03 May 2008

Taking 4 dogs on vacation-a behind the scenes view.

All right. Yesterday, you got to hear about running and soaring eagles and ponds and million year old oak trees and so forth. Blah, blah, blah. Nice, nice, nice.

That part was all great. But, you ask, was it really that special and fun, and easy to take 4 dogs on a vacation? And one of them has dementia and can't really walk and is blind and you are going to a giant sheep ranch? And the answer to that would be no. It was not that easy. It used to be. It used to be super easy. But now with Timmy, who I can't bear to leave with someone because I worry about him, is not easy to travel with. And probably shouldn't travel. But travel with Timmy, we did.

For instance. Let's start from when we are leaving Santa Cruz in the car. In a car that looks something like this. Jam packed more than usual. Because traveling with Timmy means we need extra stuff like an xpen and a baby gate, and he needs to take a really big dog bed to sleep in, because it's the only way he can rest comfortably. And he needs it in the back so he can sleep comfortably in the car. The other dogs ride stuffed into crates.

Ruby and Otterpop, perfect travelers. Throw 'em in a box, they go to sleep. Gustavo is usually an ace traveler, however apparently now not with Timmy in the car. He whines. He seems to feel if Timmy is riding in a spacious dog bed, he should not have to ride locked a box. Sometimes he whines a little with Gary and Timmy in the car. For like 20 minutes, then he stops. This vacation, he does not stop. Is a horrible, grating, whine like someone pulling out the eyeballs of monkeys. And I am screaming stuff into the back like, "If you do not SHUT UP NOW I am going to pull this car over and you are going to be SORRY!" I am throwing items back there. I have now turned into my dad 20 minutes into our vacation.

And this is stressing Timmy out. Who starts trying to pace in his little 1 square foot of space. Which is going to lead to a panic attack. I am driving, Gary is on dog handling, not a good thing. Timmy panic attack results in insane flying around like atoms and molecules having fission or fusion or whatever makes them fling themselves around until they blast open and create, um, whatever they create. Gold? Uranium? Nuclear War? I am stressed out. Everyone is stressed out. So in San Francisco, we stop and move things around and little Diva Boy gets to sit with me so he shuts up and Timmy can ride without a stress induced panic attack. I am muttering stuff now like, "This vacation is going to kill me." Total and complete muttering and silent cursing. Gary is being remarkably calm and not commenting on any of our behavior. We turn the ipod up to LOUD and proceed on. I proceed to torture all car occupants with singing Dwight Yoakum and Buck Owens songs the rest of the way there. LOUD. With Bakersfield style yodeling.

So, we make it up to Boonville. It's about 3 1/2 hours up there. The road down into the Anderson Valley has the cute and whimsical nickname the Car Sick Road but because I am completely starving since certain members of my family may suck at time management and we left way later in the day than I wanted, I have an empty stomach and feel barf-free. But Timmy starts moving around in his little space again and Gustavo is whining again but lightly and thank god Ruby and Otterpop sleep through anything in the car. Over the 27 miles of Car Sick Road we go. But we made it. With no panic attacks or screaming or barfing. By any of us.

So Timmy's been up to this house before. I am counting on his radar kicking in so there is no wall bumping into. It is all very dog proof-it may have an Ikea-esque charm, but those Scandanavian Moderns sure get fleas and ticks and ez-clean surfaces. Tile floors. Lacquery finishes. Not much fabric. Open floor plan. Windows where you can be inside and watch to see if any dogs are shuffling off a mountainside. We are on top of a giant hill, and if Timmy picks up any speed it's going to be like one hairy black snowball of unbridled mayhem rolling down the side of the hill. Bad, bad, bad. I have visions of this.

Otterpop and Gustavo, I just let em go. They're fine. "Don't come back bleeding, lame or impaled," I tell the 2 of them as they tear off after some unknown wild animal. What happens on the sheep ranch can stay on the sheep ranch. Ruby, I try to keep more at whatever pace I'm at. But Timmy must be watched with eagle eyes. He seems to like shuffling laps in a little circuit around the perimeter of the house. Me and him are sort of like monks shuffling around a meditation maze. But I am no monk and I am cold and don't always feel like shuffling in circles. This is f***ing vacation. But I can't just stick him outside and not watch because one turn around from losing direction and that's it. And it's cold. And I'm tired. I did have this great idea of tying him up on a long rope. Which was a great idea until he hogtied himself and almost melted down into a panic attack in the dark. Not such a great idea. So instead, I watch him or go out and shuffle with him in the light, and when he has to go outside at night, I put him on a leash and go with him. Did I mention it was freezing and windy most of our vacation?

Most nights, he paced and paced and paced instead of sleeping. And I would get up with him, and put him back to bed, or take him out to shuffle and pee. All night long. Pretty much on 3 hour intervals. Even tranquilized. That's my Timmy. So I didn't really sleep much, and was up every morning at 6 to get him out on his usual schedule. So pretty much I am still exhausted from my vacation because I stayed up almost all night every night! It was sort of like being out at a wild disco in New York City except actually nothing like that. Did it suck? Kind of. Really though, mostly because he's in a state where I'm just waiting out the inevitable. He didn't love his vacation, maybe he had moments where he realized he was out somewhere he loves. But most of the time, he just lived in his fog, and was waiting out his inevitable too.


Anonymous said...

I have to echo Anonymous' comment yesterday. This coffee-snorting laughter, segueing into choked-up and lay your head down on your arms bawling is a little much at 7:30 a.m. every morning. Not too much, though. We can take it.

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Elf said...

This was a hard post for me to read. So reminiscent in some ways of Jake's last weekend--which I never could bring myself to write about--and Rem's last vacation in Oregon--where I always meant to write about the wonderful vacation days on a huge off-leash dog-friendly vacation plac but instead wrote about how sick Rem was (don't go there if you don't want to be more sad).


Anonymous said...

Wow, so I didn't realize that everyone has had the same no vacation vacation I had our last Christmas with our old Dobe Haven.

We went to the beach like we always do and stayed in the same ocean front house that we always do with the same 20 or so steep steps you have to take every time you go in or out of the house.

Only this time Haven couldn't do them without help and she was starting to exhibit what I think is called "sundowning" where she was restless at night so I'd take her out at 2:00 and 3:00 and 4:00 am down all those steps and then back up all those steps. And Chuck and I had to take turns sleeping downstairs with her because otherwise there would have been two flights of steep steps to get her up and down in the middle of the night.
And we couldn't all go for a walk on the beach together because Haven couldn't go that far but she didn't want us to split up so I'd go by myself with the well dogs and then come back and take her by herself.
And then we had to euthanise her in January anyway.
Yeah, a no vacation vacation.