If you like spending time with your dog, especially traveling with your dog, you probably love FIDO Friendly magazine. It’s jam packed full of interesting articles, tips about hotels, and reviews of products to pamper your pet.

Recently they ran a pet writing contest, Leave No Dog Behind, about “the most memorable trip with Fido.” I’m excited to say that I won third place in that contest! Grand Prize winner Sunny Kaplan’s story is printed in the July/Aug 2011 issue.

Here is a picture of my dog Schuyler (all grown up) and here is my winning story, below. You can also see it, along with the second place winner by Jill Schlip, at Leave No Dog Behind Writing Contest on Fido Friendly’s website.

Puppy Love Honeymoon

By Peggy Frezon I’ll just say it straight out: although I’d dreamed of my honeymoon often, I never imagined anything—not any part of it—involving our three-month-old Dalmatian puppy.

Like most brides, I pictured an intimate getaway—even if we were just driving a few hours away, the travel there would still be part of the romantic journey. On the day of the wedding, however, our puppysitter backed out on us. No one else seemed willing to step in. Board our baby in a kennel? We didn’t have the heart. So, our honeymoon became a trip for hubby and me and spotted puppy makes three.

Mike and I picked up our last-minute passenger at my father’s condominium, where he’d been waiting in the bedroom. He’d eaten my shoes.

“Not off to a good start, Schuyler,” I said.

Throughout the two-hour drive from Vermont to Montreal, Schuyler whined in his crate in the back. We pulled over to take him out for a walk. Again. And again. Three month old puppies don’t have the best bladder control.

Then a surprise storm brought snow and ice pelting the highway. We inched along in blizzard conditions. Gripping the wheel, Mike’s knuckles turned as white as the falling flakes. When Schuyler’s whines forced us to make another stop, I slogged through frigid drifts up to my knees. Finally we reached the border to Canada. We were almost there. Things were bound to improve now.

A border officer peered into our car. “May I see your immunization records?”

“Oh dear, I didn’t know I’d need them. I’m sure I’m up to date, though,” I stammered. “I just had a check-up.”

“Not yours. The dog’s.” The officer scowled.

Schuyler scratched at his crate door. Mike smiled at the officer hopefully. “Oh, he’s had his puppy shots, but we don’t have the papers with us.” He laughed lightly. “Strangely enough, we weren’t planning on bringing our dog on our honeymoon.”

It didn’t matter. The officer wasn’t interested. “He needs a rabies shot,” the man said.

“But our dog’s not old enough yet,” Mike replied. “He’s scheduled for one at 16 weeks.”

“Get him a rabies shot, or you can’t take the dog across the border.”

I shuddered a bit. That officer was intimidating. I glanced back at our puppy. Poor Schuyler, it wasn’t his fault. The officer gave us directions to a veterinarian about 5 miles back in Vermont. There was nothing else to do but turn around.

We considered giving up and going home, but the driving was treacherous, and the two hour trip back would surely take at least twice that long. Besides, Montreal was only a stone’s throw away, if only we could get across that border!

Happy to be out of the car, Schuyler bounded into the vet’s office. “Is the rabies shot harmful this early?” I asked. The veterinarian assured us it was okay. He very kindly administered the immunization, and very kindly charged us an exorbitant fee for his services.

“What a con,” Mike grumbled under his breath, counting out the bills. That veterinarian had a sweet deal being located so close to the border. Finally, we arrived at a pet-friendly hotel. Well, to be clear, the hotel allowed pets, but the experience was far from friendly. No special amenities in the room, no designated place to walk your dog. Once again, I climbed over mountainous drifts, Schuyler and I blazing a trail in the deep snow.

Back in the room, I changed into a slinky black dress to go out to dinner. We’d managed a passing glimpse of the dining room on the way in, and it looked inviting. Mike buttoned his new blue dress shirt. “We’ll be back,” he told Schuyler, scratching our pup’s ears. Schuyler looked at us with sad eyes. The minute we left the room, he started crying. As we made our way down the hall, the whines turned to torturous barks.

“We can’t leave him barking like that,” I said. “We’ll get kicked out.”

Dinner that night? You guessed it; room service, with an extra burger for Schuyler. And our wedding night was certainly cozy, as Schuyler squeezed his chubby little body between us and snored peacefully. We headed back home the next morning. What was the point? And yet, as we traveled along the winter-white roads, I couldn’t help smiling. At the next pit stop, Mike threw a snowball. I threw one back. Schuyler jumped; monkey in the middle. The three of us romped and played together until we were nearly frozen.

I let Schuyler join us in the front seat of the parked car as we sipped takeout cups of cocoa from a nearby restaurant. He wriggled until he found just the right position. Mike and I held hands. I rubbed my thumb across the smooth gold of my wedding band.

At that moment, I was glad we’d brought Schuyler. Everything was perfect; just being there together with the wonderful man I’d married, and our warm spotted puppy with his full, round belly, snuggled up on the car seat between us. I wouldn’t have dreamed it, but yes, it was romantic.