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Toby St Jean

Travel Easy with a Dog Stroller

Let’s talk about the best stroller you can get for your dog. “A stroller? For your dog?” My brother asked, ready to take a dig, as all good brothers do.  For Toby’s 8th birthday, we’d bought him a backpack. Back then it was, “A backpack? For your dog? Can’t he walk?” “Well, sure, he can. But not as far as we do.” “Something wrong with his paws?” “Nothing wrong with his paws. It’s just that–” “He’s a dog, for god sakes. You’re treating him like a baby. A spoiled baby. Just like you.”
Cute dog in backpack
Toby doesn't give a honeybadger about what Uncle Andy thinks
Lynn with Loonie
Sis Lynn with Loonie in a front pack. He wasn't too happy with it nor the color.

It’s true. I was the baby of the family. Not as spoiled as my brother claimed, but the thing is, Toby was never a big fan of walking. Us humans, we like to walk, not much, but when exploring old villages and hiking trails with magnificent vistas, the Hokas are called to do their job.

“Dude,” Toby thought to himself, “I can get this human who calls himself Master, to carry me on his back. Look who’s master now. When Master He gets tired, Master She takes over. Sweet!”

With this in mind, Toby, after a brief sprint to complete his business, looks up with those adorable, persuasive eyes that say without speaking, “Backpack!”

For morning walks with a purpose, we usually leave the backpack behind. This often results in a Toby dragfest. This was after he caught on to the wolf cries of  “Squirrel!” and “Doggies!” Sometimes there’s a squirrel, sometimes a dog, but rarely a wolf.  At that point, Master gives in. Toby needs to be carried. Hence, the backpack.

Now, Toby only weighs 17 pounds (I know, I said 14 to the airlines, as the weight limit used to be 17 with bag, but at some point in time, he was?). 17 pounds is not that much, unless you are getting on in age yourself and have to carry him a long distance uphill, both ways.

Even a backpack begins to wear on you after the first mile. Attempts have been made to get a full-frame doggy backpack made, supported by the hips rather than shoulders. Time will come, but for now we realized there must be an easier way. (K9 has since come out with a belt-supported dog backpack, but the dog faces forward. Not sure Toby will like that, nor is big enough to not be burying his nose in my angel wings, er, shoulder blades).

 

And then, like a strike of lightning or the first snow on the ground, Toby eyed it first. “Stroller!” Said stroller was being strolled along a paved path in Gold River, CA. The lady had three Shizu onboard. To say it was love at first sight for Toby… the stroller, not any one of the Shizus, would an understatement. His screeching halt was so abrupt, we could have sworn he said, “Passeggino!” Toby, when he gets excited, blurts Italian. Poussette is the French translation. The pusher of the stroller is the Pousser. Been called worse. Toby says, “Uncle, don’t troll my stroller.”

When out and about, with Toby sitting in that stroller like a prince, most passersby squench their brows, wrinkle their nose, and say, “Aww, so minon!” (cute). Others laugh, or snootily sneer, while yet others may stop us and ask like my brother, “The poor chiens paws, they are hurt?” or simply a coochy, “Cou cou!” (hello, or if sneering, cuckoo…) Typically, we have no clue what they are saying, though we’ve both been studying French on Duolingo for way longer than we care to admit. 

That was not exactly a good advertisement for Duolingo, but it is a great app and keeps the mind de l’erance (from wandering). Not all who wander are… cuckoo.

We actually purchased the stroller at a pet store in Charlotte after trying a few out. My brother caught wind of our purchase and asked, “You’re not taking that stroller with you onto the plane are you? Not to Europe, right?” We don’t actually take the stroller on the plane, so I said, No. Wait, let me ask Toby. Oh hell yeah we are

The stroller is free to take on the plane, does go in the hold, and has no hurt feelings about it. Nobody down there ever called it a Pousser.

Elena in Avignon with Toby
Mastress going shopping again. Avignon, France
Toby in Stroller Gauttiers, France
Sometimes we take the little prince by stroller, then he gets in a backpack to go up the castle stairs, and then he gets out up top and runs around doing the Turbo Toby.
Toby walking in Gourdon
He walks! Toby walking in Gourdon.
Two Shizu dogs in dog stroller
This stroller has inflatable rubber wheels. Two ships sharing in Jetton Park, Cornelius, NC
Dog in stroller with fan
This dog in stroller is a big fan of fans. Birkdale Village Starbucks, NC

We use the stroller for a lot more than just walking Toby. It’s great for taking him to a restaurant, which in some countries like France, there are no rules against dogs for doing so. Maybe in some of the more expensive restaurants they aren’t allowed, but hey, if you can smoke anywhere, you should be able to take your dog anywhere. Toby simple deplores smokers by the way, so if you are one, he doesn’t apologize for the fart. Wasn’t me!

Some museums have even let us take Toby inside, as long as he stays in the stroller or the backpack. When presented with an ESA letter, The Chagall Museum in Nice couldn’t read the English so let us in free! Even the stuffy Kunsthaus in Zurich let us in as long as Toby stayed in the stroller, zipped up. But as soon as a little zip of air was provided, the entire museum police swooped in and treated poor Master like a criminal (that he is).

When on a long stay, we also use the stoller when bringing home groceries, unloading the car, that kind of thing. Toby gets a little jealous, even when the backpack is being used on market day. Why do we still bring a backpack when we have a stroller? Cobblestones.

Considering cobblestones, while we have been happy with our Gen 7 Jogger and it’s bottom compartment. It’s light, collapses into a nice size, and has lasted for three years. But it’s not very good for jogging (wobbles), and the wheels are made of hard plastic, which don’t fare well over bumps and cobblestones. On the plus side, plastic wheels don’t puncture. But we’d be happy to try any inflated wheel stroller, as long as it jogs. We don’t jog much, but once in awhile after a cup of coffee or a few bolts of lightning fly, we jog like the dickens. At the very least, we cluck along like chickens.

Master has very long legs as well, so when he hits his stride, the Hoka’s hit the back axel of the stroller. Problems and solutions, a longer handle would truly qualify a stroller as a jogger.

Toby pulling Master.
"Wow," says Toby, in Vence, France. "Look who needs a stroller now. It's just an old stone wall. Don't you know what to do on that?"
Elena and Toby in restaurant, Avignon
When it's time to eat, the stroller is king. Avignon, France

At the end of the day, and most typically at the end of the day, both a backpack and a stroller are great things to have along if your dog doesn’t walk as much as you do. Some dogs will walk till they drop, just as others will eat themselves into oblivion; so give them a break when they get on in years, and yourself as you do.

If you’re a jogger, you might want to try out the HPZ Pet Rover Run pet stroller.  We’ve never tried one but see the need for inflatable wheels for cobbled streets and pedestrian zones. It seems to be made well of aluminum but give it a go and let us know in comments! Of course, with Amazon, you can always return it. Amazon will start charging people $1 if they return purchases to a UPS store when a Kohl’s, Amazon-owned Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh store is closer to their delivery address. OMG, a dollar!

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