There are times, well most of the time if I were honest, when driving alone is just dull. Music entertains only for a while and then I long for conversation. It’s just more enjoyable if I can bounce ideas about with someone else. That’s why I’ve started taking my dog along on small adventures. He’s a great listener.

His name is Jem and he’s an Australian Shepherd, rather large for his breed weighing in at 65 pounds or so. He’s eight-years-old now and well beyond his frantic puppyhood; now he’s just in his happy go lucky frantic adulthood. In other words, he has loads of energy. That being said, he’s also the most docile dog when riding in the car. None of the shaking all to pieces nonsense of some other dogs I’ve known. He gets in, looks around for a bit, and then sort of zones out once we hit cruising speed.

He has his own seatbelt and wears that when we travel.

Jem wearing his seatbelt in the backseat of the car

He always stays in the back. I’ve heard that dogs can be injured by the airbags if they ride in the front seat. I would love to have him sitting up front beside me, but his safety is more important than my companionship. Besides, he’s far from the instrument panel back there. I don’t want him getting any sudden ideas and stepping on the gear shift handle or something.When we travel I search for dog-friendly hotels. This can be tricky as many will say they accept pets but then the dog can only be 30 pounds or less. That lets us out. I’ve started using a website called BringFido. I can enter my destination and they provide a list of possible places to stay…with reviews. I usually look for those with three or more bones. (It’s a rating system similar to stars)

Although I may find a great town and a wonderful hotel, that doesn’t let me off the hook as far as being responsible for Jem’s wellbeing. He brings more luggage than I do! Of course there is his leash and his waste bags. There’s his food and treats. His toys and his dishes. I bring a towel or two since I don’t expect the hotel towels to be used on the pets. Surely not. I also bring puppy pads. We’ve never had any mishaps or upset tummy issues, but I bring them anyway, just in case. I’m thinking of buying him his own wheeled luggage so he can move the stuff himself.

Traveling with a dog also means more frequent stops. I want to give him time to stretch his legs and explore his surroundings.

Jem on the trail

Here he is a little after dawn on one of our hikes. He’s on the lookout for coyotes! Let’s face it, he’s not all that good at map reading and so doesn’t really have much conception of where we are or how far we’ve traveled. Who wants to be stuck in the backseat all day? Everyone needs to get out every couple hours just to have a run. The thing I enjoy most about travel with Jem is the conversation. He’s a master at meeting people. They just can’t resist him. Before I know it, I’ve met them too.

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