Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Travel Precautions

The car thermometer read 98 degrees for an exterior temp. I was on a major highway on my way to teach an evening class. I saw a car on the side of the road, no one was nearby. Less than a mile up the road I saw a couple waving to passing cars to slow down. They had a German Shepherd, they were trying to stay cool in the shade of an overpass. I saw the dog so immediately slowed down. I NEVER stop on the road to pick up anyone. I will stop for a loose dog. But these looked like nice people (ok, ok, if my mom was alive I can just hear her telling me to keep going, don't stop)...and they had a well groomed, well behaved Shepherd on a lead.

I stopped, they ran over to the car. I cautiously lowered the window a tiny bit. 'Do you need help?' I asked. 'Yes, thank you so much for stopping. Our car broke down, we didn't bring our cell phones, our dog is hot, we need to get her someplace cool.' Their plan had been to take their dog for a short trip to the Hudson river, they never made it. I was going to call Triple A for roadside service as she pulled out her AAA card., But that would mean they would have to stay with the car. Couldn't do that. So I opened my car and let them in. She came into the front passenger's seat, he went in the back with their dog. I was only a few miles from the Menand's shelter where I was teaching an evening class. The first thing out of the woman's mouth was, 'Can I have some of this water/" pointing to a water bottle in a cup holder, ' I am sure our dog is thirsty'. Whew! I was not going to be held up, robbed or hijacked. These people's first concern was their dog. They used my cell to call a friend to pick them up at the shelter. When we arrived, the shelter let them borrow a dog bowl since their dog preferred to drink from a bowl rather than from their hands or bottle. As I was going up to class their friend had arrived to pick them up. They thanked me again and were on their way.

What if I had not stopped? What if no one stopped for an hour, or longer? It was beastly hot yesterday...and is again today. The heat coming off the asphalt must have made the temps over a hundred degrees, their only source of shade was the overpass.

My friends sometime joke that they could survive in my car for a week. But I am prepared for just about everything. Items I carry in my car 24/7, 365 days a year:

1) A car phone, fully charged before I leave the house each day, along with a car charger for the phone.
2) A cooler. Snacks for me, snacks for the dog...cause you just never know what a short or long trip will bring your way.
3) Water, lots of it. Each dog crate has a water bucket attached to the inside of the crate with a double sided snap. The water is changed each time we go on a trip, short or long. In the summer ice cubes fill the buckets. I also carry water in my cooler and also in a big water jug and also some bottled water. LOTS of water!
4) All weather space blanket. I have 3, they attach to the outside of my car with big metal clips. They keep the car cooler then outside temps in the summer. For winter use they can be placed with the silver side against your or your dog's body to retain heat. They cost $12. A good investment, they fold up and take very little space in even the tiniest of cars. http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=218&ParentCat=313
5) First Aid Kit. Everything from bandages to antibiotics; diarrhea meds to rescue remedy. Since I own Borzoi, a breed that can bloat, I also carry a bloat tube...which reminds me I have to replenish the lubricant, the present tube has dried out. I hope to never use it, but it is one of those 'good to have for just in case' items.
6) Bug spray
7) ID on all my dogs in the form on a microchip and also a collar that has their name and my phone number. If I am traveling a distance I have collars that have my cell phone number. ID on their crate includes their name, age, sex, last rabies vaccination, emergency contact, vet's contact, and a statement from me that I will pay all veterinarian expenses should any arise. If you do not crate your dog, put this information in a safe water proof place in your car. Include a copy or your dog's rabies certificate. I have all the dogs information in a zip-lock freezer bag. If I am caring for another person's dog and traveling with that dog I will include all their info in the same packet as my own dogs' info.
8) Extra collar and lead.
9) Winter months I always have a gallon of windshield defroster ...that blue stuff that cleans your windows on nice weather and is a necessity in the Northeast when the salt starts hitting your windshield.
10) Well trained dogs. Dogs that can be handled by others. Dogs that are also comfortable being transported in vehicles other then your own. What if you are injured in an accident and a stranger has to remove your dog from the car or crate? The 14 month old German Shepherd who entered my car yesterday immediately laid down and relaxed. It was apparent that her owners had spent quality time training her. After yesterday escapade, I am sure they will be better prepared the next time they travel with their 4 footed friend and carry water and a cell phone.

Even with a well stocked car, my own travel plans for this afternoon and evening has been changed due to the high temps. Late morning and afternoon private consultations with students have been canceled. All but my first appointment of the day, consisted of helping private students with outdoor skills. Training outside is not something that would be fair to owners or dogs in nearly 100 degrees.

Melissa's agility class this evening has been canceled. Melissa is presently enjoying herself in her new pool. The last time I looked she was lying down with her head resting on the edge of the pool. I discovered since yesterday that Melissa likes the pool filled to nearly the top...then she will lie in it. Lab Lucy is using the smaller of the pools. Yes, two pools. The smaller and the new larger are both out in the shade in the gravel part of the dog area. When the two girls are not lounging in the water, they are hopping from one pool to another splashing and wrestling. Time for me to change the pool water......

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