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My Pets on Vacation

Many of you know that I was going to take my pets on vacation last week. In fact, we went to South Dakota with our dog and cat. And just like last year, I’m going to share some highlights of this trip. The plan was to pick up the rental car Tuesday night around 5pm. But, unfortunately, the rental car company changed the time to 7pm. Sarah has martial arts Mondays and Tuesdays. So, by the time her class was done, and we picked up the car, it was ~ 8pm when we got home. Thus, it was too late to get Itty and Sophie accustomed to a different vehicle.

It would have been nice to let our fur babies explore the rental car. Though, that wasn’t an option. Therefore, when we left early last Wednesday morning, they were both super anxious. So, I pulled out all the guns: ThunderJackets, calming chews, Rescue Remedy, etc. However, nothing was helping. Sophie was barking non-stop, while trembling Itty was crawling over everything incessantly. We were maybe 30 minutes to an hour into our drive when we administered the sedatives to them both.

calico cat and black and white dog on person's lap in vehicle
This is after the sedatives took effect.

The sedatives took around half an hour to kick in. Although, after that, the drive was more peaceful for everybody. However, our pets weren’t completely knocked out, which was great. Sophie and Itty were simply much calmer and more relaxed. Regardless, every time we’d pull in to get gas or stop for food, Sophie would still bark. And then Itty would get up to look around. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to cuddle my kitty so much since she was an itty bitty kitten. I have to admit, it was really special.

The medicine wore off after ~ 12 hours for both Itty and Sophie. Though, we didn’t bother giving them anymore. We just carried on, because there were only a few hours remaining till we made it to our destination. With all the potty breaks and snacks, it took 15-16 hours total to arrive in Hill City. Plus, Itty and Sophie didn’t get sick. However, I didn’t feel that great. I hypothesize it was a combination of sitting in the back, being a bumpy drive, and also the winding roads.

Our Airbnb was a cozy 2 bedroom 1 bath basement rental on 8 acres. Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were there. Thus, we didn’t get to do any hiking. And yes, I said 1 bathroom for 5 people. Yes, somehow we survived.

6 people posing for a picture in front of Mount Rushmore

Regrettably, it had been wet, gray, and cool our entire stay. As a result, the conditions were definitely not ideal to take Itty and Sophie on any outings. Pets aside, we visited Mount Rushmore in Keystone. And did a lot of shopping in Custer in the rain. Plus, we had wonderful food everywhere we went. In addition, we even toured a museum in Hill City. But the best part of this vacation was getting to spend time with my daughter, Rebekah.

I wouldn’t say Sophie and Itty were exactly comfortable in this home away from home setting. Sophie kept trying to simultaneously herd us and play with us. And after Itty smelled her surroundings, she mainly stayed hidden the whole time. Therefore, my thoughts never strayed too far from them. But especially so when we had to leave them in the Airbnb. I tried not worry, though it was difficult.

calico cat and black and white dog on a brown couch
This is when they were much younger.

For those of you new to my blog, you may be wondering why we don’t just board them. Or you might be asking why we brought them in the first place. When we had our last dog, Moses, we could, and did board him. Also, due to his temperament, our neighbors could watch him. Hence, he was never an issue to leave at home. Although, now we have around 40 birds, 2 cats, and a dog. But both Itty and Sophie were abandoned as babies. That’s how they came to us as well. As a result, they have major separation anxiety. While Sophie doesn’t like being separated from any of us, Itty has separation anxiety only with me. On account of this, we simply don’t board them.

Additionally, most of our neighbors are much older than Paul and me. Plus, there aren’t any kids older than Sarah; she’s 12. Otherwise I could hire a teenager to help out. Regardless, Itty got locked in a bedroom for 3 days without food, water, and her litter box last year. Furthermore, our neighbor who watched them last year, who also took care of our birds and Cake this time, fell and had to go to the ER twice. Thankfully, he didn’t fall at our house. And it was unrelated to us completely. Other than having to get stitches, he’s doing well. Though, for a time, our birds and Cake were on their own. FYI, the reason we didn’t take Cake with us is because she detests all other animals. She doesn’t mind people. In fact, she loves the people. But put her around another animal, and she’ll start a fight.

calico cat sleeping on a blanket

Given that we had another 15-16 hour drive back, we left at 6am Sunday morning. Prior to loading the car, we dispensed the sedatives to our fur babies. No use going through the struggle, only to have to do it anyway. Sadly, the ThunderJackets didn’t help. The Rescue Remedy did, but only in conjunction with the sedatives. Hopefully, over time, the Rescue Remedy will be enough on its own. However, the drive back was much better than the drive to South Dakota. And once we walked in the door of our house, both Sophie and Itty were totally at peace.

During our vacation, we were kept abreast of the home weather situation via our neighbors. As many of you know, we live in Oklahoma, tornado headquarters. Though, the last tornado to hit Blanchard was in 2011. Nevertheless, the homes in our neighborhood are ~30 years old or older. Despite this, there was still a ton of water. For instance, our coop was flooded. And that’s never happened. Plus, we lost a duck. We don’t know if she died; she’s just gone. Although, everyone else is accounted for.

5 people dressed up, posing for a picture in front of a yellow backdrop with one person wearing a cap and gown
So proud of my kids!

All in all we had a good time in South Dakota. We enjoyed visiting with family and seeing cool places. And I would love to say it wasn’t stressful at all with Sophie and Itty. But I would be lying. It just shows me we need to do more conditioning with them both. And we’ll do that by taking them on more short car trips till we build up to longer ones. Though, there is a silver lining to all of the stress on both parts. I feel like Itty and I are closer than we were before. For example, she sleeps closer to me than she did before, even during naps. Moreover, Paul feels like he and Sophie have a stronger bond than before. I know our pets were anxious about the trip, because I could see it in their behaviors. But I also know that they would much rather be with us than be left on their own.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you take your fur baby on vacation with you? Or do you have someone you trust to watch them? Any advice on taking pets on vacation? I’d love it if you shared. I told my husband that the next vacation I wanted it to just be him and me; that the kids could watch all the pets. Plus, I’d love to go somewhere warmer. Maybe another beach trip. Please share this post. And if you don’t already, you can follow now. Thanks again!