Getting to the heart of travel healthcare.

A podcast hosted by Sunny & Matt

Podcast Transcript


We welcome Michael Reynolds, a traveling medical laboratory technician, to Cardium podcast who talks about living the mobile lifestyle along with his beloved companion, Rocky.

A Furry Companion: Traveling with Pets

July 22, 2020


Voice Over: Welcome to Cardium from Aureus Medical, the podcast that gets to the heart of travel healthcare and asks what's your why? With each episode, we explore the topics and issues that impact healthcare professionals in the fields of nursing and allied health. Now, here are your hosts, Sunny and Matt.

Matt: Welcome to another episode of Cardium. If you're a subscriber, welcome back. Thank you for being part of our Cardium family. If you're a new listener, thanks for stopping by. We hope you enjoy the podcast and we would love you to subscribe so you can enjoy our future podcasts. Joining me is my partner in crime, Sunny. Hi Sunny.

Sunny: Hello. How are you?

Matt: I'm doing really well. We are not in studio today because we are still socially distancing from each other. So I can hear you loud and clear, you sound great.

Sunny: Thanks.

Matt: You know, Sunny, we've been talking about this podcast for a little bit because it's kind of a topic or subject that's near and dear to our hearts, personally, in our family lives. And I think this will be a podcast that people are interested in because it's a little bit different than what we've... We spoke a lot about a lot of serious things in the industry and that kind of stuff. But this is kind of a fun one to talk about, a different type of partner in crime when it comes to traveling.

Sunny: Yeah, and more of a furry one, if you will, traveling pets. So I have several in my family. We have three, we have Charlie, Bailey and Silver. Husky, Havanese and a mini Goldendoodle. And since we're live, you can hear one of them is ringing the bell to go outside.

Matt: Well, my family is pet lovers as well. And it's funny because pets become part of our family. I know that you and I have spoken in the past and you've had your furry partners in crime there while you're at home, while we are working from home and I've got mine here. And I think it's kind of fun that they are your always partner in crime and they're always having a good time and they're never judging and they're just there to wag the tail and be your best friend.

Sunny: Yep. Yep. And they always know when you need a hug and some love, so that's always great. Well, and our guest today is here to talk about his partner in crime. And what I think we get a lot of questions about is, can we take our best friend on the road with us? And I think there's a lot of travelers out there who will want to take their best friends with them.

Matt: They do. And there's a lot of people that are asking us about it. So, yeah. That's a great question.

Sunny: Yeah. It's one of the number one questions about traveling is, can we take our pets with us? And you wouldn't believe how many different pets are out there on the road. I've heard about birds. I've heard about cats and dogs, but I've heard of a lot of different types of pets too. So with us today is Michael Reynolds. Hello, Michael.

Michael: Hello. How are you today?

Sunny: Good, good. Well, Michael Reynolds is a medical laboratory technician and has been traveling for the past three years. He has an affinity for rural hospitals in small farming communities. And Michael is a Navy veteran. Thank you, Michael, for serving, and visited eight foreign countries while he was in the service. He has also visited all 48 continental States. Michael graduated from Columbus State Community College with an associated of applied science and medical laboratory technology. He also holds a bachelor of arts in English from Washington State University. Michael enjoys whitewater rafting and camping. He has a passion for cooking and barbecue, and in another three years plans on running his own barbecue business. And I cannot wait to taste that. Michael travels with his beloved dog, Rocky. And thanks for joining us today again, Michael.

Michael: Oh, you're welcome. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunny: Yeah. Well, tell us about who Rocky is. How long? Tell us about Rocky?

Michael: Well, actually I got Rocky on one of my travels, during vacation. I was camping with a friend across the United States. He was going to the jamboree. He plays music and his daughter asked me if I wanted a puppy and I wasn't paying attention. And I guess I said, "Whatever." So the next day here she walks up to me with a puppy. And I've had him ever since, which is a little bit over 11 years now. So I got him on vacation and he's still traveling.

Sunny: Oh, and what kind of dog is Rocky?

Michael: He's a Rottweiler lab with some shepherd. He's really tall.

Sunny: Oh, geez. So he's a big dog?

Michael: Oh, 79 pounds.

Sunny: Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. And so-

Michael: That was just last month when he got weighed for his heartworm pill.

Sunny: And I know that's something that we get questioned a lot, because traveling with a good size animal can be a challenge. And so that's something that I think a lot of people ask is, what is the weight considerations and how does that impact travel? Does that make it hard to travel with a big dog or a big animal?

Michael: Well, it definitely gives you your challenges, because first of all, hotels, most hotels, don't like dogs and the ones that do they like them to be under a certain weight. And suddenly my 79 pounds isn't that weight. So I've paid deposits for him for a while. After looking, I always find something. And then in Illinois, I had a regular full size apartment and here in Mississippi, I'm living in a tiny house. So I try to avoid hotels at all costs if I can.

Matt: Which only makes sense there, Michael, that you and Rocky have to be comfortable. You got Rock as a pup and so you guys have been traveling the country. How many assignments have you done with Rocky?

Michael: This is my fourth one, I believe. Let's see. I did Kansas where I was in a hotel the whole time, and I was paying $75 a week for him, just for the deposit. So I went from Kansas to Arkansas to Illinois to here, in Mississippi. So this is my fourth.

Matt: Awesome. Awesome. So when you have looked at assignments in the past, you've spoke to your recruiter and you said, "I've got Rocky, he's coming with me." Did that impact your decision on where you got to travel or where you looked at travel assignments? Was that part of the influence when you're looking at initially starting traveling?

Michael: Absolutely. First of all, I only like rural hospitals. I mean, I've worked in large hospitals and, I mean, that's fine for people who like that, but I love agriculture. I love farming communities. And I always work nights, third shift. So I like to work at it where it's my lab at night and it's just me there by myself. And I like that atmosphere. That's what I enjoy doing at night. So that's hard to get in a big hospital. But there's always plenty of openings for third shifts across the country.

Matt: I imagine that making a decision for rural settings with having Rocky there as well. Does the rural setting help you with being able to take Rocky out on walks or being able to find housing that would accept Rocky into the apartment or the house?

Michael: Yes. Oh yeah. Definitely. Because anytime, even in Rochelle, Illinois, where I was, it was only maybe 30,000 people, but everywhere I went they wanted a year’s lease, pet deposit and everything else. Whereas in small houses, in small towns, I can almost always find private landlords who have... here, like I said, I live in a tiny house and in Arkansas I lived in a finished … so they're not making me sign long-term leases. They meet my dog personally. He's friendly. He loves people and he's not destructive. I've had him, say, going on 12 years. He knows what he's supposed to do. And my biggest problem is him just walking up to people and thinking everybody likes Rocky.

Matt: I can imagine that there's a lot of things to think about. And I think housing is probably the biggest question. When we were initially talking about introducing you, the housing considerations is the follow up conversation to when people ask if they can travel with their pet. And Sunny, you and I fielded those questions as recruiters in the past. And I think that that's probably the biggest thing that we've seen is what is going to be the acceptance of a pet and Rocky's near 80 pounds. So obviously you've been able to find solutions there on your four assignments, Michael.

Sunny: And then considering the liability too. So what is the liability that you have to take on as well? If you want to talk about that too.

Michael: His worst problem is he sheds. I mean, he doesn't destroy nothing, he doesn't tear anything up. He's got a friendly demeanor. He barely barks. I mean, usually when he barks, he's either trying to tell me something like he wants out or somebody comes to the door or something and he'll go off like a dog does. But he's quiet so I don't have that issue. And actually, he's a very well behaved dog so I don't have a lot of issues. He can hold it for 14 hours easy. I used to work 12 hour shifts. Well, most of the time I do and he can hold it forever. He won't drink water while I'm gone or anything. So, I mean, he's kind of trained himself. He's helped me a lot.

Sunny: I think for, depending on the agencies, for those that are listening, travelers, if they are having to find housing, they do have to pay for the pet deposit. They have to sign liabilities for apartments. And just as if you were not a traveler, is that correct?

Michael: The way I go about housing is first of all, I like small communities. And even out in Idaho where I worked full time in Washington State, I lived in a very small community. It was a farming community. And the way to find housing is to go through the community itself, for me. I mean, I always go... In Dirks I seen some people, local people remodeling their house. They told me go to the post office. I mean, Dirks is

3,000 people. I went to the post office. They had a listing, I contacted him, let him meet my dog. Same day. I was moved into the apartment. In Illinois, it went to a private one that is a community flyers. It was small community. I met the landlord the next day I just moved into the apartment. And here, I got down here and I slept in my truck the first night because I wasn't going to pay a hotel deposit for the dog.

Michael: They wanted a hundred dollar deposit for the dog. And I went no way. I said, I'll sleep in my truck. And I did. And the next day I went to this little gas station and the lady who owned the gas station, it was her niece and she had rental properties. And the same day, the next day I was in this tiny house and I'm still here about eight months later. So, I mean, I always try to go through the community because they know people. I don't go through any type of rental agencies. I don't even look at a newspaper hardly. I do it all by foot and mouth.

Matt: That's a great story. And I think it really shows that you have to be creative when you're traveling with pets. That's an extra consideration. And the recruiter won't always be able to help you, especially when it's in a rural community. You kind of have to be your own advocate for traveling with a pet. I'm curious, Michael, because there's a lot of our Cardium family, the listening audience here, that will be curious about what are some of the steps that you take when it comes to caring for Rocky? I know you and I, before we came on board here to record, we were talking about some of the veterinary considerations that you've had to have. So when you take an assignment, how do you go about making sure Rocky gets cared for, for medical stuff and all the other considerations when it comes to him?

Michael: Well, I haven't worked in a lab yet that didn't have people who love dogs. So I just usually ask people in the lab which vets they recommend. And from Kansas all the way down, I've been able to find a good vet for Rocky. And I really like the one here in Mississippi. They've been excellent. They helped him recover from a torn ACL that he had in Illinois. And he's back at running almost full speed now. And I mean, for 11 years-old, that's pretty good. I mean, he flies up to the neighbor's house every day because she has a hot dog waiting on him. So every morning, as soon as I open the door, he heads straight to her trailer because he knows there's a hot dog. And I mean, he flies.

Matt: So for folks that are looking to travel, whether it be with a dog or a cat, do you look for, when you get into town, get settled into your house, do you find a vet in case you need to locate someone? Or do you kind of determine Rocky's due for his shots or the ACL incident that you were mentioning there, obviously that was something that was a surprise to you. But when it comes to the towns that you consider, the assignments you consider, do you look for a vet right away? Or is it on an as needed basis?

Michael: Oh, I find a vet as soon as I get here because, I mean, he goes to the vet regularly. Plus I like to board him at a vet if I want to take off for the weekend. One of his major shortcomings, I mean, major shortcomings, is he hates to ride in a vehicle. He wants to go around in circles, excited. But as soon as he's in the truck, he won't lay down. He wants to walk all over the truck and he'll fall forward into the windshield and fall into me and everything else. So finally, I've got a prescription for Trazodone that I'll give him an hour before we leave, a half a tablet. And it makes him lay down, but I always find a vet right away. And the other nice thing about being in small, rural farming communities is you always have some good vets around because, I mean, they're taking care of livestock and they've had clients for years. So yeah, I've never had problem finding a good vet.

Matt: That's great. I think that's, again, for the folks that are out there listening that are looking to travel with a pet, I think coming from someone that's gone on four assignments, had to find housing and considering that Rocky is a senior dog, making sure that the vet is a priority for you. It sounds like you really are taking care of your buddy there. Michael, I wanted to back up a little bit because I think it's interesting for the audience to understand what was the decision? Because you've had Rocky for almost 12 years, what was the decision? And you haven't traveled for 12 years. What was the decision that you made, that you were going to travel with the pup rather than leaving him with a friend, a relative? You decided to start traveling with a recruiter. What was your decision like? Nope, this guy's going to go with me.

Michael: Well, honestly it's really a back road there. I had worked out in Washington State almost 15 years at a small rural hospital, 25 bed hospital, OB and everything. And I'd quit in February of 2017 to open my barbecue business. And anyhow, I was just doing events and everything and I couldn't get a permanent food permit because I didn't have a kitchen. So I bought a concession trailer. And that just flipped my life upside down because I bought the concession trailer one day, had a permanent food permit to go anywhere in the state of Idaho the next. And when I went to get the title for it, the next day, the VIN number on the title did not match the VIN number on the concession trailer. So it sat from August 24th of 2017 until Valentine's day of 2018 without a title. And the next thing you know, I was working in a lab again on the road. Because I had to make my payments.

Michael: And I'm still doing it. I mean, I still enjoy it, but my passion is to get back to my barbecue business. But I really enjoy traveling. I mean, I think I've enjoyed traveling from the day they put me in the car from the hospital and I will just keep traveling till I go back to my business. I have no intention of settling down full time anywhere.

Matt: So was it ever a choice that Rocky was not going to go with you or was that part of the deal?

Michael: Oh no, he was going with me or I wasn't going to go. I mean, it was that simple. I mean, I would have found another job doing something else if I couldn't take Rocky. I mean, he's a forever dog. I mean, he's not getting put off now at his age to somebody else and then wonder what he did wrong.

Sunny: Travel can be a tough gig. Was there ever a time where you're like, this is my buddy and travel is lonely. And so you're like, I'm just so glad to have Rocky. Can you talk about those times?

Michael: Oh yeah. I mean, he's my best friend. I mean, he's with me all the time. I mean, of course I'm gone 12 hours at a time, but I mean, I wouldn't give him up for nothing. I mean, I'm sad just thinking about when I won't have him anymore. And I mean, he's a good dog. I mean, he's really calm and peaceful and I mean, he's just good demeanor. I mean, he doesn't demand a lot. I mean, he doesn't take a lot of care and, like I said, he loves people. That's my biggest problem with him is he thinks everybody likes Rocky. So he just wants to walk up to everybody and everybody freaks out when they see an 80 pound dog coming to them.

Matt: That's a really good consideration. As far as the challenges that you've had with Rocky, there's got to be... Besides housing, what are some of the other challenges that you've had to overcome or you said, "Boy, I didn't even expect that." You decided to travel, didn't expect Rocky was for sure going to go with you. Housing, obviously something you have to consider. What other things have you said, "Boy, if I had to ever give advice to someone they wanted to travel with their pet, I'd make sure I told them whatever about the things to be worried about." Or maybe have on the radar for you?

Michael: I guess. I mean, for me, I mean, my biggest consideration is just finding a house in itself, because I mean, for real, Rocky takes care of himself. I mean, he doesn't cause me unnecessary problems and he doesn't do anything inside the house. He doesn't tear anything up. He doesn't bark, so there's not a bunch of noise. And I mean, I have not had problems with him. He hasn't caused me... I mean, other than finding the actual housing itself. But for other people, if they've got dogs who like to chew up things and constantly bark and stuff like that. I mean that, I don't know because I've never had to deal with it. I mean, I've met people who have dogs like that. But I mean, personally, I was blessed when I got Rocky.

Michael: Because I mean, he just kind of self-trained. Because I'd always had cats before him and I'd never tried it. I mean, I grew up with dogs all my life, but I wasn't responsible for training them. So he kind of self-trained himself. And like I said, he won't even hardly drink, touch his water bowl while I'm home. I mean, while I'm gone at work and as soon as I get home, he'll drink it all day. And then, I mean, he'll wake me up, he'll go outside and he'll be back in in two minutes. I mean, he doesn't roam all over the place. He doesn't stay out there 15 minutes [inaudible 00:00:21:29]. He knows he has to pee and go back in. So I mean, the dog's kind of self-trained. He knows what he's supposed to do.

Matt: You've found the right partner in crime there, Michael, for sure.

Michael: Oh yeah, I did. I mean, I'm serious. He'll wake me up at 1:48 and go outside from a sound sleep and we'll be back in at 1:53. So after he went potty. So, I mean, he knows. Same thing before work. He knows when I get out of the shower, as soon as I get dressed, he's going out, he'll go out and he'll come right back in. And he just knows what he's supposed to do.

Sunny: So, Michael, I look at pets being part of the family. They're like our kids, their actions are like toddlers. I'll look at them and I'm like, Oh my gosh, they're so much like toddlers. And we're always doing things with our kids and our fur babies, if you will. So tell me what are some things that you do with Rocky? What's your fun time or quality time that you do with Rocky when you're not at work?

Michael: Well, here's my fur baby right in my lap right now.

Sunny: I can see. Oh my gosh.

Michael: And he probably came out of his hiding. I wish I could get him to speak, but he won't speak on command. He only speaks when he has something to say.

Sunny: Hi, Rocky.

Michael: I like to go camping. And he likes to camp. He loves to camp. Believe it or not, even though he's a Rottweiler, he doesn't like to swim. He'll go in up to his shoulders and that's about it. He won't swim. He's a great swimmer. I threw him in one time, he swam like a pro, but that was it. And he likes to go in the stores with me, like any type of Bass Pro, Cabela's, that allows dogs. Because again, he's a social dog. He likes to socialize with people and pets. I mean, he likes cats. Cats don't like him, but I don't know. I mean, he makes up with all my neighbors everywhere we go. Whether it's kids, adults, old people, he always gets to know all the neighbors. And Rochelle, the woman at the post office, the postal worker there, she had treats for him every single day. He knew he was going to get treats. And here there's an elderly lady that 77 and she has him a hot dog waiting on him every day. And he meets people so he helps me meet people because he's a social creature.

Sunny: Rocky sounds like a ladies man.

Michael: Pardon?

Sunny: Rocky sounds like a ladies man or a wing man.

Michael: Yeah, he is. He meets people. He helps me meet people. Can you say something, Rocky? Can you speak? He said, "No, daddy, I don't speak." His tail's wagging 50 miles a minute, but he won't say nothing. You need to go potty? You need to go potty? No, rather not say that or he's going to think I'm taking him. You want something? Say something. Speak.

Sunny: Can you speak on this podcast, Rocky? Say hi.

Michael: Say something, Rocky. Say something. Come on, buddy. Speak. What do you want? You want something to eat? Want something to eat? You're not going to speak, are you? He's dying to, but he won't do it.

Sunny: Oh, come on, speak.

Matt: Rocky is not going to perform on this podcast. Hey Michael-

Michael: Say something, Rocky. He's opening his mouth but he's not barking. He may, he may not. He's getting excited. Say something. Say something. As you can tell, I don't have a problem with him barking.

Matt: No, you do not. No, you do not. There he is.

Sunny: Good job.

Michael: What you want? I'll tell you what, he's a protector. If he thinks somebody's going to hurt me, his hair stands straight up on his neck.

Sunny: Yeah. Nice to meet you, Rocky.

Michael: Yeah, now I got him going.

Matt: Hey Michael-

Michael: I wanted him on the podcast.

Matt: He's made his, this is his big breakthrough. Michael, I've got a question for you. You guys have done a lot of miles on the road and your four assignments. Looking back, what's been the biggest little adventure you and Rocky have done together as a team? You and him, whether it be at a park or meeting people or someplace that you've seen or whatever.

Michael: I don't know. Illinois was really great because, like I said, he looked so forward to the post office. So he got to meet all the postal customers. They got used to see him over there because, like I said, she always had treats and we was always standing out by the back door where she could hear the phone and she'd always give him treats and he'd lay down and get to know all the customers every day. Because again, I lived in a town of maybe 400, 500 people.

Michael: So all the people knew each other and everything. And I mean, because of his lack of riding skills, I don't take him with me a lot when I take off because, I mean, he just doesn't want to lay down. And I don't want to force him to lay down by giving him medicine or Benadryl or whatever. But around where I'm at, he always helps to meet the neighborhood. I mean, again, he such a good dog that, I mean, he's self-caring almost. Like now he's back and laid down again and he's not barking anymore. And he's probably wondering why I got him all worked up for nothing. No treats, no outside, no nothing.

Matt: You're going to owe him a walk later.

Michael: Oh yeah. He has six different types of treats. I rotate them. I go to Costco and I get almost all of his treats from Costco's or Sam's Club. I remember them both. So he gets the good treats and he has two separate beds, big, large dog beds. And he rotates, he'll get up one bed, walk over and lay down in the other bed and vice versa. And he'll get his treats and I'll rotate them. And so, I mean, he's spoiled rotten. I mean, the dog's spoiled, I mean seriously spoiled.

Sunny: Nothing wrong with that.

Matt: Love it.

Michael: And he's soft. That's what everybody says. Everybody, even the vet, talks about soft his hair is, you know what I mean? It's like cotton or something. I don't know why. From the time I've got him till now, he's just like a cotton ball. He's just soft.

Sunny: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Rocky. But one of the most important things that we like to do at the end of our show is we talk about why we do the things that we do. And it's really the core of who we are. It is giving our why. And I want to ask you, why do you do what you do? What's your, why?

Michael: Well, I've done this for 28 years. So I enjoy the challenges. And personally, like I said, for me, it's a big thing to work at night. I like it to be just my lab at night. I'm not into assembly line products or you have just thousands and hundreds of specimens coming down the line. I like to do all the maintenance at night. I like to have the contact with the nurses and ER and everything. And it's just like Tuesday night when I worked, the ER doctor called me out and said, "Michael, we're having an ice cream party to get through this night, come down." I mean, those are the type of atmospheres I like. It's more like a family atmosphere.

Michael: And I really enjoy that. I mean, I just, I like that. That's what I've always liked. I've worked, out of 28 years I've probably worked nights 27 or more. So, I mean, I've worked in larger hospitals and I look back and try to figure out how in the world I did third shift by myself in a 160-bed hospital. I did that for three years and still trying to figure out how I managed that one. Never even thought about it. Of course I was a lot younger then, that was a long time ago, but I think, wow. That's a lot of beds, not having anybody in the lab at night but me. But yeah, I just enjoy it. I mean, it's a nice profession and traveling, there's always places short. There's such a shortage of med techs everywhere in the country. Schools are closing down and it's getting worse by the year.

Michael: People are retiring and I'll be retiring in a few more years. And so I don't know. I don't know how to describe it other than the fact, I just like the work and the atmosphere.

Sunny: Thank you for sharing that.

Matt: Michael. I wanted to say that it's been great talking to you today. I know Sunny and I really enjoyed talking to you about you and Rocky and your adventures on the road. I hope you get a few more assignments before Rocky gets to retire. Hope you guys get to see a bunch more places. So thank you for coming on board.

Michael: Yeah, well, I appreciate it. And I've enjoyed it too.

Sunny: Well, we love to hear from everyone who's listening. So please drop us a review and let us know what your thoughts are on today's topic or anything else. And thanks again for listening to Matt and I on Cardium. Thanks Matt, again.

Matt: Bye bye everybody.

Sunny: Bye everyone.

Voice Over: You've been listening to Cardium from Aureus Medical with your hosts, Sunny and Matt. We're the podcast that gets to the heart of travel healthcare. To subscribe, access show notes, or to learn more, visit C-A-R-D-I-U-M Or wherever you're listening be sure to rate us, review and subscribe. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time.

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