I’m not exactly sure when I thought it would be fun to take Shelby on mini vacations, road trips. I know we didn’t do any of that in New Orleans. In Seattle, we pretty much stayed at home or ventured to the Oregon Coast for a weekend here and there. But once we moved to LA, Shelby seemed to be my go-to travel buddy. She had mellowed out and was ‘moderately’ well behaved in social settings (aka restaurants).
I do recall in Seattle taking her to a coffee shop where she would have to sit outside and wait for me. I would never consider that now – but in Seattle, it was safe and no one was snatching dogs. But Shelby would have NONE of that. She suffered from severe abandonment issues and even though she could ‘see’ me through the window, she would scream and holler like she was being skinned. Anyone who has ever heard of the “Shiba Scream” knows what sounds I am talking about. On more than one occasion (because I thought she would get better or get used to being tied up outside) someone would come into the coffee shop and ask who’s dog it was. Usually I would rush the coffee order and get out there to find her calmly being pet and loved on by other patrons. So maybe it was her way of getting extra snuggles. #dramaqueen
Somewhere along the way, I decided it would be fun to take Shelby to Santa Barbara for the weekend. It’s a super dog friendly town and I figured we could explore the beaches and wineries. Sadly my designated driver had four paws so that definitely cut down on the number of wineries we could go to. I let her pick out some toys at Petco, packed her up and we hit the road. We had so much fun! Traveling with Shelby was the best. She was pretty well-behaved when we would go out to eat. She was great in hotels (never barked) and I was able to go for a long run, leave her there and come back and find her still snoozing on the bed. I remember our first trip up to Santa Barbara – we were gone a little over 48 hours and it was the best time. I vowed then to take her on as mini getaways as I could. LA is ironically not as dog friendly as one would think so we had to be creative. San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs … all destinations for us to go and explore.
Shelby was such a good sport. She was always so happy to go. She was so friendly to EVERYONE she met. People fell in love with her. Her smile, her energy, her wagging tail. We had the best times, the best adventures! I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. She knew when I got out her travel bag that we were going somewhere exciting. She would do her little dance around the house and basically wouldn’t chill out while I got our things together. On more than one occasion I would yell at her “if you don’t stop, we’re not going anywhere”. Thankfully I never made good on that threat! 🙂 Also as I would try and load things into the car, she was constantly underfoot – I can only assume this is akin to traveling with a human child.
Two years ago I had a job that required a ton of travel and I quickly figured out that I could manage the trips to San Diego by bringing my best friend. They had a doggy daycare there that Shelby would/could play in – from what I was told, she simply followed the staff ALL day looking for pets and snuggles, then we would have dinner out and head back to the hotel. Or we would order room service. There is nothing like trying to eat dinner on a the bed with a wet nose sharking for french fries! But it make the traveling more manageable.
Locally, Shelby and I would grab lunch, go for coffee (in places I could bring her in) or happy hour. Last summer our favorite thing was to go over on Thursdays early afternoon and grab some drinks and snacks. It soon became “Vodka Thursdays”. We had the best summer last summer – not knowing that it would be our last summer. I was off work for 2 months and I got to spend every day with the “love of my life”.
As I pack up my bags this long Memorial Day Weekend (the unofficial start of summer), I do so with a mixture of emotions. There is a huge part of me that really believes I need to get out of LA – even if it’s just for 48 hours. In the past 6 weeks since Shelby passed, I have been going at full speed at work, which has kept me exhausted and distracted. Part of me also feels like I am running away from my new reality. Weekends are still really hard on me. It was our time – even if it was sitting outside in the sunshine and doing nothing, it was our time.
It will be bittersweet to get on the road and drive east without my best friend in the back seat. Shelby would always put her paws on the console when we first got started on an adventure, we would crank up the Neil Diamond and open the sunroof and let the road guide us … my agenda, my destination; Shelby was just happy to be with me. She didn’t care where we were going. Or when we got there.
But I do believe Shelby will be guiding me this weekend; she is always with me. She is in my heart, she is in my mind, she is in my soul. And while I look at this as an escape, I feel hopeful and optimistic that a little rest, a lot of vodka, a lot of french fries and a pool will be just what the doctor ordered.