Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog

Tips For Traveling in a Caravan With Your Senior Dog

 

Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog

Have you been caravanning for years and just welcomed a new senior dog into your life? Or have you had a dog for years and are about to embark on your first senior caravan experience? Either way you’re setting off on a new adventure and this article will help make it amazing!

I say caravan but of course these tips apply to motor homes as well!

Is it really a good idea to bring an old dog?

Before we even get started, it’s important to determine if bringing your old dog is a good idea. You may not be able to answer that question yet, perhaps you’ll have a better idea by the time you reach the end of this article.

Tips For Traveling in a Caravan With Your Senior DogAre you bringing him purely because you’ll be miserable without him, or is bringing him along the only way you’ll agree to take a break? Do you not trust anyone to look after him because he needs specialist care? Hey, I’m with you on all these reasons!!

You’re not a caravaner

I’m not a caravaner either, but if you want a vacation and want to bring the dog with you it’s not a bad compromise. Perhaps a short test trip with your pup, even just overnight, is a good idea.

There may be some sacrifice involved

Bringing your dog along will be fun, and you’ll be more relaxed having him with you, but it doesn’t mean some sacrifices won’t be made. If you’re not comfortable leaving him in the caravan while you go out, then the dinner in that restaurant you’ve had your eye on probably can’t happen. Bright side? They may do take out!

What kind of activities do you want to take part in at your destination? If your plan is to move little and relax much and your dog feels the same way, you’re in luck. What if you decide to check out those hiking trails but your dog’s arthritis is acting up and he isn’t able to join you?

Keeping your senior dog safe on the road

Keep your dogs safe during car travelWhile in a moving vehicle your dog must be restrained, whether that’s with a harness and seatbelt, in a carrier or crate. I use a Sherpa bag  for my sweet old girl Red, a harness and seatbelt for Jack.

Crate training

If you will be leaving your dog in the caravan while you’re out, putting him in a crate may make him feel safer and you better, knowing he can’t get up to any mischief while you’re gone! If your dog has never been crate trained, you’ll need to do that in advance. Waiting until you arrive at your destination and just opening the crate door expecting him to walk right in, isn’t the best recipe for success.

Having said that, the crate isn’t the right thing for every dog. Since Red’s dementia has progressed, she hates being confined and would literally have a freak out if I put her in a crate. That’s why she can’t fly anymore. Sad!

How’s your dog’s recall…and I’m not referring to memory!

dogs off leash while hubby fills up the water buttWhen your dog is off leash, how good is he about coming back when called? If it’s more of a “he comes when he feels like it” you may want to brush up on that part of his training. Even if you have no plans to let him run free, accidents happen and if he does get away, having good recall means a better chance of him coming back.

Start small before going large

Although traveling with your dog can be a ton of fun, if you’ve never done it before, at least not like this, you might want to consider taking a short trip first. So many new sights, sounds, experiences and smells can be unnerving, and given how much most senior dogs need their routine, it may be a rough adjustment.

What about sleeping in the caravan overnight, even if it’s only parked in your driveway! If that goes well find the closest campsite and try that next.

Before you bed down for the night, take your pup for a walk to burn off some energy, it will help keep him calm.  

Build your list

As soon as you decide you’re going, get yourself a notepad and start jotting down anything and everything your dog could possibly need. Keep it handy, so each time something pops into your head you can add to it.   

Where are you going?

Staying local? Traveling across the state? Across your country? To another country?  

Traveling abroad

If your trip will take you to foreign lands, be sure to check their requirements for bringing dogs into the country pet passport for traveling with petsand do it as soon as possible. There can be extensive paperwork involved, not to mention waiting times, so the sooner you start researching the better. You do not want to arrive at customs and find out your dog is not allowed in because you “missed” something. Trust me, I’ve travelled a lot with my animals and telling an animal control officer or border guard “I didn’t know…” will never work.

If your travels will take you on a boat or ferry to reach your destination, be sure and find out if animals require a reservation. There is a limited number of pets allowed and spaces book up quickly.

Finding dog friendly campsites

It goes without saying you’ll need to know, in advance, which sites are dog friendly. It’s as easy as doing an internet search for “dog friendly sites CITY/STATE/ COUNTRY.” Pet policies should be listed, but even if they are I recommend contacting the site directly to clarify. Things may have changed and the information not kept current.  

Here are some questions to ask

  • Is there an extra charge to bring a dog? Is it per day or per stay?
  • Is there a limit to the number of dogs?
  • Size/weight/breed restrictions?
  • Are there “no go” areas where dogs are not allowed?
  • Must they be kept leashed?
  • Can they be left in the caravan or motorhome?
  • Is proof of vaccinations required?
  • Is it a particularly crowded and noisy time of year? Lots of activity could frighten your senior, so wait for a quieter period, see if there is a less popular section you can park or go somewhere that isn’t kid friendly (if you’re not bringing kids of course!)

Finding dog friendly things to do

Just as important as finding a dog friendly site, is knowing how dog friendly the surrounding area is –

  • Any fenced in dog parks?
  • Hiking trails?
  • Are there cafes and restaurants that allow dogs?
  • What about beaches?
  • Can dogs join you inside attractions?
  • What about inside stores?

Check your insurance policies

Does your car/caravan/motorhome insurance cover your dog? If not can he or she be added?

What about your pet insurance? Does the policy cover your pup no matter where he is, or just in his hometown? What about accidents caused by someone else?

Does any policy cover a holiday that must be cancelled due to pet illness or injury?

Get your dog used to the caravan before you start your vacation

If your senior dog has a harder time with change then she used to, why not get her used to the caravan before you go. Let her sniff around it, open the door so she can poke her head in, take her inside and give her some favourite treats. Why not sit on the couch for a bit with her, read a book and play some relaxing doggy music?

What to pack for your dog

There’s a pretty standard packing list for dogs of any age, but when it comes to traveling with older dogs, especially if there are some health issues, you may find you have a few more items for the suitcase.

**They are in no particular order**

Collar and id tag

Okay not technically something that is packed, but important to have in case the unthinkable happens and your dog runs off. Check all information is up to date, and have your dog microchipped as well please!

In the event of spotty cell phone reception, an additional tag containing contact details of your destination (and/or next one if you’re on the move) is a safety precaution worth considering.

GPS collar

Being in unfamiliar territory can be unsettling, accidents happen and your dog may wander and lose his way. It’s even more terrifying if your dog has vision and/or hearing problems. A GPS collar will increase the likelihood of your dog returning to you safely and quickly.

Harness

Even if your dog does not typically wear a harness, I recommend putting one on him when traveling. If he gets scared it is way too easy to get out of a collar, and even if you’re sure nothing freaks your dog out I would get one anyway.  

Leash

If your dog spends more time off leash then on, you’re going to want to make sure you add it to your packing list. It’s a safety precaution in strange surroundings, not to mention it’s likely the caravan park you go to will have leash laws you must observe.  

Special needs

If your dog is nervous or needs more space these days, there are vests, harnesses and leashes with “messages” for others to see.

Mobility aids

If your dog typically requires a bit of help, or you’re concerned you’ll be doing a lot more walking than usual and Rover (okay Spot!) won’t be able to keep up, here are a few items you may want to include.

  • my senior dog in her pet strollerRamp to get in and out of the caravan
  • Stroller for walks
  • Sling for extra support
  • Booties for rougher terrain
  • Carpet squares, yoga mats or something similar if your caravan floor is bare and slippery

A current photo

Having a current photo means no time is wasted getting the word out, should your dog go missing.

Food and water bowls

If your dog has gotten fussy about the bowls he’ll use, bring yours from home. If he’s not bothered, than the ones you choose are of course up to you. You may want to buy some to keep in the caravan/motorhome or use disposable (sorry I know that’s not very environmentally friendly!).

If your dog is having trouble reaching his bowls, perhaps now would be a good time to try a raised bowl.

I always bring a foldable/collapsible bowl with me because they’re perfect for day trips. They take up no room in a knapsack, purse or even a pocket and you’re never caught without. I also always carry a bottle of water because Red is so much thirstier these days.

Non spill bowls for water are handy while you’re on the move.

Rubber mats for under the bowls

Rubber mats are perfect for protecting your flooring from spilled food and drink.  

Bring bottled water

Although campsites have drinking water on site, I only use it for filling water butts. For everything else, including the dogs, I bring a supply of bottled.  

Flea and tick treatment

Find out in advance the flea and tick situation where you’re going, and if your dog’s current products offer the right level of protection. If it is a concern, there are plenty of indoor/outdoor sprays available, some with natural ingredients.  

Dog food and treats

Obvious I know, but in the excitement of packing sometimes the thing we need the most and don’t write on the list is the thing we forget to bring!

Have a supply that will last you the length of the trip…and longer just in case you’re having such a great time you can’t bear to leave. It’s particularly important if your senior dog is on a special diet. Food extras – If you’re like me, I add some home cooked food to my senior dog’s diet so I make sure I bring enough to last. Yes you can buy chicken anywhere for example, but I’m very particular about the type I buy so I bring a supply.  

Medication, supplements and extras

Don’t forget all medications, supplements, anti anxiety medications, pheromone diffusers and plug ins, the Thundershirt

Bring more than you need, and don’t assume you can replenish at a local vet and health food shop. Assume you can’t!

Bed and blankets

traveling with your senior dog in a tourerDon’t expect to have your dog sleep “wherever.” Bring his bed so he has a comfortable spot and a couple of blankets in case it gets chilly.

A favourite toy

Traveling can be stressful on some animals, and many senior dogs can have a tough time in strange surroundings. If they have dementia they may be even more confused. Bringing some of his favourite comforts from home, including some much loved toys will offer comfort.

Brush

Brushing your dog is such a great bonding experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue it while on your travels. If it’s not something you typically do, now is the perfect time to start. If for no other reason you’ll cut down on the amount of dog hair you find inside!

Sweater/coat/raincoat

Bring a raincoat when caravanning with your senior dogDrops in evening temperature, an unexpected rainstorm or caravanning in the winter means a sweater, coat and raincoat are must haves as far as I’m concerned. My senior dog Red has become a lot less tolerant of the cold as she’s gotten older, and wears a sweater most of the year, indoors and out. I never leave home without them!

Sunscreen

If your dog is prone to burning in the sun, don’t forget to bring some protection.

Medical records

If your dog has health issues or been treated for an illness recently, bring his medical records. I always have a copy stored on my email as well as a hard copy.    

Vaccination records

Some parks may want proof your dog is up to date on vaccinations, and if travelling further afield, proof of rabies is always required.   

First aid kit

A very handy item to have in your home, car, cycle bags, boat, motorhome and caravan. Ready made kits contain the basics and usually include a booklet outlining what to do in case of various emergencies, or assemble one yourself.

List of local vets and emergency hospitals

A first aid kit means you can attend to your dog immediately, but it won’t help in every situation. Red can take a turn rather quickly, so you can be sure I know where the local vets and emergency hospitals are, with numbers on paper and programmed into my phone. Precious time can be wasted while you search.  

Poop bags

As responsible dog parents, we never leave the house without a good supply of poop bags. Bring more then you think you’ll need, because re-stocking may not be as easy as you’re used to.

Pee pads

If you use them at home you’ll use them while away. I always say I should have bought stock in a pee pad company I use so many of them!! I cover the caravan floor in them at night just in case.  

Doggie wipes

So handy to have, especially if it’s damp or muddy outside. A lot less fuss, a lot more convenient to use than a towel and water, and a great substitute if you don’t have access to either.

Stake in the ground

A stake in the ground with a rope attached to your dog’s collar or harness will give him the chance to lounge in the fresh air in safety.

Extras

Towels…and lots of them!

Muddy paws are an issue when caravanning, it’s the nature of the beast. For me the nightmare is when it’s been raining, I’m wearing a raincoat and wellies, carrying Red who is squirming like crazy because she doesn’t like to be held for too long because of her dementia, trying to fit through a narrow door, while grabbing the towel and drying her off without me stepping off the doormat.

Conversely if you have dogs that love to swim you know they’re going to roll around on your couches to dry off…right!!

Yep you need lots of towels! Microfiber are a good option as well because they take up less space.   

Hose

An easy way to wash the mud off your dog, or just hold him under one of the faucets on the site like I do.

Carpet squares or mats

Where would I be without mats by the door!  

Blankets or sheets

Perfect for covering seating areas…even if it’s dry outside.

Cleaning supplies

In addition to your standard cleaning supplies, carpet and air fresheners make a good addition.  

Life jacket

If boating is on the agenda, or even just a possibility, bring a life jacket. Your dog may be a first class swimmer, but can get into trouble in unfamiliar or rough waters.

Making your caravan dog friendly

Counter surfing

At home I never have a problem with counter surfing because my dogs are too small to reach! In the caravan it’s a different story. Once Jack is on the couch it’s a very short hop onto the counter. Be careful what you leave out – food, sharp objects or anything else they can get their paws on that may cause harm.

If you have a dog that’s suffering from chronic pancreatitis like Red does for example, you’ll have to be extra careful because counters in caravans are a lot easier to access than at home.

Water bowl

In such a confined space it can be a challenge finding the best place to put the water bowl. After finding the “ideal” spot, I stepped in the water so many times I had to move it to another ideal spot.  

If your dog drinks a lot more these days and you have room for a second bowl that’s great, if not get a bigger bowl.  

Where to put the dog bed

caravan holidays with dogsI have 2 dogs and 1 bed. Our dog Jack sleeps with us at night, and Red sleeps in her bed on the floor. During the day both prefer the couch.

When choosing the perfect spot think –

Vents – you don’t want them blocked with a bed or blowing hot or cold air on your pup all night.

Middle of the night pee breaks – yours not theirs! Be sure the bed is not in the path between your side of the bed and the bathroom.

Removable, washable seat covers

Blankets and throws can move and be pulled down, but removable and washable seat covers will save the upholstery from dirt, mud and sharp claws!

Don’t feed the morning of departure

Unless you know your dog travels well and has no problem with car sickness, it’s best to lay off the food before you go. Wait until you get to a rest stop for a decent break then feed him.

You will still need to have fresh water available at all times.

Stop frequently

The sooner you arrive at your destination the sooner you can plug in, fill up and chill out…and who can blame you. You want that relaxation time to start asap. For the sake of the four legged travellers it’s best to stop regularly, every couple of hours or so to let them pee, poop and stretch their legs. Don’t forget a snack if they haven’t eaten, and to keep them well hydrated. 

take a break while traveling with your dogI have to be very careful and keep an eye on the clock because Red eats 5 meals a day. If she’s sleeping I don’t wake her, but if she isn’t I make sure she sticks to her feeding schedule as much as I can. She also drinks a lot more nowadays so I give her water during the drive, even though it may mean a few extra pee stops. They only take a second so very little time is lost.    

During those breaks keep your dog on a leash and harness, and open the door slowly. While there are quiet rest stops, those with gas stations and restaurants tend to be noisy, and can be unnerving.

Getting your pup settled in

Once you arrive at the site, get your dog settled in as quickly as you can. Set up his bed, take out his favourite toy and give him a treat. You want to make him as comfortable as you can in his home away from home, so pay him lots of attention.

Sticking to a schedule

One of the most important things you can do when traveling with your senior dog is to try and stick to their schedule as much as possible. The familiarity of a routine will give comfort in the unfamiliar. I know it isn’t always possible, especially if you’re driving, so try and schedule your stops around their usual meal times and bathroom breaks.

Keeping them entertained when the weather is crap

Sorry to be so blunt but it’s true. During our last trip there were days when all the rains in the heavens were beating down on us. If you and your pup are happy to put on the wet weather gear and hit the road, fantastic, but if you aren’t…Some of the same activities you do with your senior dog at home can be done while away, with modifications when needed. If mental stimulation is not something you’ve been doing, now’s the perfect time to start.

Here are some suggestions –

Bring an interactive puzzle toy with you and challenge him to figure it out. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise, and did you know it can help expend energy?

Treat dispensing toys will keep him busy, even for a short time. Want it to last longer? Stuff a Kong with some peanut butter, chicken, doggy ice cream anything your dog loves and put it in the freezer.  

Teach him a new trick and brush up on old ones.

How about some homemade games? Turn 3 cups upside down, put a treat under one when your dog isn’t looking then say “find it” or words to that effect. As he’s searching use your chosen words so he will associate the cue with the action. Or take a muffin tin, put treats in a few of the spaces, then place a tennis ball on top of each section and let your dog find it.

These are just a few ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with lots of other great boredom busters.

Leaving your pup alone

Some pet parents are okay going out and leaving their pup in the caravan or motor home, while others wouldn’t dream of it. I’ve done it but my old caravan had an extra security option with a handlebar that could be moved across the door and locked. Our current one does not, so I am not comfortable leaving them.

In addition to safety considerations there’s weather as well. We know how quickly the inside of cars and vans heat up, and how even a couple of minutes can be deadly for our pets. Parking in shade and leaving the windows cracked open on the safety latch are unlikely to be much help, so it’s safer to take them with you. In the winter leaving the heat on should be enough…unless it breaks down for some reason.

My husband says I’m negative, I say I’m cautious!  

Vehicle breakdown cover

Did you know some roadside assistance companies may have restrictions on towing vehicles with pets on board? You might want to check if your policy does and if yes what, if anything, can be done in the event of an emergency.

The end of the road

Well we’ve come to the end of this post and I did my best to cover everything I could possibly think of. If I’ve missed something I would be happy for you to leave a comment below and I will add it.

Tips for traveling in a caravan with your senior dog – conclusion

If like Red your dog can no longer fly, or you don’t like the idea of flying with a senior dog or any pet for that matter, caravanning is certainly an option. A road trip is a lovely way to explore…and you don’t have to leave your best friend behind.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.

 

 

el chorro welcomes Red Pearson

El Chorro Welcomes Red Pearson

el chorro welcomes Red Pearson

Red’s next day trip took her to El Chorro, which of course had its hiccups in terms of knowing where in the world we were going. I don’t think I can remember an outing in Spain when we didn’t get lost, which is all part of the adventure of learning your way around a new place. That, and the fact I have absolutely no sense of direction. I’m driving up to El Chorro Spainthe driver in the family because, if you can believe it, my husband never learned how to drive. Yes I knew it when I met him, yes I knew what I was getting into, but it doesn’t stop it from being a sore point and driving me crazy!!!!!

Using a sat nav for the very first time!!

Anyway… my neighbour Mike offered to lend me his pre-programmed satnav for the outing. It’s the first time I’ve ever used one, so it was interesting. I don’t know what my favourite part was – watching my husband use spit to attach it to the windshield, or the holder not being the right fit for the device so it would fall out, then turn off when you tried to snap it back in.

For some reason Mike told me not to use the pre-programmed route for the trip out, but instead gave me other directions and said Stella (my husband named the sat nav!!) would re-calibrate and guide us from the new starting point.

Well, after trying to get me to make u-turns for the first few minutes, she finally understood I was on a different route and she’d have to adapt, which she did, thankfully! Mike’s directions made no sense so if not for Stella we breathtaking scenery in the El Chorro areanever would have had the beautiful day out that we did.

Anyway, having someone tell me where to go was a wonderful change from me having to focus on crazy serpentine roads, while glancing at my written directions in my notebook.

Why isn’t my husband navigating since he doesn’t drive you ask? I ask myself the same question, but he’s a terrible navigator and it only leads to arguments. He refuses to understand that saying “there” is not a detailed enough description of where my next step should be. He also will not tell me the next part of the directions in advance.

Anyway, at one point Stella said “arriving at your destination” then stopped talking. Based on the scenery I knew we were in the general vicinity, but not actually in El Chorro. I knew that because there were no signs welcoming me!!

With Stella silenced we decided to keep driving, as much as aimless driving in foreign countries does not appeal to me. After 20 minutes of that we actually found what we were looking for…the beginning of it anyway.

A quick pit stop before the pièce de résistance

In my previous post on Red’s adventures in Antequera, I mentioned my husband’s need for coffee, and how it must happen before 12:00. Red seemed like she needed a pee anyway (she’s been drinking and peeing more and Red enjoying a snack before getting to El Chorrowe know that’s never good), so we stopped at a gas station with a lovely outdoor restaurant. My husband skipped the coffee and went straight for the beer, usually allowed only after 12:00 even though it was 11:50 – his rule not mine!! Both dogs had a “comfort” break and Red had a snack.

Following the signs

No offence to anyone, but in my 3½ months of driving in Spain, I don’t think I’m wrong when I say the signs here suck! Not the signs per se, but rather the lack of them and their location. They put the sign with the arrow by a dirt road, many of which I have driven up in error, only to discover the arrow pointing to the road isn’t where they wanted you to drive. They expected you would carry on a bit further, then completely miss the turnoff because there’s no sign.

Anyway, thankfully El Chorro had some signs, and we just headed straight.

What is El Chorro?

Let me give you a bit of information here, then I’ll carry on with my experiences.

El Chorro is a small town located in Malaga province, in the Andalucia region of Spain, near a town called Alora. The area is breathtakingly beautiful with turquoise lakes and is hugely popular with mountain bikers, hikers and El Chorro lakescampers. As it is located next to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (“Gorge of the Gaitanes”), it is one of the most popular rock climbing sites in Spain.

Caminito del Rey

The gorge is famous for a walkway called Caminito del Rey (King’s Pathway) which hangs 100m above the base of the gorge. A challenge for those with a fear of heights, it takes 3-4 hours to walk and is worth it if you can handle it. You have to book and pay in advance, so we didn’t do the walk…of course we had the dogs and I don’t like heights so I can’t use that fact as an excuse!! The newly refurbished walkway opened in March 2015, but here’s a bit of interesting info about the history from the caminodelrey.es website.

“El Caminito del Rey”, in English, (“The King’s little pathway”) was initially built as an access route. It enabled workers at the hydroelectric power plants of El Chorro Gorge and Gaitanes Gorge with an easier way to transport materials, maintain and inspect the workings of the two power plants. Construction of the “walkway” began in 1901 and was finished in 1905 and in 1921 King Alfonso XIII visited and walked along the path for the walking along the Caminito del Rey pathinauguration of the Conde del Guadalhorce dam and since that time it became known as the “Kings path… The area is a mecca for climbers and the Caminito del Rey became known as one of the most impressive and dangerous mountain trails in the world (as the many videos on you tube certainly demonstrate.) But, after several people lost their lives on the walkway (in 1999 and 2000) both access points were demolished by local authorities and access prohibited.”

Back to our day out!

I can’t possibly describe the sheer beauty of turning a bend in the road and looking down to see turquoise coloured lakes. Most of the roads here don’t have places to stop, but happily this one had lots of little areas to park for photo ops and to simply enjoy “being” in the magnificence of it all.

The ride up to the dam is made up of massive rocks on one side, and serpentine roads that somehow accommodate tour buses and cars that look like they won’t pass each other safely. It was a bit hair-raising a couple of times (a one lane road, two way traffic with a cliff on one side, solid rock on the other and no shoulder – somehow it worked though!), but thankfully there were no incidents.

One way in, almost no way out

As we continued our climb we came to another spectacular turquoise body of water which is where the dam was. Ready to stop, have a snack and just enjoy the beautiful hot sunny day, we followed all the other cars to a crazy El Chorro with Redcongested area, a parking lot with no space, massive tour buses, hundreds of people and several cafes and restaurants.

After a moment of claustrophobia and wondering “how in the world will I be able to get down a road with cars and buses blocking most of it! I informed hubby there was no chance I was staying so we hightailed it out of there. I don’t know about you, but I can’t enjoy such a stunning vista with throngs of humanity around. Away from the crowds we found a little area off the road, big enough to fit one car. I tucked myself in there, Red and Jack had a bit of a break and another photo op.

Time for some peace and tranquility

As magnificent as the scenery is as you drive, not only do you want the chance to stand in the middle of it and stretch your legs, it’s only fair the driver gets to enjoy it, not just the passenger!

After we had seen and done and photographed, we headed back to find a quieter place to sit…and we found it. A place we noticed on our drive up, it was a beautiful spot, place for parking, right on the water with the sheer rock El Chorro restaurant with Jack and Redface in front, and a bird’s eye view of the Caminito del Ray. We parked, enjoyed and went across the road to a lovely little restaurant.

When my husband pointed out the For Sale sign I couldn’t resist asking. I love Spain, love the language, and of course the opportunity to help so many animals in desperate need. Asking price – around 1 million euros! Well it did come with 3 or 4 houses, the restaurant, land and the stray cats!!!

If anyone has that kind of money to offer I can make a huge difference with it!!

We sat, enjoyed the hot sunny weather, beautiful view of the mountains and the link of hikers on their 4 hour trek. I had a lovely cool agua con gas, hielo y limon (soda water with ice and lemon) and a delicious tortilla. I met a stray who lives there and saw her adorable 4 day old kittens. I usually give my “why don’t you fix your cats” speech, but my Spanish is too basic and they didn’t speak any English. I don’t usually let that kind of opportunity pass me by but…

Heading home

What’s great about bringing the dogs is there’s no watching of the clock, conscious of how long you’ve been gone, or having to drag yourself to the pet sitter to pick them up. Stella did a good job of guiding us home, and we got to at El Chorro taking a selfie with Redenjoy another beautiful site.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Red’s recent adventure, and another example of having your senior dog join in the family fun. If you’ve been leaving your furry friend at home because you aren’t able to lift him in and out of the car, or he can’t keep up, do what I did. Get yourself a ramp and a pet stroller – they’ll make a world of difference to all of you.

my 16 1/2 year old senior dog named Red

Red’s Antequera Adventure

Reds Antequera Adventure

Red is quite a well-traveled dog, something you may not know!!

Adopted by me 8 years ago while living in Florida, Red is (I assume) originally from there, then moved with me to England about a year later. Every year for 5 years we flew back to Florida for 3 or 4 months, then during that time a quick visit to Toronto to visit her Canadian family. That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles!!

This past December we re-located to Spain for a few months, and she was on the road again…literally. We hired a pet transport company to drive us from England to Spain, a two day trip and the dogs were superstars in the car.

Red on her way to Spain

Had I known I would one day have a website about caring for senior dogs, I would have documented her travels from the start. Well I didn’t so I’ll start now with today’s trip to Antequera, a beautiful town 20 minutes from where we live in the Andalucia region, province of Malaga. We took the dogs and saw some sights which Red and I would now like to share with you.

What started out as a quick trip to see the fortress (which I’m getting to) turned out to be something more…a pleasant surprise! We did a few “dog friendly” things, but the heavy duty sightseeing would have to be done “sin los perros” meaning without the dogs.

Yes I’m learning Spanish, a long and slow process.

Reds adventure in Antequera Spain

A bit about Antequera

I’m going to quote from the map put out by the Ayuntamiento de Antequera (town hall).

“Antequera, called Antikaria (old city) by the Romans due to the discovery of the great prehistoric richness of the dolmens, has been settled by all the different civilisations which have established themselves on this land. Its geographic location has made it the very heart of Andalusia as well as the ninth city of Spain in the Spanish Golden Age, because of its number of inhabitants and commercial activity, as well as being a cross roads between Seville-Granada and Malaga-Cordoba.”

There’s a whole lot more, but just know it’s a beautiful place to visit with lots to see and do in and around the area. As a point of interest, it has a population of just over 41,000.

Car safety first!!

dog car safety

Of course car safety is a priority so Red always stays in her Sherpa bag, and Jack has a seatbelt we hook onto his harness. I’ll be honest, he much prefers sitting on my husband’s lap, but after being pulled over by the Guardia Civil last week and fined 40 euros (for an unrestrained dog in the car), I learned my lesson, and Jack will have to as well.

Our first stop – Alcazaba Fortress

Red and I in front of Alcazaba Fortress

The first time we spotted this fortress was a few days ago on the way to El Torcal. We were quite high above the city and had a beautiful view, so we decided to go back on a separate trip to spend more time enjoying the scenery, hence the purpose of today’s outing. Once we had a good look from above we decided to try and find our way down to see it up close.

If you’ve ever driven in Spain (or I suppose that applies to lots of places), big city or small village roads are narrow, terrible signage and you can’t just “go around the block.” Once you’ve passed your target, it’s very difficult finding it again.

This is not a complaint just an observation from my months here!

Anyway, we got there but there was absolutely no place to park the car, and I mean no place, and that includes within walking distance. At least we got some snaps with Red, even though it was only in the background. We’ll probably attempt a close up visit another time, but there are so many other things to see and do here I don’t know.

Next stop – La Peña De Los Enamorados (or Indian head to you)

Indian head Antequera

Also known as Lover’s Rock or Lover’s Leap (the translation of the Spanish), it was first pointed out to us the first time we came to Spain in June, when looking for a holiday place. On the way from the airport to Antequera (which is where we were staying for the 2 days we were here), the driver pointed out the rock formation that looked like an Indian head. Of course hubby saw it right away, of course I had no clue what they were on about.

I finally saw it on the way back to the airport!!

Here’s a very interesting read about it, taken from thecultureclique.com

“Several legends surround this mountain, but the most well-known is that which inspired its name. A story of forbidden love, dating back to the time of the Moorish ruling in the 14th and 15th centuries, in fact pre-dates the original version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the 16th century. In this legend, the star-crossed lovers were the beautiful Moorish princess, Tazgona, and a young Christian soldier, Tello, who was a prisoner of her father. Forbidden to fraternize between cultures (let alone princess-soldier) their relationship was doomed to an unhappy ending. It all culminated in a desperate escape, rushing across the countryside, pursued by Christian and Arab soldiers alike to find that their only route was to go up the mountain. Once at the top the lovers decided that they would rather die together than live a life apart, and thus they jumped to their fate from the summit of the Peña.

The legend has it that the dismayed fathers of the pair, who had led the chase, now left helpless at the top of the mountain, decided to put aside their difference and their fight for the ruling of the city in order to live in relative peace (at least until the next battle).

Today, standing proud on Plaza Castilla in Antequera, there is a statue dedicated to the couple, with an inscription that reads:

“Viendo imposible su amor, Cenidos en fuerte abrazo

Se arrjaros los amantes, Desde lo alto de la Peña.”

“Since love was to be imposible, As one in a strong embrace,

The lovers threw themselves, From atop of the Rock.”

Next stop on the day’s adventure…coffee time!

coffee break in Antequera

I don’t drink the stuff, as a matter of fact I can’t stand it but my husband must have his 2 cups in the morning before 12:00. Thankfully it was 11:50 when we sat down at a café, just in the nick of time. I had cake that I didn’t want, a visit to the “loo” that I did want, and we talked about where to go next.  

I am a planner, but we were winging it which was kind of nice for a change. Our most enjoyable times are often the spontaneous ones.

Off to Paseo Real

Red and I in Paseo Real Antequera

Our next couple of stops were a few steps apart, and right near our favourite indoor parking garage. It’s right as we enter the town, it’s quiet, cheap and convenient. We don’t even bother looking for street parking if we’re planning on being in the centre.

Anyway, Paseo Real is a lovely esplanade about 200m long (656ft) and 40m wide (131ft), with trees on each side, benches and monuments. It was such a warm sunny day we took advantage, sat and enjoyed the hustle and bustle around us. We live in such a quiet place, which I love, but I can handle the hub bub since it’s only temporary!!

Picture taking at the arch (Estepa Gate as it is officially called)

Red and I at the arch in Antequera

A lovely arch but apparently not the real thing! From what I’ve read the original was built in 1749, had a central arch for carriages to pass through and a smaller arch on either side for pedestrians. When cars couldn’t fit through it was knocked down in 1931.

In 1998 they (I don’t know why “they” are) decided to re-build based on the original design, using stone from the Torcal region just outside of town. They built it on a roundabout so cars drive around it, rather than through it.

Our second to last stop – the bullring


A landmark used often when given directions, I thought we should have a look since we were right there on our day out. Sadly this ring hasn’t lost the legal right to hold torture sessions and cater to the bloodthirsty, and hosts several bullfights a year. Since it was empty I took the opportunity to have a look inside, as that would be be my only chance. My first thought was that it was smaller than I expected it to be.

Called The Plaza de Toros, it is surrounded by beautiful parks, very close to the city centre, and built using locally manufactured bricks. It opened on August 20, 1848 (my birthday – the month and day not the year!!), and was renovated in the early 1980s. In addition to the ring it houses a museum, bar and restaurant.

It is considered to be one of the most beautiful bullrings in Spain. I wouldn’t describe a torture chamber as beautiful, but what can I say I’m against cruelty to animals. Okay I’m off my soapbox now.

Our last stop of the day – some r&r in the park

Red and I in the park by the bullring

The dogs needed a walk in some grass for a change (hard to find where we live!!), and next door to the bullring was a lovely park, so they enjoyed a few minutes tiptoeing through the tulips as it were, and some shade.

And so concludes Red’s tour of Antequera. I hope you enjoyed it, and the next time you’re in Spain remember…there’s more to see then just the coast with bars, restaurants and English speakers.