Solo. The Unlikely Nomad with a Bucket List.
Geri Suster never intended to wander. A corporate job, two sons, two dogs, and a beautiful home in southern California seemed to be perfectly good reasons to stay put. But, when her sons set off for college, she found herself packing up her dogs Solo and Castle, and starting off on the most unlikely of adventures fulfilling her senior dog's bucket list wishes.
Meet Solo. He’s the handsome senior guy with the bucket list. His younger brother ,Castle, reaps the benefits of his older brother’s wishes by proxy and because he’s just as loved and spoiled as Solo. And Geri, well, she’s the driver behind it all. Literally. Both dogs have their own tales to tell when it comes to their rescue story and even how they got their names. Solo was just a baby when he was rescued from some horrible conditions in Mexico and Castle was saved from a seriously awful situation where he was captive in a crate. Geri tells both of those stories in the podcast episode. You can listen to it right here: Just hit play.
If you had asked her several years ago if she saw herself trading in her southern California suburban life for one of traveling across country in a 31’ RV, she probably would have laughed. At least a little. A resilient and resourceful single mom of two boys and two dogs, she’s no stranger to adventure. So, when her two sons were ready to move out of the house and begin their own lives, Geri decided it was time for her to do the same.
With pretty much zero RV experience, she knew nothing about living full time on the road but, for Geri, this wasn’t a deterrent at all. She jumped in with both feet, both dogs and turned the key.
When she set off on this new path in life, Solo was 12 years old and showing the typical signs of an older dog slowing down and she was inspired to give him as many new experiences as she could during his twilight years.
His younger brother, Castle does his job of keeping his big brother engaged and lively but it’s really been the road that has brought out a new side of Solo. It has brought out a different side of both of them.
They both went from being fearful of most things to being brave and adventurous, full of curiosity, and a joy that Geri hasn’t seen in them before. Everyone that knew Solo and Castle before their new life of exploration on the road says that “they’re entirely different dogs. You can see the joy in every step and they’re so curious and playful.”
Although Solo’s health was declining and his veterinarian suspected cancer, Geri says that his spirits and his health lifted dramatically with each new adventure. At every stop along the way, Geri scopes out new places to take Solo and Castle and their trips have been pretty epic. From mountain towns to desert landscapes, meeting new friends, off leash romps on beaches, and Solo’s favorite vanilla ice cream, these two have seen more of the US than most of us reading this. They even got to see the world’s largest pistachio!
As of this writing, Geri, Solo, and Castle have visited 29 states with plans to see them all. (Not sure about Hawaii though. The drive to get there might prove to be a challenge.) She even has Canada on the list as one of their next big adventures this year.
Solo’s Bucket List has become a driving factor behind their destinations but, in doing so, Geri has noticed the positive shift it has had on her own experience as well. Seeing the world through Solo and Castle’s eyes has been a gift everyday; one that reminds her to be present, to slow down and see what’s really around them, and to appreciate the joy in the smallest things…like seeing the sunrise with her two best friends every morning. She’s learned how to see her dogs in a new light and to understand and communicate with them in ways that she hadn’t before. In essence, they’ve become her teachers and the lessons have proven invaluable.
You don’t have to buy an RV and tour the US to give your dog an amazing life though. Take the time to consider their needs outside of your own. Let them smell all the things on their walk around your local park. Appreciate their excitement over a car ride or your willingness to throw the ball with them for an extra 15 minutes. The amount of love and consideration that dogs give us on a daily basis is immeasurable. It’s no accident that the better care we take of them, the better care we end up taking of ourselves.
Here are some tools you can use start planning some extra fun for you and your four legged family.
Bring Fido is a great resource with both an app and a website that helps you find pet friendly destinations.
Go Pet Friendly is also pretty impressive when it comes to knowing where to take your fur kids. They even have a road trip planner on their website for you to map out your next fur friendly vacation!
Traveling with your dogs can be just down the road to that trail head you’ve been meaning to hike or across country. The most important thing to your dog….is YOU and the time they get to spend by your side. There’s nothing better than giving back the love they give us.
Don’t forget to check out Solo’s podcast episode where Geri tells us all about their travels and Solo’s bucket list.
So what’s on your dog’s bucket list? Charlie, Jasmine, and I would love to know. Leave a comment and tell us what you and your pups are up to!
Remember…you keep them safe, they’ll keep you wild.