Your Airedale loves to ride in the car with you. So what should be so hard about transporting a rescue Airedale? Then why am I so nervous about it?
If you are nervous about transporting a rescue, I’m very pleased to hear it. Admitting your nervousness means you are taking this responsibility seriously. Good! This is a big responsibility and should be undertaken with great care and thought. Done properly there is nothing to fear, and you will be performing a vital service to Airedale rescue and to that precious living Airedale who will be riding with you.
Earlier this year, Jeanne Combo wrote an excellent article in NAR’s Safety Issues e-news, titled “Guidelines For Safely Transporting Rescue Airedales.” In her article Jeanne provides you with detailed information on the collars and leads to be used in the transport. I’m not going to repeat the information about Martingale type collars and the correct way to fit them. Jeanne has done a great job in explaining all of this, as well as the use of crates, and in the event you do not have a crate, how to properly secure the rescue in your vehicle. This is critically important information, so read every word!
In Jeanne’s article, she tells you to dress properly in comfortable, well-fitting clothes that allow you to move about freely, and to wear sneakers or other suitable shoes that give you good traction and grip, should it be necessary to move quickly after a dog. Wearing flip flops while handling a dog is asking for a tragedy! Just don’t do it, please save them for the beach. It’s so easy to twist out of those things with sudden movements, and certainly not an asset if you need to pursue a fleeing dog. This seems so obvious it requires no further comment.
Prior to the transport, make sure the rescue has two properly fitted collars: the collar the rescue will be wearing, plus a spare, or the two collars you’ve decided is the best methods to use. The lead (plus your spare lead) should be sturdy with a bull nose snap. I’ve always preferred a good quality leather lead as it is easy to handle and is less likely to provide a friction burn on my hand should a frisky rescue give me hard work on the lead. Does your rescue group provide you with Identification Tags for the rescues? If so, be sure this rescue has one tag attached to each collar. If you do not have group-provided-tags, create them yourself by using luggage tags. Use extra care to see that a tag is attached securely to each collar. Do you have and carry a cell phone? If so, be sure that phone number is on that ID tag, as well as two other appropriate phone numbers. If the rescue gets lost, it is important to have reachable contact volunteers.
As an aside, always have this type of contact information on your own dogs. Many times our dogs travel with us and we don’t bother to secure them in a crate or properly tie them within the vehicle. Too many times in an accident, the car door will pop open and the frightened dog will run off. Generally you are in an area not familiar to the dog. Without proper ID you are greatly reducing the chance of getting your own dog home again. We should take as much care with our own dogs as we do with rescues.
Traveling with a crate in your vehicle is the safest way to transport a rescue. If that is not possible, the rescue’s collar or harness must be securely attached to a seat belt or tie down in the vehicle. See “Guidelines For Safely Transporting Rescue Airedales”
for detailed instructions. This is vitally important and you want to do everything you can to prevent this rescue becoming lost.
If this is to be a short trip (an hour or two), do your rescue and yourself a favor by not feeding the rescue just before travel. If it is an early morning trip, plan to delay the breakfast and feed him later. If a midday trip, feed him several hours before to the trip, and allow time for him to process that food and relieve himself. The rescue will be nervous and with a full stomach, well - vomit happens! Just in case, be sure to have plenty of paper towels available on the trip. If this is to be a long trip, don’t deny food to the rescue, simply feed small amounts every couple of hours. You could make the food easier to digest by mixing that day’s food with 1/2 regular food and 1/2 cooked white rice. Provide plenty of fresh water to keep him hydrated. Sometimes it might seem better to deny the rescue fluid as well as food while traveling, but that is really not a good idea.
The day of the trip. You’ve got your supplies ready. The extra collar and lead. Fresh water and bowl. Paper towels. Your cell phone, fully charged. Any paperwork that should travel with the rescue. All directions for your destination. Phone numbers of all others involved in this transport. Hopefully each has a cell phone, if not there should be a common phone number, serving as “Central Command” that each participant in this transport can reach.
For a short transport you’re taking the rescue from Point A (you have the dog in your possession) to Point B (the final destination). You as the Point A person and Whoever, as the Point B person, will have worked out your plans so each knows when the dog leaves Point A and is expected to reach the final destination, Point B.
If you’re part of a relay, where the dog is being transported by several volunteers, be sure you have all the information necessary for this transport. Know the times and locations of each segment of this transport. This type of transport is set up by knowledgeable persons with experience in transporting dogs. Follow your instructions exactly and notify the “Central Command” person of any changes.
You will want to know the make and color of the vehicle being driven by the other volunteer you will be meeting. To make it easier to locate each other, create a large sign to put in your car window that will identify you as an Airedale Volunteer. Use your own creativity to design something that will be immediately obvious to the volunteer you’re meeting that you are an Airedale Volunteer.
Find a good location to meet. Decide on one that is easy to find, is easy to see, and in a convenient location. Many times this will be a restaurant such as a McDonalds, which are in most towns and on Turnpike/Freeway exits. You can find exit numbers on internet maps which will make your location decisions easier. Restaurants with ample parking space and access to restrooms and coffee and/or meals are most handy and provide a safe meeting place. When you leave your car, remember not to lock the rescue in a hot car. In hot weather a closed car can heat too quickly. If you must leave the dog in the car while you go inside for a few minutes, leave the car running with the air conditioning on. You can do this by simply having two car keys... one to keep the car running and the other for you to properly lock the car while you leave it. This STILL requires regular checks (at least every 8 to 10 minutes) to be sure the car has not stalled and that the rescue is doing well.
Remember, this is a transport and the first priority is the safety of the rescue. If you are traveling with a friend, that is great because you have two persons to watch over the rescue. One person can go in to use the restroom, and then the second person goes. Someone is able to stay with the rescue in a cool and shaded parking area.
Allow the rescue to stop every couple of travel hours to relieve himself and have a drink of fresh water. At rest stops where there are dog walks, I avoid them whenever possible. They are a cesspool of deposits by so many dogs that I don’t want to subject my dog to them for fear of picking up “whatever” disease. I walk my dogs away from those areas if possible.
Expect the rescue to be a bit nervous, after all, this is another new adventure for him in his journey through rescue. If the rescue is upset by travel, decide if it is motion sickness or he is just hyper. Dogs with motion sickness are usually quiet and may seem depressed because they feel sick. They may drool and may also vomit. If that is the case, have paper towels and any other materials you choose to take care of any mess. Dogs that just go wild in the vehicle are hyper. Properly secured in the vehicle, they will be fine. Fortunately, in my long experience with transporting rescues, I’ve seen very few with travel problems. Generally they settle down and travel quietly and without incident. If you do have a rescue that is anxious or hyper, what you should NOT do is to administer drugs that have not been prescribed for that particular dog by his own vet. Some people may be tempted to use drugs that are supposed to calm the dog down, thinking it is a kindness for the animal as well as the transporter. We can’t be sure of the reaction in this rescue, so never take that chance.
Now that you have everything ready, just a last few comments. It’s good to have an adult travel buddy with you to assist in this transport. This is not the best time to have your small children accompany you. It’s enough to handle all the safety rules with the rescue without having to worry about being mommy or daddy to your children too. Sometimes it is tempting to take your home dog along on this trip, but again - this is not the best time to have another dog along. Keep all your attention on the rescue dog and have that trip with your home ‘dale another day. Really! It will make things easier and safer.
Have confidence! You’ve done all your preparation and now you are ready to go. Relax! Remember that any tenseness in our body travels right down the lead and the rescue picks up on this. Send a message of relaxation and confidence and enjoy the trip because you are transporting an Airedale Rescue to his/her new life. It’s a great day.
I’ve been transporting rescue Airedales since 1991 and I can truthfully say it’s been a wonderfully rewarding part of rescue. I’ve never lost a rescue, or nearly lost one. Keep your attention on the rescue every minute of the time, especially when you are getting him in or out of the car, and when you have him on lead. These are the times those rascal rescues can try to take off for their own exploration. Make sure the collars are properly fitted and the lead is securely hooked.
Follow the instructions in the “Guidelines For Safely Transporting Rescue Airedales” plus the information provided for you here and you will be an experienced and valuable volunteer, ready to do that transport.
Any questions on this column? Suggestions for a subject you’d like me to do for a future article? Just let me know. Contact Sally at email@example.com.
Copyright 2009 by Sally Schnellmann and National Airedale Rescue. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden without the publisher's written permission.