Travels with Charlie

Charlie does not do well in the car. He can tough it out on the highway but a winding, curvy, bumpy back road causes his tummy to lurch and purge. This can be especially gross if he is sitting in my lap at the time. Almost all of my pets throughout my life have travelled well. Chase enjoys a car ride and will even hop inside, uninvited, just for the briefest of trips to the store, bank or mailbox.

The worst travel companion I ever had was my cat, Madison. He loathed the car so much that he would work himself into a frenzy before I moved the vehicle ten feet from the driveway. He would spit and howl and hiss and make himself sick almost instantly. He would froth and foam at the mouth like a rabid wild animal. The cat needed a bath one hundred percent of the time upon reaching our destination. The worst trip ever was a visit to my parents’ home when I was living in Charleston, South Carolina. It was more than two hours to their house in my small single cab pickup truck. Madison was hissing in his typical fashion from the cage on the seat beside me. On this trip he graciously waited forty minutes before becoming ill in his cage. I was too far from my apartment to turn around and too far from my parents’ to continue with an agitated cat kicking bits of puke out of his cage.

I pulled over at the first rest stop I could find. There was a long row of empty parking spaces and I selected a space furthest from the bathrooms so I could have a bit of privacy. Unbuckling my seatbelt, I reached over and released the latch on the cat cage door. Madison emerged; dry on one side and sticky wet on the other. As I attempted to locate a paper towel to clean him with, he jumped into my lap and began to rub himself dry on my shirt. My shirt was completely soiled, it was a hot and humid summer day and I had a long drive ahead of me. Great. I pushed Madison away and climbed out of the truck. The parking lot was still empty. I fished a clean shirt out of my suitcase and climbed back into the truck. I decided to change my shirt in the truck by pulling my arms inside the filthy shirt and using it to shield myself while twisting the other shirt on. Good plan and I had one arm pulled inside when a minivan pulled into the space next to me. Thirty empty spaces in the parking lot and they had to pull right next to me! Madison was now perched on the dashboard of the truck. I waited for some privacy but no one exited the minivan.

As I pondered a Plan B, I was startled by a knock on my window. I looked up and saw the rest stop attendant, broom in hand, giving me the thumbs up signal. “Nice Cat!” he yelled. I looked at Madison; his fur stuck to him in clumpy matted piles and realized that the man could only see his good side. I forced a smile and thanked him, praying that he would move on. He shuffled away, inspecting a few trash cans along his route. I eyed my clean shirt again and the minivan. Sighing, I decided to go for it. Another vehicle pulled into the other space. I was surrounded and gave up the clean shirt idea. Glad that I had a full tank of gas, I yanked an old sweater that was behind the seat and pulled it on to cover my shirt. Needless to say, at the end of this journey, both the cat and I needed a bath!

Charlie has never been as bad as Madison but I have had to clean my car more times than I wanted after a road trip with him. Recently I discovered calming pet treats in my favorite store to spend all of my money: Pet Smart. While a bit pricey, Nutri-Vet Pet Ease soft chews are the miracle I have been seeking. Now before any trip, I give Charlie a treat and he has no problems whatsoever. He also is very happy to get in the car and enjoys his rides just like the other dogs, looking out the window before curling up to sleep.

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