Hot off his vaccinations, Wilf heads down to Devon for his first glimpse of sand and sea.
It’s a three-hour drive from our Winchester bolthole to Bigbury-on-Sea, a charming village which boasts South Devon’s largest sandy beach. Highly manageable on a Friday afternoon when we’ve had the good fortune to be allotted a weekend at my partner’s aunt’s holiday house, even when we had to drive from London.
This time, however, it was different.
‘Two stops or three?’
‘Should we pack him a Kong? Should we give it to him now?’
‘In the front or in the crate?’
‘Wet food or dry?’
There are one hundred things to think about when leaving the house with Wilf for an hour or two, let alone for three whole days. We wanted his first long drive and first night away from home to be good experiences – puppies are sensitive creatures, with longer memories than expected. It was important not to traumatise him.
This was to be Wilf’s first car trip in the crate, rather than on my lap. Wilf is a little trouper in the car, so after a whine or too he let himself be rocked to sleep and was (for the most part) silent until our first stop.
It took a little longer to settle him between stops, but with some water and his dinner at 7pm, he arrived in Devon no worse off than he left Winchester.
In the morning, we took Wilf to the seaside.
‘He loves sand, and room to run’
Wilf is a little adventurer. We’d done enough recall training at home and on short walks that we felt fine letting him off the lead, and he only went as far as the ball we threw for him. His time with my family’s Labradors had also done him well – he wasn’t afraid when other dogs came to say hi to him on the beach.
He’s going to be a very strong swimmer – he’ll run in, up to his little legs, and run back out again. He loves sand, and room to run.
I found myself noticing dogs everywhere. It seemed insane that we’d ever not had one. Thinking back over places that we’d been to in the past, it was hard to imagine Wilf not there with us.
But he’s here now and I can’t wait for our next trip away. This time, Yorkshire.
‘The worst thing you can see in a holiday home is a chewed skirting board’
Things you’ll need for a puppy holiday
A travel crate. Even if you do not crate your pup, one of the safest ways for a dog to travel is in a car crate. You can get ones designed for smaller boots, and they make a good bed if you don’t want your pup to run wild in a new home
A travel water bowl. You can get great collapsible bowls from pet shops, but even a metal bowl in your car is useful, you don’t want to realise your pup is thirsty while you’re on the road and have to use your hands as a temporary bowl (trust me)
Chews. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The worst thing you can see in a holiday home is a chewed skirting board. Bring lots of dental sticks, treats and chew toys so your puppy doesn’t turn to the furnishings
A life jacket – Wilf is still too little to go too deep into the water (despite his habit of falling off the boathouse pontoon) but he has one for next summer when he’ll join us on the paddle board. Our favourite sustainable brand is Red Paddle.
Wilf is growing every day! Find daily updates and videos on his Instagram, @wilfthecocker
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