Frankie and I are headed to Scottsdale today to meet one of my newfound relatives, and I’m a little nervous. To put it mildly.
Not about meeting my relative, Elaine. We’ve already chatted on the phone, and I’m sure that’ll go swimmingly.
No, I’m nervous about traveling with Frankie. The last time I tried a similar short trip was last September, with decidedly mixed results
If I had my druthers, I would leave Frankie at home with a pet sitter. But my favorite one was booked and, since Frankie developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), his care presents some challenges — even beyond having to give him two insulin shots a day for diabetes. Not everyone can deal with the fact that he tends to pee on his feet, for example (not inside and not on purpose, but that’s a story for another post). I didn’t want to try to break in another pet sitter for a two-night getaway.
Or to clean my house.
So we’re off on an adventure to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, our lovely soon-to-be home away from home.
Here are my prime concerns, based on previous experiences.
Frankie has always disliked car travel — regular readers of this blog may remember my many fruitless efforts to try to make him relax — and that hasn’t changed, except that he’s not able to jump in and out of the car as he once was. This is not a physical issue but, rather, a cognitive one: Because he can’t gauge where things are, he began missing the door and trying to jump into solid portions of the car.
As a result, I have to pick him up and deposit him in the car, which he doesn’t like, thus adding to his array of negative associations surrounding automobile travel.
He rarely lies down and sleeps while we’re on the road. This means that, by the time we get to Scottsdale, he will have been standing in a state of constant vigilance, if not stress, for 2 1/2 hours.
If I’m lucky, he will unwind enough to have something to eat in time for me to be able to give him his insulin shot and go to dinner with friends. And he will not throw up afterwards because, after not drinking for several hours as a result of stress, he has gulped down a few bowls of water.
This did not, I hasten to assure my hosts at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, should they be reading, occur on our previous trip to Scottsdale. I just mention it as one of the many things on my list to worry about.
Although Frankie never liked car travel, he used to be quite fond of hotel rooms. He would bounce around them, from bed to floor and back, following my every move. His bouncing days are over, which is fine by me. I used to be petrified at some of the heights he would leap from, in spite of my efforts to get him to stay put. “No, I’m coming back into the bedroom in a second, Frankie, honest, please don’t jump down from the bed,” I would plead. To little effect.
At least hotel room floors are carpeted. As an extra precaution, I would array pillows around the bed.
On the our last September jaunt to The Boulders, Frankie didn’t try to jump up on anything. But he paced. He sometimes does this at home now too, but I sleep close to the ground — yes, after a back-injuring leap onto my hardwood floor, long ago, I put my mattress on the floor — and am therefore able to detect the “I need to go out” movement, which is distinct from aimless pacing.
I was afraid to put Frankie on the Boulders’ big high bed with me because he might fall off and get freaked out. And I was afraid that if he wasn’t on the bed, I wouldn’t hear him when he needed to use the outdoor facilities.
So I put my bedding on the floor, which wasn’t very comfortable, because I couldn’t move the huge mattress, only the comforter.
I did indeed hear Frankie when he wanted to go out — why wouldn’t I? I couldn’t fall asleep — and I even had a plan: I would take him out the back sliding door, which let out to a landscaped desert area, rather than the front door and the lighted, paved paths. That way, the bathroom break would be quick and I wouldn’t have to worry about what I was wearing.
Yes, you read that correctly: I decided to forgo the lighted, paved path for the dark one with the cacti to avoid getting dressed.
You can guess what happened next: Cactus attack! Large pieces of a species called jumping cholla — because they are easily dislodged when you brush up against them; see video, below — attached themselves to Frankie.
I had never heard Frankie cry so piteously and I acted instinctively — and stupidly. Rather than going back into the room and grabbing a towel, I grabbed the cactus pieces in my bare hands.
Frankie immediately stopped crying. I was too surprised at myself to start. And by this point, I had brought — practically dragged — Frankie into the room, and used the towel to dislodge the cactus from my hand and into the wastebasket, thus foiling the cactus’s evil plot to propagate itself.
I think I’ve learned a few lessons since then. I’ll report back to let you know.
In the meantime, wish us luck.