Single with dog: Road trips and rest stops

When I first got Archie, I spent a lot of time looking for blogs from pet owners who were solo parenting. I wanted to know how other singles handled things like dog-sitters and holidays and some of the particular challenges that are unique to solo-human pet families. I couldn’t find many, if any blogs and at the time, I thought nothing of it. But in the year we’ve lived together, some of the challenges I’ve been wondering about, and lots more, have popped up and I feel like if I’m dealing with them, someone else out there is too.

 

So this will be another reoccurring ‘segment’ about being single with a dog. I’m starting off with perhaps the biggest challenge of all: the dog/human road trip.

When I was in the process of adopting Archie, I’d already decided to take him on holiday with me as much as I could, which meant going places I could drive and where he’d be allowed to stay. For the most part, this has involved driving up to see my parents who live about four hours north of Brisbane and clearly — since they also have a Westie — run a ‘pet friendly’ house so we haven’t had to worry about pet friendly accommodation challenges (yet).

The thing about a four hour drive though, is that you need to stop in the middle somewhere. Even if you had a full tank of petrol and a super-human bladder, it’s safest on long drives to stop and refresh, take a break, have a walk, every two hours. And even for my car-ride loving dog, four hours is a bit long to go without him stretching his legs, having a drink and a pee too. So herein lies my issue, sure, Archie isn’t fussy about where I stop for his break, but I am a girl, and I am not super comfortable with the no-bathroom bathroom stop.

Wherever you are, dogs shouldn’t be left unattended in cars. It only takes six minutes for a dog to die in a hot car, and in Australia, a car can be super hot even in winter. In Queensland, there’s no offence related to leaving dogs in cars, but (and this one surprised me), it is illegal to leave a vehicle unattended with the windows down (read more here).

Archie loves road trips!

So, let’s do the math: Me and Arch are driving to Hervey Bay for a week’s holiday and we both need a pee at the halfway mark which is usually Gympie. He can’t stay in the car without me, but equally, he’s not allowed to sneak in through McDonald’s while I use the facilities. I’ll also be frank and admit I am a recovering germaphobe with a terrible aversion to public bathrooms, so for me, rest stops are the stuff of nightmares.

Unfortunately, rest stops are the most pet-friendly places, where people don’t really bat an eyelid when you drag your four-legged bestie into the stall with you. But it got me thinking, what if there was a guide for those of us in this situation? What if we could drop pins in a map and say whether the bathroom is squalid or lovely, talk about what it’s like for our doggos, if we need to take our own TP in or if you need to blindfold yourself and bath your dog after you’ve been?

Archie enjoying his rest stop

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve created a Google map and as we travel, me and Arch are going to drop pins and do all of the above. But we want you to contribute too, and I’ve set the map up so you can drop your own pin, write a little about the facilities and share for the greater, single-with-doggo world. I’ll see how it goes, but at the moment, anyone, anywhere, with the link can add a pin, a description of the stop and even photos.

You can visit the map by clicking here.

At the moment, it’s only got the few Gympie area rest stops I know about along with Gympie Pet Stock (who I had contacted about use of their facilities), so I’m hoping that with your help, we can build this into a really helpful resource for dog owners.

If you’re also a single dog owner, I’d love to hear from you about any challenges you’ve faced or things you’d like to know about. You can also get in touch if you’re having issues with the map. Send me an email at littleredwrites@gmail.com.

*Photo of me and Archie is by the wonderful Jill Kerswill Photography

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