If you had told me that I’d be moving from Washington State to Virginia with four dogs and a cat, I would have said you were crazy.
Well, that’s exactly what happened two months ago. The military said it was time to move, so we packed up, put our house on the market and hit the road.
We had no intention of moving with four dogs—one of them is a foster. He came to us with a lot more behavioral and medical issues than we expected. We had to decide if it would be better for him to travel with us or to attempt to find a new foster for him, but the latter seemed impossible.
So, we ended up bringing him along, even though he was still picking fights with our other male. Plus, he has issues with fear aggression. This meant we had to be really strategic with our stops.
We divided into two cars. Nick took the SUV with Mauja and Atka (the bigs) and Indie (cat). Indie had a travel carrier that had her litterbox, food, and a scratcher in. She did better traveling outside of the crate, but it kept the dogs out of her litterbox.
I took Kiska and Kaani (the littles) in my car. The two of them snuggled up on the backseat—although Kiska was a bit of a seat hog. Thankfully, they bonded almost instantly and didn’t mind the tighter space.
We made the trip in about seven days. We took our time so that everyone could have plenty of breaks from the car and could enjoy a long evening walk. Plus, they always went through their evening zoomies in the hotel room.
When we finally made it, we had an apartment lined up while we searched for a house to buy. Living in an 800-square-foot apartment (and on the fourth floor) hasn’t been fun for the past few months, but thankfully we’re almost done.
My top tips for moving with pets:
- Plan ahead. Don’t hit the road and just “wing it.” Know your route and where you’re going to stop. There’s not much worse than being exhausted and unable to find a pet-friendly hotel.
- Take your time. If you can, don’t rush the move.
- Bring a travel crate. We didn’t have to use it during the drive, but it proved essential in the hotel. If the dogs started to get annoyed with each other due to the constant close quarters, we had the crate as a way to separate them. Plus, it was a familiar place they could hide out if they were stressed.
- Have a “dog bag”. The animals shared one bag that contained their food, meds/supplements, poop bags, bowls, and a few toys. This made it easy going in and out of hotels for a week.
Is it easy? No. Can it be done? Absolutely.
—Kelsie McKenzie, author of the It’s Dog or Nothing blog.