The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"D" IS FOR "DOGS ON THE ROAD" (#AtoZChallenge)

It is Day 4 of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge which means today's letter of the day is "D" and D stands for DOGS.

Since this blog is about life on the road as RVers, today we will look at life on the road traveling with our various DOGS (aka "fur-kids").  We have traveled with 5 different German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) during the past 35-plus years.  Tasha was raised from a puppy while Tobi, a white GSD, Krissy, Star, and now Miss Shade have all been RESCUES.

Today's blog will examine

  • Canine Life in an RV
  • Finding Dog Parks While Traveling
  • Dog Park Rules and Courtesies
  • Emergencies and Locating Vets
  • Socializing in the RV lifestyle
  • K-9 Adventures

Canine Life in an RV

Traveling fur-kids come in all shapes and sizes.  I would guess small dogs out number large dogs as k-9 family members. In our household we have only owned LARGE, 70-80 pound German Shepherds.  We did try to travel with a cat one time but she got loose at Lake Oroville in California but did find her way home after two days of searching.  She never traveled again.

It is very common to see two small dogs, and/or cats, for obvious reasons.  Many RV parks and campgrounds have restrictions on the number of pets a guest can have and that number is often two.  "Pets" can also include cats, birds, and reptiles.  I have seen "pet weight limitations" posted in campground directories where dogs, for example, cannot weigh more than 20 pounds.  There are also restrictions for certain breeds that are perceived as aggressive.  Owners pleading their case to the campground owners will be told it is the "insurance company" that prohibits pit bulls, rottweilers, or other larger dogs.  Luckily for us, our GSDs have not been restricted.

Being responsible pet owners is a given.  Unfortunately, others have ruined pet reputations by not cleaning up after their dogs, leaving dogs tied up outside without supervision, or having a barking dog disturbing the neighborhood.  We like to introduce our dog to neighbors while out walking them with our plastic bags in hand and enjoy watching the interaction with children is always great.

We always introduce our GSD to children in the campground.
It is important to teach them about safety when approaching an unfamiliar dog.
Most of the introductions include asking children if they want to "pet" our dog.
These youngsters and the dog were very relaxed on a lawn full of fallen leaves.
Life INSIDE the RV

Pets and owners develop their own rules about where pets sit, eat, play, and sleep.  When we had a Class A gas motorhome with a large front dash it was very common to find "Star" sunbathing or watching the action outside when we are parked somewhere.  Dogs should never be allowed to roam free when the recreational vehicle is moving. 

Our German Shepherd dogs are always "on duty" checking out our surroundings.

No one is going to mess with your home on wheels
when a GSD is watching from the RV dash.

When the RV is moving our dogs like to keep an eye on where we are going or why we had to stop at a stop sign or train crossing.
German Shepherds are tall enough to see over the dash.
They have also learned where the air conditioning vents are located in the dash, too.

It is important that the driver stay awake!
Seating arrangements are sometimes negotiable.  MOST of our dogs were never allowed on the furniture or the beds in our stick house or the motorhome.  "Star" learned to "sneak up" when we were not looking.  Our current GSD, Miss Shady Lady has taken over the motorhome and sits and sleeps wherever she wants.

"Star" getting on the RV couch was a "no-no".  Of course the
scolding occurred after Mom got the camera out.
We gave in on letting our dogs sleep on the bed
as long as we put an extra sheet down first.

The cockpit chairs, when not occupied by the pilot or co-pilot, are great for curling up.  

A bathmat on the driver's seat made a comfy bed at nights. 

What do you mean?  Do you really want to sit HERE?
Dogs especially like to have their toys, beds, and special treats nearby to feel at home on the road.

Yes, the ring toy is mine.  Do you want to play "tug"?
Too many treats are never a problem...  Hiding them is a problem in a small rig.


There are plenty of "apps" to help you find dog parks when on the road.  Click here to find a Google dog park app search for Androids.  Similar searches are available for iPhone/Mac devices at the iTunes Store.
"The Find a Dog Park app helps you find off leash dog parks while on the go or while planning a trip. It allows you to quickly find dog parks that are close to you and use Google Maps Directions to help you get there."
Cosmo's Dog Park near Gilbert, AZ features a running ramp
so dogs and chase balls out into a lake.
In Sparks, Nevada we like to stay at the Sparks Marina RV Park
and there is a huge community park with walking paths and a fenced, off-leash dog beach.
Just small, fenced areas can make for safe ball playing.
Most dog parks have "doggie bag" dispensers and handy trash cans.
Some parks have separate sections for small and large dogs.  Others let the owners decide if they want their little dogs to play with the big dogs.

Let's play follow the leader.
Aren't you glad RVers don't greet each other the way dogs do?  

Dog Park Rules and Courtesies

Following is a great overview on proper etiquette at dog parks from PetMed.com.

"Minding Your Dog's Manners 

Spending an afternoon at the dog park is great for providing your dog with exercise while allowing her to socialize with other animals. While the experience can and should be fun, it can also be a challenge if Daisy’s bad manners are allowed to go unchecked. Here are some basics for a fun, trouble-free time at the dog park.

Before You’re Out the Door

Your dog should be in good health and old enough to have had her entire series of vaccinations. It’s also helpful if your dog has been through basic obedience training. A city license and/or rabies tag should be on your pet’s collar, as well as proper identification. In fact, in some parks these tags are a requirement for admittance. Be sure to pack waste bags for picking up after your dog, as well as water. You can use a resealable bowl, a collapsible bowl, or a water bottle with a special dog spout. And don’t forget to take your dog’s leash for walking her to and from the entrance of the dog park.

At the Park Entrance

When you first arrive, observe how many dogs are present and how they are behaving. Walk in slowly and let your dog calm down before letting her off leash. If your dog is behaving fearfully, or if any of the other dogs behave aggressively toward her (or she toward them), be prepared to leave right away.

When Other Animals Approach

You are responsible for your dog’s behavior in the park. As the owner, you don’t want to be too sensitive to how she is playing or being played with, but you don’t want to be negligent either. Leave the phone on silent and the book at home. It helps if you are already familiar with normal dog play before you introduce your dog to playing with other dogs.

Play is normal when dogs are relaxed and the actions are non-threatening. Barking, some growling, pawing at each other, wrestling, bowing, and chasing are all normal behaviors. You might also see some mouthing, sniffing, and even humping.

There will be episodes where an older dog will have to put a younger dog in its place for being too pushy and it appears as though the older dog is going to bite. As long as skin has not been broken, you can be sure that it was all for show. This is just one of the ways in which dogs teach each other boundaries and social behavior. Basically, as long as the dogs don't take it too far, it’s all in good fun.

If you see several dogs acting as a group or another dog crowding or chasing your dog, it’s time to break things up. If a serious fight does occur, it’s time to call your dog over and move to another play space, or leave the park entirely. If the aggressive dog’s owner is nearby, you can also have them call off their dog and take charge of the situation. And of course, if it is your dog that is being aggressive, you will need to remove her from the park immediately.

As long as everyone is playing nice and the animals have been properly socialized, your dog should have a great time, even if she has to be put in her place by a dog that does not want to play with her. It’s all part of learning how to play nice with each other -- and it’s proper dog park etiquette."

Emergencies and Locating Vets

Once again try doing a search on your web browser of your pet becomes ill while traveling. This was one result I found:  How to find a reputable vet when you're on the Road.
Whether you're hiking trails an hour away or crossing multiple state lines, there's nothing quite like taking a road trip with your loyal four-legged friend. But the pleasure comes with its fair share of responsibility. What if your dog sniffs out the raisins between the seats and hoovers them up before you check the rearview mirror? In addition to making sure you've packed enough food and water for your pet, you need to know where to go in case there's an emergency. Luckily, The American Animal Hospital Association noticed the upward trend in roaming Rovers and launched a pet-focused trip planner. The planner pinpoints veterinary clinics and hospitals along your route. Just plug in your starting point and final destination, and you'll not only get driving directions for your trip, but the name, location and contact information for pet help along the way. Of course, you can ask your veterinarian for recommendations, as well.
This was one of many vets we visited with our Krissy.  
She had "bloat surgery" at a vet in California, another surgery in Pennsylvania, and stitches removed in Bransnn, Missouri on one cross-country trip.  She survived until we got home but passed away a year later.
This photo was taken during Krissy's recovery at home.  We re-arranged
our travel schedule multiple times for this unlucky dog.
These dog owners were checking out a vendor for "HOME AGAIN"
a National Pet Recovery Database and microchip service. Our dogs
have been chipped and wear these tags in addition to their licenses, rabies tag,
our contact information.

Socializing in the RV lifestyle

The RV lifestyle is all about socializing and your pets need to be well-behaved and welcomed to participate in the fun of meeting other travelers.
This was taken at a Pet Parade and contests at the 2015 Western Area Rally
for Escapees (WARE) in Yuba City, CA.  Hubby Luke is holding
Miss Star, sitting pretty just left of center.
Your well-behaved dog will often be invited into your friends'
RVs to socialize.  Space to play can be limited and sharing of
toys can be territorial.
If you have been following these blogs you have learned that RVers love to get-together and food is normally involved.  Some groups, like the Boomers, have adopted courtesy rules that say no pets at Happy Hours or food events.
"Lucky" loves to get squirts of whipping cream
during dessert time.  "Lucky"also likes to eat corn
off a corn cob while Dad holds it and turns it for her.

K-9 Adventures

Our fur-kids like to have fun outdoors and there are plenty of opportunities to explore and check-out where they are.  Obey leash laws and keep your pets safe.
Geocaching is a great hobby for RVers. These two "geo-pups",
a black poodle and our GSD, have found the hiding spot for a cache container
along a lake in Eastern Oregon.
Keep an eye on your pet when they discover great critter hiding spots.
"I know it's in there!  I smell it!"
It can be frustrating to see a squirrel and
not be able to get to it.
This off-leash dog park at a campground in Casa Grande, AZ
doubles as a water retention pond during the monsoon season.
It made for a nice, muddy swimming hole.
Cattail Cove State Park, south of Lake Havasu City on the
Colorado River, has a dog-friendly beach.  These two ducks teased
and pestered Miss Star one too many times and she took a flying
leap but was unable to tease them back.
Include your pets in group activities or when you are playing tourist.

During the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta we encourage pet owners
to have a get-together at a local dog park.
There is a campground near Yosemite National Park that has a menagerie of pets in an enclosure they call a "petting zoo".
Krissy found the creatures very friendly.

Make sure your pets are included in your tourist photos.  This
was taken in Banff, Canada on a walk past a raging river and
waterfall while out looking for a geocache. 
And sometimes the RV Lifestyle means just kicking back and enjoying the great country around us.

Enjoying green grass at the Freightliner Service Center dog park
after many days in the desert.
A night walk around the beautiful grounds of Jim and Mary's RV Park
in Missoula, Montana means it is time to stop and enjoy the flower gardens.
No matter how you travel, be sure to include your pets.  

We tow a Honda CR-V behind the motorhome when traveling long
distances.  For day trips, however, our dogs always have their
own beds and non-spill water bowls.
Check out the goggles on this GSD riding in a side-car in
downtown Auburn, California.  I was glad I had my camera handy!
It has been fun going through years of photographs of our travels and finding so many examples of traveling with our various dogs.  Unfortunately, photos of Tasha and Tobi didn't make this blog. Maybe I'll get the scanner out and find their lovable faces in photo albums stuck on the shelves in my home office.

When our previous GSD "Star" began to suffer physically from Cancer in 2015 we were traveling in Pennsylvania. Yes, it is sad when we let our fur-babies cross the Rainbow Bridge, but we like to say Star lived to be 13.5 years old, traveled for 7+ years, and had 100,000 miles on her.  All of our traveling German Shepherd dogs have seen much more of the country than most people.  Miss Shade, who turns 5 years old next week, has lots of miles ahead.

Thanks for following along with our salute to the letter D and our DOGS on the Road.




Donna B. McNicol said...

Wow!! What a great, informative article.

D: Dominica & D-Day Museum
DB McNicol, author & traveler
Theme: Oh, the places we will go!

Sonrisa said...

Beautiful Dogs!! I always tell my husband that our Bonnie will make a great RV Dog. What a wealth of information, thank you for sharing! Heidi at, Decibel Memos (Perspectives absent of sound)

Marion Westerling said...

What a great story and great information!

Wouldn't it be nice to have an app or website for campgrounds that have extra dog areas such as the dog friendly beaches/piers?

Emily Bloomquist said...

Great photos - beautiful dogs! Loved all of the places that you took us with them :) Very useful information for anyone traveling with dogs.

Emily | My Life In Ecuador

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