Category Archives: Travel With Pets

14 Tips For Safe Road Travel With Your Dog

When you adopt a dog, it becomes an essential part of the family.

So naturally, when you’re planning any road trip, you don’t want to leave behind your canine friend. After all, they are the most loyal and greatest human companions.

However, road trips can be exhausting, and when you have a pet to look after, you have to do some extra planning and preparation to ensure you have all the things you need when travelling with your dog.

Taking care of some essential guidelines will ensure that you enjoy a stress-free and relaxing journey. Here are 14 tips for things you need to keep in mind when travelling with your dog by car.

1. Safety comes first

When travelling with your dogs, it’s imperative to create dedicated space in the car for them. Not only will it ensure a safe trip but it will also make your pet more comfortable and easy.

For this purpose, you can use a crate or carrier, a pet car seat or a pet seat belt in the car. Also, the carrier should be large enough so that the Dog can move around freely in it.

2. Go for a test drive

Before you embark on the journey, take your dog on a test drive. See how the pet responds to the trip. If the dog gets car sick or anxious, then you have to plan accordingly.

3. Keep the dog engaged

Even dogs can get bored and exhausted on long road trips. To make the journey comfortable for your dog, bring along something for the dog’s entertainment.

You can carry chew toys and fun treats to keep them engaged and occupied.

4. Feed the pets early

Feed your pets at least three to four hours before departure, as it can prevent any car sickness or other problems for your pet.

Moreover, the meals should be light so that the dog doesn’t feel heavy or nauseous in a moving car.

5. Never leave the pet alone

Leaving a pet alone in a parked vehicle is a huge mistake and neglectful to boot. Vehicles can become super-heated in no time during hot days.

Your pet can develop heat stroke and die. The temperature inside a car on hot days is much higher than the outside so take extra care and never leave your pet in the car.

6. Take regular breaks

Regular breaks are not only essential for your own rest but also for the pet. Short breaks and stops will allow the dog to stretch, relax and play and also become familiar with the surroundings.

7. Don’t let pets stick their heads out

When travelling with your dog in the car, never let the dogs stick their heads out of the windows. It can lead to injuries from flying objects. Plus, high-speed winds can cause harm to their eyes and ears.

There have also been incidents of pets flying out moving cars. Keeping the dog restrained is also crucial for your safety as an unrestrained dog can distract you easily while driving.

8. Make a pet-friendly travel kit

Wondering what to bring when travelling with your dog? Create a pet travel kit and carry all the essential items in it such as:

•    Pet food

•    Leash

•    First aid kit

•    Medicines

•    Food and water bowls

•    Vaccination record

•    Waste bags

•    Dog bed and blankets

9. ID tags and microchips

Consider getting your dog microchipped before going on a road trip. The chip contains all the identification information of the pets in case they go missing.

Similarly, collar tags with the latest and updated information about the dog should be there.

10. Hydration is important

During long trips, your pet can become exhausted and dehydrated quickly therefore always keep a good supply of water at hand.

11. Vaccination Records and Documents

If you are travelling between states, it’s necessary to carry all of your dog’s vaccination records.

 Other than vaccination records, there are some documents that you might need to take to be on the safe side such as pet licenses and proof of ownership.

Some states require a pet’s license, so it’s advisable to carry one.

12. Take your dog for a check-up

Before travelling, it’s essential to take your dog for a checkup with the vet.

The check-up is necessary to ensure that the vaccinations are up-to-date, the dog is generally in a good health condition, the prescriptions are new, and the dog is free of any flea or tick infections.

13. Plan for any emergency

While travelling, there’s always a chance for emergencies. Keep yourself well-informed about the route and the area you are travelling to.

Be aware of the closest vet clinics and keep their contact numbers in your phone.

14. Use Apps

There are some useful apps that assist you while you travel with a dog. BringFido is an app that lets you find dog-friendly accommodations, parks, and other destinations.

Another cool app is the Dog Park Finder which searches for nearby pet-friendly parks based on your location.

Proper planning is vital whenever you are travelling somewhere, and it becomes all the more important when you have a pet accompanying you.

So, never be complacent when travelling with your dog for the first time and enjoy safely travel with your dog. 

Talpona Beach, Goa: Summer Road Trip With The Dogs

The view at Talpona Beach

I love peace and quiet, so that’s exactly what I choose when I go on vacation. This time I wanted to take my dogs with me too, instead of leaving them in a pet hostel in Pune.

The last time I went on a road trip with my dogs was to Murud beach in Dapoli. That was a trial to see how well they took the road journey, which was a long 7 to 8 hours. Since they seemed to enjoy it, I decided that our next road trip would be to Goa, around 12 hours away.

Vacationing with pets is like going on vacation with little kids. There’s extra stuff to carry, things to worry about – such as will there be aggressive strays on the beach? Will they puke all over the car? And so on and so forth and what have you. (Any fans of The Middle out there?)

To complicate matters, a few weeks before our trip, my 8-year old lab, Tiara, was diagnosed with urinary bladder stones and had to undergo surgery to remove them. Luckily, she recovered from her surgery faster than I did.

Tiara looking sad as usual

To plan the perfect summer beach vacation with our dogs, I turned to my favourite hotel search engine, Booking.com, because they allow you to filter your choices so you can see only the pet-friendly stays.

I first booked a place at Agonda, one of my favourite beaches in Goa. Then, I realised we’d be travelling with my brother, and the driver too. So, beach resorts wouldn’t work for us. Hmm, cancel the booking.

I looked again for family rooms or cottages on beaches nearby and found a cottage intriguingly called Talpona Paradise Beach House, at Talpona Beach in Canacona. So I made the booking and contacted the owner. After some back and forth, he offered me the cottage with air-conditioning for the same price.

  • Pet-friendly? Check.
  • Family-friendly? Check.
  • Free Wifi? Check.
  • Air-conditioning? Check.
  • Available for a week? Check.

Having booked our cottage months in advance, we set out at around 7 am on the 19th of May, 2018. We had packed everything we could think of – dog food, bowls, drinking water, a whole bag of food and snacks for us (because we had no idea what to expect).

Chewie enjoying the drive and the view

We picked up my brother and I opened up Google Maps. It showed us a route that completely bypassed Mapusa and Panjim, going instead via Belgaum and Molem sanctuary. The route was also much shorter (9 hours) than I expected (12 hours).

The route from Pune to Talpona Paradise Beach House

The dogs and we settled in for our long road journey. The road to Belgaum (or Belgavi, as it is now known, thanks to our frustrating tendency to never be happy with the way things are) was pretty straightforward. A highway with two one-way lanes.

Once we crossed Belgaum, things got interesting. The long and winding road now led through lush, green forests and wildlife sanctuaries, such as Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kali Tiger Reserve, Castlerock Wildlife Range, and Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary.

From Belgaum to Talpona, the road passes through a number of wildlife sanctuaries

The drive through these woods was quite a treat, with green, verdant foliage all around us. When we were on the ghats (hills) the road weaved and turned in hairpin bends until our stomachs lurched and the dogs woke up from their deep slumber.

I was thrilled with Google Maps for leading us through a route that was so scenic, beautiful, and most of all, almost free of traffic. We made good time, despite two pit-stops, and reached the beach house by 5.30 in the evening, around 10.5 hours after we left Pune.

The house itself was very comfortable. I wanted peace and quiet, and I got it in spades. Talpona is a small village that has little but a small grocery store and a couple of restaurants that serve (the almost non-existent) tourists. To actually buy anything you need, you have to drive to Canacona market, about 15 minutes away.

Talpona Paradise Beach House

The air-conditioner was in the living room, but it cooled the entire house. The owner gave us the number of the caretaker, a sweet girl called Prasanna, who greeted us when we arrived. He also gave us the number of Deepak, who ran a restaurant nearby.

Deepak’s wife makes a mean crab curry, with the result that I pigged out on the stuff till I had crab coming out of my ears. The rest of the seafood was delicious too.

Deepak’s restaurant just down the road

The Wifi started out excellent, then failed a couple of days before we left. Deepak’s 15-year old son, Shantanu, installed a Jio router for us, but it was extremely slow. Other than those few hiccups, the place was perfect.

There was a pack or two of stray dogs, but we managed to intimidate them into staying away while we took our dogs swimming every day. Being Labs, both our dogs love water and enjoyed their swims thoroughly.

The dogs enjoy a swim with our driver, Ashok

The sand and the waters were clean and free of garbage, thanks to the conscientious villagers. However there’s a strong undercurrent that can pull you into the water if you’re not careful, and there are rocks under the waves in some parts, so swimming is not as safe here as it would be at, say, Baga beach.

A view of the cottage from the beach

Spending a whole week here was heavenly. A lot of the time I would just sit and look at the waves or watch lizards sun themselves lazily, heads bobbing on the porous laterite walls.

Eagles circled the cliffs nearby, while a murder of crows cawed and teased my dogs, and mynah birds cooed in the trees. Butterflies floated past in a daze. Blades of grass eagerly pushed out of a bed of dry needles from the two casuarinas in the small garden.

The steps and bamboo gate leading to the sea

A row of steps led to the sea, while a flimsy gate of thin bamboo sticks strung together kept out cows and people. We ate our meals looking out at the waves, sitting in cane chairs with blue cushions around a grey plastic table, in what passed for a balcony.

Relaxing at Talpona Paradise Beach House
Chewie finds a coconut to play with

A large white bougainvillaea growing in the garden reminded me of the Singing Bush from The Three Amigos.

The bougainvillaea that reminded me of the Singing Bush

I noticed that the sun would set not in the middle of the horizon like it did at Agonda, but in the north-west. I guess we were much further south than I thought.

Sunset at Talpona beach happens in the north-west

The route to the beach house is just as scenic. A river meanders down through patches of mangroves, while pillars of a half-finished bridge stand in the river just ahead of a mangrove forest, like lovelorn lovers waiting to be united.

Bridge being built across the Talpon river

Thick mangroves line the river all the way to the sea. In a little bay at the mouth of the river, behind a spit of sand, sits the Rio de Talpona Guest House with an enviable view of the river and ocean.

The view from Rio de Talpona Guest House

Small houses built with locally-sourced laterite stone line the roads, sometimes painted in garish colours.

Most houses in Goa are built out of locally sourced laterite stone

My child and I also went on an excursion to the nearby Galgibag beach, a nesting point for turtles. I woke up a man called Samir, one of the guards who was supposed to be keeping an eye on the new nesting site cordoned off with nets (to prevent stray dogs from digging up and eating the turtle eggs).

Turtle nesting site at Galgibag beach

He told me the forest officer sits at Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary while forest guards watch the nesting sites in shifts. However, turtles have been decreasing at Galgibag, while more come in at the Agonda nesting site.

Two days before we left, to our delight, my aunt and cousins from Panjim dropped in and spent the day with us.

When my cousins came to visit

They loved the house and the beach and decide they would come again sometime for a picnic. All of them being ardent dog-lovers, my dogs were thrilled with all the extra attention they were getting.

https://youtu.be/f0_0e483z5k

On the last day of our vacation, we experienced the highest tide, probably because of the onset of the monsoons. The seas may have been choppy, but the sunset was sublime. Even Chewie agreed.

High tide at Talpona Beach
Chewie enjoying the sunset

As we were leaving, I gave Prasanna, the caretaker, a generous tip, and told her we’d be coming back every year with our dogs. I really meant it.

As we passed through all the wildlife sanctuaries on the way back, I stayed alert and even managed to spot a peacock running into the forest. Thank you, Google, for taking us through such a lovely route. However, I do have a wishlist for you.

It would be nice if Google Maps gave us advance notifications of fun things to see and do along our route, and also if we were offered a choice of the faster or the more scenic route. Imagine how much more fun our road trips would be!


A Road Trip With Dogs To Murud Beach, Dapoli

Swimming with our dogs at Murud beach, Dapoli

I love taking road trips with my dogs. When I was a proud dog parent to my mutt, Simba, my (late) husband and I would look everywhere for dog-friendly accommodations so we could take him along.

At that time, India did not have many pet-friendly resorts being advertised like they are today. So it wasn’t easy to find even a restaurant where we could take him.

Despite the inconvenience, we took him on many road trips to Goa in our beat-up old Maruti 800, choosing to stay at my parent’s flat in Monte de Guirim instead of some fancy beach resort. I remember many good times, and at least one mortifying time on the beach with Simba.

As I don’t take too many road trips nowadays, I usually look for a reputed and loving dog boarding to keep my dogs when I travel. However, I miss taking them on a road trip, as we did with the older one, Tiara when we went to Kashid Beach near Alibaug many years ago.

And so I decided it was time to take Chewie, the younger one, on her first road trip. I chose Dapoli in Maharashtra, India, for the pet-friendly accommodation at the Beach Resort Igloo House at Murud Beach (This property is no longer listed on Booking.com, where I did my booking).

Igloo-shaped rooms on the beach

According to Google Maps, the property is a good 5.5 hours from Pune. But if I’ve learned anything about Google Maps, it’s that the distance and time estimate is a “best case scenario” barring traffic and pit stops on the way.

We booked a Pet taxi with Petxi in Pune and our driver, Ashok, picked us up early in the morning. He was very good with the dogs and helped us take them for short walks when we stopped to stretch our legs en route.

Chewie (left) and Tiara (right) reluctant to leave their air-conditioned comfort

Given that it was during the monsoons and the roads were not in the best condition, it took us 7 to 8 hours to reach there. Along the way, we enjoyed some beautiful views of Mulshi, the lakes and streams and the hills lush with monsoon vegetation.

Monsoon vegetation and mist in the hills

By the time we reached Dapoli, it was late afternoon and we were all exhausted from the journey. Unfortunately, the road to the resort was hard to find and we learned that there was no direct road there. We had to park the car outside the resort and walk there via the beach, fending off a few vicious strays who made their base near the food stalls.

I had carried a packet of dry food for the dogs but asked the resort to make them some kichdi (a mixture of rice and dal) minus salt and spices, with which to fortify their meals. The food served in their tiny beach shack was good, except for the fried fish, which had the taste and texture of leather.

The resort was bang on the beach, but we had to walk down a few broken steps to get to the waves. Our room was cosy and comfortable and did actually resemble an igloo with its circular construction and high ceiling.

The dogs settle into the resort

Three adults, or two adults and two kids (two in the master bed and two kids in the bunk near the ceiling) could easily make themselves at home in it. It had a small balcony that looked out on to the ocean.

The only unpleasant sight was a largish channel dug in the sand near the rooms. I couldn’t fathom the purpose of this channel at that point.

The channel dug near our room

Sometime at night, a large bulldozer came in and started working the sand in the channel right outside our room. The sound was deafening and I was forced to complain about it to the most readily available person lurking about, asking how long it would continue.

He told me it would continue all night and I was aghast. I protested vigorously and the bulldozer vanished after a while. Apparently, the channel was being dug to create a parking lot on the property.

Never mind that it was a weekday, I was just shocked that they would start construction right outside a guest’s room at night with no regard for their peace of mind. That’s one reason I wouldn’t recommend you stay at this place if you’re going to Dapoli.

Instead, here are a few decent, pet-friendly resorts by the beach in Dapoli, Maharashtra.

Other than that incident with the bulldozer, we had a pretty good time over the next couple of days. Our dogs had fun swimming in the ocean, while one of us kept watching for the strays. For me, this was a test trip, to see how well they would endure a long car journey.

Enjoying the waves with our dogs at Murud beach, Dapoli

I was happy to find that they enjoyed it very much and – thanks to the powerful air conditioning in the car – were reluctant to get out whenever we made a pit stop. Our next long road trip with the dogs will be to Goa, where the beaches are much better and the food is, too.

Chewie bringing sand on our bed

 

Tips For Road Trips With Your Dogs
  1. Tiara after her swim

    Make sure your car air-conditioning is working well. Either that or keep the windows open and let the breeze in. There’s nothing worse for dogs than a hot car.

  2. Drive slowly and at a steady pace. Long drives can be stressful and bumps can cause your dog’s heart rate to skyrocket.
  3. Keep your dog’s water bowls handy and give them lots of water to drink on the way. Don’t let them get dehydrated.
  4. Carry a mattress for your dog’s comfort. I forgot to carry one on this trip and wished I had.
  5. If you’re going with a driver, as many Indian families do, make sure he’s very comfortable with dogs.

Can you think of any more tips for long road trips with dogs? Post them in the comments below.

Also read: Belligerent Canine Meets Bare-Chested Woman On Beach In Goa

Tiara finds a way to get comfortable on the drive back

Belligerent Canine Meets Bare-Chested Woman On Beach In Goa

It was a warm, somnolent day on Baga beach, Goa, when my dog decided to transform from Lassie to Cujo. The lazy December sun looked down gently on the sands buzzing with winter vacationers.

Interspersed among the usual crowds of foreigners were dark-skinned locals, offering oil massages, chatting up flaxen-haired young things, and selling all kinds of trinkets (best described as ‘beach junk’) in at least five different languages.

Simba, the docile dog turned belligerent canine.

My husband and I were sitting on the sands with Simba, our mixed-breed mutt who had a dachshund and a German shepherd in the DNA mash-up (no idea how they managed that). We fondly referred to him as ‘the long and the short of it.’ He didn’t mind. Simba had better things to occupy himself with than such ethnic slurs.

We were enjoying the sun, the waves and the sand. The faint strains of reggae wafted over from Britto’s beach shack, a few meters away. Meanwhile, Simba ran into the waves, wet himself thoroughly and then ran back to roll in the sand. He was covered with the stuff from tip of nose to tip of tail, until we couldn’t tell where sand ended and dog began.

Simba covering himself in sand on Baga Beach

Always a sweet, happy mutt, he was especially excited on this visit to the beach. The crowds of foreigners and Indians milling around had got him a little worked up.

In those days, Baga was well-known for the topless foreign women who chose to make it their personal tanning booth. Pretty young (and also not-so-young) things that would probably not have dared or cared to bare back home, readily shed their bikini tops and lay down to tan themselves on Baga’s benevolent sands.

Back then, no one objected to such behaviour, and a lot of Indians appreciated it thoroughly. The cops ignored the impotent ‘No Nudity Allowed’ signs in favour of watching the topless girls, jostling for a better view with other Indian males.

Indian women like me were, depending on the width and depth of our personal perspectives, either mortified or indifferent to these goings-on.

A generously padded, curly-haired redhead – possibly an Irish woman seduced away from all dietary strictures by Goa’s wine and vindaloo ethos – walked across the beach in front of us.

She too was topless and it was hard not to notice that, as she scurried across the sand. For some reason, my otherwise sweet, docile Simba decided to take offence. He chased after her, nipping at her ankles.

For lack of an image of a topless redhead, here’s one of my brother instead

The lady (let’s call her Sadie) squealed at the sight of a furry, brown dog apparently determined to take a chunk out of her leg, and scurried even faster. I watched her work up the sand trying to avoid my mutt, and I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified or mirthful. A little bit of both, I decided.

I chased after Simba and leashed him. I had no idea what set him off – her size, state of undress or some other impulse known only to Dachshund-Alsatian crossovers. Either way, he had no way to communicate to me why a topless, white foreigner would merit such a reaction from him.

Sadie rode off into the sunset at a fairly decent clip, never to be seen or heard from again, while my husband and I returned to our spot on the sands laughing and wondering at Simba’s unaccustomed behaviour.

Perhaps he was overcompensating for the lack of policing from the cops gawking at women on a beach where toplessness was clearly not allowed.

Simba enjoying the water

For the rest of our vacation, we kept our canine fashion critic on the leash as long as there were foreign women around. It was a needless precaution, though – whatever had set Simba off, Sadie had taken with her.

Note: As this is a family website, we are unable to provide images of topless redheads. Not that we have any…

Also read: A Road Trip With Dogs To Murud Beach, Dapoli