Just to warn you, this is going to be a loooooooong post. And it’s only part one of probably three or four parts.
Can’t say I didn’t warn you.
I think I’ve mentioned how Alex and I drove from Fairbanks, AK, to Shreveport, LA, over the course of two weeks. My husband is an enlisted man, and we adopted two dogs, as I’ve mentioned on several occasions. They’re fantastic dogs, and I did not ever have the intention of giving them up once laying eyes on them. In addition to this, military families have a horrible reputation for giving up their pets after leaving a base, and considering my dogs had both been abandoned once before, I knew that they would have broken hearts if we left them. So because of this, when we found out that we were getting stationed in Louisiana, I had eight months to figure out exactly how we were going to bring the dogs with us.
My husband briefly mentioned how we could find new homes for them considering how expensive it was to ship them, to which I told him he would be divorced and die mysteriously if he ever suggested that again, to which we both looked into the two options of moving our pups.
The first would be flying them from Fairbanks to Shreveport, to which the military would not help us with, and it would be over $1,000 per dog. When told this, my first question was “Are they riding in first class?” and when the woman said they’d be in a kennel next to each other in the cargo area. Apparently they would have a layover in Minneapolis and Houston, then from there in Shreveport. They would not be flying on the same planes as us, possibly getting there hours before or after us.
This was basically a hell no.
We considred flying to Minneapolis for a few days to visit my family and from Minneapolis, driving down to Louisiana, but flying a dog to Minneapolis from Fairbanks cost about the same as flying a dog to Louisiana.
Once again, this was a hell no.
My husky mix Luna is… special. She’s way too smart for her own good, and incredibly beautiful for a dog. As my vet in Alaska put it, “She’s perfect and emotionally damaged.” She’s afraid of her own shadow, and took six months to be able to approach us in the house for belly rubs. While she’s much better than she was when we first got her, she’s a very skittish dog.
So after much fighting and debating, we decided we were going to drive the 4,200 miles across North America. Luckily, we were driving in early August so we hoped that the roads wouldn’t be too horrible and we thought, for sure, it would only take two days to get through Canada. We were planning on driving at least 700 miles a day, just trying to get through Canada as fast as we could. Maybe stopping to take pictures. We were going to camp out in a tent every night to save money, bring our miniature gas stove so we could cook eggs on that in the morning and we got a small cooler and I spent two days making sandwiches and getting freezer packs so we wouldn’t have to eat out. Ever.
Of course this didn’t happen, but we will discuss that later.
Luckily, the military will pay you for driving down, so we bought an SUV, hearing of how the mountain roads are a little rough, loaded up the back, got all the doctor appointments out of the way, got seatbelts for the dogs, and bought The Hunger Games Series audiobooks to listen to throughout the drive. Thank you Suzanne Collins.
Now, if anyone has ever met me or my husband, you would probably wonder why we would ever need audiobooks. My husband is the chattiest person I have ever met. He will talk for hours upon hours and never quiet, and while not as chatty as him, I’m pretty chatty. My mother has commented how there is never a quiet moment when we’re in a room together.
But when you spend ten days in a car together, there’s a chance that you’ll run out of stuff to talk about. To ensure that we didn’t stab each other on the drive, we bought the audio books, thinking that those books would be more than enough for the drive. We even got The Hobbit audiobook to ensure that if we did run out of the first choice books, we wouldn’t be totally at a loss. We had lots of Christopher Titus on our phones, nearly memorized, and we commented that NOBODY can ever get tired of Christopher Titus.
So my last day in Alaska, I went to my work, hugged all of my previous coworkers, cried a little bit, tried to see all of my friends before I went (and failed miserably, I’m sorry Marissa), and cleaned our apartment to within an inch of its life. Seriously, I mopped the walls so nobody could say I didn’t wash the walls. Only to find out they were going to paint the walls and I didn’t need to do that. We got our full deposit back, and our Landlady hugged us and told us that if we ever moved back to Alaska, we could rent from her again.
We got the dogs in their seatbelt harness, told them we were going for a car ride, and we were off.
We had sedatives for them, but we wanted to see if we could go without. For you see, they are usually excellent car dogs.
The first two hundred miles in Alaska went very smoothly. The roads were uncongested, our cooler was fully packed, the windshield didn’t have any chips in it, the tires weren’t flat. Really, you couldn’t ask for more.
But the dogs were a little miserable. You see, whenever we took them on a car ride, they expected the dog park for an hour and a twenty minute drive home, followed by a giant rawhide and belly rubs for the rest of the evening. After two hours in the car, seeing terrain that was unfamiliar to them, Luna looked like life had totally and completely defeated her. Sahara was in a full blown panic. She was whining and shaking and trying to crawl into my husband’s lap. She hated her harness to the point that she twisted herself in her seatbelt so badly that she was stuck and howling.
Oh, no dog was more miserable than Sahara. Hell hath no fury like a Sahara who is tangled in her seatbelt and homesick.
So we decide it’s time to give them the sedatives. Luna reacts very well to the sedative, being asleep for 12 hours from it, or waking up with hazy eyes and curling on my lap, her face similar to “I love you so much mom. You’re so awesome. I love belly rubs. And ears. My ears are awesome.” Basically, Luna was stoned out of her mind. She even had the munchies. While Luna didn’t really need the sedatives, we knew she was scared and wanted her to feel relaxed and realize that it was just a very long car ride through Canada.
Sahara was not so lucky. The sedative worked on her for a half hour. Then she was whining even more. Being even more miserable than before. Her expressions were more like “I took a nap, TIME TO GO INTO BATSHIT CRAZY MODE! WHERE ARE THE BEARS?! THEY SHALL BE MURDERED BY MY RAZOR SHARP PAWS!”
When we got into Canada, the roads went from smooth and pristine to pothole city. We went over one pothole, causing the service light to go on in our car.
We stopped the car, looked around the car and saw nothing wrong, but the words “Perform Service” kept popping up. The road was bumpy, we were terrified that we’d get a flat tire, and we were slowed down to a crawl because of all of the potholes. But not to worry, the potholes turned into GRAVEL ROADS WITH BIGGER POT HOLES with around 80 miles between towns. Yukon Territory really believes in spacing out their towns. Occasionally we would see signs for Pie and Coffee, to which we never turned down.
We stopped driving around midnight in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. A beautiful little town, we stopped at Takhini Hot Springs, and spent ten dollars on a tent site, tied the dogs up outside, blew up the air mattress, and curled up.
To which the dogs began to bark and cry, freaking out that they were being forced to sleep outdoors. Sahara was a rescue who spent, likely, several months in the Alaskan wilderness with her puppies, so she always liked to sleep inside, on the bed, head on the pillow, between my husband and I. She’s very particular like that. Luna tends to sleep on the couch with one leg straight up in the air, tongue hanging out of her mouth, sometimes with a blanket on the lower half of her body.
No spoiled dogs of mine were going to be forced to sleep outside!
Afraid of waking up other campers, we brought them into the tent with us.
Now, please keep in mind, my husband is close to 6’7” and he’s pretty solid. I’m round, and it was a “4” person tent. The queen size air mattress took up most of the floor space in the tent. The dogs, of course, had to be in the bed with us. So a blow up queen mattress, which is actually a full size, a very tall, solid man, two german shepherd mixes, and myself on this TINY air mattress.
Then there was thunder.
There is no such thing as thunder in Alaska. At least not in Fairbanks. My dogs had NEVER heard thunder in their short lives. So they go into a full panic. Not only did they puncture the air mattress, they almost destroyed the tent, attacking the side while howling and snarling, trying to scare the thunder away.
We were awake at 7 AM, having only gotten a couple hours of sleep, smelling awful from not being able to take a shower. We decided to not go to the hotspring to soak, and we found a truck stop to have some breakfast.
The story will continue in part 2 of this epic tale of traveling through Canada.
What are your thoughts so far?