One spring, we said goodbye to our home in central Mexico and moved back to Colorado. It was quite a trip. My husband Kelly was in our small Toyota Dolphin motorhome with our two dogs. Our three-year-old Rottweiler Lola had never been on a long trip before, but our older guy LarryDog is from Colorado and he had made the trip south with us in the motorhome. He turned out to be the best traveler of our four pets, on this trip.
Lola was in her crate, with its usual pad in it, and many of her usual toys as well. The crate just fit in the back of the motorhome, in the area where a table would usually be. She wasn’t happy generally, though she did throw up only once, that first morning. LarryDog wore a travel harness which was tied securely to some metalwork, and he was close to Kelly but not so close that Larry could have bumped into Kelly in case of Kelly had had to hit the brakes fast.
The cats, each in a crate, were in the back seat of our car. I was up front, along with a friend who helped with the driving. He had been warned that our part-Siamese cat, Moonlight, had yowled plenty when we brought him down from Colorado. Misty, our Mexican cat, had made one trip of several hours with us.
It was a five-day trip. We knew that the dogs wouldn’t like being separated from me, so we stopped within a couple of hours of setting out, as much for the dogs to see me as anything else. They greeted me with a lot of emotion that time, but both soon caught on to the routines. We took them out and walked them a couple of times or more during each day’s drive, as well as longer walks before and after the journeying.
As for the cats, both of them did complain quite a bit, but really that bothered me less than the long hours when they both seemed, well, CATatonic. I had some Rescue Remedy with me but it was an old bottle and the top of the cap broke off the first night.
That night was in a Mexican motel. It isn’t always easy to find places to stay with pets in Mexico, but this worked out fine. Someone I knew happened to own a motel halfway from the Lake Chapala area to the Texas border, and so we routed ourselves that way and stayed at his place. There were a few loose dogs living there, and LarryDog can be a bit dog-aggressive, but there were no problems. In fact, Larry was well behaved the whole trip.
We had brought our dogs’ usual beds, and settled them in the room with us. We turned the cats loose in the bathroom, and that became the routine. One night we tried letting the cats have the run of the whole room but they both spent the night under the king-sized bed and were not that easy to get in the morning! So I spent part of each evening on bathroom floors, having love-times with the kitties.
The second day found us crossing the border into the US in the early evening, at Eagle Pass, Texas. We had to take our animals out of the vehicles. Kelly took the dogs on leash, one at a time, to crates supplied by the border officials, some distance away from the RV. One of my favorite visual memories of the trip occurred as we pulled the car into place for examination. I looked ahead and there was LarryDog, alone in jail, standing and gently wagging his tail! I followed his gaze and saw where Lola was in another crate. Kelly was beside her, chatting with some people who were admiring her. LarryDog seemed to enjoy the whole border process. It would have been less boring than most of his day, I guess.
Meanwhile, we were told to take the cats out of the car and to put their crates on a table next to it. Both cats looked pretty dazed.
“Is Doc still here?” one of the officials asked another one. My heart sank.
Our dogs had had their requisite rabies shots more than 30 days before, and we had papers to prove it. We also had veterinary certificates attesting to their good health, which are not legally required but can smooth the way. (No papers were asked for.) No papers or shots were required for cats, but we knew that any cat that appeared ill could be refused admission to the US pending a veterinary exam.
Luckily, “Doc” was still around and turned out to be another one of the border officials. He glanced at the cats and asked me how they got along with the Rottweiler. I told him that the smaller one liked to boss the Rottweiler around. He wished me a good evening, the car was all checked, and we were done.
By now it was dark and we were in a strange town, in need of a place to stay with the pets. We found a La Quinta Inn, and much to our delight the other two nights we easily found national chains that were pet-friendly (Motel 6 and Travelodge). None of the desk clerks even asked how many pets, or what kinds, we had.
When we arrived at our new house in Colorado, I think the animals all thought it was just another motel, but after a few days they got the idea.