Travels with Sophie

How a little dog can make a big difference on the road

Years ago Darlene and I traveled in a Rialta motorhome with a full-sized collie named Chester. One day in West Virginia he grabbed two raw steaks when I wasn’t looking, and we had to knock on doors to find hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. I can’t remember why we needed to make him throw up the steaks, but I do recall feeling like a very fast-talking Yankee at the door of a perplexed woman who came up with the necessary ingredient.

Sophie isn’t much bigger than the steaks Chester ate. But she still can cause big challenges on a road trip from Florida to Cambridge, MA.

On our arrival here at the Courtyard Marriott in Florence, SC, yesterday afternoon our 4-pound Miki heard something in the hall she didn’t like. Her soprano barking prompted a phone call from the front desk with a noise complaint. So we turned on the TV for the rest of the afternoon and evening, to distract Sophie from her watchdog duties. I used noise-canceling headphones to do my meditation.

Vomiting is a continuing theme, actually. Sophie gets carsick, but so far the tiny pill Darlene gives her each morning has resulted in no episodes in the Tesla. She rides in a dazed state in her pop-up tent in the back seat and comes to life for a run on the grass near a Tesla supercharger station at a mall.

It was a year ago today that Sophie came into our lives.

Our friend Duce from Rhode Island met the New Jersey breeder in Connecticut, then drove Sophie to a Holiday Inn outside of Boston. We drove down from Maine for the handoff, which took place during a hard rain. Two pounds of white, fluffy dog—an amazing reality. We consider Duce to be Sophie’s God Dog Mother.

I was against getting a puppy during early days of the pandemic. What if one of us got the virus? Who would take care of the dog? Luckily, I lost that argument. In the song I’ve nearly finished writing, “That Summer in Maine,” the first verse has these lines:

I thought the puppy was a bad idea

until she taught me how to have fun,

until I learned to have fun that summer.

I’m still learning, still getting to know how much a puppy can add to life, pandemic or no.

The car is packed.

Next stop: a Courtyard Marriott in Richmond, Virginia. They have kindly offered a 1 p.m. early arrival, so I will be able to put together today’s episode of the Kindle Chronicles at the usual time. You may hear barking in the background, or the local news and weather.