Of Ellie’s four puppies, I kept the female, named Emma, and the dad’s owner kept one of the boys. The two remaining males were sold, the one named Buckley going to a dear friend and co-worker of mine and her family, which included two young sons. I was delighted with that arrangement, as it allowed me to keep up with Buckley, who was a clone of his mother in both looks and temperament.
Emma, and her mother Ellie would make the trip home to Texas with me. My car was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, by Texas SUV standards not a roomy vehicle, even with rear seats folded down. Anything I didn’t entrust to the movers would go with me, including and especially these pups.
As I packed the car, the first thing accounted for was the crate that would hold my precious puppy cargo. I situated their crate directly behind my seat, with the door opening out to the back door, so that I could easily access them for potty and water breaks. After the crate, things were packed in an orderly and efficient manner, to include my overnight bag that would see me through until my arrival in San Antonio the following day.
In planning my journey, I used the Internet, which was barely getting cranking by this time in 1999. With it, I charted my long drive from Fort Lauderdale to San Antonio. As I would have those two dogs with me, and I knew I couldn’t make that drive in one day, I needed to time my fuel stops to coincide with the dogs’ bathroom breaks and drinks of water, and arrange to stay at a hotel along the way that accepted pets.
So, with our safety and well being at the forefront of my thinking, I planned a route that would take us from Fort Lauderdale up through Florida, and across the southern US to Texas…just over 1,350 miles. Every stop went just as planned, when and where. The first leg of the trip proceeded without event.
As I drove from tropical South Florida up through the state, I was amazed at the different personalities that Florida possessed. The farther north I got, the more “old South” Florida looked, with verdant pastures, and trees the likes of which I never saw in Broward County. I was glad I chose to drive vs. fly, so that I could take in all that I did about a state I clearly barely knew, but had called home for two years.
Mobile, Alabama: Half-way Home
At the end of the first day, we spent the night at a hotel I’d arranged for in Mobile, Alabama. I had to park the car a good distance away from the room, and as I’d arrived as dark settled in, I remember my concern as I carted first the dogs, and then my overnight bag to the room. As worried as I was during those two long walks between car and hotel back in 1999, I can only imagine the real danger I would be in today…not because it was Alabama, but anywhere it seems, at any time, anyone can be in danger…especially at night, alone.
However, in relative safety, my dogs and I settled into our room after a long day of driving and riding. To this day, I am grateful to and for those good girls, who tolerated their confinement and never made a peep. Had I not known better, I’d never have guessed that there were two dogs in the car with me. They were truly my heroes!
After a good night’s sleep, we arose, ready to continue our journey. Before it was all said and done, I’m pretty sure Emma had an accident in the corner of the room; however, since the hotel was pet friendly I imagine that wasn’t the first or last pet accident they’d ever dealt with. Besides, I was fairly confident I’d never stay there again, so we basically did the “pee and run” routine, and got back on the road early…I was ready to set foot on Texas soil!
From the hotel in Mobile, we got back on I-10 headed through Mississippi, then Louisiana, and to Texas – through Houston, and then on to San Antonio. That leg of the trip went as planned, except for a little issue in Louisiana. Traffic on I-10 slowed to a crawl, and then to a stop. Both lanes heading west were at a standstill, to the point where people were getting out of their cars to see what the holdup was.
There was construction ahead, and it seemed that a trailer or machine that had been hoisted up by a crane had fallen, and crashed to the ground on our side of the interstate, blocking both lanes. From our place in the long line of cars, it was apparent that we’d happened upon the scene some time after the incident occurred. That gave me hope that we wouldn’t be sitting there for long, with Houston traffic becoming a concern as the minutes ticked by.
Even though it was April, the weather was pretty warm. I had taken two gallons of water with me for the dogs, and had about 2/3 of a gallon left. Worried that my car would overheat if I sat there idling to run the air conditioner, I rolled down the windows, turned off the car and opened the doors. My first concern was making sure the dogs were OK. Ellie was fine, but Emma was getting hot. At one point, she threw up in the crate, turning the whole thing into quite a mess.
I got her and her mother out of there and put them on the grass with leashes attached to the car. I dumped out the crate and cleaned it as well as I could considering my short supply of water, which I rationed to the dogs so they would remain as hydrated as possible. Soon, thankfully, it appeared that the problem up the road was resolved, and traffic began to move! I got the dogs settled back in the crate, started the car, turned on the air conditioner and got back on the road to Texas.
The rest of the trip was uneventful; the best moment of those two days was passing the sign at the Texas-Louisiana boundary that proclaimed, “Welcome To Texas!” With that I gave out a big “Yee-HA” – I was finally on hallowed Texas soil! I rolled on toward home, my years in Houston making navigating through there a snap, and then there was the relatively short, easy drive to San Antonio.
Waiting for my girls and me in San Antonio was my best friend of all time, who offered me her home as a place to land until I got squared away. Having been employed in the apartment management business, I knew my way around the nicer apartment communities in San Antonio and had already arranged for a spot before ever getting back to Texas. It was just a matter of the movers delivering my stuff before life in San Antonio went on, almost like it was never interrupted…except for the welcome addition of sweet Emma and and my amazing Ellie.
NEXT: Life with, and without, Ellie