The Girls Go on a Road Trip

October 8, 2009 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

By Bruce Thomson, Director of Forestry Sales

Part One – The Road Trip


For the second time in as many weeks, I was at the vet’s office buying a large bag of ‘special’ food for the Girls. As I handed over my credit card, the vet walked out of his office, “Oh, you’re back. How are the Girls?” He didn’t wait for my answer but continued down the hall, whistling to himself. I noticed what appeared to be a 2010 BMW brochure sticking out of his back pocket. I took my cat food and returned to my 14-year-old car, hoping it wouldn’t break down on the short drive home.

We were taking the Girls on a road trip to their “cousins’” house in Portland, OR. My wife had volunteered us to “babysit” our daughter’s cats while she and her family went on vacation to California for a week. I have made many trips into the US with the Girls and have learned some important lessons about US Customs when crossing the border. Most importantly, be truthful. Customs agents have very little patience for people who are not honest. Keep your responses to their questions to the point. Make sure your pets have all the necessary, up-to-date inoculations and have the requisite paperwork quickly available in case the agent wants to review it. It is not permissible to take an open bag of dry food into the US, hence my trip to the vet before hitting the road.

When travelling in the vehicle, the Girls ride in a large cage complete with a soft pad so that they are comfortable and do not slide around. In warmer weather, we position the cage to take advantage of the air conditioner. Pets can overheat very quickly and must never be left alone in a vehicle. When my wife finds the lure of a shopping mall too difficult to resist, I can be found sitting in the car, under a shady tree with the windows down. I read a book and the Girls sleep. We are sometimes there for a long time.

When the Girls were younger, we had the brilliant idea of buying harnesses and leashes to take them for a walk as a break from riding in the car. At the first rest stop on the I-5, we smugly got out the harnesses and leashes. Everyone was going to be impressed at what great cat owners we were, taking the lovely little cats for a nice walk in the cool grass. After much struggling, scratching and growling (yes, the Girls have a very threatening growl when things are not going their way) the harnesses and leashes were on…we were ready for our walk. As soon as their paws hit the pavement they went to ground. They both lay on their stomachs and would not move despite much cajoling and encouragement. The walk turned into a one inch drag and then back into the car. We quietly left the rest stop nursing our bloody cat-inflicted scratches.

Part Two – A Visit with the Cousins

Upon our arrival in Portland, the first step is to get the Girls settled and near a litter box. At our daughter’s house, we keep the Girls in a wire cage meant for a large dog. I am sure they would be very indignant if they knew they were staying in a dog cage. They have to be in a cage because the three cats that live in the house would prefer that the Canadian Girls do an about-face and head back north.

The Girls’ cage is outfitted with a sleeping platform–complete with blanket–a large litter box, and their food and water dishes. During the summer they have their own fan to keep them cool. Once in the cage, there is the usual hissing and growling. The resident cats take turns walking teasingly close to the Girls and give their greeting hisses. It takes about an hour for everyone to settle down. The usual antisocial position taken by the Girls is their backs to the front of the cage and their faces toward the wall.

A bit of history on my daughter’s cats…They are all ‘rescued’ cats. The oldest one, Pavel (named after an ex-NHL player), is from a San Francisco animal shelter. The middle one, Tanner, was a stray that decided to move in one day. He must have sensed that this would be a great place to live. The youngest one, Ernnie, is named after Ernest Hemingway’s cats. Ernnie is a polydactyl cat–she has an extra toe on both front paws.

While in Portland, the Girls are frequently taken out of the cage for exercise and people contact (although they give the impression that people contact is really unnecessary). Of course, once out of the cage, their only interest is to get back in as quickly as possible, unaware that the others have been sequestered in an upstairs bedroom.

Finally, the time comes to pack up the Girls and head home. After cleaning up the litter box, packing away the cat dishes, fan, and blankets, the Girls are back in the travel cage for the long ride up the I-5. For the return trip they are joined in the back seat by the many ‘bargains’ purchased in and around the Portland area (we always do our part to help the US economy with a generous infusion of Canadian money).

Once home, the Girls are the first out of the car and into the house. They walk out of their cage somewhat indignantly and waddle off down the hallway to their favorite roosts on the arms of the sofa. They give no indication that they are glad to be home, nor do they give me any credit for getting them home safely; they just go back from whence they came seven days ago. As my wife and I see the two grumps lying on the couch we just look at each other and laugh. When it comes to the Girls we often say, “Why do we do this?”

Entry filed under: Pet Stories.

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