Natalie Morales drove cross country with her family so their dog wouldn’t have to fly

I love dogs but I don’t have a dog at the moment, I just pet sit when I can. My parents are on a cruise so I’m watching their sweet miniature schnauzer for three weeks. I know that if I had a dog I would rearrange my whole life around them, which is why I’m waiting a while. That’s also why I could relate to The Today Show’s Natalie Morales’s long essay about how dogs have been a staple in her life, and how she’s gone out of her way to make their lives special and easier. She’s not bragging about it or acting like it’s a big deal, she’s just telling it like it is. She describes all the ways that dogs have made her life better and it’s clear she wants to reciprocate. Natalie describes the dogs in her life and what they’ve meant to her. She calls them her dog “soulmates!” Here’s some of what she wrote about her current dog, and there’s much more there about her lifetime of companions. She has had all rescue dogs. Her current dog was featured on a pet adoption segment of The Today Show in 2012 and Natalie knew she had to take her home the moment she saw her. She has been married 20 years and has two sons, Josh, 14, and Luke, 9.

As fate would have it, I met Zara. Again, I felt like she chose me. She was a rescue dog at North Shore Animal League in Long Island, New York, and happened to be on the TODAY Show one day for a pet segment. She was there with another dog, who seemed nervous and was yapping constantly. Zara was calm and sweet, licking me and pawing at my hand for me to pay attention to her.

I was told she was about a year old. She was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen; a blond and brown border collie mix with caramel eyes and the sweetest disposition. It was love at first sight I think for the both of us. The people at North Shore told me Zara had been brought up North from a kill shelter in Georgia, which broke my heart even more to think who could possibly give up such an incredible animal. I knew she was meant to be a part of my family and immediately called home. My husband was a little hesitant at first, but once he saw the video I sent him of her, he was convinced she belonged with us. The day we picked her up at the shelter was almost as joyous as the days I brought home my boys from the hospital. Josh was 9 years old and Luke was 4, and Zara became the instant third member of our family.

As Zara and the boys continue to grow, I see how much confidence she has also given them as well as a sense of empathy and love for all living creatures. Zara sleeps by Josh’s side every night and is happiest when she is walking the boys to and from the school bus. She has gone everywhere with us and has helped ease their fears during our recent transition of moving to California from Hoboken, New Jersey. When we moved out to California, we drove cross country with Zara because we did not want to have to fly her as we thought it would be too stressful.

She is such a great traveler and would just lay next to the boys in the back seat waiting for the next stop and adventure. The other day, while Luke was sitting on the couch petting Zara, who was sandwiched in between us, he turned to me and said, “Mom, Zara completed our family.” I could not agree more. They say most rescues never forget and are so grateful to be rescued. I believe that wholeheartedly … but more than anything, we are so grateful she rescued us in her own way.

[From People]

I’m not crying, you’re crying. Natalie wrote so poignantly about the joy, love and stability dogs have brought to her and her family. With all the stories of dogs dying on planes and being routed far from home, it was smart just to drive and avoid all that. She valued her dog’s life over her family’s comfort. Her family took several days and countless more hours to make a trip just so their dog, who they consider a family member, would be ok. Imagine if all pet owners were this thoughtful and caring. We wouldn’t have a fraction as many dog shelters or abandoned animals. People would be looking to adopt pets whose owners couldn’t care for them, and they would cherish their pets for as long as they’re able.

My girl Zara got a haircut. Isn’t she gorgeous? #rescuedismyfavoritebreed

A post shared by Natalie Morales (@nmoralesnbc) on

#movienight #holidays. Someone is very sleepy!

A post shared by Natalie Morales (@nmoralesnbc) on

Puppies and @shaunwhite! Does it get any better?! #WinterOlympics @teamusa

A post shared by Natalie Morales (@nmoralesnbc) on

photos credit: Instagram/Natalie Morales and WENN

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18 Responses to “Natalie Morales drove cross country with her family so their dog wouldn’t have to fly”

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  1. Lori says:

    I would do the same. Nobody should die from fear and lack of air etc the way dogs do on those flights.

  2. Jenns says:

    I would do the same.

    I have a basset hound and a pom. My basset passed away last year. She had a huge bed that she slept on, but after she died, I put it away and bought my pom a new, but smaller bed. However she rejected that bed by literally pushing it away with her nose. So I got the big bed out again for her and even put the little bed next to it in case she wanted to sleep on both. Which she does. Because she’s totally spoiled.

    • ol cranky says:

      Nothing wrong with spoiling your furbaby

      I lost my staffy mix last summer and my hounds pitched a fit when I moved her bed, which happened to be on top of my bed (next to my pillow) at the time. I had to put her bed back on top of my bed and now the hounds take turns sleeping on the dog bed on the bed at night.

  3. Surya says:

    That’s nice and all, but it’s not great to act like people who ship their dogs or put them on planes love them less or aren’t thinking through the consequences. Not everyone has a car and can drive their dogs cross country. Or take the time required to do that. Unlike this rich lady.

    • Honey says:

      Interesting that your mind went there. That is like her spending the money on the best doctors for her sick child, but you saying that is nice, but not everyone can afford that like this rich lady. So what, she has the money and cares about her family. No need to be bitter about it. Plenty of rich people couldn’t careless about their pets. I’m not rich, but I have more money than the section 8 housing people down the street and those people have more than people in Syria. Trump has more than Natalie. Can’t we just live and be kind?

      She didn’t shame anyone, she just talked about her OWN life. Can’t we just appreciate a kind human being without looking for a reason to hate?

    • Jayna says:

      She knows her dog. She thought it would be too stressful for the dog. It was for a move, not a vacation. So it’s not like the long drive ate up most of the vacation. The drive probably was a nice cross-country drive seeing places they ordinarily wouldn’t and ends up being nice for a family that probably has never done that, always flying to destinations.

      Why the negative comment? She didn’t come across holier-than-thou about it. And I would have done the same thing if I was moving. My dog, now departed, I couldn’t have put on a plane in the cargo hold, nor my cats I had at the time.

    • Rachel says:

      Umm, it’s not cheap to ship a dog across country. Just fyi. So your logic (or insults) are faulty. If you can’t afford to drive across country, odds are you can’t afford the airfare to ship your dog across county either.

  4. Maria says:

    Love to hear stories like that. So much better for the dog. Thanks for posting that Kaiser.

  5. Cynical Ann says:

    I’ve told the story before here, but our sweet old cat died the night we flew cross country with her. I would never, ever put our pets through that again if I could help it. It’s a pain in the butt to move with pets no matter which way you do it-but I would avoid the flying stress for our dog and cats too if we have to do another big move.

    • Steph S says:

      I’m sorry, Cynical Ann. We had the same awful traumatic experience when we moved from Arizona to Nevada – we made the 7 hour drive at night and had given our 3 cats pretty low-dose tranquilizers to help with the trip. My sweet devil cat, Manny, had some sort of cardiac event and we had to rush him to the emergency vet when we arrived in the middle of the night, where we had to put him to sleep. It was awful and I still feel like I somehow failed him. :(

  6. Veronica S. says:

    From what I understand, there’s really guaranteed no safe way to transport them via flight, so driving is really the only way you can do it otherwise. If you have multiple drivers in the car, though, it’s not really that much of a burden. It’s about a 3-4 day trip depending on how much you stop – and you can do some cool sight seeing.

  7. Aang says:

    I drove from NY to CA last summer. Just because I’ve always wanted to. It is a great drive and I’ll definitely do it again. The idea of putting a pet in cargo terrifies me. Lucky dog that it’s family has the resources to make it’s safety a top priority.

  8. Catlady says:

    I’ve been with security escorts in airports many times searching for lost animals. After what I saw there is no way in hell I would ever ever ever put a dog or cat in cargo on a flight. The only way I would travel with an animal is if I can have them in the cabin with me in a carrier under the seat. On one of my forays on a search in the secure side of baggage claim a dog broke out of its carrier and came running down the driveway that the baggage cars go down. The thing that really pissed me off is that nobody batted an eyelash, and I was literally the only person that tried to catch this dog. He slipped through my grasp and ran out onto the tarmac and I don’t know what happened after that. If you wouldn’t trust your newborn or child to a baggage handler, then you probably shouldn’t trust your pets lives to them either.

  9. Cintra.C says:

    Aw, what a sweet looking dog. If I had to move, I would also do everything I could to avoid putting a pet on an airplane.

  10. wood dragon says:

    We are moving from Maryland to New Mexico in May with three dogs. Because of them we made darn sure we booked rooms in places that accept dogs so that everyone would be comfortable. They’re my fur kids.