All the cliche’s are right. Adopt a Shelter Dog, you will find a friend for life.
I will say, Adopt a Shelter Dog, they may save your life.
Before I moved to South Florida, I was, sigh, a snowbird. I’d look forward to the yearly trip to South Florida in February. February in Philadelphia is the dismal dark bowels of winter. I don’t care how beautiful a blanket of snow can be, after three months of it, I want it gone.
I’d load up the Jeep and all my gear that I thought I needed and come on down. One year I was fortunate enough to find a place that was “Dog Friendly” so I drove down with my faithful sidekick along. Lettie is a better driving companion than pretty much every human I’ve ever driven with.
Sorry folks, the T Shirt was right as far as being in a car is concerned – the more time I spend with people the more I like my dog. At least in that cramped Jeep Wrangler. Cramped for me, she was luxuriously able to curl up into a dog ball and sleep.
The trip from Philly to Wilton Manors was 1206 miles, exactly. I’d stop somewhere as far South as I could get. The midpoint is Florence, SC, but the further I’d get the better I’d be the next day… so I’d push myself. The last couple trips I took got me as far as St Mary’s just on the GA side of the border north of Jacksonville. Starting at 2AM got me past all the big cities in the morning without a hitch and would stretch the day, but it meant that I’d be a zombie until the sun came up south of Washington.
Reading all of that I’m thinking what a fool…
By the time you get to South Carolina, the road is long, straight, and boring. The North Half of the state is a swamp save Florence, and I found that by the time I got to Lake Marion I needed out of that Jeep. Every hour or two, I’d stop, Lettie would want OUT and we would both stretch our legs. It would stretch the inevitable need for a final stop of the night but we had a rhythm.
Being an athlete, I’m familiar with Hitting The Wall. Your body says you need rest. In this case, mid afternoon, 12 hours after starting this marathon. In South Carolina you start to drift. White Line Fever.
Lettie knows me better than just about any human being out there. It was in South Carolina where she started to pay attention to me. I felt the wet nose on my right arm that was resting on the shift knob and would comfort her for a while and she’d be happy to curl back into her dog ball. Subconsciously I would make a mental note to hit the next rest stop and stretch our six legs.
I guess her sleep and relaxation rubbed off. More like the 700 or 800 miles of road but I began to fall asleep at the wheel. She realized what was happening from the rhythm of what was going on and I awoke to a violent head butting that right arm. Now, Fully Awake, I realized I’m done. This particular trip, Done was in Darien GA where I stopped for the night.
My furry angel saved me from my own stupidity. We went into the little room and after the adrenalin rush of driving ended, we both went to sleep.
So what have I learned after 8 years of being with her? Stop driving like that first off – you just don’t need to punish yourself to get on a vacation that you may not survive the first day. Second, Trust in Dog, Dog Knows Best. Third, get your silly butt out of that Jeep once an hour and consider stopping in a shorter time.
I haven’t driven out of Florida since I got here in 2006. I don’t expect to leave Florida before 2011 on any vacations, and the next trip I will take will most likely be Key West, a gentle 190 miles away. Sleep won’t be a problem, in fact if the weather is right, I’ll do it topless.
Hopefully I’ll have my co-pilot. See, she knows me better than I know myself… there’s this time where she saved my life….