Whether or not to take our dog travelling around Australia
When our family was planning all the details of our open-ended trip of OZ the hardest decision we faced was whether we would take our little West Highland Terrier ’Ollie’ with us.
There are so many reason's this decision has had us in knots. Ollie has been a huge part of lives for over 9 years. In a way he is our eldest, he was with us when we brought all our kids home from the hospital. Our kids Jake 8, Lucas 6 and Wade 1 absolutely adore him, as they have always had him round and that’s all they knew.
On our first big family holiday trip to Fraser Island 2 and half years ago, we left our little Ollie with Ryan’s parents and although it was hard to say goodbye for our 3 week venture, we knew Ollie would have his own little adventure and we knew he was in great hands.
But when we sold our house and the trip really took shape, we knew we had to make the call…. “To take or not to take”. And with that our pro’s and con list was drafted.
The pros were obvious.
Like many of our mini trips over the past years, it had always been so awesome having the entire family away on holidays. Having Ollie makes bush and beach walks with the kids more fun. He sits with us at dinner, snuggles around the campfire and sleeps in the van with us, on his bed at the door- like our own little guardian.
He’s such a happy, chilled out easy going smooch of a dog, who is always so loving and makes everyone feel warm and special.
The thought to leave him for an undermined period of time is a real strange feeling. But to be without him for any period of time, is like missing out on seeing your kids grow up- so much can happen over a year.
But the hard parts or cons of taking a dog on an open-ended trip around Australia have a lot of merit to be considered.
Our short family trips have meant shorter car rides with planned routes that can be arranged around dog friendly camping sites and tracks. But our little Ollie is 9 and pushing old man status- so extreme heat or cold, long trips in the car, difficult environmental locations/activities and even the animals of nature could all play a part in an uncomfortable experience for him, and therefore potentially for us too.
On a full lap of a lifetime where you’re itching to grab every experience you can of the country- the consideration of the amount of restricted areas and locations we would encounter would be incredible. Places including many National Parks, large number of camp grounds/areas and then even some caravan parks and resorts.
But probably one of the biggest factors that contributed to our decision was the consideration of incorporating a dog into the family’s daily activities. If we wish to accomplish as many experiences as we can in each place we visit, we might find undertaking opportunities such as bus tours, river cruises, theme parks days, museum tours or even some beach walks, quite difficult as you could imagine.
We had been planning and prepping for our trip for 22 months and the most exciting part was knowing that whilst we were travelling we can go anywhere at anytime. So with a huge amount of consideration, we as a family unit decided it would be wrong for us to put Ollie in many potentially uncomfortable/ unfavourable situations and then also to maximise the experience of our once in a life time trip, we would find a furry foster family to adopt him for the duration (of our first lap anyways).
In the month prior to us leaving, we were extremely lucky to have accidentally found out that our fantastic long-time family friends had been tossing around the idea of adopting a fury friend for their 7 year old Beagle ‘Fred’. Besides a gorgeous 25 acre property (which we knew Ollie will absolutely love), our friends also have beautiful animal loving 8 year old twins, horses, a pool, a lake and even a live-in VET student.
It seemed too perfect to pass up and with that we scheduled trial puppy play dates and sleep overs too, to make sure he was comfortable with his new home and that his foster family were too.
All in all it was a huge success and the lead up days before we left, whilst we emptied/ cleaned out the rental house and moved into the van- he had his last trial sleep over. When we visited him on the day we left for our big adventure, he was super happy to see us but looked beautifully content as we waved goodbye- and ever though we were heartbroken on the inside we kept up a brave front as we knew he was in the best place and would be treated with just as much love as his new furry brother Fred.
We check in every few weeks or as often as we need to send love to both Ollie and our wonderful friends, and we hear how well Ollie and Fred get along together. They spend their days lounging by the pool, sitting under the veranda, chasing each other through the grass and around the kids play equipment, walking to and from school with the kids and something we are still in shock about..... Ollie is even doing Park Run with his furry foster parents.
Safe to say he is where he was meant to be- we cant wait to give him cuddles when we cruise in on our way down the east coast in a few months and just hope that come the end of the trip that we might be able to take him around on the next lap..... But we are realistic and know this will all depend on him, Fred and whether it is going to be far to separate them. But for now photos and stories of his time keep us going and content.
There is only one thing that makes choosing to leave your beloved pet behind easier and that is finding the most perfect fitting foster family and home, where you know that they will be looked after just as if everything were absolutely normal and they were just living at home with you.
An enormous thank you to the amazing Barrett Family; Fiona, Paul, Nalini and Nick- Your generosity and incredible kindness towards our little Ollie is something we will never forget nor feel like we could ever repay.