Travelling with a dog is demanding, but with some training from Nellie Tuck you'll soon get it right.
Seven years is a long time to fend off a woman who wants something. To me, it shows a lot of resilience. That's why I take my hat off to my other half who, for seven years, managed to bat away my constant pleading for a puppy.
He fought a good fight but just over a year ago, he finally caved, and we welcomed Arlo the springer spaniel into the fold.
One might say it has been a bit of a lifestyle adjustment. Or let's just say, a complete lifestyle overhaul. Why? Well, one small matter might be that he's always there — 24/7.
Oh, and did I mention, he's always there? They say it'll prepare you for children, some have even gone as far as saying they're harder than children. To my face.
Either way, if you're in my boat, you'll have more than likely contemplated what to do with Fido when you are planning a road trip. A family adventure without him? I did mention they're there constantly, didn't I? How would a holiday without him be the same then? He is your baby, after all.
Over the past 12 months, we've worked a few things out to ensure a stress-free, pet-friendly holiday. And like they say with children, it's all about planning and compromise.
Here are a few of our tips that have helped us along the way:
GET HIM CAR READY
Make sure before you head away you've had a trial run. I know it sounds a bit pedantic but, seriously, the only reason our road trips work is because Arlo loves the car. He's not only happy to curl up in the back for an eight-hour trip, but is also fine with staying in the car on his own, with water on hand — of course only if it's not too hot and not for extended periods of time. Taking the ferry is an experience. I definitely wouldn't recommend booking a kennel because they'll be sucking up fumes and going deaf pretty quickly that way. Stick to the car option — it's free and they'll be much more comfortable.
Gone are the carefree days where you can just go where the wind takes you. Nope, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do, and most accommodation won't take pets. Full stop. Others may say "pet friendly" but the meaning of those two words can change drastically. I'll give you my best scale: 1. We say we're pet friendly but we're not at all and you'll have to pay extra to have your dog stay in the car. 5. Yes, bring him along but please pay an extra 50 per cent on top of what you've already paid for accommodation, and he can only stay in his crate outside. 10. Actually pet friendly and no charge. To score a 10 when booking is a home run. My best advice is to contact potential accommodation options to ensure a) they know you're bringing your pet, and b) you don't find out when you get there that they're actually a 1 instead of a 10. Tinder users, you know what I'm talking about.
I have one thing to say about this. Councils need to up their game in the "where can I take my dog and where can't I" stakes. I won't name names but, so far, I have driven to a lake that was "dog friendly" on the council website, only to have a No Dogs sign slapped in my face. Fabulous. And just by the by, if you've got a springer, like me, a small park that people seem to walk their handbag dogs around in circles in, right next to a state highway, isn't going to cut it.
And then there's Nelson — it has hit a 12 out of 10 on the off-leash areas. Someone high up in that council clearly loves dogs — probably a little too much. Every area seems to be dog friendly, and there are so many tracks and trails to explore (and tire out) Arlo, it really is a dream run. Head to the Tahunanui Back Beach or up the Centre of New Zealand for a great place to run. I have found that any place with a beach is a winner (unless you're Tasman District Council where, it seems, there's no dogs allowed anywhere, even on beaches).
That's not to say there aren't good areas without beaches — take Palmerston North, which actually has an amazing trail network along the river and away from roads. Who knew?
So while I'm a little hesitant to recommend this, my best advice for finding areas to take your dogs off-leash is to head to the respective council website. At best, it'll have great information about where to go (see Marlborough District Council) and, at worst, it'll lead you on a wild goose chase — but at least you'll be seeing parts of New Zealand you've never seen before.
One other thing to note if you're in the South Island and looking to go north, check that your pooch has had their lepto vaccination – it's more common up north and often they don't vaccinate for it if you live in the South Island.