Musings from the Road Trip of a Veterinarian and his Dog

I had threatened before…….leave February in New England behind and set out on the road, just me, my dog and whatever part of the wandering my wife wanted to share. But this year it was no idle threat. The country seemed different; a land divided politically, socially, religiously and so schizophrenic it made me ponder who are we really? So with the very capable Drs. Huffenus and Smolka in charge of the Brockton Animal Hospital, off we went, just Lou (the dog) and myself in a February snowstorm to “look for America” (any of you who recognize that line are dating yourself). We had no itinerary merely to head south in search of favorable weather. After traveling down the Northeast through a storm, into Virginia and onto the beach, down the length of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the coast of South Carolina, Georgia (where my wife met us) and across the Panhandle of Florida before returning through the mountains of Virginia, one thing became abundantly clear. Regardless of differing opinions, political preferences, and varying tastes in nearly everything from food to local fashion, one thing is for sure. When it comes to animal lovers, we are all similar. It used to be that when traveling into the “unknown” you were forced to ask people for directions, where to eat, where to hike, where to stay for the night, but no longer. Just click on Yelp,, All Trails and you can get just about any information you need…..without talking to a soul. It can make for a pretty isolated experience. Yet when traveling with a pet, particularly an Irish Setter who is constantly visible with his head out the window, dragging me around by his leash, visiting every open door or running up and down chasing birds on the beach, Lou became quite the ice breaker. In each town we visited we were treated to stories of people and their pets. We traded stories of our pets’ shenanigans, the tricks they could perform, how one person’s cat had awakened her when her house caught on fire and even spent a long time in conversation with a person walking down the streets of Charleston, South Carolina with a 60 pound 9 foot python wrapped around his neck. One time when Lou really needed a good long run in the woods but we couldn’t find the trail, I traded veterinary advice to the owner of a scratching dog if she was willing to repeat the hike she had just concluded so Lou and I didn’t get lost. What did we learn from all of this? Are we so different in this country whether it is from one state to the next, one household compared to another or one religion contrasted to a different one? Absolutely not. In the hours spent in conversation with people who, prior to this trip, were total strangers something became very clear. We are all looking, hoping, trying to achieve the same things. Namely, we want the freedom to do what we enjoy, we hope for quality education for us and our children, a roof over our head, food on our table, safety in our neighborhoods and the opportunity to spend our lives with the people we love and the pets that we so value. Is that really asking that much? Absolutely not. As a popular I-Phone ad verbalizes so eloquently in the words of the poet, Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”