It’s prime tourism season here in Tucson, which is why I wrote my recent 36 hours in Tucson: Canine Edition series, and why, on my last’s month travel segment on KVOA TV, I suggested locals stay at home and take advantage of our prime pup-friendly places. (I hesitated to say “take a staycation.” After reading a post on Boldly Go Solo dissing the term, I’ve never been able to use it with a straight face.)

I’m doing the show again this afternoon, and am still not ready to send people away from our fair city. But I’m ready to suggest how they can get ready to travel before it’s time to leave town. I’m not talking about packing gear and doing other last minute stuff but about advance preparation that will help you find your dog if he runs off while you’re on the road — not an uncommon occurrence — and help ensure his health while you’re away from your usual support systems.

Update your dog’s microchip data

Sure, you had your dog microchipped when you first got him. (If you’re a conspiracy theorist who thinks this is a way for the government to track you down or one who worries more about the minuscule risk — from unsubstantiated studies — of your dog getting cancer on the chip site than about the risks of losing your dog, I’m not talking to you.)  But a microchip is only as good as the information it contains. Call the company responsible for creating the chip and make sure they have you most recent telephone number and vet information on file. Don’t know which company that is? Now is a good time to find out. You should have that data on a tag on your dog’s collar or in the file on your computer that you created when you registered on line (fat chance, right). When in doubt, call your vet.

Make the collar tags as useful as possible

Did you put your cell phone number rather than your land line number on your dog’s tag (I know, I’m dating myself; who has a land line anymore, right)? Did you announce any special medical conditions prominently? I put my money where my mouth is yesterday and had a tag made up that says


Consider investing in a GPS collar

If your dog is large and has escape artist tendencies, this might be the time to consider a GPS collar. They’re usually too heavy for small dogs, who are easier to hold on to in any case. Even mellow dogs run off at rest stops–whether out of fear that you’re driving them off to a new home, or a sense of adventure, or… who knows.

Create a file of  relevant health records

You’re not expected to bring along an entire veterinary  file on vacation with you, and registration tags ensure up-to-date rabies vaccinations. Still, in case of emergency, it’s good to have on hand information about any medications your dog might have taken or about any medical conditions that might affect subsequent treatment.

Update: And here’s the video version, which incorporates the advice offered in my comments section by Rod at — and which stars Frankie.

26 thoughts on “Chips & tags & puppy dog tails”

  1. One idea we have for pet medical records. If you do have voluminous records and feel you need all of the information, scan them to a CD or flash drive. Easy to carry, easy for vet or emergency animal hospital to copy.

  2. One more thing to add – carry a picture of your pet. Most of us have a multitude of them on our phones, but if your pet does get lost, you may not want to spend time finding a way to get one printed. If you have a photo with you, you can easily get copies made to alert people in the area.

  3. When I was researching microchips and tatoos for pets, I was told that pet owners should note that tatoos can fade over time and microchips can move. So keep that in mind.
    Also, traveling close to home is an excellent idea. We do it all the time, and there are a lot of fun places to visit that are less than a 3-hour drive.

    1. Thanks, Michele. Tattoos can definitely fade but it’s very rare that microchips move far enough out of their site location that they can’t be located. I wouldn’t want people to worry about that (they have so much to worry about).

      And I agree about trips close to home. I usually recommend locations that are an easy drive from Tucson on my show.

    1. The channel only posts the videos after the show is over and I can put up the link tonight or tomorrow — assuming I don’t do or say anything really embarrassing. I tried to put up the video of my last appearance but couldn’t figure out how to do anything besides link to it. I’ll see if I can find out anything while I’m there… which will be very soon!

  4. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’ve heard frequent reports of normally laid back dogs bounding out of cars at rest stops and running off, so thanks for that reminder! Both Rod and Amy added great ideas. I think it would be great to have a YouTube channel for you, another social media footprint! And if they are concerned about copyright, they can simply disallow any embeds…good publicity for their station, and all videos would be stored on YouTube, not on their site, so storage space would not be a consideration. Besides, then I could link to it especially on weekend editions:)

    1. Great idea about the Edie & Frankie station! I didn’t get the technical details yet — Frankie is always eager to leave — but I’ve embedded the video in the post.

    1. Well, the station doesn’t seem so keen on the idea as we do, sadly. I left a message with the station manager but since I got a disapproving, “We want people to come to the KVOA website” from the news desk it doesn’t look promising.

  5. I’m not a fan of microchipping since there are so many different companies out there. The shelter that picks up your dog might not have the system that your dog is registered on. I go with a nylon collar with Jersey’s name and phone number embroidered on it and since she’s a purebred, she has an ear tattoo.

    The tag for Frankie is a great idea since nobody would know that he is a diabetic. Also, kudos to Rod and Amy! I never would have thought of travelling with a good pic of Jersey to show people if she got lost.

    1. Karen, there are many companies where you can register microchips but at most two or three different different types of microchips to be scanned, and a universal scanner is in the works. Tattoos fade — and how much info can you get on one? There’s no way I could get anything relevant on Frankie’s little ears! And what about a dog that slips his collar out of fear at a rest stop, etc. — which is what I’m most concerned with here.

      And thanks, K9 Coach!

  6. Great article as a reminder. Its seems that in our overly complicated lives the simplest and easiest of details get overlooked.

    Even the best trained dogs can get excited, startled, or overwhelmed in a new situations. A good reminder article for dogs of all behavior levels, young and old.

  7. Love the new look of your site and am deeply grateful for the additional tips on how to keep Archie safe, especially the idea of bringing photos along (I bring them when I travel without him because I miss him so, but hadn’t thought to bring them when I’m with the real thing).

    1. Re: the compliments on the site: Thank you, you’re the first to notice (of course)!

      And yes, the tips sent in are terrific.

  8. My dog has — If Loose, I’m Lost + 2 phone numbers.

    I don’t believe in putting the dog’s name on the tag because I don’t want anyone who finds her, to bond with her.

    That’s just my opinion.

    1. They might bond with her anyway — she’s such a lovely girl — but just give her a different name!

  9. Would love you to visit our site. We have a really nice looking tag that has an online profile featuring all your pets medical info and photos that can be updated at any time. It’s all made in north America too and emails shelters etc when youe pet is lost. We give$3 to your local shelter everytime a tag is purchased in your area.

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