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The Journeys of Hope, Winston and Maddie

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Plenty of challenges arise while traveling with pets but a crafty few know how to manage the difficulties of bringing along a dog or cat. Back in 1992, when hotels and motels weren't always so pet friendly, Hope Schultz had a strategy. She checked in at the front desk. Meanwhile, her traveling partner, Lynn, cruised around back with Hope's two beloved sheepdogs, Winston and Maddie.

"We'd sneak 'em in and sneak 'em out,'' recalls Hope, the owner of WebVet. While they were all in the room, Hope spent plenty of time telling the pups to "shh'' so they wouldn't be caught and sent packing.

Among the many trips that Hope has taken with pets, this was one of the grandest. It was a drive along old Route 66, an adventure the old American way. She and Lynn set out from Laguna Beach, Calif., both wearing scarves tied around their heads.

"We thought we were Thelma and Louise,'' Hope says with a laugh.

In a Jeep with the luggage tied to the roof with a bungee cord -- they hadn't stopped to think how much room the sheepdogs would take up inside the car -- the women headed east through rain, sleet and snow. The weather became so daunting that highway authorities demanded that the women put chains on the car tires. But nothing was going to stop this adventure.

The dogs (Winston weighed 125 pounds; Maddie, 75) stayed in the far back part of the jeep. Maddie, who Hope fondly recalls as "rather neurotic,'' had been given some "doggie valium'' to help her deal with the separation anxiety she suffered being so far from Hope -- all the way up there in the driver's seat.

Winston, for his part, was content to just gaze through the window and watch the world go by.

In the motel, Maddie slept in the bed with Hope, naturally. She would settle for being with no one else. Winston, on the other hand, was easier to please. "Winston was happy to be in anybody's bed,'' Hope said.

Along the journey, the crew arrived in Nashville. Hope ended up taking a job there in the advertising business. She stayed for 18 months.

The two wonderful pups died many years ago. "It makes me cry every time I talk about it,'' Hope said.

In 1994, Hope made the long haul from North Carolina to Chicago. On this trip, she was accompanied by her current pets, Max, a mix she describes as "a Disney dog,'' and Pi, a Quaker parrot.

With Pi in a traveling case and Max in the back seat, they would pull off at McDonald's for eggs and McMuffins for everyone.

In the car, Hope listened to plenty of Norah Jones and Lyle Lovett. Max was fine with anything she wanted to hear. "He's pretty music neutral,'' she said.

Their stay at a Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, meanwhile, showed how times have changed when it comes to hospitality for pets.

"I walked into the lobby with a leash in one hand and a bird cage in the other,'' Hope said, "and the hotel staff absolutely loved it -- they were fascinated.''

They asked Hope if she had any special pet needs, and promptly sent up a "Heavenly Dog Bed.'' That night, they ordered room service for three. Max and Pi had scrambled eggs. Hope had a cheeseburger and a glass of wine.

Photo: Hope and Max

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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