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I’m going to focus this post on if you really need to crate the dog and if not, what are the options.  The first thing you must decide is safety vs stuff.  If you are in a serious car accident and the dogs are not crated because you decided to bring a lot of gear, there is a high chance of them not surviving.  You have to decide the risk vs the reward.  Sometimes we travel with the dogs free.  Most of the time I put two airline crates in the back of my van like this:

Those blue crate fans are cheap to buy and work for hours and hours.  They provide enough circulation to keep the dog comfortable in those airline crates that don’t have a lot of air flow.  If you use airline crates, you need crate fans.

I built this platform for the crates to set up on using 2×6′s and a 4 x 4 sheet of plywood.  I left enough room on one side that a normal exercise pen, grooming table, or medal / mesh large folding crates can fit on left and the other side is just right for a tent canopy and / or folding chairs.  It was not hard to build and saves me so much space.  I had one of these for my Suburban years ago, but put off making one for the van because  I wasn’t really showing that much with the kids keeping me busy.  Now that I have one again, I really regret not building it sooner.  It is such a space saver.  These platforms are cheap to make and only takes a few hours if you are even mildly handy.  You can even ask Home Depot to make all the cuts for you.  I  know most people are not as dog focused as me, but if you have a few dogs and wondered how the dog show people carry so much stuff, this is the secret.   This is how my car is loaded 90% of the time.  When vacationing and house hunting I stick on our Thule car top carrier for most of our human gear and luggage.  We purchased our Thule Excursion about 15 years ago and let me tell you this thing was worth every single penny.  It works just like it did when we bought it and it has been used 2-3 times a year.  If you road trip at all, you should get one.



This is the one I have.  They no longer make this version, but there are other options or maybe you can find one used.  Love it, we will use it until it breaks.

What if you don’t have a nice platform or car top carrier or own to many dogs to crate and travel with the entire crew?  Well, that is when  you have to decide the risk vs reward.  I’ve traveled many times with my dogs loose in the car.  Yep, I admit it.  One specific event was not the norm, but it shows how you can make it work if you are open to other options.  We were going to Tucson, AZ to pick up Rain’s first litter that Stacey had whelped and raised.  We were co-breeders and she wanted me to place the pups because of my experience level with the breed and interviewing owners.  At that time we were living in Colorado and I had Merlot, Flash, Cami, and Indigo.  Flash, Cami, and Merlot were all entered in Agility that weekend in Tucson.  I felt like a superstar for booking both a puppy pickup AND a dog show in the same weekend!  We get on the road and make it about an hour into our trip and the transmission blows on my Suburban.  We were pulling our camper, had a car full of dogs, and on a great road trip when the car just up and decides it isn’t going to go any farther.  Eventually, we make it home after having our camper towed to storage and the truck taken to a repair shop.  The only other vehicle we had at that time was our Subaru outback.  The size difference between the Suburban and the Subaru is substantial.  I called Stacey to explain the situation, that we were not likely going to be able to bring the camper, and she said they had a place for us to stay, don’t worry.  We just had to decide if we should try to get a renal van for the trip or make the Subaru work.  We decided to use the Subaru.  Needless to say, once we picked up the entire litter of pups, plus my 4 adult dogs, our car looked like a clown car.   There was no room to crate everyone.  The pups were crated in the very back area.  Merlot, Flash, and Cami got the middle and were not crated.  We placed our luggage in the floor boards behind our seats to provided a platform to curl upon.  The exercise pens and extra fold up crates “just in case” we needed to contain all the dogs were placed in the Thule on top of the car.  Indigo, my Shiba Inu girl, got to lay between Keith and I on a pillow.  Let me tell you, she loved that.  The perfect car trip in her little mind.   So sometimes, you just make it work and take the risk.  By the way, all three of the dogs qualified in Agility that weekend and the trip has become a great memory for me and Keith.   Again, this wasn’t a normal situation.

Whatever you decide, own that decision.  There are no perfect choices in the world, you can only weigh the options and decide what you want for your pup and go with it.  There will be nay sayers no matter what you select, but if you go into it with an educated view you can stand behind your choice.  With that said, there are great car seat belt restraints you can use if you are tight on space and have a well mannered dog who isn’t going to eat your car or vomit in sickness.  The harness is comfortable for the dog and while not nearly as safe as an airline crate, it does offer a lot more protection than nothing at all.  This restraint will keep the dog from becoming ejected from the car, which is the main risk to their life in an accident.   My research has determined that the SleepyPod Clickit harness is the best option.  You can read the full crash test information here: 

I’ve never used these, but I might pick up a few to have on hand ‘just in case’.

You can also use a barrier in the rear of your car to keep the dogs contained.  Again, this will offer no safety to the dog during an accident, but again I’ve used these before and they worked well for us during that time in our life.

We used one just like this for years in the Subaru.  There just wasn’t room for many crates.

If your dog is well trained, doesn’t get car sick, will not snack on your food when you go inside to go potty during stops… then you can take the risk and allow them to roam free in the car.  You need a well trained and obedient animal for this to work, otherwise you will create training issues using this method.   Sadie was our foundation female and she was a sweet and gentle soul who did very few things wrong.  The only issue Miss Sadie had was her inability to control her snack surfing during car trips.  I had to keep her behind a barrier or in a crate because there was no stopping her if she was left in the car without human supervision for even 5 minutes.  She never counter surfed at home, this was only an issue in the car.  So, know your dog!  They can be sneaky bugs!

Next post will cover what to pack as far as food, supplements, water, gear, etc.


This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  I take my dogs everywhere, no matter the distance or time of year.  Being a military family, I have never had the luxury of simply letting a family member ‘pet sit’ the pups while we travel.  Oh I have used pet sitters in the past and if I must do it, I will.  However, I have found taking them with us is both rewarding and more relaxing, and here is why.  If you bring the dog, you are forced to have a lighter schedule.  Dogs cannot go 12 hours without some sort of mental or physical break, which in turn makes you become more aware of how much time you are spending in a specific activity.

So, how do I make traveling with my crew as pain free as possible?  Well generally when we travel, we rent a house or condo off or  Those are sister sites run by the same company and I have been using both for about 15 years.  I’ve had nothing but good experiences, but I believe it is because I take a few precautions.

1.  I never rent from anyone who doesn’t have a list of recent reviews on the company website.   If they sent you to an outside website with glowing reviews, but nothing listed on the Home Away site, I would NOT use that person.  It could be a scam or weighted reviews from staff.   You can’t post a review on the Home Away unless you use that site.  The owner of the property must pay a fee to have their property listed, which might translate to a slightly higher rental cost, but in my mind the knowledge that I am dealing with a real person, with real reviews from recent real renters is worth a few extra dollars.  There is saving money and there is being stupid.

2.  I am totally honest about the number of dogs, sizes, and ages of my dogs.  I don’t want their to be any surprises to the rental company or owner, whoever might be handling the transaction.  I am clear that these are Standard Poodles, but also they are well trained, will be crated and kept off the furniture and out of the pool.  I’ve been turned down once or twice due to size restrictions of the condo’s HOA, which is totally out of the control of the owner or rental company.

3.  I purchase insurance from Home Away or VRBO just in case there are any damages.  I haven’t had any, but honestly with multiple dogs and 2 kids… it could happen.  It makes the owners feel comfortable renting to me and makes me feel safer knowing we are covered.  Plus it insures the property is exactly as described, which is important.

July 12th we left for a surprise one week trip to Disney World.  When planning a vacation you should always consider all the options.  With this trip I had 3 good choices to consider.

Option 1:  Drive to Arkansas so my sister could watch the dogs (which I have done many times), then fly out of AR.  My sister is awesome and watches the dogs for a bag of dog food and a souvenir or two.  This makes boarding almost free, but we would need to fly and flying is never cheap.

Option 2: Hire a pet sitter or board the dogs with a good friend who does boarding here in Huntsville.  This was a good option, I have friends I trust and it wouldn’t be out of the question to have someone watch the pups while we were gone.

Option 3.  Take the dogs with us.

Each time I travel, I have to weigh these same three questions.  It really depends on what I can find for accommodations.  We did Disney about 3 years ago and took the dogs then, so I knew the routine and if I wanted to deal with having them with us.  Mainly it came down to “Do we want to stay at a Disney Resort OR do we want to bring the dogs and stay in a single family home”.  You can stay at the Disney Fort Wilderness campgrounds with animals, but the pet loop (they only have one section for travelers with pets) was booked solid the week we wanted to go.  By the time I factored in the cost of boarding / pet sitting for the dogs, the cost of a nice Disney resort, possible need for a flight if I took them to AR for Lisa to watch… I landed on renting a home.  For our trip to Hawaii, I had to take the kids to Arkansas to stay with my mother-in-law so it was an easy choice to take the dogs as well and leave them at their favorite Aunt’s home.   Be flexible and go with what will work best for each trip.

Nine times out of ten, the most cost affective trip will be the one you take the dogs with you on, and not just because you are saving money on pet sitting or boarding.  Here was an average day for us at Disney World.  Wake up, eat breakfast in our rental home, gather our gear and snacks, then go to the park for about 4 hours.  Return back to the house to take care of the dogs and let them have some ‘out of crate time’.  While we are home, eat lunch, resupply with snacks and frozen waters to keep cool, and relax for an hour or two (NAPS!!!).  Then head back to the park from about 5pm until closing.  If you are doing Disney in the summer, you miss the heat of the day.  Seriously… it was the only way to do Disney in July.  We purchased a few snacks at the park like ice cream or smoothies to keep cool, and sprung for a nice dinner at the park to close the day.  I’m guessing we saved between 60-100$ a day in meals/snacks alone, all because we HAD to go back home to take care of the dogs.  We couldn’t just grab some park food and keep going.  Yes, we were tired after 7 days of fun in the sun, but we were not exhausted.

The cost to rent this pet friendly home was $800 for the week, which included the cleaning fee and she didn’t take a pet deposit because I was opting for the Home Away insurance.  We are talking a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with a pool, spa, and garage converted to a game room with air hockey and other games.  Keith’s parents came down from Monday to Friday and there was plenty of room for everyone.  With insurance added we were still under $1000 for the week.

But Becky, sometimes there are days where I must stay out longer!  Remember, if you are going to do something that requires a long day, you can always do a one day ‘doggy daycare’ at a local facility.  Disney World has an amazing kennel / doggy daycare.  Use it if you need it.  Keith’s mom texted me that Kennedy Space Center was doing a launch on Wednesday the week we were going to be in Florida.  I’ve never seen a launch.  It was one of those bucket list items for me, so we HAD to make this work.   I checked distance and travel time and found it was a 1.5 hour drive from our rental home in Orlando to the Cocoa area of Florida.  If I left the dogs at home, that would mean a travel time of 3 hours, leaving only a few hours to see the launch and visit the space center before we had to be back to relieve the pups.  I knew that wasn’t an option, so I pop up Google Maps and did a search for Doggy Daycare in the Cocoa area.  Kennedy Space Center had a kennel, but I’ve had experience with places like that before and didn’t want them shoved in some tiny little cell like you see at a vet in some off the path air conditioned ‘kennel’ with little to no staff.  I wanted them to have room and be placed together, with people who watch dogs for a living.  After reading reviews of about 10 different places, I landed on Barkingham Palace for a few reasons.  1.  They had decent reviews.  2.  They were competitively priced.  3.  They had the layout I wanted with large rooms where the dogs had beds and could be kept as a group.  4.  The owners show Golden Retrievers in AKC.   Number four was a bonus, but a nice one.   The cost was $50 for the day and worth every penny.  The dogs were not stressed when I picked them up that afternoon, which was ideal.  We were able to spend the day at Kennedy and the dogs were safe not 10 miles from our location.  It was a win / win.  One of their groomers came out as we were leaving to let me know she had enjoyed playing with my crew while they were there.  She was an experienced Std Poodle owner and lover, and lost her last one a few months prior to old age.   You never know when you are going to run into someone who loves these guys as much as you do!  Hopefully Jazz and River gave her a bit of nostalgia and a warm poodle smile or two.  I have no doubt there was forced cuddle time involved, I know my dogs to well.  If a hand is present and not scratching them, something is dreadfully wrong.

I think this is enough for one day.  Tomorrow I will talk logistic.  What should you pack?  How to drive with a crew of pups in the car.  What your dogs should know and how you can teach them before you travel with them to someone’s home or stay in a hotel.

Here are a few photos from our trip.  These were all taken with my phone.  I haven’t even downloaded the photos from my fancy camera.  I know I am a slacker.

Oh no, Bruce ate my kids!!  Kids are friends, not food!


Animal Kingdom.  It is my favorite park (big surprise, right?)

Our trip to Kennedy Space Center with Keith’s parents.

Our private pool with spa at the rental house.


So many princesses, so little time!

  • julie - Hi Becky!
    Such a great blog post! I’m looking forward to your next one. We drove to Pennsylvania and back and stayed in a cabin with Kitra. She did great! She had some tummy issues. I’m not sure it was the drive or changes in water? I would love to know if you have experienced traveling upsetting their digestive systems.

    It was definitely interesting staying in a hotel with ALL the different noises. :-)

    I’m glad that you had such a great vacation! We are definitely missing the green of of the forests in Pennsylvania. Coming home to hot, brown Texas was hard!!


  • Becky - I always pack probiotics when we travel for this reason. A few days prior to going, I give them their treats and continue giving them during the entire trip. I love these from Tractor Supply because they are in treat form:

  • Heather McQuiddy - That is a great idea! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I am supposed to go to a wedding in Tulsa the end of August. Great idea for the family and I could take the dogs!. One question. How do you pack all the family, luggage and doggie stuff in one car? Do the dogs ride in crates? I am finding that the crates take up lots of room in the back of the van and not sure where we would put the luggage. The luggage could go on top of the crates, but I’m afraid it would get very hot for the dogs. What is your solution?ReplyCancel

    • Becky - I’m in the middle of writing all about car travel now, Heather. Your questions will be covered. :) ReplyCancel

Wow, how the summer comes and goes so fast!  I wanted to let everyone know that first, both Klein and Gucci found homes during my one week trip to Hawaii back in May.  Anyone who was asking about them, I’m sorry, they are very much happy in their new homes.  I knew those two boys would be snatched up super fast, they were both lovely.

Next, I’m going to make a post this week about traveling and vacationing with your pets if anyone is interested.  If you are, speak up so I can keep my motivation high to get this done.  We have just returned from a week at Disney and we took the dogs with us.  If anyone has ever wondered how I travel, book vacations, etc while taking anywhere from 3-5 dogs, this will be your chance to see how it’s done.

Lastly, the kids start school in a week!!!  I can’t believe it!  I call them time sinks because I can’t get anything accomplished when they are home.  Once they are back in school I can start getting Jazz and Lina back in obedience training, and think about what the next few months holds for us here as far as Jazz’s possible litter this winter and any shows the pups might be attempting.  I really want to breed Jazz this next season, because she is turning 4 and only had the one litter.  On the flip side, the thought of a winter litter makes me a bit sick at my stomach.  I remember her last bunch, 12 babies in the dead of winter.  It was HARD and I am not sure I am up for it.  I’ve got a few more months to decide, so we will see what happens.

For those of you with pups from the Ziva and Cory litter, I’m going to get the AKC papers to Kelsey this week for her to sign (she’s the co-breeder and must sign the paperwork).  She will forward on the papers for you guys to sign and finish filling out and mail on to AKC.  I’ll include all the envelopes needed to get this accomplished.  Sorry for the delay.  Those papers have been sitting on my kitchen counter for months, buried under a bunch of kids school books.  I cleaned up the books and went OH NO, PAPERS!

If you have emailed me lately and have no received a response, send again.  I did about 30 emails last week that I have been neglecting for the last month and I would not be surprised if I missed a few by reading them and not keeping them as new.  I have a few more from the last week I just haven’t been able to get done as of yet.  I’m working on it, rest assured.

Here are a few photos of Jazz, River, and Lina after I groomed this right before our Disney trip.  I can’t stand traveling in a car full of smelly dogs so everyone had to get cleaned up for the trip.





  • Tess Driskill - YES Please!! We travel with Charley everywhere close to home. We have not ventured out of state yet. Would love as much info as possible…So excited to learn more from you…Thanks….I am also so excited to hear about the possible next litter from Jazz….ReplyCancel

  • Valerie B - GREAT that you are back! Missed your postings. Very interested in how you travels with multiple dogs, and find places to stay. I am trusting you have a great, if busy summer!ReplyCancel

  • Rich B. - Hi Becky,

    We have Gucci (now Pippin – like the Hobbit), and he is the coolest guy. Really fun, smart, affectionate, goofy, and sneaky. We couldn’t be happier! Thanks for producing such wonderful dogs.ReplyCancel

    • Becky - Sneaky!!! HAHA I love it. Yeah, the smart ones are always sneaky. :) ReplyCancel

  • Ronda - I would very much love an article on traveling with my Spoos!ReplyCancel

This is a quick heads up to let everyone interested know that I will be out of pocket until June 3rd.  I took both Klein and Gucci to Gloria yesterday for her to watch and place in homes if she gets someone qualified and right for that puppy.

You can contact Gloria here:

Gloria Ogdahl
Franklin, NC
Evening and Weekends: (828) 524-1055
Weekdays: (828) 349-5100

I am incredibly busy, so do not expect much contact from me until next month.  Today alone I took down all the puppy gear, which I am taking to a good friend’s home tomorrow morning so she can use it with her upcoming Bull Terrier litter.  I emptied the entire refrigerator, because it has a water line that is frozen up and the first step in seeing what the issue might be is to defrost the entire thing for 24 hours.  It is under warranty, but only for a few more months and that means I can’t put this off until I get back just in case it takes a while to trouble shoot this issue.  I’ve half packed my bags for the trip and washed / folded all the clothes.  I’ve shaved down all the dogs so they are in their summer ‘wash and wear’ coats.  Lina was the last to get done and she was just finished a few minutes ago.   I’ve got all the notes written explaining my children’s absents from school the last day of school and provided a SASE for report cards.   I went to the store to get snacks for the class as my son is one of the last on the list this week.  I cleaned out the fish tank and set it up for auto pilot.  Hopefully those guys will survive, but really they are pretty low on the ole worry list.  I also signed the kids up for Space Camp this summer.  /whew!!!

Every single day until I leave will be filled just like today.  With that said, I am signing out.  Watch for a ton of photos and a few possible videos upon my return!

Here are a few photos of Miss Lina (our Mini) sporting her new summer clip.



So for Mother’s Day my wonderful husband bought me a GoPro!  I’ve wanted one for a while and with our upcoming 20th anniversary trip to Hawaii, he thought it was the right time to make the leap.  I’m breaking it in by videoing the babies.  You guys will have to bare with me as I learn how to work this thing and how best to set it up depending on the situation.  I had also ‘attempted’ to video Cole, but sadly operator error caused his not to be taped.  In any case, you can see the videos I did get of both Klein and Gucci.  The boys did awesome!  I haven’t worked with them as much as previous litters, due the sheer amount of stuff I have going on in my life right now.  However, you wouldn’t know it, as this litter is so eager to please and easy to train.   Just watch these two stars.  Neither were pulling hard, both were attentive, both interested in learning and seeing the world at the same time.

Here is a link to Klein’s video for those on feed burner
This was Klein’s first time on the leash.  You wouldn’t know it, he is such a super star, able to take what he has learned in the back yard and move that to on leash in distraction and keep his mind.   A big accomplishment for a 9 week old baby.   We saw a lady walking a small dog on our way back to the house and he alarm barked!  Klein will be a watch dog for sure.

  Here is a link to Gucci for those on feed burner

Gucci also did amazing!  He has great eye contact and a love of food that keeps him focused where you need it.  He is not as quick as his brother about sitting when you stop, but that would come with some training.  Gucci is your typical sweet and happy boy.  We saw a dog at the end of our walk and he just looked at him with interest.

Both boys are available at this time.  You better hurry, because I am seriously loving Klein!  That boy has soul and so smart!