Hi furriends! Hope you're enjoying your summer as much as Mom and I are. As most of you know, I live in San Francisco, and a few weeks ago, Mom and I drove to South Lake Tahoe for a week of rest in nature. We've been there before, but this time, we finally got it right. And it's, for this reason, I'd love to share the steps Mom took to mindfully plan a road trip and vacay that we both enjoyed.
Before I jump into the good stuff, let me tell you about my previous experiences with road trips. Like most pups, I tend to get very anxious during long car rides - the bumpy and curvy highways are the worse. I start panting, moving around the car, trying to jump on Mom's lap while she's driving in a desperate attempt to calm myself. To keep me safe, Mom got a car booster for me to stay tightly secured; however, this doesn't help my nervousness. For those that have experienced this, you know that once the anxiety starts and doesn't get under control quickly, it can become a terrible monster that is harder to stop.
Many times Mom had to pull over and wait till we both calm down, before continuing driving, because she also becomes anxious and can't focus on the road when she sees me in this discomfort. As you can imagine, this experience was not fun for Mom, and for a while, she has avoided long road trips.
But living in fear was not fun either. So instead of fighting it, Mom decided to find the mindful path to make this an enjoyable experience for both of us.
Before starting a long ride, it's essential to feel calm. And the easiest way to achieve this is to take me for a walk in nature. This time, we chose the Point Isabel dog park. Once we left San Francisco, we headed to this park by the Bay, where I got to walk off-leash and smell the ground.
After the walk, I got a yummy snack in the car, and Mom started to drive for the next 1.5 hour. Our next stop was at a Jamba Juice in Sacramento. Mom loves their smoothies and the fact that they have a restroom for their customers. This place was conveniently located in an outdoor mall with grass nearby for me to stretch my legs and take a potty break. Thanks to Google maps. Mom knew exactly how the area looked in advance! :-)
Once again, I got some snacks and water after my walk. While I chewed on my treats, Mom took time for a quick meditation while sitting in the car. She put on her headsets and for 15 minutes listened to a guided meditation track to help soothe her body and prep her for the next portion of the ride. Meditation is a daily practice Mom, and I have together to prep for our day and feel calm.
Now, it was time to carry on with the drive. Next stop Lake Tahoe!
This was going to be the most challenging part, as the highway gets curvier and the speed changes constantly. Luckily, our mindful preparation got me so relaxed that I slept for most of the ride (about two hours). I feel very proud to say that only in the last 10 minutes I started to pant a little bit, but it went quickly away once we arrived and Mom took me for another walk.
We stayed at a dog-friendly Airbnb close to Kiva beach, located in South Lake Tahoe. Mom enjoys swimming, so she chose this location to spend time in the lake and teach me how to swim. She got me this super cute Nemo life jacket and was super excited to see me swim at the lake with her. But guess what, once I got in the water, I started to shake, wanting to swim back to dry land. After a few attempts, Mom understood that swimming was her joy but not mine, so for the rest of the week, I enjoyed my time at the shore chewing treats while Mom chilled in the water. In the beginning, she felt a bit disappointed, but seeing me calm and happy was more important for her, so I'm glad she listened to me.
Sometimes, our humans want for us to be or do something we don't necessarily enjoy. They have their best intention at heart, but being a mindful pawrent is to understand our needs, knowing we are all different and want to be heard.
Throughout the years, Mom's journey has been to let me be who I am, to accept my uniqueness, and to help me accomplish things in my own time.
In the end, it's all about doing what makes us feel good. And that applies for pups and humans.
Driving to our destination took twice as much time as normal. But for us, it was all about enjoying the journey getting there. That week together, created a greater bond between us. Because there's nothing better than being heard and understood by those you love.
I hope my vacay experience inspires your journey into mindfulness and more dog-friendly road trips ahead.
Love & Paws,