Road Trip Diaries: Travelling Across Canada With Two Dogs and a Cat

The true test of a relationship is to take it on the road!

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Gryffin and Zak in the backseat on the road tripPhoto: Caroline Hale

A travelling circus

I am a firm believer that road trips were created to test the foundation of a relationship. I know that was true in our case. I struggle to even call what we achieved a “road trip” when “circus” seems a much more accurate description. Whatever it was, it has brought us closer, and we are stronger than ever before so I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Last summer, my boyfriend Nik and I decided to move from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia in hopes of finding a house that we could afford. Because we wanted to bring our car along, we decided to make a road trip of it. How big could Canada be anyway? So we packed up our Honda Civic and set off early one morning. Now before I go any further, when I say packed up, I don’t just mean a trunk stuffed with our most precious belongings. We were also bringing along our three fur babies. We are parents to a 25-pound Jack Russell-cross named Zak, a 50-pound chocolate Lab named Gryffin and a cat called Gunner. We had initially planned on having Gunner flown out, but with the added cost of airfare, we decided that he’d best come along for the ride as well. Now you might be starting to understand why I’ve been using the word circus to describe this drive. Imagine a Honda Civic packed with two grown adults, two dogs that took up the entirety of the backseat, one cat that also needed a litter tray, and our belongings that filled the trunk and the floor of the car.

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Gunner the cat keeps Nik company in the front seatPhoto: Caroline Hale

Next stop: Nova Scotia

We had planned for the trip to take us approximately 10 days with a stop in Montreal to visit my family. I must say, we ended up getting very lucky. Our pets are great travellers and although we lacked space and oxygen in the car during the hot summer days, the drive could have been a lot worse. Gunner soon accepted his fate as co-pilot and spent most of the long days curled up on our laps or staring out the window at the beautiful Canadian landscape. Our dogs remained quiet and behaved until we got to the rest stops, which allowed them to break free of their travelling cage. They got the chance to run among Alberta’s Rockies and on the sandy shores of Ontario’s Great Lakes. What lucky boys!

We reached Nova Scotia as planned and were ecstatic as the Atlantic Ocean came into view. It had been a trying couple of weeks, but we’d achieved what we’d set out to do.

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Caroline, along with Gryffin and Zak, enjoying the view at Lake Nipissing in North Bay, OntarioPhoto: Caroline Hale

There and back again

This is where most stories would come to an end, but this isn’t like most stories. Although Nova Scotia held beauty beyond what we could’ve imagined, a part of us missed the wild West Coast from where we’d come. Sometimes it takes leaving a place to realize that that’s where you were meant to be all along. So only four months after arriving in Nova Scotia, we packed up and headed back to Vancouver Island, but lucky for us, this time we were driving a roomy Jeep Wrangler!

We now reside in the small town of Nanaimo, B.C., where we are able to live among mountains and by the ocean. I think our pets are glad to have a place to call home for a while. Our life has always been an adventure and, yes, maybe even a circus at times, but some of the greatest memories I have of our little family were made along that Canadian highway.

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Originally Published in Our Canada