Frodo is a wise six-year-old, and Cruise is a goofy three-year-old. They recently got back home after completing an epic four-month long road journey which covered 12,500 kms across 20 Indian states. The journey began on December 7, 2018, during which Frodo (a Golden Retriever) and Cruise (a Labrador) were accompanied by Priyanka Jena and Tanveer Taj, who have been travelling with the dogs ever since they were puppies. Even though the journey took over a year to plan, the goal was simple: experience the diversity of the country and live a fulfilling life on the road.
“It’s crazy how much they (Frodo and Cruise) resemble our personalities! They are exactly like us, but in dog form. Frodo, like Tanveer, has a very calm demeanor. He loves staring into the distance and thinking. He loves hiking and cold weather just like him. Cruise, on the other hand, is super energetic and naughty like Priyanka. He is always up to doing things and tries new stuff. He loves the water and swimming and is a bit afraid of heights just like her,” the duo shares about their lovely dogs.
An avid biker, Taj shares that the dogs have always been kept close to nature and the outdoors. “Because we’ve both travelled and seen the beauty our country has to offer, we wanted our dogs to experience all of that too. And we always wanted to live life on the road for a long period of time, so we combined the two ideas and decided to do one big trip covering all the geographic terrains that India has to offer,” he says.
Their journey began from Mumbai, went along the coastal route all the way up to the north east, north India and back to Mumbai via Rajasthan and Gujarat. The route was influenced by whatever they had on their wishlist. While Priyanka wanted Cruise to swim in the clear waters in Rameshwaram, Tanveer wanted Frodo to experience snow for the first time.
“We mapped the route in such a way that it covered all the geographic terrains. Finally, it turned out to be the periphery of India where we did the coastline in the south, the cold hills in northeast, the snow mountains in the north and the desert in the west,” he tells indianexpress.com.
But travelling with pets is no easy feat, and the duo acknowledges the challenges that come with pet travel. However, there was no way they could “leave the kids behind” so they modified the interiors of the Mahindra Scorpio and made a spacious comfy area for them so that the dogs feel relaxed during the journey.
“We live in a country where animals are an integral part of our daily lives. So overall it wasn’t that difficult. We realised that in the villages, people are more friendly and open to pets being around. But in cities and towns, people are more grumpy and not fine with the idea of sharing space with animals. So we consciously avoided cities as much as possible and only went to the rural side of India. If we had to rate, based on our experience, I’d say Meghalaya was the most pet friendly state, and Uttar Pradesh was the least,” he says.
Finding pet-friendly accommodations was not easy as well, and they had to plan well in advance. “It’s not something you just manage along the way. We had to research, make calls and arrange for a stay before we left for the day. At some places, we even stayed at our Instagram followers’ house because we couldn’t find any pet-friendly accommodation in the area,” says Tanveer, adding that it was the biggest challenge they had to face on the journey.
The dogs love to travel and associate cars with new experiences. But this was the first time the two furry babies went on such a long trip. And Priyanka and Tanveer agree to having being initially unsure about how the dogs would react to such a trip. While on the journey, they took a lot of pee and water breaks, avoided driving during the peak afternoon heat and ensured that they did not drive more than six hours a day so that the dogs don’t get stressed.
“But we realised that Frodo and Cruise were so adaptable, they would quickly settle in a new place every second day. We also discovered that they’re super sensitive, so if Priyanka and I would ever get into an argument, they would immediately try to bring our tension down. This trip has definitely brought us closer and made us a stronger team. We understand each others strengths and weakness better. We have gotten quite attached to each other due to being a tight pack for the last four months. I think we have seen the best and worst and we love and accept all of it,” he shares, giving out details about the journey which they shared and documented on their vlog Wheels and Tails.
Already planning their next trip, they say that the best experience on the journey was when they experienced snow. “It was the first time Frodo and Cruise had experienced something like this, and the confusion was so evident on their faces!”