Who in their right mind would you find sitting contentedly at a darling sidewalk café, sipping lattes under a flimsy awning in the middle of a thunderstorm?
That would be us, my husband Dan, myself and our faithful traveling companion, Lucky. And I’m betting that right around now, more than a few pet moms in the Vibrant Nation community are making the rightful guess that despite the fact that we were all getting a bit moist around the edges, we were also smiling from ear to ear to ear.
This scene took place one week ago, on day two of a five-day car trip to upstate New York. Like many pet owners, we wouldn’t have dreamed of going without our puppy. Lucky is an 8 pound Morky—part Maltese, part Yorky—and, okay I admit it, the cutest ball of fur on the planet.
Despite the fact that she is small enough to fit into a big purse, she is—something else I have to admit—a dog. There are rules about dogs. Rules that would convince most sane people to just put the canine in a kennel for the week so that the humans can, unencumbered, do the kinds of things that vacations are supposed to be about. You know, fancy restaurants, museums, national parks, even.
I have nothing against kennels. In fact, there are great doggy daycare situations where pets are not so much left behind as sent to camp. I get it. But then again, bringing Lucky along with us gives us so much more than it takes away.
For starters, and the most obvious benefit, is that we love to make our dog happy. Lucky is just as thrilled as we are to be experiencing new sights and sounds. Who else can light up an entire gas station simply by discovering a fresh-mowed patch of grass upon which to roll?
But there’s so much more. When we travel with Lucky, we are never strangers in a strange land. Because of our proximity to the friendliest dog on the planet, we make friends everywhere we go. Children squeal with delight, their parents ask us where we’re from, even teenagers drop their cool long enough to give Lucky a pat and clue us into who has the best walk-up ice cream stand in town.
Because we’re traveling with a dog, we have to tap deeper levels of creativity and resourcefulness than we would otherwise. Because of Lucky, for instance, we discovered pet-friendly B&B’s (for example BringFido.com) and VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner), websites that allow you to search out accommodations that will take you and your dog.
We spend more time exploring parks and beaches (where allowed) and have invested in rainproof pants, jackets and boots both for us and for Lucky so that we can enjoy the amenities that fair-weather travelers abandon at the first drop of rain.
As a result, we’ve been able to get the best sidewalk table at restaurants that normally book up months in advance just by walking up spontaneously. And we end up stumbling across cool experiences that we would never otherwise have known about, like last weekend’s Petapalooza, a festival for dogs, in the Hudson Valley.
Bless every innkeeper who trusts that we’ll clean up after our dog; bless every restaurant with outside seating; bless the manufacturers of doggy travel beds and bags. And most of all, bless Lucky, for making sure that every trip we take is on the road less traveled.