It was a recent trip to Boise, Idaho that pushed my wife and me over the edge. We couldn’t escape them. Every park, restaurant, market, and festival was completely overrun by tail wagging, tongue dancing, nose nuzzling dogs – and we were in heaven. Shared dreams of one day welcoming a pup to the family could no longer remain fantasies.
The flight home was spent glued to our smartphone screens, willing the painfully slow Wi-Fi to load details about canines of all shapes and sizes. A week later, we settled on a breed; though I grew up with Border collie mixes and my wife loved her childhood German shepherd, our search drew us to the gentle temperament and adventurous attitude of a Rhodesian ridgeback.
Now, after countless calls and clicks, we’ve tracked down a reputable breeder with one male puppy left to adopt. And though our pooch is over 300 miles away, we’re always game for a road trip – with the right vehicle. Thankfully, Kia’s all-new Telluride SUV appears tailor-made for the task at hand.
A quick smartphone connection to the 10-inch infotainment system summons Apple CarPlay and our fastest route via Google Maps. Just under six hours with current traffic – yikes. At least we can each find comfortable positions in the Telluride’s multi-way adjustable Nappa leather seats.
Light fills the cabin through a panoramic glass roof as we make our way north. It’s the hottest part of the summer, but ventilated chairs and tri-zone climate control block out any discomfort. Even at highway speeds, acoustic front glass dulls external noise to a whisper – allowing my wife and me to bicker over the perfect name for our pup at a reasonable volume (we agree to decide when we meet him).
As a trend, increasingly edgy vehicle styling is waging a war on driver visibility. But the Telluride, with its handsome, boxy design affords large windows and minimal blind spots. Adding to our confidence behind the wheel is Kia’s robust suite of active safety features, including a trick blind spot camera integrated within the gauge cluster and adaptive cruise control to counter the monotony of central California’s flatlands.
Just past Fresno, we decide to refuel – not because we’re out of gas, but as an excuse to stretch. In fact, over the last 250 miles, the Telluride has averaged 26 mpg, matching its highway EPA estimate (despite a smattering of city miles). That leaves about 200 miles of range with only 50 miles remaining until our destination. Not too shabby considering the SUV’s all-wheel drive system and 291-horsepower V6.
After a pit stop to get our In-N-Out fix, we arrive at the breeder’s residence. Walking up the drive, we spot a mature Ridgeback peering through a screen door. A smaller, reddish-brown Ridgeback with a furrowed brow soon joins her at the lookout. As we get closer, we recognize the smaller of the two dogs as our new best friend.
The breeder admits us into her home just as a third dog joins the party. “That’s the puppy’s mother,” she tells us. “Say hi now, because the moment she learns you’re here to take her child away, she won’t be nearly as pleasant.” Cautiously, we let momma Ridgeback sniff our hands before the breeder leads her into the yard. By now, the older Ridgeback has lost interest, leaving us alone with the puppy – if you can call him that. Though only four months old, he’s already as big as an adult Dalmatian with paws to suggest we didn’t budget enough for kibble.
Equally un-puppy of this pooch is his level of calm. Despite the frenzy of three kids running around the house and, yes, that’s a fourth dog chasing them, the Ridgeback pup is sprawled on his side, letting us scratch and pet to our hearts’ content. Then we find one of his toys, and in an instant, he scrambles to his paws, ready to play. It doesn’t take us long to fall in love. Sweet and happy, we can already picture his delightful company on camping trips and hikes.
An hour later, we walk our pup towards the Telluride for his first adventure. To prepare for the additional passenger, I stow the third row of seats and a the trunk-mounted button to flatten one of the second row captain’s chairs. Not wanting to risk a misstep, I hoist the pup into the SUV (yep, the breeder’s estimate of 60 pounds feels about right).
With everyone strapped in, we begin the voyage home. Soon, my wife and I are hosting another naming convention while the pup sniffs the outside air through an open window. The first of many road trips is off to a great start – let’s hope the ones that follow are as enjoyable without the Telluride’s spoiling comfort.