We have all heard the saying “a tired dog is a happy dog” but what about a tired owner? I took my first big dog centred vacation this summer when my 6-year-old wheaten terrier qualified and participated in his first AAC National Competition. After a road trip that spanned four provinces, three days of agility, shopping and time with friends, I can say that tired owners are also happy owners.
The first step to a successful road trip is to make sure everything is packed well, and that the passengers are comfy and safe. When travelling with a pet, you want to make sure that they are also safely secured in the vehicle either with a proper seat belt or happy in their crate like Phineas is.
Long trips require stops to eat. In the heat of the summer, you don’t want to be leaving your pet in the car. Luckily summer season is also patio season. Though most patios don’t allow dogs, they are often allowed to sit outside the patio. Phineas also enjoyed the opportunity to stretch his legs, the attention from the servers, and the smells of all the delicious food.
After driving from NS to Ontario, we settled into our hotel for the night. Many hotels are dog-friendly if you ask ahead, and others will even have welcome packages for you like these cookies and poop bags that were waiting for Phineas. When travelling with your pet, you need to ensure they are well trained. We spent three nights in a hotel full of dogs and barely heard a bark from anyone. Being considerate of others means making sure you always clean up after your pet and bringing an extra blanket or sheet for the bed if you are planning a lot of outdoor activities with your furry best friend.
After all the travelling, we got to enjoy our trip. We spent three days playing together at a gorgeous venue in Maxville, Ontario. The hosts were able to set up seven rings, and we were able to play, and watch dogs and their handlers from across the country play and run together. We enjoyed opening ceremonies with judges in kilts, dinner banquets with highland dancers, and dog focused centrepieces. I also enjoyed all the dog-centered shopping, and Phineas enjoyed meeting the vendors and enjoying extra dog treats.
Of course, the point of the trip was the time that Phineas and I spent running together. We did not have a perfect weekend of competition, but we learned and had the chance to compete with some of the top competitors in the country. Phineas found the crowds of spectators distracting and wanted to watch them instead of running. He was sore after a full day in the car and required some physiotherapy and massage at the site. It was also hot in Ontario in August, and my Phineas is more of a cold weather boy and enjoyed the shade of our tent, his cooling mat, and his cooling coat.
Despite all our challenges, we did manage to pull things together and place in one of our runs. I am so proud of my boy for everything he gives me, the way we connect when we run and how much fun we both have in the ring. I am happy that we were able to bring home a ribbon, but I am even more proud of how we were able to enjoy our weekend and enjoy being able to play together. Is a tired dog a happy dog? Definitely but it’s even better when the owner ends up tired from playing hard as well. Is agility the right dog sport for everyone? No. Everyone should find what game is right for them and their dog. Whether it’s trick training at home or enjoying one of the many dog sports offered in NS. If you are interested in being a tired owner as well as having a tired dog, check out one of the following sports: disc dog, dock diving, rally obedience, fly ball and freestyle (think dancing with your dog!)
Written by: Dr. Stephanie Hayward