A lot of our friends believe we are traveling all the time. And the truth is, they’re partially correct. If you read our Facebook page, it looks like we’re on the road all the time. And yes, we do tend to travel more than your average person. But the reality is that it seems exaggerated because we are forced to travel separately nowadays. I go to Colombia. Halef goes to Easter Island. I go to Miami. Halef goes to San Francisco. But there is a good reason for why we travel separately.

(See update at the end of this post)

Why we travel separately: Charlotte at our pool
Charlotte at our pool

We have a dog. She’s a black Labrador Retriever. Her name is Charlotte and she is over 14 years old. For those of you who don’t know, that’s very old for a Lab! In fact, the lifespan for a Labrador Retriever ranges from 10-12 years, so Charlotte is WAY up there for her breed.

She’s still very sharp though. Mentally, she is very smart. Charlotte knows our habits, she knows what time Halef comes home. She knows exactly when her food will be served twice daily – 7AM and 6PM. And if it’s not there, she’ll bug the shit out of you until it is!

But being as old as she is, her body is wearing out faster than her mind is. While we don’t believe she is in much, if any, pain, it’s clear that she’s developed arthritis in her front legs and her back legs are struggling to support her body. She gets pain medication once a day – just in case – and it seems to work well.

Why we travel separately: Charlotte on the couch with her blanket
Charlotte on the couch with her blanket

Charlotte is able to walk around our small condo without issue. We’ve had to lay out carpet runners around the place so she doesn’t struggle to stand on our hardwood floors, so that makes it much easier. And she can still, barely, get up on the couch. But we definitely have to carry her up and down the 15 steps when she needs to go outside to do her business.

There are also nights, though they’ve become rare, when Charlotte has a rough go of it. She’ll pace around the house, panting. We believe this is because she is mostly deaf. Basically, at night she is deaf and blind. Leaving a dim light on in the living room has really helped a lot, but we certainly don’t want to leave her with someone – even family – and take a chance that they’ll be up all night with her. Like I said – very rare, but still a chance.

Why we travel separately: Chalotte at Lake Lanier
Charlotte at Lake Lanier

So that means that for the past couple years, with few exceptions, Halef and I have decided to travel separately. While he is on a plane somewhere, I am home with Charlotte. When I’m off somewhere, he’s at home. And when we do travel together, we leave Charlotte with my cousin who happens to live just a couple of miles from us here in Atlanta. And ohhhh, are we ever so grateful when we can do that!

But those are short trips. We know my cousin doesn’t mind taking care of her (he also has a lot of experience with geriatric Labs!), but we also don’t want to put too much pressure on our family to take care of her. We certainly don’t want to be somewhere halfway around the world when a potentially life-changing decision has to be made about her. Not only that, but we also think an old dog is far better off with the people and environment she knows well. Less stress for her. For us, too, to be honest.

Why we travel separately: Charlotte has a grey beard
That grey beard is actually 12 years old!

So there you have it! Halef and I travel separately not because we can’t stand being around each other or simply don’t like traveling together. We do it because we have a dog we absolutely love and we don’t want to leave her home without one of us being there.

Traveling together is hard to give up, but for her, it’s worth it!

Update: July 2017

Sadly, Charlotte passed away on July 25th, 2017. She was over 15 years old. We are heartbroken and will miss her terribly.

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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert and has traveled to over 40 countries to date. Currently saving all his money for a Round the World adventure.

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