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What They Don't Tell You About Having A Road Dawg (Or Cat)

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I've heard some of the most outlandish and uncalled-for commentary for simply traveling with an animal. Some, positive feedback, most, negative.

"Does it eat?"

"Is it for sale?"

"This money/food is for your dog. Not you."

Many people, especially those new to traveling, and those currently only considering about traveling, have a slew of questions for travelers with animals. Some travelers will tell you something about their financial flow improving since their dog became a part of their family. Others will tell you that they cannot live without their partner, for the companionship on the long and tough road works miracles for their mental health (anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts). These things are a very real thing for many of us on the road.

But few responses are honest enough to include the very real ignorance that you may face when traveling with an animal.

Call me cynical, call me a pessimist, but I have my own qualms about traveling with animals. It isn't as easy as one may think. I have always known myself to be a bit more cautious in my decisions than most people I know. Constantly weighing the pros and cons; being sensitive enough to have been very annoyed to the point of anger by strangers who are definitely not keeping you and your animal's safety and well-being a consideration, nor priority. It doesn't matter what you say. If there's someone who's absolutely convinced that 'homeless' people (read: 'home-free') with animals all abuse or starve them, and they will stop at nothing to flag down other pedestrians (and cops) to convince them you are a terrible human being.

In the history of the world, animals have only been domesticated by human beings for such a small period of time as pets and friends, rather than livestock, or working animals (horse and mule drawn tools). The truth is that they can very well coexist on this planet with other animals and utilize their environment to eat, find warmth and shelter and survive (without human influence or interference on their lives), just like their nomadic human counterparts.

In order to avoid conflict and ignorant questions, always have your cat or dog food visible. Whether you're sitting down for five minutes, or five hours, you are fully exposed to the public opinion -- set out a food and water dish. Even if it's not their dinner time, you will notice that not only will the incessant banter assuming your animal starves will finally slow down or stop, but also, I've personally gotten many more kick downs for showing that my animal is taken care of better than me.

It's worth mentioning that my other qualm about traveling with animals is that it makes anything indoors nearly impossible. I've known people who have been robbed of their dog while using the bathroom.

Train your dog to be minimally aggressive when you are not around (barking or growling when guarding your pack or when strangers approach you while you are sleeping) while still friendly to people who come up with blessings and love.

I have always loved my babies, but will not deny the frustration I face when being denied a bus, a ride, or a night on someone's couch or floor or hotel for the night, because of my furry friend... Which really sucks when you're having a rough day, and you're tired of walking, or when the weather is bad.

I recommend carry cases for small animals when trying to get around on bus, or in a building. Sometimes you can throw a jacket over the carrier, and hide the fact there is even a living thing in there.

"But what about when I need to go to the doctor or get hospitalized or jailed?"

This is probably the toughest obstacle you will face while road dawgin' with a dog or cat. If you can, try to link up with a local friend whom you may be able to trust with watching him or her in case of emergency. When travelers get arrested, their dog is put in a pound. Most pounds will give you a few days and a possible hundred dollar charge for holding them. It's safe to say though that you should probably do some research or asking around in new areas because there has been times where an animal has been put in a five day kill shelter when their human was jailed. Others have been lied to about where the animal was taken, or whether it was killed or not.

I personally don't particularly prefer to travel with animals, but here is my experience, which illustrates a few issues that may arise, in only the span of a few days.

Just recently, I have had a friend who had to be hospitalized while we were on a freight train. We were greeted by railroad cops first, but fortunately were not jailed. I was terrified about what would happen to my kitten, Cleopatra.

On a cold bayou night in a town I've never heard of, with the only forest areas mistaken for camping friendly spots were actually only swamps, I was offered a bed in the hospital room. My cat was in my carrier, and had only meowed when there was a nurse in the room. The nurses instantly told me I could not have the cat there. For two days straight, I had to hide her in the bathroom. Lucky for me, she is very good at pottying on cardboard (which she learned in a boxcar!) and in bath tubs and showers, where it's easier to clean. I was so tired and worn out and had to take advantage of the free bed and shower.

Eventually, I had denied the free Greyhound bus to New Orleans that was offered if I had stayed the entire time my friend was in the hospital (he's fine now!), but I had to leave since I had felt awful about Cleopatra cooped up in there, and hiding her from the nurses.

She was happy to be free and hit the road again, but the day we left, we were shown some southern hospitality by being given a ride, a home cooked steak and rice dinner, and a couch for the night in a beautiful home... In which Cleopatra had decided to defecate on a fancy carpet. So that kind of burned a bridge.

One last thing I hate is the sad looks and the whispers of "poor kitty" from strangers who cannot fathom that this animal is free to roam and travel the world, do fun things and see amazing sights, and try new foods instead of being confined to four walls for hours a day while the human is at work with no interaction besides an automated dry food dispenser. How is my cat poor? I have nothing distracting me from her when she's all I have. She's my one and only priority. Most animals you see on the road probably eat better than their human. Any traveler you meet will have a backpack full of dog food, but not human food. Even when we do get to eat, we still share our food with them. My cat ate steak our first day on the road together, after I had liberated her from a neglectful environment in which she had to steal food from dogs to survive.

Always prove that you love and take care of your animal at all times, whether anyone is watching or not. That's your baby, and you're all each other have. When you take care of your animal, your animal will take care of you. Because no matter what troubles and malice from others you may face, you will always have your companion to comfort and love you.
 
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Artist currently known as [B]Crusty P[/B] the crust punk rapper. Founder of [B]Womyn On The Road[/B] (group for traveling women and queers). Creator of zine- [B]The Art Of Busking[/B]. Creator of board game [B]HOMEBUM: The Gathering[/B]. Aspiring...
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Joined
Aug 22, 2016
Messages
10
Location
Ghent, Belgium
Website
www.kingherog.be
It is good to read a realistic post about this! I would love a dog as a travel companion but I have no idea how it really is to travel with one. I can imagine all the positive effects of a furry nomad but the negative ones are way more useful to hear.
So awesome post!
Thanks allot
 

Ranger

Pilgrim
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
53
Location
Whitehorse, Canada
I'm a dog person but I always tried to find someone to take care of my dog while I was away. Only a few times did I have to hitchhike with my dog (if I went for a longer trip), it wasn't easy and I didn't like it much. Well written and thought out article tho, always looked at other travelers with their dog and wondered if there was a better way:)
 

HlfBakd

Newbie
Joined
Aug 21, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Boston
Yeah very good and responsible post! You really need to be dedicated to your animal to travel with them and you cant just ditch them when things get tough then pick up another when it's convenient. Hopefully this will get people to think of all the possible issues before they bring their pup or cat along.
 

VickyFresh

Newbie
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
5
Location
Chilliwack
I appreciate your tip about keeping food and water visible for your dog. I agree that it is important, especially if you are a busker or panhandler to make it noticeable that you are responsible enough to provide your pet with basic necessities.
 

almostvicious

Wayfarer
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
43
Location
Montreal, Canada
Website
almostvicious.tumblr.com
THANK YOU so much for sharing your knowledge, it's taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I'll be on the road again with my dog and my cat (which has never lived anywhere else than the squat we're getting thrown out of). Kind of anxious about taking Kitty Kevin with me.. How do you deal with taking Cleopatra around?
 

townes

Newbie
Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
20
Location
Maryland
Website
www.thisartworkdoesnotexist.com
I think it's a good idea to have Acepromazine on hand for a road canine.

It's basically doggie Thorazine. Available by prescription only, allegedly. BUT I'm sure it can be picked up from some online vendor considering it's not something that anyone in their right mind would take to get high.

It would be great to have in a emergency that requires your dog to just chill for a bit. Of course, your pup might be noddin out like a dopefiend for 3 to 4 hours (depending on the dose) so be aware of the time frame, the dose, your dogs weight, etc.

Actually, be extremely aware of the dosage.

Side note: the ultimate road canine would be able to sniff out blunt roaches.
 
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drea99

Wayfarer
Joined
Aug 28, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
I think it's a good idea to have Acepromazine on hand for a road canine.

It's basically doggie Thorazine. Available by prescription only, allegedly. BUT I'm sure it can be picked up from some online vendor considering it's not something that anyone in their right mind would take to get high.

It would be great to have in a emergency that requires your dog to just chill for a bit. Of course, your pup might be noddin out like a dopefiend for 3 to 4 hours (depending on the dose) so be aware of the time frame, the dose, your dogs weight, etc.

Actually, be extremely aware of the dosage.

Side note: the ultimate road canine would be able to sniff out blunt roaches.

If you wanna go the natural way, there are treats you can buy that are all natural with added herbs and amino acids like L-Theanine, Chamomile, Lemon balm, etc. There are lots of different brands that make different formulas, and they have worked wonders for my pup when she is in a situation that makes her feel anxious.
 

Stinkyyy

Wanderer
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
128
Age
28
Location
Bristol, United Kingdom
I get a lot of shit because my staffy is a rescue and covered in scars. It really fucking sucks and I Dont think many people realise how exhausting and anxiety inducing it is to keep up a positive mental attitude every day in the streets when you can clearly see half the people walk past and think I did that shit to her. Doesn't help that she kicks the fuck off at every dog ever. ("HOW COULD YOU RAISE YOUR DOG TO FIGHT") ugh seriously go away before I fight you, never mine my dog!!
 

Ezra Fyre

Wanderer
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
190
Location
New Orleans
THANK YOU so much for sharing your knowledge, it's taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I'll be on the road again with my dog and my cat (which has never lived anywhere else than the squat we're getting thrown out of). Kind of anxious about taking Kitty Kevin with me.. How do you deal with taking Cleopatra around?
Cats (excuse me, Wrong!) KITTENS can be raised as traveling animals - not all of them mind you, but special ones can. They walk on leashes an rubber tramp very well. As cats are naturally skittish of LOUD moving objects, i imagine trains are rather scary - but I've known train kids to have cats too.
House cats (or squat cats) tend however to remain house cats. YES even feral cats can be relocated when one has to move, but that's one building to another. Going from house cat to traveling cat, when it wasn't raised traveling from a kitten ... That be a one in a million cat.

If your squat cat has only ever known squat life, your best hope for kitty Kevin is to move into another squat! Otherwise, honestly, the nicest thing for Kevin would be to find em a "forever home". Unless 3mo or less old, the transition to travel kitty isn't one cats are likely to take to. Tendency to become neurotic, aggressive and/or withdrawn. Cats by nature are creatures of habit! If kittens habit was travelling with parent, thats what cat is accustomed to. If kittens habit was a Home, thats what cat is accustomed to. Trying to change that established nature is very difficult on the animal. And tends to prompt them to look for escape, to rub away, so as to return to the life in which they're accustomed.

Just a reminder, cats really aren't like dogs. They're not typically "people pleaser" willing to follow anywhere. They are way more inclined to imprint on location vs. person.

Sometimes, the nicest, safest, thing for kitty is gifting to a "normie" who'll let you see kitty anytime. Sorry to say, but true. :(
 

Ezra Fyre

Wanderer
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
190
Location
New Orleans
I get a lot of shit because my staffy is a rescue and covered in scars. It really fucking sucks and I Dont think many people realise how exhausting and anxiety inducing it is to keep up a positive mental attitude every day in the streets when you can clearly see half the people walk past and think I did that shit to her. Doesn't help that she kicks the fuck off at every dog ever. ("HOW COULD YOU RAISE YOUR DOG TO FIGHT") ugh seriously go away before I fight you, never mine my dog!!
Make a light weight doggy vest that says - "I'm A Rescue Doggy!" ".... ps, puppyhood made me dislike other dogs!"
& For bonus points - have note cards, with the rescue shelter information, where you got your dog & the kind of work they do.
Put these near the water/food dish for upitty noses to see. I bet it'll cut down on the sneers and negativity. :) Rescues require extra work :) definitely something you knew, so, make so handouts and become an advocate :) Make life a little easier for both of you. :)
 

Stinkyyy

Wanderer
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
128
Age
28
Location
Bristol, United Kingdom
Make a light weight doggy vest that says - "I'm A Rescue Doggy!" ".... ps, puppyhood made me dislike other dogs!"
& For bonus points - have note cards, with the rescue shelter information, where you got your dog & the kind of work they do.
Put these near the water/food dish for upitty noses to see. I bet it'll cut down on the sneers and negativity. :) Rescues require extra work :) definitely something you knew, so, make so handouts and become an advocate :) Make life a little easier for both of you. :)
She wasn't from a shelter I literally took her from some boys who were going to throw her off a bridge but you still have a good point and I think this would make a difference ! X
 
Joined
Sep 14, 2018
Messages
46
Location
Humboldt County, CA
Much appreciated. I traveled with cats in my teens/twenties and very recently decided a dog would be easier and better security for a fiftysomething. I hadn't thought about putting a bowl of dog food out while busking and rarely let people see my dog food: yes, it's a lot more expensive than my people food but it's a medical necessity (allergies) and I wound up with a chihuahua mix instead of a staffie so it's still a fairly low expense compared to cigarettes or a cell phone.

I also started just STFUing about being vegan at the food bank and social events where food is given away. Sure, I'll take the beans or the peanut butter if they are available, but if everybody gets chicken, then I'm taking what's offered gratefully because my partner likes it.
 

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