It’s a Dog’s World

It’s a Dog’s World

$14.95True Stories of Travel with Man’s Best Friend

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By Christine Hunsicker
March 2005
ISBN 1-932361-17-0 256 pages
It's a Dog's World“Splendid stories for those who love dogs, adventure, and good writing.” —New York Post
There is no more heart-wrenching sight than the look on your dog’s face as you head out the door on a trip. Here is a collection of great writing by dog lovers who didn’t say good-bye, but who packed the dog toys and took Spike with them—as well as stories by travelers who made new canine friends on the road.

 

 

  • Dine around Paris with George Rathmell and Cocotte
  • Ride with Melissa Chapman and Gypsy as they explore America on horseback
  • Ski to the North Pole with Helen Thayer and Charlie
  • Befriend Djarum, a local watchdog, on a sojourn to Bali with Meredith Moraine
  • Experience the craziness of the Iditarod with Gary Paulsen and Cookie in Alaska
  • Hang out at a dog show in Rio with Lucille Bellucci and Jeff the Doberman
  • Take a healing journey in Yorkshire with James Herriot as he treats Kim, a golden retriever
  • Celebrate with trek leader Wendy Smith as she rescues a puppy in Morocco
  • Travel around the United States with Charley and John Steinbeck…and much more.

This book is the perfect gift for your favorite dog lover. Its stories span every continent and every emotion. The book also provides many leads to information for traveling with your own canine friend. With an Introduction by Maria Goodavage.

BY MARIA GOODAVAGE

It was Joe’s second cousin who was responsible for Joe’s lack of travel the first year of his life. Every time I closed the door on Joe’s pleading face, I thought of Cousin Whiz, an Airedale with a strange streak a mile long, and reasoned that I was doing the right thing. After all, if Cousin Whiz could somehow escape from a locked vehicle and taunt traffic on Interstate 5 with the temerity of a toreador—not once, but twice—Joe could too. I was leaving Joe for his own good.

Cousin Whiz made no bones about the fact that he was a tough-traveling terrier. As soon as his folks, Ed and Zoe Rogers, parked their 40-foot-long recreational vehicle in front of our San Francisco home and opened the door, Cousin Whiz would bolt straight through our gate and stand stock still while Joe, eight years his junior, sniffed him from tail to nose.

“Check out my snout, Cuz,” anyone who watched would swear Whiz was saying. “This mouth has tasted water from toilets from Maine to California. And note the scent on my right front foot. Hah! That’s the closest you’ll ever come to setting paw in a canoe on the Suwannee River.” With each area Joe sniffed, Cousin Whiz would stand straighter and prouder and puff up ever so slightly.

Whiz’s folks, energetic retirees armed with hundreds of pooper scoopers, were as proud of Cousin Whiz’s achievements as Whiz was. They referred to themselves as his chauffeurs, and laughed like parents of a naughty child prodigy when discussing his escapades on—and in—the road. The conversations about their cross-country treks were always punctuated by tales of Cousin Whiz (who would have been named after John Steinbeck’s traveling poodle Charlie, but Zoe’s brother was named Charlie and he would have gotten upset at Whiz taking his name, especially since Brother Charlie was also slightly strange and had madly curly hair, a brown beard, and deep-set brown eyes):

“How Whiz escaped and got onto the highway from the back of the RV we’ll never know. We think he opened a window. My god, what a dog.”

“That sunrise off Mount Katahdin with Whiz on our laps was the most beautiful experience we’ve ever had—short of our kids being born of course.”

“Remember when Whiz charmed that gallery owner in Santa Fe and he gave us that beautiful clown painting? What a dog.”

Regardless of the tale, Zoe always had a way of making the conversation lead to the same point: “Honey, you haven’t traveled ‘til you’ve traveled with a dog. It’s hard to explain,” she’d say, with a look of a child reveling in a mystery. “Whiz has opened our eyes like you couldn’t even imagine.”

Whiz had indeed opened their eyes, and the eyes of some innocent bystanders as well. It’s nothing short of an eye-opener when a dog drags the beach blanket from under an impassioned couple in San Diego, or when he steals the walking stick of one of the most prominent citizens in Birmingham.

I wasn’t sure that I was up for traveling with Joe. After all, he shared more than a few genes with Cousin Whiz. But it was getting harder to leave Joe home with a pet sitter when I embarked on road trips, and I’m sure Whiz’s visits had something to do with this; Joe was quickly becoming an expert in the art of giving guilt; his tale drooped and his eyes grew deeper and wetter as I approached the door.

So instead of going alone to a northern California venue for a newspaper assignment one weekend, I succumbed to the guilt and brought Joe along. Within minutes of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, he began moaning. I thought it was perhaps for joy, but then I noticed he was looking a touch green under his fur. Since I’d never seen a green dog before, I figured it was just a reflection from the lush hills surrounding us. Then he threw up all over the back seat and I figured otherwise.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, except for trying to find a dog-friendly hotel for four hours. At midnight we ended up sneaking into a Best Western which prominently displayed an “Absolutely NO Pets” sign on its front door. I came up with a line or two in case we got caught: “He’s not a pet, Ms. Manager, he’s family!” Or “He’s my guide dog,” although I knew that wouldn’t really work, since Joe tended to pull me around as if he were a rabid tow truck.

The next morning, we set out early, so as not to get caught, but we got caught anyway. The manager stared at us imposingly, but chuckled when I offered excuse number one. That’s okay. Just don’t let the rest of the people see you. People can be weird about dogs,” she said and offered for us to join her family that evening for dinner.” Not many places around here allow dogs for supper.” That night she treated us to one of the best on-the-road meals I’d ever eaten. Joe got to lick the plates. He was in dog heaven.

Since that first excursion several years ago, Joe has accompanied me on most of my road trips. Through thick and thin, he’s been the best buddy a traveler could have. He was there for the flat tire in the middle of the Mojave Desert at high noon. He was my faithful companion when I got stuck in a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada mountains and had to trudge three miles to the next town on a deserted road. He has shared buggy rides, train rides, ferry rides, old log cabins, fancy hotel rooms, gourmet meals at grand restaurants, and magnificent romps on white sand beaches under the full moon. One day while on a hike, Joe even introduced me to my husband.

Joe had quickly become almost a necessary part of my adventuring. Traveling without him left me feeling as though I’d left part of myself behind. Of course, his genetic propensity for Whizdom did occasionally rear its curly head. In one afternoon I’d rather forget, he performed two separate leg lifts on the same meter maid. And he once chased a raccoon so far into the woods that he ended up in the arms of a family that looked as though they’d just as soon eat a dog as pet one. I had to buy them two buckets of fried chicken to get Joe back.

With all our journeying, something odd was happening to my senses. I was beginning to notice things I’d never noticed, and to appreciate tiny details that had escaped me for decades. My senses were becoming fine tuned—almost like Joe’s. It was a little daunting gaining a dog’s-eye view of the world, and I was suddenly glad that Harvey, our pet mouse, hadn’t been my longtime traveling buddy.

On our walks, I began to see heretofore invisible life, from tiny insects to far-off deer. Driving past a freshly fertilized field in the Central Valley strangely became a blissful experience. Joe’s ecstasy at smelling the manure was contagious, and I’d find myself slowing down, rather than accelerating to get past the pungent aroma. A breeze blowing in from the Pacific was no longer just a breeze. As I watched Joe’s nose inspecting every facet of the wind as if it were a rare and delicate flower, it dawned on me how much more there is to this world than what we see as humans.

We began hitting the road for no particular reason. One of the greatest joys of traveling with a dog, I came to realize, is that the destination isn’t terribly important. It’s the journey that counts. It was somewhat humbling to be taught one of life’s greatest lessons by a 65-pound dog with bad breath. But I finally began to understand the mysterious twinkle in Zoe’s eyes when she talked of traveling with Whiz.

Cousin Whiz died last year, at the respectable Airedale age of fifteen. He died in his sleep at Zoe’s feet somewhere between Cape Cod and Providence. For a while Ed and Zoe stopped traveling, settled in a Connecticut RV park, and started feeling old. But then a poodle-terrier combo wandered into their lives and took a liking to the passenger seat of the RV. They named him Charlie, although they call him “Jerry” in front of Zoe’s brother. “He’s as good a traveler as they come,” beams Ed. “He even got us a free dinner at this French place outside Chicago. What a dog.”

These days, dogs inspect Joe with great reverence, and he stands straighter and prouder and puffs up ever so slightly with each sniff. If I happen to know the dog’s person, after a couple of visits I’ll inevitably get a phone call. “Thanks to you and your dog, we’ve bowed to Chester’s begging. We’re taking him on our vacation next week. I don’t know why, but we’ll give it a try.”

At that moment I know that with any luck, a wise dog is soon going to become a very happy dog. And a happy traveler is going to become a little happier, and maybe even a little wiser.

Preface

Introduction–Maria Goodavage

Part One: Traveling Tails

Eagle River–Gary Paulsen
Alaska

The Ruff Guide–Brian Alexander
San Francisco

Gypsy-Cross-Country Dog–Melissa A. Priblo Chapman
USA

Thin Ice–Helen Thayer
Magnetic North Pole

Through a Dog’s Eyes–Vicky Winslow
Holland

Story from the C.A.R.–Robert Burnham
Central African Republic

The Roving Ambassador–Paul Ogden
Victoria, British Columbia

In France with Cocotte–George Rathmell
France

The Honorary Huichol–Charles Kulander
Mexico

Charley and the Bear–John Steinbeck
Western USA

Part Two: A Dog’s Life Around the World

Wild Trek Dog–Wendy Smith
Morocco

Year of the Dog–Vanda Sendzimir
China

Going to the Dogs–Gerry Gomez Pearlberg
Nepal

They Don’t Take Just Any Mutt–Michele Levy Bender
New York City

Tourist Dog–Meredith Moraine
Bali

Dog Soldier–Thomas Long
Guatemala

Dog’s Night Out–D-L Nelson
Germany

Part Three: Some Things to Do

Sailing With Sam–Ann Raincock
Canada, Eastern USA., Bahamas

The Carioca Dobie Derby–Lucille Bellucci
Brazil

Sheepdog Trials: A Field Trip–Susan Allen Toth
England

The Things We Do For Love–Louise Rafkin
Japan

The Dog That Wasn’t Supposed to Go–Brian Duggan
Lexington, Kentucky

Turkish Delight, Turkish Strength–Orysia Dawydiak
Turkey

Could Karibou Reach Caribou Pass?–Kent and Donna Dannen
Rocky Mountains, USA

Dog Biscuit Diplomacy–Judith Babcock Wylie
The World

Dogging It In Canada–Alison DaRosa
Canada

Locum–James Herriot
England

Part Four: In The Shadows

Rabies!–Betty Ann Webster
India

Visions of Puppies Danced in My Head–Zelie Pollon
Thailand

Missing Chanel–Kelley L. Harrison
USA

Part Five: The Last Word

Dogs Abroad–Pico Iyer
The World

Dogs’ Night Out
by D.L. Nelson

Two canine brothers find a little patch of dog heaven
in a Heidelberg restaurant.

“Bring the boys,” Llara said. Normally when I visited her in Heidelberg, Germany for a quality mother-daughter weekend, my Japanese chins, Albert and Amadeus, were canine non-grata.

That was because of Waterloo, her rabbit. The first time the boys and waterloo met, the rabbit dived under the bed and spent the rest of the weekend tapping out danger warnings to all the non-existent bunnies in the building.

“What about Waterloo?” I asked.

“I got tired of her chewing everything.” My daughter was talking on a new telephone. Waterloo had eaten her old one. “I found a family that promised not to turn her into dinner.”

Unlike in America, many public places happily accommodate dogs. At the Café du Soleil, my favorite Geneva bistro and a regular stop for fondue, the owner welcomes them and always stops at our table to say, “Bonjour Albert. Bonjour Amadeus.” Only afterwards does he add,“Comment-allez vous Madame Nelson?”

Last month when I was in the French Midi, I ducked into a museum, half to escape the rain and half to look at the exhibit.

“We don’t allow dogs,” the cashier said, “but you can check them with your raincoat and umbrella.” When I returned from a shortened visit, I found Amadeus playing with another checked dog and Albert asleep on the lap of the woman running the coat room.

So knowing travel and dogs presented no problem, I grabbed an overnight bag, their leashes, and passports. These are issued by my local vet and contain a complete shot record, although for all the years I’ve lived in Europe, I have never been asked to show them at a border crossing. Five hours of driving time later we pulled into a parking place in front of Llara’s student apartment house.

After the normal greetings, my daughter, who claims cooking causes pimples, suggested we go out to dinner. Having eaten her attempts, I agreed.

We wandered through the old section of Heidelberg, looking into windows and admiring the lighted castle above. The dogs trotted along, leaving their marks at appropriate spots.

“Let’s eat at the Kupfer Kanne,” my daughter said. We had both dined there several times on earlier visits and had enjoyed the warmth both from the ceramic stove as we entered and the woman who we had guessed was the owner.

We were never sure if her, “Nice to have you with us,” was because she remembered us or because she was friendly.

“Is it okay to bring the dogs in?” My daughter asked in German, as the same woman, dressed in the traditional aproned dirndl, bustled up with menus in hand.

The woman looked down for the first time, turned on her heel, and led us to a small alcove off the main dining room. We’d never noticed it before. Ours was the only table, but it was set with the same linen as the others we’d passed and decorated with similar fresh daisies.

“Probably doesn’t want anyone to see the dogs,” my daughter said.

The boys settled in as we studied our menus. The woman reappeared and waited as we selected a white wine. I wanted trout. Llara chose pork chops. After taking our order, the woman listed what I took as the daily specials because I recognized the words for lamb and beef. It seemed strange to do that after we had ordered. My confusion didn’t last long.

“She’s naming dog food. She’s going to feed the boys,” Llara explained. “Is lamb okay for them?”

Within ten minutes all four of us were happily eating, the dogs at their usual vacuum-cleaner speed and Llara and I more slowly. The woman poked her head into the room and asked if the dogs wanted seconds.

“Nein, danke,” my daughter said.

After we finished the main course, Llara and I both gave into apple strudel and espresso. The dogs were almost asleep when the owner brought the equivalent for them–a bowl of water and doggie candy.

As we finished our coffee another couple, who had been eating in the main room came by to meet the American dogs that the owner had told them about. Llara found herself answering the usual questions.

“No, they aren’t related. One has English parents, the other has French.”

“Fourteen and eight years old.”

“They’ve flown the Atlantic eight times. In the baggage compartment. Without problems.”

We ordered more coffee as the rest of the diners came in to say a few words and tell us about their animals. By 10:00 P.M. interest in the boys and us had waned, and we were finally alone.

“What do you think she’ll charge for the dog food?” I asked as the woman disappeared to add up the costs.

Under the table Albert let out a long burp.

The woman returned, presented us the bill and opened the black money purse ubiquitous to all German waiters and waitresses. I scanned the numbers. Only the human meals were on it.

“Fur die Hunden?” I managed. The woman said something I didn’t catch.

“She says they were her guests,” my daughter translated.

From under the table, Albert burped again.


D.L. Nelson is an American writer living in Geneva, Switzerland. She has had her short stories and articles published in four countries and is currently working on a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Lancaster, United Kingdom.

The first five years of Christine Hunsicker’s life were spent in New York City watching a pair of semi-retired attack dogs in a neighboring yard trying to tear down the flimsy fence protecting her house. At this point she did not care for dogs too much. However, when the family moved to the suburbs and adopted a boxer puppy from a neighborhood litter, she grew out of her fear of dogs as quickly as Duke grew into ninety pounds of drooling fun and affection. Thus began her life-long passion for dogs.

After remaining dogless just long enough to get through college and the first of many years of book publishing experience in Boston, Christine headed to California. There she spent several years as a sales representative traveling around the western United States with her shepherd-lab, Arthur, who never met a bookseller he didn’t lick.

These days Christine works for a non-profit organization that provides services to seniors, including Pet Meals on Wheels, and she is an editor at Crestport Press publishing company. She remains a passionate pooch person.

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