Farms, Beaches & Snakes. A journey with our golden boy!

Wag Brag, 18 Oct 19, By Ritwik

The first trip we took with Hustler was when he was six months old. Being a golden retriever, he is happiest around water. So, we decided to go to Goa. Since Goa is a 16-hour drive from Surat, we decided to break the journey halfway. All his gear in tow, we started for Pheobe’s farm in Khopoli. We went overboard with pee breaks during the journey stopping every two hours; but better safe than sorry right.

Pheobe’s farm calls itself a human friendly dog resort; and they couldn’t have put it better. The place has everything a dog would desire on a holiday – large green open space, fresh air, loads of furries, water stream to play in, choice of a pond and a swimming pool to swim in. What made it more special to us is that it is home to over a hundred rescue dogs.

We hardly saw Hustler the first day we were there; he was busy exploring the grounds, making new friends and wading through the stream. He even learnt some life lessons when he tried to befriend a cat and a donkey.

The second day, however, was unexpected. Hustler was dead to the world. Extremely worried, we sought advice from Manoor, the canine behaviourist who owns Pheobe’s Farm. Turned out, it is a common condition in dogs that visit Pheobe’s farm. We named it Excitementitis. They are so excited when they get there that they exert themselves beyond their typical exercise routines – and end up with sore muscles the next day. Good thing swimming therapy was available for Hustler.

After a day of rest and a few swims, we started early the next day for Morjim Beach in Goa.

We stayed at Montego Bay Beach Resort, the only pet friendly property that met all our criteria. Beach facing accommodation was obviously the most important criteria when staying in Goa. The second most important for us was comfort – roughing it out is not our forte. Third was that we could let Hustler be off leash in the property, provided he didn’t bother the guests. The property was lovelier than we expected, with quaint cottages spread on the edges of a huge undulating lawn with meandering pathways that kept both Hustler and us happy.

Early next morning, eager to see Hustler’s response to experiencing waves for the first time, we took him to the beach. His reaction was entertaining to watch. He would cautiously approach the water, trying not to disturb it too much, but jump back when there was a swell. After a while, he found a small backwater lagoon that had formed on the beach and decided to lounge in it. It was when he saw us going into the ocean, that he realised only he could save us from the waves and followed us. But we quickly headed out since he had only followed us in panic. We didn’t push Hustler to swim in the ocean during this trip but focused on getting him comfortable with small waves.

The next week could only be called blissful vegetative existence. Our days comprised exploring the beach with hustler in the mornings, lounging all day, and a repeat of beach time in the evening. Hustler also made lots of friends during his stay there – Gia, a lab who was also staying at the same place and a lot of unnamed beach dogs. Most restaurants on Morjim beach were comfortable with having a dog at the table – so we could sample some good food too. When it was time to leave, it was with a heavy heart that we packed our bags.

On the way back, we took lesser pee breaks; we were more experienced after all. We stopped at our home in Talegaon near Pune for a night. We were planning to stop for two nights; but life had different plans for us. Our home in Talegaon is a bungalow layout in the middle of wilderness. We took Hustler out to play in the garden. Vikas & Hustler were playing on the lawn, while I watched from a bench on the side. Suddenly I heard a rustling sound behind me; when I looked back, I saw a 2-metre-long snake slithering past. I calmly asked Vikas to take Hustler out of the lawn; but I may have only imagined the calmness in my voice, because Hustler sensing panic, came towards me. We made it out of the garden safely and later discovered it was a non-poisonous snake. But we couldn’t sleep that night for fear of snakes in our garden and went packing in the wee hours of the morning. I have since then researched how to deal with snakes; but I hope I don’t encounter one in the future.

When we got home, Hustler was just as happy to get home as he was to reach all of the places we took him to. Life lessons we learn from our doggos!

Poonam & Vikas love travelling with their golden boy Hustler. You can follow their journeys on Instagram @hustlerthegolden