Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Incredible Journey

First let me introduce my pack, there is Sydney an 11 year old spayed/female pit bull, Samantha (now deceased) but at the time of our journey was a 10 year old spayed/female ‘pitador,' Murphy a 3 year old neutered male pit bull, Foster a 16 month old neutered male pit bull, Kipling a 13 year old kitty and an assortment of freshwater fish. I have been very fortunate that all of my critters get along together. Of course I always take precautions and always supervise their interactions, but at least so far they have always been friendly towards each other. Recently however, that friendship was put to the ultimate test!

My career took a sudden change that required a cross country move of my family from the western edge of Montana to the eastern edge of Virginia. Mapquest indicated that this would be a journey of more than 2300 miles and take an estimated 35.5 hours crossing at least part of 9 different states including Ohio in which BSL is rampant. Oh and did I mention my mother was coming along for the ride? Although I was looking forward to the new start in life, this journey was a huge concern. Mom doesn’t like riding in a car for more than 8-10 hours at a time and with 4 dogs, I was also planning on stopping for breaks every 3-4 hours. So that meant that we would all be stuck in an SUV together for at least 4 very long days and in a different hotel every night.

The Journey:

Day 1: We started out early on Saturday morning, got the car packed up in record time, made sure the house was completely empty and clean, waiting for the new owner. The dogs were excited to be going for a ride and were eager to get going….little did they know! I had reduced the stuff to carry myself to the absolute minimum so most of it could fit on top of the car, but there were various odds and ends that inevitably ended up inside taking up precious cargo room. Each of the dogs had a bed and a corner of the truck, the cat was in his carrier toward the front and the assorted fish were in a Tupperware box in the back. All of this was packed to make entry and exit from the car as easy as possible for the dogs at rest stops.

The beginning of our route took us past our most favorite hiking trails so we had to stop for one last quick hike before leaving our valley forever. Back in the car the dogs finally settled down to sleep.

Unfortunately however, my mom is a very conscientious driver who religiously uses her turn signals. Now normally that is a good thing, except to Sydney, turn signals indicate potty breaks so every time my mom would switch lanes, Sydney woke up and wanted a potty break. A couple raps with a rolled up newspaper taught my stubborn mom not to use her turn signals anymore!

It must have been a crazy site at the rest stops when two women and four pit bulls all come tumbling out of an SUV! The first day was relatively uneventful, the three older dogs were used to long drives and baby Foster took his cue from them and slept quietly in the back.

Our next test however was how to sneak 4 pit bulls and a cat into the hotels at night. This was where having two people came in handy. Pulling around the corner of the office allowed me to register with “I’m traveling with a medium-sized dog." Fortunately we were always lucky to get rooms far from the front desk so that we could then sneak them in two by two and take them for potty breaks the same way. The problem came when Foster after sleeping away the whole day in the car woke up and wanted to play all night long! Plus he had never been in a hotel before so it was a lot of fun jumping from one bed to the next.

The next few days were mostly uneventful. The dogs and cat got into the routine and were quite easy to deal with during our “pit” stops. Trying to keep Foster amused was rather difficult however. I had planned for this and brought his favorite toy--bubbles, to try to burn off some of his energy. So during a few of our rest stops and at hotels I tried exercising him on a long leash by blowing bubbles. It helped, but was not enough for a high energy pup who was used to running around a one acre yard everyday! Mid way, we decided to change our route somewhat so that we could avoid driving through Ohio entirely so that we wouldn’t face any of the rampant BSL. It added a few hours and an extra state or two to our trip, but the peace of mind was worth it.

Day four finally arrived, we had four more states to get through, but we were determined to make it to my new house if it killed us! It’s a good thing too because tempers were starting to flare in the back of the car. I t doesn’t matter how good of friends you are, when there is no room to move and brothers and sisters keep stepping on each other and sitting on each other, there is always the inevitable “MOM, He’s touching me!” which in this case came as growls and general pissy attitudes. But we made it, 12 hours later we arrived at our new home. The yard was not yet fenced so running around was still out of the question, but a large new home with no furniture yet made for some exciting races.

After four months, we’ve finally settled in, the fence is up and the furniture finally arrived. Sadly, Samantha lost her battle with cancer a few weeks after we arrived.

Despite our huge loss and our incredible journey, we are all still friends and we hope to never have to do it again.

~ Amanda and the BullyBrigade

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