Roving Retrievers-Tails and Trails

Packed and loaded

Packed and loaded

Prelude:

Hi, I’m Mark, my wife is Sue. We are owners of the two best dogs in the world, MJ, (Mark Jr), and Bobby. Both are Golden Retrievers, MJ is a traditional Golden, Bobby is an English Cream. Before I start I must tell you Sue and I have a life. Our world doesn’t fully center around our dogs, we’re not the “geeky dog people” living next door. I mean we have five kids but they all left us, the dogs stayed, so for the rest of our lives, (or the dogs lives anyway), the dogs and grandkids get top billing. I know Golden Retriever owners can be a little biased that their dogs are the best dogs ever so for all of you non Golden Retriever dog owners who love your dog as much as we love ours, please be understanding so you too may enjoy this blog. In return, Sue and I would be happy if you want to send us a pic and story how awesome and wonderful your dog is, we’ll read and post your story too.

All dog lovers everywhere know how sad it is to leave on a trip and leave the dogs behind. Well, as Sue and I are now retired we thought we would change things up this year and take Bobby and MJ with us on our first official vacation of our retirement. We decided to purchase a cargo box, a ski rack, (both from Yakima) (check out this video of packing them)

4 place bike rack from Saris (this video for packing the bike rack) and an all weather bike protector from Skinz, load up our gear, throw the dogs in the SUV and head west for the winter. (Product reviews and links coming soon).

Society is getting pet friendlier by the day, so we decided to take a trip from Chicago and discover the west as it was meant to be seen, from the front row of a Volvo XC90. It’s my opinion there is nothing more enjoyable than trekking across the country at 36,000 feet taking in the grandeur of the front range, the beauty of the Grand Canyon, or spotting Hoover Dam from a window seat of a 737. Well not this time, we’re going frontiersman style, throwing everything in the wagon and heading west-RAWHIDE!

As we make our way west we plan on stopping to see relatives, friends, co-workers, (former co-workers now I guess), shamelessly begging for a free meal or a warm bed. In the event we are not so lucky, we have scoured the web for pet friendly hotels and VRBO’s, pet sitters and dog friendly destinations. It’s our mission to share our experience bringing Thing #1, (MJ), and Thing #2, (Bobby), along so we can share the trials and tribulations of traveling with two 80lb eating, pooping, and shedding machines.

A little bit about our boys:

MJ just celebrated his 12thbirthday this past Dec 20th. He woke up on his birthday in a manner similar to the way I start my day. His first 10 steps are stiff and there is no bounce in them at all, but every step offers a bit more movement and he gradually moves into normal walking.  MJ has always had a stoic, majestic look about him.  However, today he has a gray face and gray hair on his back. I guess you could say we are similar that way too.  We are both pretty active, MJ walking 3-6 miles a day and I know he doesn’t feel as old as his gray face indicates, so we both try to stay away from the mirror.

MJ has had a successful career as a certified therapy dog. Sue would take him to the local hospice center warming the hearts of those he came to see. Some too sick to talk, MJ was always able to bring a smile to their face on days they didn’t think they had a reason to do so. MJ has the kindest soul, one any human would envy. In his retirement he now volunteers his time at the local elementary school listening to kids read books at “Reading to Rover”. Kids, learning how to read practice reading to an audience of therapy dogs, a rewarding afternoon for all.

Bobby. Well Bobby is Bobby. He is 6 years old and thinks and acts like a 6 month old. Bobby lives life with abandoned gusto.  He literally jumps into every situation head first. He reminds me of the kid you may remember from your school days who had to be first in line, was always in trouble with the teacher or in the principal’s office, but was always good for a laugh, so you had to love him.  He eats with the motivation of a wild dog that is surrounded by a pack of dogs wanting the same meal.  His fur, a beautiful snowy white when it is clean, seems to surround him like the character from Charlie Brown cartoon – Pigpen.  To put it mildly, Bobby is a shedder. When I empty the vacuum there is enough fur that if I had the recipe, I could actually build another dog. I won’t bother as we have our hands full taking care of just one Bobby.

We have had many dogs between the two of us and I have never visited the vet more than I have with Bobby.  He has had broken toes, marrow bones caught on his jaw and requiring it to be cut off, a surgery to remove a large growth on his cheekbone that was not malignant and a serious illness.  At three years old Bobby came down with a disease called Blastomycosis. I won’t go into detail but just know…Bobby was down to his final hours before he was finally diagnosed and the meds started to kick in. That was a tough time but he’s back to his old self. I guess if I could explain his personality in one single word, well, that word would be knucklehead. Bobby is a knucklehead, but he’s our knucklehead. We hope to capture their personalities in the photos and videos we will post of our journey.

So, these are our boys. Friendly, loving, and certainly loyal…right up until the time someone else offers them a treat.

Once while on a dog walk Sue and I came up to a woman who was walking three Goldens. The woman told us all three were hers so Sue had to ask the obvious question as to how she kept up with all the fur around the house. The woman replied her dogs gave her too much love in return to worry about the clean up. I think that pretty much sums up our feelings about towing our dogs west…we’ll deal with any hassles that we may come up against knowing the memories we will have from the trip will outweigh any of the hassles.

So join us on our trip and let’s see how this goes….