The Things We Do for Love: "My Dogs Have Their Own Driver"

There are plenty of ways to show our pets how much we love them — we buy them special food and treats, bring home the newest toys and, of course, lavish them with affection. Caroline Golon, the human behind popular humor blog Romeo the Cat and co-founder of BlogPaws, will share the stories of pet owners who have gone the extra mile for their pets in this series, The Things We Do for Love. And sometimes, the extra mile is only the beginning!

Golden Retriever
Photo courtesy of Dede Levinson
Barney and Sara play a little tug-of-war in their Palm Beach Gardens home.

Every spring, Dede Levinson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., travels north to her home in Lee, Mass., to spend the summer with her family. She goes by plane, and her two Golden Retrievers travel by car — with their own personal driver. In 2002, Levinson and her late husband decided the drive was too long and difficult and wanted to start flying instead. Unwilling to put their dogs on an airplane, the Levinsons had to find a way to transport them safely.

“I wracked my brain to figure out what I could do,” Levinson says. She enlisted the help of Dave Markham of Pittsfield, Mass., whose business, Berkshire Animal Transport, specializes in driving pets to and from local vet appointments. “I asked him if he’d consider driving my dogs to Florida,” Levinson says. “He said, ‘Sure, why not?’”

Nine years later, Markham still chauffeurs Levinson’s dogs every spring and fall. Now his passengers are Barney, 11, who has been taking the twice-yearly drive since the trips began, and Sara, 5.

“The dogs know the drill,” Levinson says. “And they love Dave, so they do just fine with him.”

The 1,400-mile trip requires two overnight stays at hotels with two double beds — one for Markham and one for the dogs. “Dave would be happy to drive straight through,” Levinson says. “But I want the dogs to have dinner at their normal time and sleep in a comfortable bed at night.”

After all these years, the migration is down to a science. When taking Barney and Sara north each spring, Markham flies to Florida, spends the night and leaves with the dogs in Levinson’s car the next day. Levinson boards a flight to Massachusetts and arrives in time to have a couple of days to get organized and “be ready when the dogs arrive.”

Since he began transporting Levinson’s dogs, Markham has picked up a few more clients who hire him to make the Massachusetts-Florida round trip each year.

“Dave’s so reliable and loves the dogs,” Levinson says. “Hiring him to do this is one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

What do you do for love? We’re looking for the funny, sweet and special stories that will make other pet parents smile. Email us at to share your story. Please put "The Things We Do for Love" in the subject line.


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