ALTHOUGH THE YEAR isn’t yet over for me, like a lot of Australians at this time of year, I start thinking about taking a break over Christmas and New Year.
Many of us set out for an annual road trip to a holiday destination with the family, and that can often include the furriest member of the family.
Our dog Lola, a pug cross, is a much-loved member of the family and we take her with us whenever it’s practical, and she’s turned into a pretty good traveller.
But my work as a long-time Ambassador with the RSPCA has highlighted to me how important it is to keep your dog safe during this annual road trip, or any sort of journey in a vehicle for that matter.
Just like human passengers, dogs need to be restrained in a vehicle when they are in the passenger compartment.
In the event of an accident, even an unrestrained eight kilo small dog can cause severe injury to passengers as it flies around inside the vehicle, not to mention the harm done to the animal itself.
The same scenario with a 28 kilo Labrador flying around inside the vehicle, doesn’t bear thinking about …
So restraint is the answer … there a huge number of dog restraints on the market, some of which clip from the dog’s collar to the seatbelt buckle itself, some that loop around the seatbelt, and others that are a full harness around the dog and that attach to the seatbelt system in a variety of ways.
For those with a SUV or station wagon, having the dog in the back section behind a cage – built into many such vehicles – is a great way of keeping your passengers safe, and giving the dog room to move around. You can even add a restraint clipped to a hook in the load area, for extra security.
The downside of using the wagon area is that in an accident the dog, if unrestrained, could still get hurt and you also lose some of the load area for holiday luggage.
Dogs, like humans, need to stretch their legs every few hours on a road trip.
Answering the call of nature, giving them a good drink because animals get really dehydrated in vehicles, and allowing them to have a run around or at least a good walk, is vital.
Thus refreshed and exercised, most dogs will happily get back in the vehicle and promptly go to sleep … I know Lola does!
I shouldn’t have to say it but I will … never leave a dog in a hot vehicle during the road trip, either. Temperatures inside a vehicle parked in the summer sun will reach critical levels in just minutes, and even with water to drink, the dog can be severely overheated or worse.
Best bet on the annual holiday road trip is to treat the dog like any other member of the family … which is certainly what we do with Lola!
NEW ZEALAND is a lovely country and we have lots of friends there, so we always try and take a little time there whenever we can.
We were there recently for a short break, ahead of the Pukekohe Park round of the Supercars Championship.
The weather for the race meeting was tricky … Saturday it rained all morning, washing out Qualifying, before stopping just before the start of the race.
It made conditions treacherous and I got turned around early on, giving me a long climb up the order to eighth by the finish.
Sunday was better, despite an ‘off’ in qualifying which fortunately didn’t damage the car, the track was dry all the way this time, so we ran strongly up the field to fourth.
That was a good result in the end but I still haven’t won a race there, and I’d really like to, so that’s the aim for 2018!
SO NOW OUR attention turns to the Grand Final, a brand new event this year in Newcastle.
Supercars has put together a 2.6km anti-clockwise track through the streets of Newcastle, running partially in the CBD, through some parklands and along the foreshore.
I’ve been there and it’s a spectacular setting, there are some good elevation changes and the track looks like it’s going to offer plenty of places to pass.
Having the challenge of mastering a new track is something I always enjoy but all-too-rarely get the opportunity in the Supercars series, so I can’t wait.
I’ll fill you in on how we go at the end of the season.