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Adventures with Tom Tom in Washington, DC

            For the second year in a row we packed the dogs in the car and drove down to Washington DC, to see my great aunt, to celebrate her 98th birthday. She is, if anything, sharper than she was last year. She loves to tell a good story, or to hear one, and she loves to laugh. I’ve seen pictures of her father, and she has his smile, and his almost giddy capacity for joy in the little things. She’s up on the latest political news in Washington and on the latest gossip from family and friends. She writes emails and reads newspapers and stays up late watching TV. And she loves, and is loved by, her grand dog (and of course by her human grandson as well).

Zoe is the lovey-doviest dog I’ve ever met. She is the granddog, and the doggy daughter of Mom’s cousin/honorary little sister. Zoe is a red-haired Cockapoo, twice Cricket’s size, with almost none of Cricket’s angst.

Zoe

Zoe

            My great aunt doesn’t travel anymore, so we only get to see her on these yearly visits. For the trip this year, Mom bought a GPS thingy, called Tom-Tom. She was mostly worried about driving in Washington DC, and getting lost on all of the one way streets and complicated highways, but we turned the GPS on as soon as we left our parking lot, in case Tom-Tom could give us a better route off of Long Island. Except, Mom being Mom, she didn’t want to take the route Tom-Tom had planned out. She didn’t want to take Tom-Tom out of commission either, though, so every few blocks Tom-Tom’s female voice would give us a new way to get back to the “correct” route, by taking a u-turn, or a side road, or a left turn into traffic when she really lost her patience with us.

            Eventually, we gave in, and listened to her advice about upcoming traffic and alternative routes. Tom-Tom said it would be a four hour trip, but it ended up taking six hours. Maybe Tom-Tom doesn’t take bathroom breaks into account, or screaming and vomiting puppies, or rain.

Sorry Butterfly, no hairdryers on the road.

Sorry Butterfly, no hairdryers on the road.

            Butterfly only vomited once on this trip, which is an improvement over the seven times she threw up in the car last year. I still had to clean up her dog bed, and the blanket spread out across the back seat, and use up half a roll of paper towels and a lot of dog-odor-vanishing-spray, but after that one clean up, at a rest stop in the rain, she was okay.

            Cricket was another story. Each time we stopped for a pee break, the girls got soaked and had to be covered in paper towels, which Butterfly liked, and Cricket disdained. Cricket much preferred drying herself on my jeans and then crawling behind my neck to finish drying herself on my hair. She was fidgety, and antsy, and trying to steal food and tissues through the whole trip. Ideally, I would have walked Cricket to the point of exhaustion before putting her in the car, but my point of exhaustion and hers have drifted further and further apart as my walking has become more labored.

            It was a relief when we arrived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood where we were staying. First of all, they have dog friendly parks every few blocks, with benches, and outdoor garbage cans, and trees to sniff, and other dogs. Second, it’s all flat ground instead of hills. I’ve been living in hilly neighborhoods my whole adult life and I miss the flat ground where even I feel like I could walk forever.

At a certain point, you don't notice the rain anymore.

At a certain point, you don’t notice the rain anymore.

            If it hadn’t been raining for most of the trip I would have done more walking, because there are always benches to rest on. They need all of the benches, for the homeless people to sleep on. It’s a strange feeling, to see such wealth and upward mobility and achievement right up against a huge and obvious homelessness problem.

            It rained all that day and the next, so that everywhere we went we brought puddles with us. It was embarrassing. We had to put our clothes and jackets in the dryer at the hotel just so that we could go outside again. Suffice it to say, this was not a sightseeing trip. It was a visiting trip. We were there to see Zoe and her mom and her grandma. A few glimpses of famous buildings was nice, but largely beside the point.

The dogs have taught me the importance of these visits. They know that you need to use all of your senses, and especially smell, to figure out where you are and who you love. You need to see and hear and smell and touch people in order to feel the connection instead of just thinking it.

Touch.

Touch.

            When we rode in the car over to my great aunt’s apartment, Mom and her cousin sat in the front seat of the car, and the three dogs sat with me in the back. I had Cricket standing on my shoulders, at first, and then on my lap (guarding), and Butterfly and Zoe squashed against each other, and me, along the seat. Butterfly was wearing her plaid jacket, and with all of the squishing and cozying somehow the jacket came undone and ended up under her on the seat.

            Butterfly did so much better this time. She didn’t pee once in my great aunt’s apartment. She even calmed down and relaxed next to Zoe during dinner. She followed Zoe to the kitchen for American cheese (Zoe’s favorite), and then they begged for food together at the table, and then napped tushy to tushy on the floor. Eventually, Butterfly slept under the piano while Zoe and Cricket hogged the scratchies.

Being around Zoe makes me dream of a three dog life, especially if Zoe could be the third dog. I don’t think I could sneak her out of DC, though, without helicopters and police cars coming after me. She is well loved.

A three dog walk.

A three dog walk.

            Overall, the trip went well, though I do wish I could have visited with Sunny and Bo before we left. But I’m pretty sure Tom-Tom would have had something snide to say if I’d tried to program her to take us to the White House; something along the lines of “U-turn! U-turn! U-turn!” GPS thingies don’t like being chased by secret service agents any more than humans do. So touchy.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

55 responses »

  1. sounds like fun cute pups!

    Reply
  2. Another great post, I love this! A bit of an ordeal by the sound of it, but so worth it, and the dogs liked it, even if there was a bit of vomit and pee involved. I don’t trust GPSs… completely. Useful though, when they behave.

    Reply
  3. A body could go blind from the shine coming off Zoe’s coat!

    Reply
  4. Lovely post. I still use the Tom Tom when I have to go to someplace new, but I generally know where I am going in Adelaide and how to get there, all thanks to the TT. However, I rarely use it now since I have worked out my own ways to get to places. I would never travel with Chienne, with her constant screaming because she hates the car. I really don’t like medicating her unless I have to..

    Reply
  5. You mean you didn’t do an immediate U-turn on the Jersey Turnpike?

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  6. Your post rang true in so many ways. Yes, while DC does have an inordinate amount of, it is also extremely dog-friendly. And remembering my days when my beloved Marcos walked this plane, yes, once you’re completely soaked, you don’t notice the rain.

    Reply
  7. Sounds like a very nice trip–so nicely narrated, I felt as though I’d tagged along.

    And Butterfly’s hair looked fine–better than mine sometimes looks on a good day!

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  8. My parents’ old GPS told us to turn left once. Into the ocean. Hmmm. Anyhow, I’m glad you all had a great trip, in spite of the rain! 🙂

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  9. 98 years and to be full of life and joy. Incredible. As for Tom-Tom we have christened it Louise after a non stop talking friend of mine.
    Nice to hear the trip was enjoyable in the end.

    Reply
  10. Sounds like a fun trip, the dogs all look happy. Your Great Aunty sounds like an inspiring lady.

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  11. What a lovely piece: so good to hear it all went well, despite the ‘fun’ of Tom-Tom (they can be a real nuisance, telling you what to do!). Pip

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  12. Very interesting read and what a time you had for a bit, but it sounds like it was well worth it all once you got to your destination. Your great aunt is amazing and how blessed she is to have family who loves her so. Zoe looks so sweet and she is beautiful. Love the three dog walk picture. Hugs and nose kisses

    Reply
  13. nice story, dear Rachel…have a good sunday
    and THX voting Mimis World…

    overseas greetings…:-))) to DC or elsewhere…

    Reply
  14. Lovely pics! And sounds like a great trip, rain and all. My two are complete nightmares in the car… we live 10 minutes drive away from the beach, and each time we set off there they’re both whining within 3 minutes – so that’s 7 more minutes with the Whine-Duo in the back. *sigh* Luckily they’re angels on the way back home. 😀

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  15. We couldn’t live without Tom Tom and hate remembering back to when we had to! Travelling with damp dogs isn’t much fun 😉

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  16. Hi Rachel, next time you are in the area look me up. We’ll do lunch!

    Reply
  17. So nice that you visit your great-aunt and take all the family members 🙂 I’m sure she has many wonderful memories to share. Enjoyed the pics!

    Reply
  18. Glad the adventure went well and that there was improvement on many fronts!

    Reply
  19. Hi! I’ve been off my blog for awhile and wonder what you are up too!

    Reply
  20. Third dog’s a charm!!!! Go for it!!!!

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

  22. Hi,
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    Reply
  23. I love DC!!! Whenever I’m there visiting I always wish I had my dogs with me so many lovely places to have your dog.

    Reply
  24. Lovely Post Zoe sounds like a little treasure. What a great visit but a shame about the rain.
    Never mind it must have been a happy visit , seeing the family. x

    Reply
  25. Tweeted this and another three of your delightful posts. 🙂

    Reply

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