Doing the My Buddy Butch show was a lot of fun. Many thanks to Jeff and Butch for hosting us and to all the exceptionally cool people who read the blog and post comments. One topic Jeff wanted us to touch on was the matter of the different wild creatures an adventuresome dog can roust in remote territories. It’s always a good idea to research the local fauna when traveling with a dog. The natural instinct of traveling dog owners is to want to organize a hike- because nobody can say dogs can’t go on hikes- even though some foolish people say dogs can’t go to art museums. (Which is absurd.) So nature calls, and we respond. But beware- the local fauna may be exotic and require special precautions. Raja has trail walked in the pug marks of many unfamiliar critters:
Chilean Foxes romped round Raja’s back door in the Andes. They're smaller than lower altitude foxes, so they’re about Raja’s size, and they don’t have fleas. They eat voles, not dogs.
Cuban Iguanas, aka Rhinoceros Iguanas, grow to be huge (seriously, 5 feet long) and they have become habituated to remote areas of Puerto Rico just where Raja likes to hike. (What lunatic decided to import them?!) They're omnivores- which might include Shih Tzus who are left unguarded. I’m not sure- and it’s a good sign that I don’t know first hand. Also Puerto Rico is home to packs of semi-wild dogs, but all the ones we’ve met have been highly sociable and gentle.
Rattlesnakes and Scorpions live in the hills and orange groves outside the Krishnamurti Center in Ojai, California. Raja took the lead on a hike there, but he had no encounters. (Thanks, Krishnamurti-ji.)
There is a Lynx habitat in Vail, Colorado right in the middle of the mountain. Yes, Raja was hiking there like a little appetizer in a snow suit.
Mountain lions have snacked on cross country skiers near Whistler, Canada. Fortunately Raja prefers the more dynamic and speedy get-away of downhill skiing at Whistler Blackcomb.
Black Bears live in the Sierra Madre Mountains of California … yeah, and more Rattlesnakes too. But, in the Sierra Madre, signs warn to keep a dog on a leash of less than 6 feet, to keep looking behind, and to distance yourself from your food and garbage.
Barbary Apes, as we discussed with Jeff, fled Raja’s approach in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco- and good deal they’re cowards, because they’re bigger and potentially fiercer than a Shih Tzu. They left the scene, scattering, um, scat. Camels also abound in Morocco, but they liked Raja and he liked them. Good.
Coyotes roam the suburbs of LA. I even saw one taking a drink from a lawn sprinkler on a corporate campus in Princeton, New Jersey.
BUT the ONLY actually dangerous encounter Raja EVER has had happened at 12:00 midnight in the clean, snow packed streets of Zermatt, Switzerland. Strolling out of a restaurant (the Swiss have it right), Raja stepped into the street and was attacked by a West Highland Terrier walking with his owner under the stars and off leash. The dog lunged and bit him on the flank. I grabbed up Raja and the Westie’s owner grabbed the Westie. He asked if Raja was OK, but ran off before I could answer, or ask if his dog had had rabies shots. There was a loud smack and a quick yelp in the distance. (Mean coward.)
Since Raja was bleeding and following the man would have been futile, we washed his bite for 15 minutes in sudsy soap and water- which is the treatment for dog bites. He’d had his rabies shot before leaving and he checked out fine after. The bite wasn’t actually so bad; Raja took off so fast that the Westie’s teeth only grazed him. (Raja was furious though and growled for an hour.)
The point is that it’s not the expected dangers that happen, so much as the unexpected ones. SO- if you want to be an adventurer with your dog (and don’t we all?), research and exercise caution. BUT, keep an eye out for fierce animals in tame places too.
(Maybe those Barbary Apes are still shaking in their tree tops talking about the horrible day the new animal passed through? Raja likes to think so.)
We are honored to be guests tonight on the My Buddy Butch radio show with hosts Jeff and Butch. We'll be discussing Raja's trips and sharing some tips about how to travel adventuresomely and safely in unfamiliar environments and terrain. Our host, is Jeff Marginean- a dog dad, writer, musician, and music producer. He is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America and a voting member of the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc., for the Grammy Awards. He is president and CEO of JEMAR Entertainment, Inc., and Frog & Scorpion Records Corporation. He is a mild-mannered process control engineer by day and an author/artist by night. He lives in a nice, quiet city in Ohio with his new dog son Butch. He loves working outdoors and gets his best ideas while mowing the lawn!
Now, dear Readers, that's what Jeff says about himself, but Raja and I know him as the tireless fan of his muse Butch, the real star of every show.
Last week Enzo (he of the great Florida vacation blog post) and Raja met up in Enzo’s immaculate and beautiful house, thanks to Connie’s generous invitation. It was super for Enzo and Raja because both these boy Shih Tzu dogs are calm, non-aggressive, perhaps even somewhat shy boys. Meeting like souls is wonderful. First they stalked each other and then they got down to some tail wagging and scuttling back and forth.
Enzo is rapidly accumulating all the equipment a travel pup needs: he has a Fundle bag (see above) for shopping and a primo model stroller (see below) for strolling. Raja uses the Sherpa Tote for getting about and a Sherpa Airline bag for flights. Who knows what great adventures these two might collaborate on in future? As Raja and I always say, the sky truly is the limit.
ALSO…. Raja and I will be guests on the My Buddy Butch radio talk show on Thursday night (April 23) talking about, what else (?), pet travel adventures and opportunities. The My Buddy Butch show is hosted by Jeff and his sidekick Butch and can be heard on iTunes. We’ll give you the link to the iTunes after it’s done, but here’s the initial link to the MBB radio site. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mybuddybutchradio our announcement is on the right, just scroll down a bit.
Working on our radio voices… Raja and Helen
The world is a pretty dangerous place of late- but Raja and I do not plan to give up on our adventures, although our style has been somewhat cramped. Three years ago, we were slated to go to Nepal to trek (as close as I can get Raja to his Himalayan roots), but the Maoists were holding out in the villages and countryside as part of Nepal’s political unrest. Trekkers brushed off the danger in their blogs saying that they just gave the Maoists a few thousand rupees, were given a receipt and were allowed to trek on. Hmmm. But don’t a foreign woman and her fluffy dog (in orange rubber boots) look like a prime opportunity for an armed and frustrated teenager to bully? The Maoist movement in Nepal was thuggery posing as social change. For us, the Annapurna Sanctuary yet awaits. Similarly we were planning a fall 2009 trip to Valle de Bravo, just 2 ½ hours drive from Mexico City. It’s the valley where the Monarch butterflies come in winter and locals believe they are the returning spirits of family members. Wouldn’t that be great to see? But thanks to the truly horrific activities of the Mexican drug cartels, Raja and I aren’t forging into the Mexican countryside in a rental jeep right now.
Nevertheless, there are ways that one can travel into countries where the security factor isn’t the best and still establish some security links.
First: In your hotel, inform the front desk of your specific daily plans in writing and give your intended time of return. (Make sure your full name, address, primary contact info. and passport number are part of the packet.) Check back when you do return so you establish a pattern of accountability.
Second: As soon as possible upon arrival, register with the Consulate General of your home country in the office, not on the phone. That way, somebody official knows you are in the country and has seen you. Also, in the process, you get the opportunity to have a conversation about what activities and locations are advisable and what are inadvisable.
Third: When renting transport, avoid doing it on the cheap in insecure places. Reputable car transport services are accountable and schedules are registered. A random person with a car and a small business- however much we all like to mingle locally- is not traceable. Reputable transport services operate within a network of relationships and have a mutual protection infrastructure.
Fourth: In all outward bound activities, do not be casual about getting the required trekking permits and licenses. These take a couple of days but, again, you tap into infrastructure.
Countries that thrive on tourism do not want anything to happen to you because you are a primary source of income. If you register, somebody will care that you are moving through the territory safely.
Now back to the pet part of this topic. Personally I’m not all that scared of Maoists in Nepal. They’re after governmental change, not tourists per se. And I can tell them “Tis barsa agi mero suruman Peace Corps kam gardechu.” (You get the point.) Also, I’m not a part of the Mexican drug economy, so I don’t pose either a threat or an opportunity. Or that’s how I see it. BUT, on the other hand, I have no business taking optimistic and trusting Raja into dangerous terrain where I can’t protect him from jittery foolishness and crossfire.
Adventure travel is great… and may all our adventures outward bound be safe from predatory human beings and their horrible inhumanity.
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We LOVE Colorado!
Year after year, finds us returning to Colorado! Although, there are many reasons to choose Aspen, we like how dog friendly this community is. Our favorite times of the year to visit, are May and September. It's true that Aspen is a wonderful ski resort town, but......three long haired shih tzu & snow, equals a lot of work... the opposite of my idea of a vacay, LOL!
Since air travel can be complicated with two dogs, and not an option we'd even consider, with three, we vacation with the "Girls" in our 34 ft. motorhome. Our favorite place to park, is the Tiger Run RV Resort, located in Breckenridge, Colorado. Besides offering paved roads and level parking, it sits at the base of the Mountains and two creeks run through the property. The clubhouse boasts, clean restrooms & showers, a clean laundry room and an indoor pool & game area. There are also "chalets", little log cabins, available for humans, if you aren't in a motorhome. This place stays busy throughout the year, and reservations are recommended. For us, there is nothing like waking up to take the dogs for a walk, with the sound of the rushing water, elevated during May, because of the snow melt coming down the mountains. The air seems fresher, the sky, more blue, and you'll see many other dogs, walking their companions, during your outing. This resort provides most sites with green grass, pine trees & beautiful pansies, my favorite flower. It is chilly in the mornings and evenings, a welcome climate change for us, as we escape from the warm & rainy/stormy season in Oklahoma. There are fishing guides available, hiking tours & white water rafting companies ready to take you on an adventure, but mostly you'll have to leave the little paws at "home", but perhaps bringing just one dog, might help your chances of taking them more places. We enjoy our most restful vacations here, doing very little besides, taking in the glorious mountain views, reading, walking and spending time with our shih tzu, Molly, Gracie & IsaBella. With town, only a few miles away, I usually sneak in for a bit of shopping and my personal fav is a little boutique, called A Canary in a Clothes Mine! We love to start & end our Colorado trip in Breckenridge, at the Tiger Run RV Resort!
After renting an SUV, large enough to carry us, the Girls, our luggage and theirs........ yes, I said theirs, plus their mesh/canvas travel crate, big enough for all three to ride in the vehicle, for their safety, and their stroller, an ice chest for their food, we're on our way to Aspen! It takes longer to pack them than it does us! The trip is never boring and the scenery changes, but is beautiful, the entire drive. All of our girls weigh less than 10 lbs. each and we've never had a problem at any hotel, having three stay with us. Most all the hotels in Aspen are dog friendly, and our experience at The St. Regis, The Inn at Little Nell and at The Hotel Jerome has been fantastic. Because the area is so dog friendly, your little friends will have the time of their lives, sniffing every square inch they pass. The Girls accompany us each day, on our outings. We have breakfast at the hotel and they are allowed to stay in the room without us, although they like our breakfast, by room service, as much as we do, to enjoy keeping each other company. As we leave for a day of shopping, they are happily ensconced in their stroller, zipped in for their safety and my convenience of being able to actually shop, pay for purchases, etc. without worrying who they'd like to go visit & introduce themselves. I always ask shopkeepers & restaurants, but have never been turned down to enter their establishment, with the Girls, in tow. I feel like the stroller probably does help, but we never ran into a problem when traveling with our first shih tzu, Chloe', an only child, who was on a leash. There are many wonderful shops, but I love Pitkin County Dry Goods best. They have both Men & Womens clothing, shoes, etc. Our favorite outdoor cafe' has been the Ajax Tavern. Chloe' always stayed under our table, resting from the hiking, and they would bring her a saucer of water & and an extra one, in case we wanted to share any of our food with her. Because we currently have three dogs, they remain in the stroller in shops & while we eat. This said, the sales force seem to always ask if they can be taken out of the stroller, and they are passed around very much enjoying all the attention, never far from Dad and under the watchful eyes of Mom. We lunch in outdoor cafe's or pick up lunch and walk to one of the beautiful parks for a picnic! With this option, I bring their food along and we all enjoy the Mountain scenery with our meal. They drink from a water bottle and that makes it convenient to keep in the stroller. A catnap, a big play and an exploration of the park before it's time for an after lunch stroll back to our room, to be combed out and take another nap! After they eat dinner & have a big walk, we leave the Girls, each evening, for dining in one of the many fabulous restaurants that Aspen has to offer; we love Matsuhisa, Rustique Bistro and Pinons, just to name a few. We always leave my cell phone number at the front desk and ask them to call if any barking is reported. All our restaurant choices are within walking distance, some just across the street and up the block. It seems like there is always a local festival or rugby tournament going on, as if we needed another activity, and we get plenty of hiking and walking, just exercising the Girls. There are the usual tours and activities available for fishing, hiking and white water rafting. The beautiful Maroon Bells is located just outside the City and worth the drive or hike. The Golf course is just beautiful, with an even more gorgeous view, for those who love to play. Snow Mass Village is not far away and offers plenty of diverse shopping. There is much to do and see, and thankfully for those of us who can't even think of leaving home, without the paws, can rejoice that they can be included & welcome, at this destination!
Tired, happy and full, (of the lemon souffle' pancakes served for breakfast, at the Hotel Jerome :) we make the drive back to Breckenridge. It's been non-stopactivity and we look forward to a peaceful rest in a tranquil setting. Listening to the babbling brook and breathing that clean mountain air; the perfect refresher, for us & for Molly, Gracie & IsaBella, before we heading home!
Happy Travels with your furry family! Renee
Let’s talk about Portland, Oregon. What a beautiful, green city full of healthy back-pack wearing people. Portland likes dogs just fine, although Portlander dogs tend to be big, shaggy and mossy. (If I’ve offended, Portlanders please bark back via the comments. We know there are some small dogs and some posh pups out your way too. And, what’s wrong with being shaggy and mossy anyway? Raja does his best to be as shaggy and mossy as possible every day. He gets dirty. I clean him up. He gets dirty. I …etc.)
There’s a lot to do with furry friends in the Portland area- nature hikes and excursions through the Columbia River Gorge near Portland and hikes up Mt. Hood. And wineries. (Raja loves a little wine- don’t you?) Oregon produces almost all of the seed crops for the US and its countryside is pocketed with privately owned farms where sheep, alpacas, and even yaks are raised for wool. But today I want to talk about only Portland- city of eco-awareness, artisanal fabric and yarn crafts, polar fleece, flannel shirts, strong coffee, micro-brews and rain.
There are plenty of dog friendly café’s in Portland; even many high end restaurants will serve you with your dog on the patio under a heat lamp (it’s never too hot or too cold in Portland.) Check out this list: http://www.portlandpooch.com/directory/restaurants/listings.htm
The Pearl District downtown is Portland’s urban residential, shopping, and art district. Virtually all establishments accept dogs. Portland dogs tend to walk on leash through the rain, even the small ones. If that doesn’t work for you, just carry your doggy, but expect sideways glances. Portland’s rugged and everybody enjoys a bit of weather.
Raja and I recommend the following shops: Dr. Marten Airwair USA (10 NW 10th Ave.)- the only Dr. Marten store in the US; Narcisse (1015 SW Washington)- a Mecca for Gothic Alice in Wonderlands; Dublin Bay Yarn Shop (1227 NW 11th Ave)- what is it about the damp that makes one want to knit?, and Ecce Domus (1422 NW 23rd Ave.) for a gloriously shabby chic North Coast take on Asian furnishings.
Is there anything we don’t like about Portland? Well, OK, sometimes the eco-consciousness and PC-ness gets a bit worthy. Like outside the airport. There’s a sign that says “Designated Smoking Area” and another sign that says “Dog Walking Area.” So we have to pollute in different spots and not get them mixed up. But what if I want to smoke and walk my dog? Hmmm... how to work that?
In the photo below Raja and I are hanging out with our Oregon friends, Lamia the Anthropologist; Raja Babu, the Tibetan Terrier- Shih Tzu mix and Preeti Cassandra, the Corgi. If you go to Portland, do your research because there is so much to do and if you don’t stay long enough, you’ll just have to go back.