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
I’M FRANKIE & I’M DIABETIC, TEL XXX-XXX-XXXX
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.