Ginger and I began our love affair 11 years ago; when against my mother’s wishes I got my first pet. A white boxer girl with a brindle pirate patch, she was 30 days old when I first saw her at the breeders. As she walked towards me across the room with her tail wagging and her body moving sideways, she reminded me of the old Punjab roadways buses that never travel in a straight line. From that moment to on, she has been my life.

In what you could call her teenage, she & I did a few trips with a bunch of my friends to Coorg, Wayanad and Gokarna. Now if you have ever met a boxer, you would know how calm and composed they are as a breed. With her in the car, dozing was unheard of amongst my friends; in fact all their attention would be on protecting their family jewels, as she would stomp around moving from lap to lap.

Over the last five years I’ve been a corporate slave left Bangalore and moved base to Mumbai first & then Delhi. Every time I visited Bangalore for a holiday Ginger would get really excited to see me and I think she must have assumed we were going on a road trip. Sadly that never happened and on the day of my departure she would mope at the gate and continue doing so for days. I felt guilty as my visits were getting less frequent and I could see age was catching up and I longed to spend time with her.

So I finally decided to take a long pending break from work and focus on the smaller things in life. I moved back to Bangalore and the first act of mine was to plan a 4-day road trip with Ginger to Masinagudi and Ooty.

To be honest I was really stressed out about this trip, as the last time I drove with Ginger was 6 years ago when she was much younger and also there were always other people in the car to take care of her. This was going to be our first solo trip.

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As preparation for the trip I tried to turn the rear set into a makeshift bed for her, in the hope that she would tire out and sleep at the rear. Also since we were traveling to Ooty I packed a warm blanket, a sweater and a towel as madam loves to jump into water.

We set off early on a Tuesday morning, since the resorts are generally empty, and hence I wouldn’t have to worry about leashing her once we reach the property. Heading out of Bangalore she was extremely excited and constantly jumping around the car. My previous notions about her tiring out and falling asleep soon changed as we crossed Maddur and was still restless. I decided to stop at Coffee day where the staff was kind enough to allow her in the open seating area.

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After a coffee for me and a potty break for her we set off towards Bandipur. I could see sleep written all over her face, but she was stubborn and wouldn’t settle in the rear set. I tried to make her comfortable by altering the setup on the rear seat multiple times, and failed miserably. We were now on the Mysore bypass and I was worried about her over exerting herself, and contemplated turning back to Bangalore. As a last ditch attempt I moved the makeshift bed to the front passenger seat, where I could put an arm on her time to time. This seemed to work as she has a constant need to be touched to feel comforted, as she was born deaf.

Finally! It felt like a Holiday to me, she still did not sleep but her breathing calmed down and she started to enjoy herself. While driving through Bandipur and the Mudumallai forest reserve I lowered half the window for her and I could see a childlike enthusiasm set in as she popped her head out to smell the forest and feel the breeze on her face. We spotted a wild tusker and herds of spotted deer, whom she barked at from her pedestal. The last stretch to Glen View our resort was a short walk through a bamboo thicket and I unleashed her. As she ran around the open area she certainly did not look 11, she had a spring in her run, in fact she looked like a colt who has discovered galloping for the first time. Every new scent drew her curiosity, she tried to catch every leaf that fell and finally jumped in to a pool of water. While she explored her new environment she was too scared to lose sight of me, every time I closed in on her she felt like she had the backing to venture further away.

The staff at Glen View was amazingly hospitable to both Ginger and me. CollarFolk had recommended Idly & curd as good travel food for Ginger, so we ordered that for her and I had a sumptuous home cooked local food.

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We spent the next morning hanging around the resort and after a yummy breakfast we headed out towards Cunoor to meet with a friend of mine. It is a really steep 32-hairpin climb from Masinagudi to Ooty through beautiful forest roads that turn in to tea gardens with colonial architecture. Ginger enjoyed it all; it felt like she was admiring the beauty of the changing landscape and the sudden nip in the air as much as I was.

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We settled in to my friend Angad’s house for the evening, where I lay out her blanket and put on a sweater over her and she slept at my feet while Angad and I caught up on old times over some rum and coke and gazed at the starlit sky.

We woke up slightly later in the morning and after a lazy breakfast and then headed out in the afternoon for a drive towards Avalanche Lake. Ginger by now was so accustomed to being in the car and on the move, that even if we were not heading out anywhere and I opened the car door to get something out she would hop in and look at me with an expression of ‘aren’t we going to any new place now? We continued towards Ooty as our stay for today was at a heritage home stay called The Red House, a little outside Ooty at Fern Hill.

The manager Mr. Anwar was extremely kind and gave us a massive room that was tucked away below the main house. We had the entire garden to ourselves, as we were the only guests apart from a Swedish couple (perks of weekday travel). We both ate yummy idly’s by the bonfire outside and retired early to bed as we had a long drive the next day.

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Waking up early we bid farewell to The Red House staff and started our drive back to Bangalore. Pets can also get carsick so it is important to maintain a rhythm in the car while driving in the mountains. So 2nd gear it was on the steep decline and we were at Masinagudi in less than an hour. We stopped at the Coffee day (the staff at most Coffee day outlets are kind enough to let your pet in the outdoor area) and after a coffee continued towards Mysore. It was a long drive with a lot of pee stops for Ginger, the only thing that kept reminding me of her age. We reached Bangalore by 3:30pm and I am sure she didn’t want to come back home so soon.

Its been 2 weeks since we are back now, and every time I leave the house she wonders why she isn’t in the car. This trip made me realize how sometimes unknowingly we age our loved ones by not spending enough time with them. She hasn’t aged at all; she is the same jumpy, hyper puppy who gets excited with anything new. And no matter how big our house is she is caged in 24/7. So we, Ginger & I have decided that we will make it a point that we do one trip a month.

Thank you Collarfolk 🙂

– Jiwan