Mina is an outstanding travel companion, as I’ve mentioned before. I took her everywhere I could, especially in her later years. I stopped taking vacations that didn’t include Mina about four years ago, but I rarely took vacations before then.

I’m not sure if it was just her nature to enjoy riding in the car, or if the early training suggested by a friend in Arizona worked. The plan was simple: Put your puppy in the car for, say, a vet visit. If she does well, on the way home give your puppy a really good treat. Sometimes we stopped and got a hamburger for Mina, sometimes I brought along some of her biscuits. Now, you don’t do this every time you take your puppy for a ride in the car, but every third trip. The anticipation of a treat should keep your puppy well behaved on every trip. We did this for a while, I can’t remember how long, and for the rest of her life Mina loved getting into our car.

We had three cars during our life together, and she liked this last one, the 2005 Honda Civic EX, the best. It had the best back seat for her, although the window situation wasn’t as great. When we drove over back roads where I could keep our speed around 40 MPH or lower, Mina would stand on the back seat to put her head out my window. I’d always roll down the window on the passenger side for her, so my seat belt didn’t interfere with her, but she preferred looking out over my shoulder.

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2006, looking out over my shoulder as we drove through Halfway, VA

When we drove in heavy traffic, Mina knew how to handle herself. I never had to teach her to sit down as the car started moving, and to stay seated until we were on open road. She just knew because Mina is incredibly bright and intuitive. We had a couple of minor mishaps over the years, where she wasn’t paying attention and stood up too soon, but she was never injured, just a little bruised about the ego.

We took drives on Sunday mornings in the summer and afternoons in the colder months. When gas prices were so high a couple summers back, we had to curtail our Sunday driving and I know Mina missed it because she made it clear whenever I left the house for anything other than work that she wanted to go along. I took her every time it was possible, meaning when I didn’t have to leave her in the car to run errands. This past summer we resumed our weekend drives. Mina got excited to get in the car all the time and would even walk into her vet’s office excitedly (until chemotherapy, that is – she hated going to VIMP).

Mina and I moved cross-country twice together, to Denver and back. I hated living in Denver but Mina made the most of it. She loved snow and Denver had that in abundance. We drove into the mountains together, we drove down to Colorado Springs together, getting out of the car often to explore rest areas or other attractions.

On our road trips together we had a routine, especially when driving down home to visit my Dad. We were loaded up and in the car by 3:30 a.m., and made our first stop after about two hours. If it was a gas stop, I tried to find stations with yards in back or some sort of grassy area (some of the larger ones have pet areas). I let Mina out first to pee and walk around and sniff for a few minutes, then filled my tank, the pulled up close to the station to use the restroom. The next stop we’d make was about two hours later and it had to be a rest area! I swear that Mina knew what the blue rest area signs looked like and she had an uncanny knack of standing on the back seat whenever we approached one.

Mina loved rest areas. We did things in reverse at them. I got out first to use the restroom, ran back to the car, pulled around to the pet area, and we’d spend 15 minutes or so exploring all the wonderful, strange smells. Mina didn’t eat much on road trips as far as her own food, so I shared mine with her and she got plenty of water.

She never slept on long road trips. She’d doze off in the back seat sometimes but she mostly stayed alert. I think she was keeping an eye on me because her typical posture was to sit in the middle of the back seat, paws dangling over the edge of the seat with her head near the console.


This isn’t exactly her posture but it’s from our last road trip together to Dad’s in May, 2008

I loved traveling with Mina. My trip to visit Dad after Christmas will be sadder than I can bear to think about.

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The states Mina has visited

Mina lived in a few places, too. In fact, our current home is where she lived the longest – three and a half years out of 13 years of life. Mina was born in Herkimer, New York and lived in Utica, New York for a couple of months, then she lived in Waldorf, Maryland at my sister’s house, then to Denver where we lived with a friend for a while and then two different apartments in different towns; back to Waldorf, then to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, then to Crofton, Maryland, then on to Herndon, Virginia, and finally Manassas.

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