Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Importance of Getting Away

Any readers who have spent the last few summer vacations with us know that the pets are my absolute favorite travel buddies. On the rare occasion that I have had to road trip behind them, I don't know how to function without having to worry about choosing road trip snacks Bar and I can share, figuring out how to keep them cool in the car while I run into a rest stop without giving Barley a chance to drive away on her own, and without being able to reach beside or behind me to give the pets a quick scritch.

For the last three years, though, I've scheduled a trip with good friends from college that takes me away from the pets. The first year, I was an anxious mess thinking about being away from the pets for several days. The last two years, though, I've learned the importance of taking a break from the pets.

Relaxing. Even though Barley and I spend plenty of time wandering through the woods and take daily walks in our neighborhood, life with Barley is not relaxing. I'm constantly managing her and looking out for possible triggers. Even in the house, we don't relax much. I have to herd Barley away from the cat food and the litter boxes and remind her not to dig the carpet or chase her brother. Relax is not a word that Barley embraces.

But for a glorious three and a half days, I could relax knowing that Barley and Soth were safe and sound with their grandparents while I spent time with friends.

I got to go for a nice stroll through Atlanta's Piedmont Park with a dear friend. We were able to stop and watch a heron (or heron-like bird) catch fish for several minutes without worrying about whether a dog was coming up behind us. (Side note: If you happened to be in this park last Thursday and saw a crazy lady saying "dog!" the way the dog in Up says "squirrel!" while her friend patiently dragged her another direction, that was me--I'm sorry if it was awkward.)

I desperately wanted Barley to be with me for photo ops.

Later in the trip, I got to lounge by my friend's pool and watch a storm roll in over her ranch. I got to wake up and drink my coffee on the steps overlooking her lake. 

I also got in a little snuggle time with Barley's nemesis cousin, Hank. I rarely get to hang out with the little guy because Barley wants to eat him, so it was nice to have a quick stop in at my brother's place as I passed through town. 

Remembering what else I love. It's easy to get caught up in Barley and Soth. They're goofy, affectionate, and exhausting and most of my day is dedicated to loving them. It can be easy to forget that there are other things that I love, too. Since all of my friends at home are also co-workers, often social time involves a lot of "shop talk," so it was refreshing to spend time with friends who don't know my other co-workers or students or the classes I'm teaching. Of course, we talked about highlights about work and the pets, but we also talked about politics, home decor, food, travel, family, love. We played several rounds of Cards Against Humanity and laughed until we cried.

Appreciating what I have. Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder when it comes to my pets. Sometimes I forget how just awesome they are and a few days away can make me appreciate them more. As I took a stroll through my friend's property one morning before anyone else was up, I realized just how much I enjoy walking with a dog. I didn't know what to do with my hands when i wasn't holding a leash or doling out treats. I had to take a selfie by myself when I wanted to get a picture of the red Georgia clay I love so much and the picture of just the clay was boring. I got lost in my thoughts and wasn't scanning for potential triggers and jumped out of my skin on multiple occasions when a squirrel or one of the ranch dogs came crashing through the woods.

There is nothing sweeter than being greeted by your pets when you get home. Soth was content to sprawl on my lap on the back porch and watch the birds while I watched some baseball with my dad. Barley wiggled and wagged and refused to let me out of her sight.

Content until you jostle him reaching for the camera that is . . .
As lovely as the trip was, I was reminded there's no place like home as Barley and I took a sunset walk along the lake. But sometimes, I think, you do need to go a little farther than your own backyard to really appreciate that--and now that I've had my reminder, I'm ready for a summer full of adventure with my favorite co-pilots!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful trip, but I totally understand what you are saying about not traveling with pets. When we went to visit hubby's mom last February we could not take the dogs because she was in the hospital. It was nice to be able to visit without worrying about the dogs or to go to a restaurant to eat a meal (rather than just getting take out) but it felt odd not to have to air the dogs in back of the hotel before bedtime.

    1. It is definitely a strange experience when you're used to planning trips around the pets' needs! Being able to eat at a table instead of having to balance food on my lap without Barley drooling down my arm from the back seat is such a luxury ;)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip!
    Personally, I always travel with Nola. I struggle with an anxiety disorder, and Nola has been indescribably helpful in helping me manage it (alerts to an upcoming anxiety attack, refocuses my attention when I start obsessing, presses against me and lets me pet her to calm down, ect). Leaving her would make a trip less enjoyable for me.
    That said, she doesn't have any behavioral issues, she's small, and she's perfectly behaved on the road. There's no extra stress with her.

    My other dog, Pike, on the other hand...yeah, he needs to stay home. ;)

    1. Barley's actually a great traveler, too, she's perfect in the car (as long as you don't mind a dog leaning over your shoulder from the back seat and drooling while you try to eat!), loves exploring new places and meeting new people, and doesn't mind hotels too much--so she doesn't add any extra stress to the trip itself, but it's nice to get a break from the regularly daily stresses of life with Barley for a couple days here and there. I'm glad Nola helps make traveling more enjoyable for you!

  3. I'm glad you had such a nice getaway, and there is something special about coming home to those furry faces that missed you!
    We don't vacation with the pets, for all of the reasons you mentioned. My hubby wants to get away and relax. When you have a nice fenced in yard at home going someplace where you have to put the dogs on leashes, makes it even more work! So as much as I'd love to take them sometimes, I understand why he doesn't want to. Having said that, we don't really travel much anyway. I usually get a couple of getaways with my sisters and girlfriends, without dogs, and it is nice to not have the responsibility of worrying about them. Of course, I miss them like crazy though, and if it's more than one night I make my hubby text me photos of them!
    Jan, Wag n Woof Pets

    1. I called my mom every morning while I drank my coffee for updates and she sent me pictures every night! I hadn't even made it to my brother's (less than 2 hours away from my parents' house) before Mom had sent me a picture of Soth basking in the sunshine! Usually, I don't mind the extra work of traveling with the pets, especially since if I travel it's usually to go to my parents' house or on a trip specifically for pet-related fun like hiking, but it's nice to have a day or two to myself every now and then :)

  4. Good for you for getting away. My life is so consumed with the dogs and caring for them, easing their discomforts, walking them, that it's easy to forgot that there are things to do without them.

    Don't get me wrong, I adore my pets, but like you there are times where it is nice to get a tiny break.

    1. I completely agree! It can be so hard to remember that there are things outside of life with dogs, so it's nice to get a little break sometimes. Even if it's just going out to lunch or a museum for a few hours every now and then. Especially since I know the pets will be there waiting for me when I get home :)