“Going to the vet needs so many arrangements, how do you suggest we travel 1100 kilometres!”, gasped my mother at this preposterous idea. Also because one of our dogs (presenting Shadow, GSD) has a reputation to bite people who dare to look at him, come close to him, walk near him, pet him, talk to his people or even walk close to his toy. And then there is Chilly, our Labrador, who is more or less a stuffed toy that eats, pees and shits. After immense discussions and deliberations, we made this decision to go ahead with the trip. Also, unsure of their safety with flights and an equally tedious travel by train, we had no choice but to travel by road.
Thus began the most memorable road trip of my life. Nothing, absolutely nothing can beat this, probably not the India-Thailand one as well.
So the ingredients you’ll need are – 4 people who drive, 2 cars, enough cushioning to cover the space between the front seats and the rear, water bowls, enough and more chew sticks, their favourite toys, leash and a medical kit including tablets for motion sickness.
My father, Shadow and I took one car while my mother, brother and Chilly took the other. We left Nagpur at about 7am and made our first stop at 8am – Shadow seemed a little restless. “He probably needs to pee”, said Dad, while I got off the driver’s seat and took him for a short stroll. He however, wanted to run back to the car as though we’d abandon him, and dragged me to it. Once in, he had a sip of water and a chewstick and scratched at the windows to pull it down. “But you cannot afford to drive on National Highways with your windows down”, Dad and I said unanimously at Shadow. His big brown eyes…we did as he pleased. God, those eyes!
We stopped every other time we thought they wanted a walk or water. When we did stop for lunch or dinner, we took turns to walk them as well. Every time Shadow dozed off, the windows went up and the moment he twisted or turned, we rolled down the windows. Chilly on the other hand wanted my mother to sit at the back with him. When we stopped for dinner, I didn’t see Chilly come out of the car. I went to the window and saw him snoring on mom’s lap. “Funny dog”, I thought while I patted him awake for dinner. We were in Andhra Pradesh by then and were cruising along the 8-lane beautiful well-lit highways.
This routine continued till the wee hours of the morning and finally by around 6, we knew when we were in pot-holed Karnataka. The dogs were now fully awake, heads outside the window with Shadow occasionally barking at bikes that whizzed past him. Chilly, the stuffed toy that he is, had a pretty comfortable ride and drooled on some hot idlis we got on the way. It was around 8am when we finally reached our destination. With our white cars almost tan now, windows scratched and drooled on, dog hair on the seats good enough to make another dog, we couldn’t care less. What we thought would be a wearisome journey, was surprisingly amusing and to know Chilly and Shadow could be so well behaved, was irreplaceable. Definitely an A+ on their report card. Luckily, they did very well without those motion sickness tablets.
Since then, they’ve been accompanying us to hour long journeys albeit not 24 hours. This was definitely an experience of a lifetime. If you are heading on a 24 hour road trip with your pets, hope you’ve got a cue of mine and will know what to expect. Remember to stop, stretch at regular intervals, run and play. If you think where you’d do all this on highways, the filling station becomes your play ground.
So, just go.