Traveling with a Pom Pilot (Or Leaving Him in Others’ Care)

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Making a list, checking it twice: Must-have items for a trip
  • Adjusting for your pup’s needs: Safety, temp, and comfort
  • Gaining altitude: Your pup in flight
  • Treating the motel well
  • Choosing a caregiver when your pup must stay home
Most everyone likes a road trip, especially dogs. And all dogs seem to be entranced by the automobile more than any other product of modern technology. Pomeranians are no exception. Utter the magic word “Goforaride,” and your Pom turns into a whirling dervish of excitement.
With some planning, you may find that having your Pom as a travel mate is the best idea you ever had. After all, he never complains about getting lost or about your taste in radio stations. And he gives you a good excuse to stretch your legs and take little nature side trips.

Remember

Without planning, though, traveling with a dog can be a hassle. You can find yourself turned away from motel after motel or paying expensive pet fees. You may not be able to take him to many of the attractions on your list, and in warm weather, you may have to skip shopping altogether because it’s too hot to leave him in the car. You may also start to describe your sightseeing as drive-bys, as in “I drove by this” and “I drove by that.”

Unfortunately you can even lose a friend if you stay at her house with a Pom that suddenly forgets his housetraining, as dogs too often do when away from their comfort zone. And on really long trips, your Pom may drive you crazy with whining and scratching, the canine equivalent of “Are we there yet?”

Because I care about your sanity (and your dog’s!), in this chapter I help you pack the important stuff and navigate the sometimes-frustrating motel experience. I also tell you all you need to know to travel safely and happily with your Pom, whether on asphalt or up in the clouds.

Packing for Your Pomeranian

Everybody on your excursion will surely have a suitcase. And before you load up and head out, make sure your dog does, too. Even though she doesn’t need five pairs of shoes and an armload of clothes just in case, she does need her own essentials. Be sure to pack the following items:

– Basic grooming equipment

– Bed

– Bottled water or water from home (strange water can sometimes cause diarrhea)

– Bowls for food and water

– Bug spray or flea spray

– Chewies and interactive toys to pass the time

– Flashlight for late-night walks

– Food (if you use cans, get the pop tops or bring a can opener)

– Identification tags

– Medications including antidiarrheal medication and possibly his monthly heartworm preventive; also, motion-sickness pills if your dog suffers from that malady

– Paper towels, moist towelettes, and rinse-free shampoo for that carsick thing

– Plastic baggies or other poop-disposal tools

– Rabies certificate (some places require them)

– Recent color photo in case he gets lost

– Short and long leashes

– Towels (figure on one or two a day, including one to place over his bedding in the crate in case he gets carsick)

– Travel crate or (second choice) doggy seatbelt

Hitting the Road

“Let’s go!” Those words will have your Pom running to the car, bouncing with excitement, and barking at you to open the door. It’s no secret that the automobile is the Pom’s favorite mode of transportation. You can keep your easy rider loving it for years to come by keeping him safe, ride after ride.

Practicing safety first

In the good old days you could simply throw your dog and your kid in the backseat and tool down the road. Now your child has to ride in a car seat or with a seatbelt because these restraints happen to save lives.

Remember

Take the same care to ensure your Pom’s safety, whether traveling cross-country or just to the store. Although using a crate may seem to take some of the fun away, traveling within a secured crate (either attached to a seat belt or to some solid part of the car) has saved many canine lives. Besides, you don’t need a dog jumping on your lap or checking out the driver’s seat floor while you’re driving.

What about a seat belt? You can buy a doggy seatbelt that is pretty much like a harness attached to an existing seat belt (see Figure 12-1). It’s probably not quite as safe as a crate, but it’s better than a flying Pom. And it does let him ride in the front seat and look out the window.
This seems unnecessary to mention, but just in case: Never let your Pomeranian ride in the back of a pickup truck! And don’t let him hang out the window! If you wouldn’t let a toddler do it, don’t let your Pom do it either.

Remember

Although the thought is unpleasant, preparation for a problem is key. What if you had an accident and couldn’t speak for your injured dog? As an extra safety measure, place emergency information on the side of the crate that says something like “In case of emergency, take this dog to a veterinarian, then contact the following persons: [Insert contact info]. Payment of all expenses incurred is guaranteed.” Include a list of any medications or health problems your dog may have.

Tip

Of course, your dog should be wearing identification as well, and not just your home phone number. After all, you’re not home. If you’re on vacation, add the contact number of somebody back home or the number where you can be reached. (Obviously, this last number is in case your Pom gets lost.)

Figure 12-1: A doggy seatbelt lets your Pom enjoy the ride safely.

Keeping your Pom cool and comfy

Your Pom can’t reach the control knobs for heat and air in the car, so you have to keep an eye on him to make sure he’s comfy. Unless you’re in snow country, that’s pretty easy. Just keep your car as warm as you like it, and he’ll like it, too. If you have to leave him in the car for a short while, consider bringing along a hot water bottle to put in his crate or at least cover the crate with a blanket.

Warning!

Despite all the warnings about leaving dogs in cars in summer heat, many dogs die every year from just that. Cars take a very short time to heat up, reaching more than 100 degrees in minutes when it’s mild outside and reaching 160 degrees in minutes when it’s warm to hot out.

In hot weather, keep the crate where the air conditioning can reach it. A fan that plugs into your car battery is cheap and can direct air onto your Pom. Keep him out of direct sunshine, and consider bringing a cooler with an ice pack so you can place the pack beside him in the crate.
But you can’t rely on any such measures on a hot day. Even if you can keep your car running with the air conditioner on, don’t trust it. The price of mechanical failure is too high. You may just have to choose between leaving your dog at home and going shopping.

Flying the Friendly Skies

Small dogs, including Poms, have many advantages when it comes to travel. In a car, they take up less space than the average suitcase. In an airplane, they can ride with you in the passenger section instead of the baggage compartment. The only qualifiers are that

– You must make reservations well in advance because most airlines allow only one or two dogs per flight to ride in the passenger section.

– The dog must ride in a wide, low crate that can fit under the seat in front of you.

– She must stay in the crate throughout the flight.

Tip

Few times do the words “I told you to do that before we left home!” have as much meaning as when your dog suddenly has to go at 40,000 feet. This is one time you may want to go easy on the water before you leave. The same goes for food. Place an absorbent puppy housetraining pad in the crate; if the situation becomes desperate, you can take the dog and the pad to the plane’s restroom, disposing of the pad as you would a baby’s diaper.

The following items can make the trip more endurable, even enjoyable, for your pup, you, and the other passengers:

– A few treats or a chew to help the time pass (although you don’t want to give out too much food)

– Ice cubes from the beverage cart

– Paper towels and extra bedding just in case she has an accident in her crate

Minding Your Motel Manners

It’s time to stop for the evening. You’re tired, your dog’s restless. You pull into another motel . . . another sign proclaims NO PETS. Time to face the music: Too many motels have been subjected to the inconsiderate ways of too many dog owners. These owners let their dogs pee on the carpet, shed on the bed, and poop on the grass where people walk. The problem costs the motels money to clean up, and it costs them the goodwill (and future business) of guests who grow tired of stepping in dog doo-doo or hearing dogs bark all night.
Fortunately, many motels still leave their doors open to wellmannered pets. You can go online and visit several Web sites that list pet-friendly lodgings. Here’s a quick list of some good sites:

www.fidofriendly.com

www.dogfriendly.com

www.canineauto.com

www.petswelcome.com

To keep pets welcome, follow these rules:

– Never leave your dog unattended in the room. He may feel deserted and try to dig his way out the door, or he may simply bark the whole time. 

Heading for doggy destinations

Your dog won’t hesitate to erupt with ecstasy at even the most mundane trips, whether it’s a trip to the gas station or a move across the country. She’ll even like going with you on your vacations. But what about taking her on a trip that’s all about her?
Is your Pomeranian a cosmopolitan canine? Several high-end hotels now cater to their canine clientele. Some luxury hotels in big cities offer dog-spoiling services such as special treats, menus, toys, and even walking and grooming services. Some rural lodges offer fenced acreage, beaches, or short hiking trails. Expect to pay more than your run-of-the-mill place that caters to humans, anywhere from $100 to $300 a night.
Is your dog more the back-to-nature type? How about camp? Dog camps are big these days. No, your dog doesn’t make leather wallets or lanyards, but she can pick up a variety of skills and tricks, play games, go hiking, and just plain have a yapping good time. The best part is that you don’t just drop your dog off — you go there with her! It’s fun for you, too, and you can make new friends who also like to share activities with their dogs. Dog camps average about $100 a day.
Plan to study the offerings of each camp because different camps specialize in different types of activities. For example, a camp specializing in chasing an artificial rabbit or weight pulling may not be the best choice for a Pomeranian. In addition, any camp where all the dogs run loose together just isn’t safe for a tiny dog. Ask whether they have special sessions for small dogs.

– Bring his crate (or at least his own dog bed) into the room with you. If he likes to get on people beds, bring a sheet or roll down the bedspread so he doesn’t get hair on it.

– If he has an accident on the carpet, don’t try to hide it. Clean what you can and tell the management. Leave a big tip for housecleaning.

– Instead of washing food bowls in the sink (food clogs the drain), use disposable paper bowls.

– Clean up any dog poop your dog deposits on motel property.

– Be considerate of others. Don’t let him bark! Don’t rev him up with games that make him bark. Instead, distract or correct him if he tries to bark at the sound of other guests walking past the room.

Remember

Don’t try to sneak your dog into a motel room. It’s a recipe for a miserable night, and you can be sure your Pom will suddenly find a hundred reasons to bark as you desperately try to shush him.

Leaving Your Dog Behind When You Must Go

Sometimes leaving your dog behind when you go out of town is the smartest choice you can make — as long as you make smart choices about where you leave him.

Taking your dog to a boarding place

If your dog has no issues being away from home, a boarding kennel is usually your best choice for care while you’re away. They’re generally safest because there is no chance of escape, and somebody is there in case your dog gets sick, or in case of fire, earthquake, or UFO attack.
The ideal kennel has the following features:

– Is approved by the American Boarding Kennel Association

– Has climate-controlled accommodations

– Has private runs for each dog that don’t allow dogs to poke parts of themselves into adjacent runs

– Disinfects each run prior to a new boarder

If your pet takes a trip without you . . .

Nobody expects to lose a dog, but it can happen to even the most conscientious caretaker. A door is left open, a hole appears in a fence, or the dog escapes from a car window. Most lost dogs are found, but the sooner you organize search efforts, the better your chances of being reunited with your Pom.
Begin your search by going to the place your dog is most likely to go and to the most dangerous place for your dog to go (usually a roadway) and call for your dog. Be careful that your calling doesn’t lure your dog across a road.
If you haven’t found your dog after a couple of hours, spend your time getting the word out:

– Ask area delivery people, children, and neighbors whether they’ve seen a dog matching the description of yours.

– Call area veterinarians to see whether someone’s brought in an injured small dog.

– Call area shelters. Even if they say no such dog has been brought in, visit them by the following day. And keep checking.

– Call the nonemergency phone number for the local police agencies and ask that patrolling officers be on the lookout for the dog.

– By the end of the first day, make large posters and saturate the area; place them on the cars of anyone in your search team. Some large pet supply stores sell rolls of plastic fill-in-the-blank lost-dog posters.

Describe your dog well. (A photo is always the best descriptor.) Most people don’t know every breed, so don’t just state Pomeranian. Describe it as something they may be more familiar with, like “looks like a Chihuahua with puffy hair.”

Don’t describe everything about your dog. Keep some identifying markers secret so that you can ask people who claim to have found your dog to identify as proof.

– After a few days, make mailer postcards for delivery in a larger target area (like a 2-to-5-mile radius from the place your dog was lost) and to veterinary clinics and animal shelters. Note that some national organizations like Sherlock Bones (www.sherlockbones.com ;800-942-6637) can help you prepare posters and preaddressed mailers (depending on your location) and deliver them to you by overnight mail for a fee.

– If your dog is lost while away from home, take something familiar (like his crate, bed, or your clothing with your scent on it) to where he last saw you. Many dogs return to the place they were last with their owner. If possible, keep your car parked with a door open where the dog last saw it.

Don’t give up hope. Many dogs have been found days, weeks, and sometimes even months after they’ve been lost. But the less time that elapses before you mobilize your search, the greater your chances are of recovery. This is one time it pays to be an alarmist and one of many times it pays to be prepared. And remember, it always pays to microchip your dog! (See Chapter Maintaining Your Pom’s Health and Happiness.)

– Has a caretaker on the grounds 24 hours a day

– Requires proof of current immunizations and an incoming check for fleas

– Allows you to bring your dog’s toys and bedding

– Provides a raised surface area so dogs don’t have to sleep on the floor

Tip

Ask to see the facilities. It won’t smell like Grandma’s kitchen, but it shouldn’t make you lose your lunch.

Your veterinary hospital may also provide boarding services. If so, it’s your best choice for a dog that has ongoing health problems. These facilities usually aren’t as spacious as regular boarding kennels, but space isn’t necessarily a big deal for a little Pom. Veterinary hospitals and boarding kennels may have comparable runs and prices and both may offer grooming. But if you want luxury perks like playtime, television, and walks, you need to find a luxury boarding kennel.
Some individuals offer in-home boarding for a limited number of dogs. The dogs essentially live as the person’s dog during that time. This arrangement provides a comfortable environment for your dog, but keep these two cautions in mind:

– Make sure the home is safe for such a small dog.

– Make sure the individual doesn’t board large dogs that can run loose at the same time as your Pom.

Hiring a pet sitter

If your Pom is a little uneasy around other dogs or in strange places, consider having a pet sitter come in to take care of her in your home. Keep in mind, though, that having the kid down the street take on this important responsibility is seldom a good idea. What if the dog gets out? What if your pup or the sitter gets sick? An inexperienced pet sitter — just like an inexperienced babysitter — doesn’t know what to do in times of need. That’s why you should opt for bonded, experienced pet sitters.

The main drawback is that pet sitters usually visit only a couple of times a day. Unless your Pom is paper trained or litter-box trained or you have a doggy door leading to a secure kennel, two visits aren’t really enough. Another concern is for Poms susceptible to hypoglycemia, who need more frequent feedings. Small dogs, especially those with medical problems, need supervision throughout the day.
To find a responsible pet sitter, check out

www.petsit.com

www.petsitters.org

www.petdogandcatservices.com

by D.Caroline Coile,Ph.D.

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