Pets are a blessing….but there are also reasons NOT to have pets when RVing. I cover both in this blog post….
2020 was certainly a challenging year for everyone with all the issues surrounding the novel Coronavirus 19. Many lost loved ones…and we did not escape this either. There were things beyond our control in 2020 that touched close to our heart more than any other…..
On December 7, 2020 our beautiful 13 yr old Reddy crossed over the rainbow bridge. Reddy was a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died 3 yrs and 3 days to the date since our first “Cavy” Anna also crossed over the rainbow bridge also at the age of 13. This blog post is a tribute to both of our beloved dogs- who were by far the best four-legged traveling companions we have ever met. But I have also included in this post reasons why we have chosen NOT to get another pet this close to going into full time RV living.
We rescued Reddy (yes, she is the Blenheim coloring of red and white) 7 years ago as an adult dog and she and Anna (the tri-colored ) enjoyed years of RV travel with us. Both lived the lives of princesses with us, they were truly our children. They absolutely loved car rides, loved being with us on camping vacations because that meant they had us “24/7” while RVing. The instinctively knew this and as soon as we started our ritual packing for a trip you could see their excitement building.
Here is a chronicle of photos of our two girls mostly while we were camping either in our ’73 Avion (our first) we owned from 2015-2020 or our ’87 during the summer of 2020.
It was Reddy though that really got into the camping mode, especially after losing her pal Anna in December 2017. Reddy wanted and needed to be with us humans even more to fill her daily and abundant companionship and “snuggle” quota.
She loved walks around campgrounds and RV parks particularly because she, unlike any other female dog I have ever owned, had to sniff every tree, every rock and every blade of grass where another dog had been previously. As she grew older and had less stamina due to her increasing debilitating heart condition we resorted to purchasing a dog/cat stroller so she could do the rounds at rallies, and long walks around campgrounds which we all continued to enjoy.
If ever there are dogs who seem perfect for RV living it is Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Ours at least, did not jump, did not bark, are small enough to pick up and carry when needed in a sling or pack and loved car rides no matter how short or long.
But we knew from experience with them on the road RVing that once we went full time, it is far more difficult to maintain dogs on the road. Surely many full time RVers do, but there are considerations, limitations and other things that must be considered if you are totally honest. Kevin and I had vowed, once our two pups were gone, if it was even remotely close in years to the time we were going to begin full timing…we would not get another pet to have full time onboard. Here are our reasons—be they selfish, one might say yes. But we also know in our hearts that we provided our two rescue Cavies with the lives of princesses while they were on this earth…and none can ever replace the love they had for us and we for them.
While there are many, many reasons why people choose to have pets, especially dogs while they RV (companionship, safety, security) I just want to offer some food for thought on why we have chosen not to get another dog while full-time RV living:
Reasons to consider why NOT to have a pet while being a full time RVer:
Size matters: You are living in a very small “tiny home” on wheels. Pets take up some of that space with themselves, their food, their bedding, perhaps their toy basket, other pet equipment. Small dogs are less of an issue…the bigger the dog, the more space they need to share with you.
On the road health & upkeep Especially for older dogs, health conditions warrant accessibility to vet services, be that routine or emergency. There is not a great “chain” network of vet services, some have found PetSmart or others can fill this gap, but its not the same. Keeping up with required vacinations, check ups, medications, etc. needs to be a consideration- especially if you are campers who like remote boondocking locations, or plan to cross borders into Mexico or Canada. There are additional issues with border crossings and pets. Pets also can bring fleas, ticks and lots of mud, sand and dirt into RVs- just be prepared for more cleaning and proactivity to keep away fleas and ticks.
Climate Considerations: When we travel, we like to be fluid and flexible and if we want to stop for a meal inside a restaurant, visit a local attraction or quaint downtown enroute…what do we do when its 90 degrees and our RV is parked in a parking lot with no hook ups? Similarly, what to do if it is 30 degrees outside? Do you run the AC or furnace while you go to the attraction, or take a 4 hour hike so your pet is safe inside the rig with climate control? We love our Avion, but all aluminum trailers are like a tin can heating up in the summer sun! In truth we already experienced this issue many times even while we have been only in our vacation-mode of RV travel and for us this is the leading reason why we will not have pets once we full time. Call it selfish, but we are choosing this lifestyle to be flexible in our travel and to explore and see this beautiful country. So having a pet inside your trailer poses restrictions on flexibility of site seeing, meals, hikes, etc. YES, perhaps a local pet day care could be the answer—just needs advance research and planning-and is an additional expense to your trip budget! Rover.com I believe is an option some have used.
RV Parks & Campground Restrictions: Some parks, even state parks and national parks have restrictions on what area or # of sites where they allow pets. Most if not all campgrounds we have encountered forbid certain breeds of dogs entirely. Be careful of your selection if you value the flexibility of where you can camp around the USA! This could cause issues when finding a site in high demand times of year or locations. Many National and State parks do not allow dogs on trails at all, so again, leaving Fido in the trailer must be accomplished somehow in potential extreme weather conditions.
Campground Etiquette: We were very fortunate in that our Cavaliers never barked (seriously we heard Anna bark about 4 times in 7 yrs and Reddy 7 times in 7 years). This cannot be said for other dogs we have encountered or know from family experience. So if you have a dog that does not do well when left alone, and/or is a barker (or rips apart the inside of your rig) this is a big issue that could in fact, get you tossed out of a campground. NO ONE wants to be camped next to an RV with a barking dog inside or outside. We camp for peace and tranquility.
“Clean up on Aisle 5”—yes, you must walk your dog and pick up after them. Look for dog walk designated areas if the park has them. Not a biggie…but it must be done in rain, sleet, snow, wind or stiffeling heat…just like the Postal Carriers!
Golden Rule #1- walk your dog on and keep them on the campground roads, do not let them go into other camper’s sites which are someone’s “front yard” for the weekend, week or month. It’s like that saying…”we don’t swim in your toilet…so please don’t pee in our pool”
Golden Rule #2- if you know your dog does not like or get along well with other dogs as a rule, then please walk them in a more remote location of the campground so that barking at another dog or God forbid a dog fight or getting lose does not ensue. (We were at a rally where a Great Dane on a leash with his owner nearly had our little 14 lb Reddy for lunch!)
Golden Rule #3- if you do have your dog outside your camper, make sure they are securely tied up or in an escape-proof pen. If they tend to be a pup that tries to bolt out the door of the camper every chance they get to “break free” be prepared. (at another smaller rally we attended in 2019 a dog that got loose was gone for hours in the woods while the “search party” of fellow campers tried in vain to find her).
It’s 10 PM—Do you know where your Fido is?? I was greeted by a wandering huge (thankfully docile) dog last July at a rally when the owners were packing up their rig to leave and no one had thought to secure the dog on his leash…he meandered over 8 sites away to see what we were doing! When I brought him back and put his leash securely under the leg of the picnic table, his owners were surprised…they had not even realized he was gone!
So here’s a toast and tribute to our two sweet girls in heaven. We will have their clay paw prints and their pictures in our Pewter Palace and remember them fondly as we travel down the backroads and highways for sure.
Be well, have safe journeys. Treasure your four legged loves.
Here’s to a FAR better 2021 for everyone!