My Dog’s Travel Blog by Terri Markle

This week’s blog is from Terri Markle, author, adventurer, and dog lover. 

Thanks, Terri, for sharing your thoughts about how dogs can allow us to more easily interact with others, as well as giving us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the outside world.

Martha 

PS
Interested in being a guest-blogger? Contact me.  


My Dog’s Travel Blog

Terri and Parker in Washington

When I started my FemaleSoloTrek.com travel blog at age 60, I was just a crazy cat lady who occasionally brought her cats on a road trip. Siamese cats have been a part of my family for 40 years. Whenever the kids suggested we might get a dog, I always said “no!”

But kids grow up, get married and (guess what) decide to get a dog. Our family suddenly included three retrievers as well as six cats. My son and daughter were convinced that I needed a dog in my life. I wouldn’t consider it because I had a two-hour daily commute from my condo in Washington DC to my office in Rockville, Maryland. 

Then the pandemic changed my world. Suddenly I had time to walk 4 miles to the U.S. Capitol every morning before reporting to work on Teams. I met these wonderful women walking their Goldendoodles around the reflecting pool. I started to envy their built-in walking buddy.

Fast forward 15 months, I brought home my 8-week-old Golden Retriever puppy on June 25, 2021. I named him “Parker” (aka my SpiderPup). He was a celebrity from the moment we walked about the streets of my Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood.

I was a complete stranger to understanding how a puppy acts (and reacts) so I began reading every book on puppy training. What they didn’t describe was how to survive being woken up two or three times a night by a crying puppy. 

Within a week, I was crying as much as Parker from my lack of sleep. Stumbling out of bed at 3 a.m., I would take Parker out of his crate and race down the elevator to get him outside. For about six weeks, I felt like I only slept about four to five hours a night.

Parker and Washington Monument

But I also noticed the world in a new way with my puppy beside me. Suddenly, I discovered the joy of watching a sunrise while my puppy rolled around in the grass. I also watched many sunsets while Parker ate a stick or sniffed a plant.

By three months, my puppy could walk the 1 mile down to the National Mall and back home. While we couldn’t go inside the Smithsonian museums, we could wander around in the gardens and sit on the benches.

As a newly minted dog owner, I discovered that dogs bring joy to everyone. Tourists would stop me on our walks to ask to pet my puppy. I guess they know that “petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation . . .” (Dean Koontz).

I also delighted in how neighbors and strangers reacted to my rambunctious Golden Retriever. While people won’t often lift their eyes from their texting when I walked around my neighborhood, they would stop to say hello to Parker and ask to pet him. A dog is guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most aloof Washingtonian.

Within six weeks of Parker moving in with me, it was clear that I had to expand my content for my FemaleSoloTrek.com travel blog. Suddenly, all I wanted to report on were the best places in Washington DC to bring a puppy.

Over the next year, Parker would be the star of my articles on dog walks at Theodore Roosevelt Island, the National Arboretum, and Great Falls National Park. A runaway favorite was a DC Dog Guide to the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

With thousands of visitors pouring into the city during the Cherry Blossom Festival during the spring, it seemed important to provide tips on what your dog could and could not do. I wrote the article from the perspective of my Golden Retriever “cub reporter” Parker. In the interest of protecting our national treasure, Parker and I took dog walks on the Tidal Basin three times during the peak season to observe.

My blog’s rules for pups and their parents to remember:

  • Don’t climb the trees
  • Don’t pee on the trees
  • Don’t remove a blossom
  • Don’t break off limb, stick or twig
  • Do sit on a bench
  • Do down dog (yoga)
  • Do go for a run (on a leash)
  • Do turn around three times
  • Do take a photo

Best of all, dog owners appreciated the advice: “These are brilliant tips on visiting the cherry blossoms,” and “love how you’ve included with your dog how to be careful and respect the area.”

Terri and Parker

My readers reacted so favorably about my “portable puppy” and how willing I was to bring my dog anywhere. It was clear that I needed to get on the road and explore more places to travel with Parker.

So, I decided to take my first major road trip with my 11-month-old puppy in April 2022 by visiting Asheville, North Carolina. The trip was hell (imagine eight hours behind the wheel while my two Siamese cats yowled and my dog whined to get out and play). 

But finally, we arrived safely at our destination. Instead of my pets being stuck at home, I could enjoy their company on my vacation. And Parker was able to visit Asheville, Biltmore Village, Black Mountain, and Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina.

Two years later, I can’t imagine my life without Parker. We have now traveled twice to North Carolina as well as vacationed in Maryland and Virginia. I see a dog road trip to Pennsylvania and Delaware in the future. There are so many articles waiting to be written about dog friendly places to visit on the East Coast.

Do I recommend getting a dog even if you are over 60 years old? YES. I am now semi-retired. Every morning, Parker and I hit the streets of DC by 6:30 am to walk the National Mall, roam the U.S. Capitol grounds, or sniff our way through the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

I purposely plan weekend adventures so I can explore fun places for a dog to bring his “Hooman.”

Over the last year, Parker has helped me discover multiple places for my readers to enjoy, including dog friendly Monticello, 10 dog worthy places to visit in Annapolis, and 10 (mostly dog friendly) DC Gardens. 

Maybe I should rename my blog – Female&DogTrek.com. Woof!

Visit Terri Markle at www.femalesolotrek.com, and check out some of her great travel adventures. You can sign up for her blog there, and find links to connect with her on social media.

By the way, Terri’s dog was included in an article in The Washington Post about the neighborhood where she lives.

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