Traveling with dog in tow can be a challenging task for some.  Hooper knows what’s in store when she sees the suitcases hauled out, piling up with clothes.  On occasion, I have found her napping inside an open suitcase as if to say, “don’t forget to pack me!”  Travel for Hooper is routine, as she has made the trip to Florida five times now.

Fortunately, over the years most motel chains along Route 95 have become pet-friendly. We used to just wing it, picking up tourist pamphlets at visitor centers, scoping out the dog friendly places.  But when checking in late at night, or during a thunderstorm, it is not always easy.  This time, using the Expedia site, we booked in advance.  One of the benefits of this is that their site allows us to see what the pet friendly charges are beforehand.  They can range from nothing at all to ten or twenty-five dollars a night, or a one-time fifty dollar charge, even if its just for one night.  This can really add up! I generally find the Days Inn, Red Roof Inn, and some Best Western chains to welcome Man’s Best Friend.

On the road, I keep Hooper well-hydrated, and of course make frequent pit stops.  At one stop in North Carolina, we were greeted by three beautiful “rest-stop” cats.  I had read about these cats that have  abandoned by their owners along the highway.  These poor cats rely on tourists and volunteers who keep them fed, and try to regulate their population.  Although wary of us humans, they seemed to look well-fed and healthy.

At most of these rest areas, I am also upset to by the number of dog owners who refuse to clean up after their dogs, leaving a disgusting mess in their wake.  Walking your dogs in these areas can be dangerous to  them as they are often exposed to parasites, and worms.  For the love of God people, scoop up the poop wherever you are!

One of the primary objectives of Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement, and its current sponsor, the American Dog Owners Association, is to make people responsible dog owners, and to extend courtesy to other dog owners, and those who may not particularly care for them (Gasp, yes, they do exist).  Unfortunately, when dog owners get lazy, it makes it hard for the rest of us who are not.

After a long day of driving is over, we all look forward to lounging in front of the TV, and of course, watching the Olympic action while Hooper has her doggy dreams, twitching in her sleep, making funny chirping sounds.  Does anyone know what dogs dream about?  Special congratulations are in order for some of the US athletes we often don’t hear enough about, like men’s figure-skater Evan Lysacek, and men’s speed skater,  gold medalist Shani Davis.  Both champs are unpretentious class acts, reminding us all of what the games are really about.

Evan went  into his event as an underdog, saddled with the “World Champion curse.”  If a skater is the current winner of the World Championship, he is not historically favored for an Olympic Gold Medal.  But Evan proved that only a myth, beating out the favored Russian champ, Evgeni Plushenko for the gold!  That was quite a victory.  In an interview the following day, Evan confessed that his first attempts at skating were nothing special, calling himself a lousy skater.  As a lifelong ice-skater myself, and skating instructor, I have worked with and seen a lot of lousy kid skaters.  But I always encourage them.  If they are enjoying themselves, learning a skill, and getting exercise, isn’t that the point.  And who knows, just like Evan, that little “under dog” of the rink might just be the the Olympic star of the future.  Let’s hear it for those underdogs!

Well, we’ve arrived in one of Hooper’s favorite spots, St. “Dog-astine,” in Florida.  We’re hoping to hit one of her favorite “watering bowls,” very soon, or at least her humans are!