflow can damage lungs.

• CAUTION...PRECIOUS CARGO: To prevent theft or heat stroke, never leave your pet in the car unattended. Even with windows cracked, the temperature inside a car on a mild day can rapidly rise to dangerous levels that can cause brain damage or death.

• MAKE LIKE A BOY SCOUT: Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, and bring a copy of its records and, in case of emergency, a list of veterinary clinics along your route.

Adapted from: and All Animals Magazine, July/August 2010

Do most of you follow those simple suggestions about how to make your pet more safe when in a vehicle?  If you need more encouragement to do so, here are several more thorough explanations:

States Cracking Down On Dogs Behind The Wheel
The Danger For Pets On The Road

If it's any indication of the danger free-roaming pets face in a vehicle, New Hampshire, the country's only state that does not have a mandatory seat belt law, actually requires dogs to buckle up.

Live free or die, goes the state's motto, but Spike and Spot don't have that liberty. And with due reason. Seven other states, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island also require owners to kennel or tether animals because of the severe danger the sudden stops and potential collisions pose to pets. An unrestrained dog can land you with a ticket between $50 and $200.

Animal lovers would almost always rather take their pet with them to run errands or on a road trip than leave them at home or at a pet motel. But for all that love for canines, most drivers have seen "dog people" take things too far, driving with their dogs in their laps or lying around their shoulders like a neck pillow and, yes, sometimes at the wheel.

 And it's a double dose of danger: for the distracted driver and the unrestrained animal.  "If you make a sudden stop, your dog can be thrown through the windshield," said Loretta Worters, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "He could also be thrown to the floor and interfere with access to gas and brake pedals."

The epidemic is so high that some insurance companies like Progressive and State Farm are offering collision coverage for customers' dogs or cats at no additional premium cost. The insurance will pay up to $1,000 if a customer's dog or cat suffers injury or death.

Adapted from:

Whether those insurance companies would pay for your pet's injury if you were the one driving without properly protecting the pet is unclear from this article.  If you foolishly insist on driving with your pet not properly protected, you might want to look into that.

A second problem....

Pets In Hot Cars

Rayne Nolte was in the parking lot of a Mankato, Minnesota, mall last week when she spotted Roxie, a Yorkie mix, trapped in a car. The temperature was 88 degrees with a heat index of 103, and the car's owner was gone.

You may have found yourself in Rayne’s situation before. Many pet parents believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. "Automobile temperatures can very quickly rise to dangerous levels; the average temperature increase in a parked car is 40 degrees, and the majority of this increase occurs in the first 15 to 30 minutes," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees after 30 minutes!

Worse still, dogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. Luckily, Rayne made all the right moves. Follow her lead by taking these simple steps.

Step 1: Try to Locate the Pet Parent

Roxie’s people were nowhere in sight, so Rayne called mall security, who tried to find Roxie’s family through the loudspeaker. (You can ask most stores to do this.)

Step 2: Educate

Rayne couldn’t find Roxie’s pet parents, but if you do, explain the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car. Make sure the pet gets out of the car as soon as possible.

Step 3: Call 911

Fourteen states have enacted specific laws that protect dogs in hot cars, as have many municipalities—but even in places lacking such a law, leaving an animal in a hot car may constitute cruelty.

Rayne and the mall security officers dialed 911. When the police pulled Roxie from the steamy vehicle, she was very ill but soon on the road to recovery.

Step 4: Pat Yourself on the Back

Pets are counting on people like you to save their lives. Rayne rescued Roxie just in time, and she made a full recovery! And according to the Mankato Free Press, the pet-sitter who left Roxie in the car was charged with a petty misdemeanor.

Adapted from:

Step 2 might present a problem since some people who either aren't aware of the danger or don't care about the danger could resent someone trying to explain the problem.  Tread lightly on that one....

A third problem....

Cruelty Alert: Dogs in Pickup Trucks

A few years ago, Julien Roohani of Portland, Oregon, was at work when her roommates spontaneously decided to go on a hike. Not wanting to exclude Julien’s six-month-old Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Niña, they threw her into the back of their pickup truck and set off for an adventure.

Niña had never been in a truck bed before. Whether she was scared or just spotted something of interest, she managed to jump out during the drive. Panicking, the roommates called Julien, who rushed Niña to an emergency veterinary clinic where she was diagnosed with a broken spine and other severe injuries. Julien had no choice but to allow her young pup to be humanely euthanized.

Unfortunately, stories like Niña’s are all too common. It is never safe to drive with an unrestrained pet—especially with that pet in an open truck bed.

“When you drive with a loose dog in the back of your truck, you’re taking a huge risk and placing your dog and other motorists in danger,” says Chuck Mai, a vice president with AAA Oklahoma. “Even if a dog is trained, we’re talking about an animal who responds to stimuli on impulse. This irresponsible decision can start a deadly chain reaction on the road.”

Is It Legal?

Transporting unrestrained dogs in low-sided truck beds has been banned in a handful of states, including California and New Hampshire, and municipalities including Indianapolis, Cheyenne and Miami-Dade. However, in the vast majority of jurisdictions, it’s not even illegal to transport children in this manner, so we must rely on common sense and education to protect children and pets alike.

How You Can Help

One can feel terribly helpless witnessing a loose dog in a pickup truck. The best course of action is to try to get the vehicle’s license number (if you can do so while remaining safe) and call the local police. Rather than dialing 911, Jill Buckley, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations, suggests storing your police precinct’s phone number in your cell phone.

Adapted from:

Again, trying to deal with some people who think nothing of letting their dog ride loose in the back of a pick up truck possibly could lead to a confrontation.  The suggestion of reporting such an incident to the appropriate police department is safer for you and more likely to lead to some help for the dog.

That takes care of the first part of this topic, which has dealt mainly with situations you should avoid.  Be sure to return next week for the conclusion which will provide a lot more suggestions for making road travel with your pets as safe as possible by presenting things you should do.

The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team continues to have problems with Michigan schools.  After losing at Ann Arbor to Michigan yesterday, we are now tied with both Michigan and Michigan State for the conference lead.  The next 2 weeks will settle the dust and show everybody which team is the real conference champ.  Right now, Helpful Buckeye suspects that we won't be the champion if we don't quit settling for jump shots and can't get into a better offensive flow.

A snow squall is blowing right now as I finish this issue.  We haven't had much snow to speak of since the middle of December...only about 9 inches...and this squall isn't supposed to amount to much.  The effects of La Nina have really been evident this winter.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be heading over to Las Vegas this week to spend a few days with friends from Pennsylvania.  The weather is supposed to be sunny and in the mid-70s...that will be comfortable!

So far this year, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have been able to enjoy a lot of different things that were missing from most of the last half of 2011.  We've taken a few short trips that were fun, enjoyed the treasures of the Flagstaff area almost on a daily basis, participated in several events surrounding the centennial celebration of Arizona, and got one of our birthdays properly taken care of.  This all goes along with a quote I saw this week from Ben Franklin: "Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life." 

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~


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  2. Those photos really made our day!!! Thanks for bringing this topic up and surely this is a wake up call for pet owners.