The traveling dog

Ginger in La Conner, WA, resting her raw paws with another dog who likely won't be running on any beaches

My wife gets sad whenever she sees a person driving with their happy hound contentedly riding in the vehicle or extending its delighted dog face out the window. That’s an experience we will likely never have with our own pet, Ginger.

Much like my friend Al’s comment that he loves being in a new place but hates to travel, so too does my dog Ginger like arriving but despises what it takes to get there when it involves a car.

Somehow, as a puppy we must have scarred her in some car ride to the vet or imprinted within her a fear of being in a motor vehicle. She has a canine panic attack whenever we get going in the car yet she always jumps in the vehicle at the outset as if she knows the end justifies the frightening means.

A few years ago, we took her camping to Camano Island, WA an island about two hours from our house that you can reach via a bridge. For those two hours, she whined and paced continuously. But once we got there, it was doggy heaven, particularly running along the beach. In fact, we realized after a few hours there that she had run so much that she literally sanded off the pads of her paws. We were horrified to see raw, bloody feet on our favorite pooch.

Once we realized this, we tried to get her off the beach and to bandage her paws as best we could. We even wrapped old socks around her feet.

Ginger would have nothing to do with that. Much like her putting up with the horror of a car ride to get some place fun, she similarly put up with the pain of padless paws just to be back in the water and running up and down the beach.

To spare our dog, we ended up cutting down on the beach time and exploring nearby La Conner, Washington instead just to aid our dog from doing herself more harm.

The implications of this for us our numerous. First, I doubt most of us will run on the beach until our feet turn bloody, but we do tend to overexert on trips. We stretch ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally on a trip because, like Ginger, we simply don’t notice the pain or distress. We push ourselves because the delight of what we’re experiencing distracts us from any discomfort.

Second, another lesson we can learn from this traveling dog is that no matter how inconvenient modern-day travel can be, it is still better than it was for our parents or grandparents. Moreover, I find that like Ginger, I quickly forget the cramped airline seat and hassles of getting to the place once I make it there.

We are all at our happiest when doing what we were created to do…

Finally, the biggest point is that Ginger couldn’t resist the beach because as a Labrador Retriever, she was meant for being in the water. We too are meant for more than our routine lives would indicate. Often, it is only during the freedom of our trips that we realize the fullness of our passions and callings.

And once we do, nothing will hold us back.



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