Road tripping: Otis’ most excellent adventure
Article and photos by Kathy Fallert
This summer, my family joined the many people taking road trips across the country. This was a long road trip to Washington state to visit my sister. Along the way, we hit a couple of national parks. In the car were my husband, Mitch, my son Kyle, our grandson Riley, our pug Otis and me. Otis has never spent much time in the car. An occasional trip to the vet or a jaunt to the dog park is about the extent of Otis’ travels. Things were about to change.
After considering taking our two Labradors Sadie and Tebow, we decided against it. Mitch had recent knee surgery and wouldn’t be able to do much walking or hiking. It worked out well, as national parks don’t allow dogs on their trails – just developed areas and parking lots. Mitch was fine doing short walks with 16-pound Otis around the parking areas, while I hiked with the boys.
I was a little concerned about the travel planning with regard to Otis. Would we be able to get lodging with a pug in tow? Our plans included nights near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Idaho, Olympic National Park in Washington as well as Northern Washington, and finally Utah on the way home. Our accommodations ranged from a rustic cabin-type room to a three-bedroom house to an upscale hotel room, and all welcomed Otis. Travel websites have filters so you can just click a box indicating you need something that’s pet friendly on the nights of your stay.
When Otis first got in the car, he was a nervous wreck. He’s not crazy about car rides. He was very jumpy and refused to lay down. He stood in the back seat whimpering and nervously looking back and forth out the windows for hours.
Traveling for several days, we knew we would eat many meals out. I had no idea how Otis would do at a restaurant; we have never taken him to one. Fortunately, patio dining is readily available this summer. We didn’t want to leave Otis in the car, so we opted for patios that allowed dogs, which were surprisingly plentiful.
By day two, Otis had it down. He was snoring in the backseat and laying under our outdoor tables while we ate. We brought his kennel along for him to sleep in at night – just like at home. It all went without a hitch. Otis was amazing!
With less travelers on the road and in the parks, the wildlife has reclaimed much of the land. We saw hundreds of buffalo, antelope, deer, elk and a bald eagle. We just missed the famous Grizzly 399 bear crossing the street in the Grand Tetons with her four cubs. Otis sure knew. He must have smelled the bears. He was almost frantic for about 10 minutes when we pulled over. What is especially funny, he never even noticed when a large buck strolled by – right in front of us.
Walking into our final stop, an upscale hotel in Salt Lake City, I was a bit worried they would stop us from bringing in a dog. I knew the reservation said pet friendly, but this place didn’t look like it would be. I was afraid there had been a mistake. It was late and I sure didn’t want to find another room. Lo and behold, we waltzed right in with our pug. Otis handled it all like a champ. We just won’t discuss the slight panic attack he had in the glass elevator.