Highway Tales: Traveling With Pets
One thing has always caught my attention when browsing classified ads online for used RVs. It seems that almost all of them are advertised as "non-smokers" and "no pets." Yet, when I take a walk through any campground I see that most every RV has at least one dog, and sometimes more. It makes me wonder where these "no-pet" RVs have been all this time. I can only come to the conclusion that pet owners never sell their RVs or that people who don't have pets never take their RV out of the driveway.
Face it, pets are pretty much part of most everyone's life. In fact one of the benefits of owning an RV is that you can take your favorite buddy along when you travel rather than leave him behind at a kennel or staying with a friend or relative. Dog owners are particularly passionate about their animals and if you surf the pet section of any RV forum you're likely to find some heated discussions due to a wide variety of opinions. But, pet ownership isn't just limited to dogs. During our travels we've seen everything from parrots, cats being pushed in a baby stroller and even a full-size pig where the owner had made a ramp to allow him to go in and out of the motorhome.
As great as pets are, they do come at a price. You have to feed them, and they do best by eating a consistent diet so that means loading up the RV with your pet's favorite food, treats, and toys before you hit the open road. Dogs can stay by themselves for a fair amount of time but we haven't quite figured out how to get Dakota to use the RV toilet so the time we spend away from the RV does have its limits. When we take him on our dinghy tours we have to make sure our Jeep doesn't get too hot and that he has enough water. We also have to deal with certain "no pets allowed" limitations where we might be going, such as in some national parks. So, there are times when he needs to remain in the RV while we are gone.
I do have a few "pet" peeves. Some campgrounds give lip service to pets but don't provide good facilities for them. Dog runs are small and never kept clean. Some campgrounds limit what dogs you can have or how big they can be. Stereotyping dog breeds is never an accurate way to determine the dog's behavior. Many large breeds are calm, sweet dogs while Tiger, the miniature ankle biter might take your hand off if you try to pet him. I agree with the Dog Whisperer in that the dog's personality is more a result of good breeding and proper training by the owner, not the size or breed of dog.
Pet owners also have certain responsibilities and, just like dogs, some owners haven't been very well trained or just don't care. Dog owners need to apply the Golden Rule and consider how their pet affects others. Letting them unload yesterday's supper in a public area or another camper's campsite and leaving it lie is inexcusable. Dogs that bark at everything that moves can also get very annoying. Usually this is more a result of the owner thinking this is cute rather than taking the time to train the dog. Tying them up outside the RV on a retractable leash is another one of those. The dog will run out barking at anyone walking by and you never know how long the leash is or if you are within their reach. All of these things can easily be cured with minimal training but if the owner isn't considerate enough it won't happen. Inevitably that leads to sanctions and oppressive rules by the campgrounds that affect all dog owners.
Traveling with pets can be a great thing. If you are willing to take the effort to train them and provide for their needs these compromises will easily be outweighed by the positives. Life is better when you can share it with someone and the companionship of your best friend can be a great thing and welcome addition to any trip. Plus, you'll benefit from the exercise that you get from the daily walk and that'll keep you from turning into a couch potato.