Last week Sophie and I scrubbed ourselves up and headed off to BlogPaws 2018 in Kansas City. As a proud double-nominee for The Rufus Files, we needed to make sure that we showed up looking at least somewhat presentable, even if we were going to have to drive eight hours to get there.
My Subaru is dying a slow, Aida-type death with the agony coming mostly from my wallet. Would it make it all the way to Kansas City? Was I willing to hang out in a small town while awaiting a tow and a replacement vehicle? The answers to those questions were not absolute but I refused to gamble with my time like that. No way would we fly. Car rental came up as the obvious choice, and with Hertz being a mere two miles away, they won by default. I read online that they allow dogs in their cars without any special rigamarole, but I made sure not to leave obvious doggy indicators in the vehicle. I transferred over the seat protector and placed towels on the floors. Don’t say I’m not looking out for you, Hertz employees. I know dog hair is a pain to remove from just about anything, so I thought I’d make life easy for the poor shmoe in charge of cleaning out the car once I’d returned it.
I had a check list of things to bring for Sophie: vaccination records, regular collar, fancy collar, food & dish, traveling water bowl, plenty of fresh water, Furminator, and rolls of poop bags. Treats were deliberately left off the list because I knew the swag bag would be filled with them. Check, check, check: we set off once Rufus got dropped off at Dog-topia for boarding. This would be his first stay without Sophie, so I asked for him to get extra love. Yes, I am that pet-parent.
Along the way, I learned that Kansas is essentially made from wind. Nonstop whooshing fought my gas mileage until I was at least three-fourths of the way through the state, driving west-to-east. The few times I had to open the door to either refuel or walk Sophie, I’d brace myself for the punch-in–the-face-like gusts that greeted me. My vehicle was at least aero-dynamic. This cannot be said for the trucks on the highway.
I was delighted to spot the Hope For Paws Colorado transport van on Interstate 70, but as I passed, I could see the driver white knuckling the steering wheel. This organization regularly drives this route to Hayes, Kansas where they do a pup pick up before returning to the Denver area. Their transport van is all kinds of awesome, but wind-resistant it is not. I waved at the driver enthusiastically, but she had no interest in humoring me in 75-mile-an-hour gales.
We made a few good pit stops along the way. We stopped for a Sophie break every 3-4 hours. I didn’t combine them with the gas fill-ups because there is all manner of litter strewn about as well as car fluids that dogs do not need on their paws. Unfortunately one rest stop near the Colorado/Kansas border said “No dogs allowed on grass.” We ignored that. FINE ME. I had poop bags at the ready. I also brought her into the bathroom with me despite the “No dogs allowed inside” sign. At that point I just figured they were a bunch of grumps. We moved on quickly. Every rest stop in Kansas was accommodating and had zero anti-dog signs: what’s going on with Colorado? I’ve taken Sophie through the midwest before, and we have never had an issue.
Finally at 4:30 KC time we showed up at BlogPaws and Sophie was ready to groove. I looked and felt rough, but Sophie needed to meet everyone in the convention hall. She barked a few times and pulled me around – not going to lie. She needed to shake off the car ride. Wednesday evening and the following morning were spent meeting friends, fellow bloggers, and vendors, and everybody was fantastic with her. She made out like a bandit wherever treats were handed out, which was just about everywhere.
On Thursday evening at the hotel bar she even got close to a full body massage from Heather Wallace. During the day, Sophie felt too anxious at the very convenient doggy daycare, unfortunately. I left her only for an hour and I returned to a panting dog, very unhappy to be apart from her human. I retrieved her and took her to a few sessions, where we met the guys of Primalvore, and where she relaxed enough to fall sleep. Without question, she is her person’s dog. There is no ditching me for greener pastures. My girl is Ride or Die all the way.
We stayed with my friend Molly in Kansas City where she had a big back yard in which to chase bunnies every night with her dog pals Zinny and Duke, former Denver residents whom she’s spent a lot of time with in her early post-shelter days. We have stayed in hotels before, but those nights were followed by long days of hiking in Crested Butte or Vail where she exhausted herself. I know from the experience that she did not like staying in the room by herself, even if all I was doing was getting ice. If I take her to a future conference, I will have to have her with me at all times or she will bark like a madwoman.
The night of the award ceremony she took to the red carpet like a seasoned pro. By this time she’d acclimated to the buzzy environment and calmed down a bit. I had forgotten that we needed to walk the red carpet more than once: the first time was just us where I focused on not falling over in my shoes. At one point Sophie tried to scootch under the red velvet rope in hopes of getting some food dropped off to the side but she got back on course soon enough. Success! I felt like a champ. The hard part was the second walk: all of the nominees had to walk together, and she took an avid interest in the Healing Whiskers critters. She did pull me this time, and I had an image in my mind of me, sprawled out on the red carpet, sparkly shoes up while the therapy rats scampered for cover away from my dog, creating pandemonium and terror all around the Sheraton.
My imagination can run wild sometimes. Sophie did not cause chaos or destroy anybody’s image of her as a good girl.
And my shoes did not break my ankles!
Alas, we did not win the awards for which were were finalists: Best Written Pet Blog and Best Humor Blog, but we took it in stride and had treats instead. Congratulations to the winners and hopefully we’ll have the chance again next year. The shoes and the collar will be back.
Early the next morning we drove back to Denver with Molly who wanted the chance to visit with Denver pals. I had to make it back mid-afternoon so that I could be at the Colorado Pet Pantry Bow Wow Film Fest, our annual fundraiser. The drive was uneventful, and Molly slept while I listened to my political podcasts. We’d been warned of a snow storm heading east. Thank Heaven we only encountered rain. I made it back, dropped off the car (the office was closed which caused some anxiety on my part: where was I supposed to park it?) and scrubbed up a little to be presentable for the fundraiser. I still smelled like road trip. And I was awfully bleary-eyed. I lasted until about 9:45 and then I had to leave. The mere idea of driving home seemed overwhelming. All I wanted to do was crawl under a table for a snooze.
The fundraiser was a great success! And so was our trip to BlogPaws. I wish I could return in an alternate space-time machine so I could attend sessions that I missed. I loved seeing everyone this year, and I really enjoyed meeting new people. I would love to go next year – I’m trying to convince my friend Morriah to drive out with me, Sophie, and one of her dogs.
For his part, Rufus had fun at Dog-topia where he followed Sami the manager around every single day. She said he was a little sad at night but was back to his usual self in the morning. We all slept very well on Sunday.