Travel tip #111…no such thing as a temporary rabbit

I always wanted a dog to bring on the road. You know the kind. A worn bandana around his neck, the trusty fella would bound along the beach with us, chasing sticks and finding treasures. This uber dog would never need a leash and relish the new adventures that each day on the road would bring. At the end of the day he would let himself out to pee, turn three times on his dog bed embroidered with the words “Home is where my human is” and not wake up til morning.

We didn’t get that dog.

Don’t get me wrong…we love our Bailey. And she loves us. She is the most adorable, poorly trained dog we have ever owned. But she is not a dog for the road.

Bailey gets excited when she sees cows. She knows they pass outside our van window from time to time and she’s loathe to miss them. She will stand on my lap, my groin, or my face to see them. What matters is the cows. Only the cows.

Undo Bailey’s leash and our dog is gone. The next few hours will be spent calling her name and hoping she comes bobbing up over the ridge headed back in our direction. I know there are stories of dogs separated from their owners by miles, who eventually make their way back home. We didn’t get that dog either.

It reminds me of that cute old saying…If you love Bailey, set her free…just make sure the gate is closed.

Bailey likes to roll in dead things. She’ll eat a flat hot dog from the gas station parking lot that a semi rolled over last week Thursday. She views other road dogs as competition, not kindred spirits.

At home, Bailey sleeps like a baby. On the road, she’s afraid she’ll miss something. That means she sleeps in 2-minute increments. She pops up, whines and paces. She cries to go out and then cries to come back in. We grumble something and she lays down again. For two minutes. All night. I need more sleep than that.

Which is all to say…when we go on the road, Bailey does not.

You’d think that would solve our problem, and it does. But it also introduces a whole new problem when we see other families enjoying their adventures with their perfect road dogs. This happened to us on our recent trip to South Dakota.

Our otherwise blissful canine-free days were interrupted hourly as we passed by blissful canine-ful families. We fawned over other people’s dogs on our trip and missed our Bailey.

So on a recent jaunt to our farm we experimented with pet rental. We figured that if things didn’t work well with the new critter, we could give it back at the end of the weekend. It’s like being grandparents to an animal.

Technically it wasn’t a rental. The Amish family down the road sells bunnies. We bought one and it brought instant joy. We loved it and fed it and named it Hazel.

At the end of the weekend we planned to sneak Hazel back into the Amish bunny cage. We’ve done it before. One time David…the farmer…saw us replacing a weekend bunny in his roadside pen. “You want your money back?” he hollered across the yard.

“Nah, we were just sorta renting it,” I said. $5 seemed like a fair price for a weekend rabbit.

He looked at us funny and shrugged.

This time something went wrong. We felt something brewing when we woke in the morning and found Hazel sleeping on our daughter’s pillow. “It pooped in my sleeping bag,” Brenna said, like it was no big deal. My wife and I shared a knowing look. Hazel rode in Brenna’s sweatshirt pocket or on her shoulder like a buccaneer’s parrot. Hazel was hand fed only the greenest grasses and bits of lettuce. When it came time to drive home, we slowed down a bit in front of David’s farm, but we didn’t stop.

Remember last week’s blog about bringing home souvenirs? This wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

As it turns out, there is no such thing as a temporary rabbit.

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