Just Hard on Dogs, I guess

Photo by Alex Koffler

Photo by Alex Koffler

I wonder if Roo ever thinks about what an odd life she's led since she met me. She’s a happy dog - she prances and laughs and plays jokes on me and runs like a smoking cannonball - but there’s no doubt that all the traveling of the past year and a half has been trying for her sometimes. The next month or so might be the roughest. I don’t see any alternative to driving from North Carolina to California. And then back. All my stuff is in storage there, and if we’re going to move here, it has to be done, and the sooner I get it over with, the better.

If Roo’s List was up and running, there might have been the possibility of someone Roo could have stayed with (please don’t offer to take her in - the point of Roo’s List is to be able to take the time to arrange that with confidence) so that I could have flown to Los Angeles. But it could take two weeks to take care of things out there. The alternative would be boarding, and I’m just not going to stick her in a kennel. Roo is in many ways too fragile. She’s definitely way too skittish for a crate manhandled into the belly of a roaring jet. She would be terrified. I just wouldn’t do it to her. 

So, I don’t see that there’s a choice. 2300 miles each way. The idea of being out there and having to face the drive back here is daunting.

Before Roo there was Orville. He traveled all over the world. 

He was born in Colorado and spent his early puppyhood there. When he was nine months old I stuffed him in his crate and took him via San Francisco and Singapore to Kathmandu, the city over which he had appeared in the Himalayan clouds two years before. We spent six months in Nepal. Later, he traveled all over Europe a few times and across the United States numerous times, in various cars or in airplanes I flew. When he was small enough, he sat in the copilot’s seat. I taught him some basic piloting skills. He could keep the wings level by the time he was four months old. Later he had to sit in back.

On the airlines, Orville was nearly killed three times in baggage compartments. After the third time, on a Lufthansa flight from New York to Munich on which the heater in the cargo hold was broken and it was only detected after I hassled a flight attendant so much to verify with the captain that everything checked out prior to takeoff that she threatened to have me removed from the airplane as an unruly passenger - which was fine with me, I assured her, as I was planning on becoming unruly if they didn’t confirm prior to departure that everything was all right, which it wasn’t - he became a service dog and flew in the cabin with me. 

Orville loved traveling. When I look at film of him in Nepal, he is a happy young dog. Later, I came to believe that traveling educated a dog and gave him confidence. 

Roo loves some parts of traveling, but not others. She still worries a bit in new motel rooms. She hides. She won’t come up on the bed or gnaw on a bone. On the other hand, she gets a huge amount of pleasure out of exploring new places to hike. City walks also thrill her, though sometimes it gets to be too much for her and she wants to get inside at sundown. But her general confidence is stronger all the time - just not to the point where I would risk all the progress she’s made to a trip in cargo or a few weeks behind chain link.

Anyway. The incessant traveling has exhausted me to a pulp. The whole time since Roo and I teamed up has been spent looking for a place to live, much of the time while ill (thankfully that seems to have abated now). The amount of work I’ve failed to do makes me want to shoot myself. This drifting has to stop. If that ironically means one more road trip - the most maniacal of them all - well, then, so be it. 

It’ll be tough on Roo because I plan to barrel through with as many hours on the road and as few stops as possible - and the unpleasantness of Los Angeles on the other end. I comfort myself by imagining that it would be okay with her if she knew that when it was all over she might have her own place. 

Or maybe she would just remind me that she’s heard it all before. That was how the first part of the story ended - and then didn't.