Dogs & RV’ing

This has been the summer of dogs.  Early in the season we had a camper bitten.  We have had a LOT of dogs in the campground.  We even carry doggy treats in our CORPS golf cart.  We stop and pet them when we see them.  We talk to pet owners all the time. We have had neighboring dogs come to the campground for love and attention. And this weekend, amidst a flurry of thunder and lightning we lost a dog.  I mean he hightailed it out of the family tent and unfortunately hasn’t been seen since. It’s a shame too because the Shiba Inu was a beautiful dog.  I have been wondering what happened to him ever since the owners told us about her disappearance.

So it is that I find myself asking:

Do you really want a pet along with you in your RV?

Everyone who’s ever had a pet feels some special kinship between themselves and their fur family members. Americans are great pet owners — doting on their fur kids sometimes more than they dote on their human children — and we spend literally billions of dollars pampering our pets.

I have no objections to pets. Nor do I object to pets in RV’s, or in campgrounds.  Sure, I’d like to see every pet well behaved but I know that’s never going to happen. But I know it’s not the animal’s fault.  More often than not it’s the owner that doesn’t know how to care for the animal.

After this last animal ran off in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm I have been thinking about our own days as pet owners.


We had an English Bulldog named Otis.  He was a lovable boy.  But was he ever afraid of loud noises.  I never thought that the flashes of lightning bothered him quite so much, but the claps of thunder, fireworks, etc., scared the bejezus out of him.  We tried a lot of different therapies to calm him, and we spent plenty of time in the basement where there were no windows and the sound was deadened.  But we never got him over his fear of loud noises.

I mention this because this has been a wetter than normal summer.  (Seems we’re rain magnets and wherever we go it’s wetter than normal!) We have had a LOT of thunder storms and even though I enjoy a good Midwestern thunder-boomer, and rolling thunder, and all of that which goes along with the Upper Midwest.  And the one phenomenon that has really been impressed on me (after 5 years in a motorhome) is how close you are to the sounds of nature when you are RV’ing.

I know it sounds silly to say that after 5 years.  But this summer more than most times we have lived with our windows open to the outside almost all the time.  We’ve hardly turned on the A/C all summer long; the temps have been delightful; and we love the sounds of nature — so, windows open!

And with the open windows we have not only been hearing the birds and the squirrels and the noisy camper pickups, we have also been hearing the beating of the rain on the roof and the thunder, and more thunder, and even more thunder.

Not normally pet owners, I’ve not thought much about how that has been affecting campers’ pets, but with the loss of this most recent dog I’ve been thinking a lot about whether — if I was a pet owner all over again — I would want to bring a pet along in an RV?  I don’t know the answer.

I’ve watched dog owners with short legged dogs helping their fur-kids up into their pickups and their coaches. Sometimes getting your pet into the vehicle can be a big deal.  I’ve seen 5’er owners who built special ramps so that their aging pets could get into the RV; and other owners who had to lift the animal’s hindquarters because they were so crippled that they couldn’t get into the RV unaided.

I’ve listened to upset pets, left all day long in the RV while their owners have gone elsewhere.  Not long ago we had a couple with an aging 40 foot motorhome and no slides who had somehow sectioned the interior of their RV so that they could let three dogs each have their own quarters and all three of them were unhappy that mom and dad had left them alone in the RV.  I can’t blame the dogs for their distress.  That was all on the owners and their thoughtless behavior.   Because, you see, I do believe that if we have pets then it’s our job to see that we care for their needs — not ignore them.

I really don’t know how I’d feel about the option to get a pet.  Or what it would mean to our lifestyle.  Couples freely own up to the idea that if one of them has health issues it may mean that the both of them have to give up RV’ing and take a more conventional residence.  But it seems as if pet owners aren’t as likely to acknowledge the limitations of their pets and take themselves off the road for the sake of the animal.  I know that sounds like a drastic course of action, but isn’t it selfish as a human to have this other life that is so dependent upon you, and to act with disregard about the things that frighten them, or pain them, or make their life impossible?

The sounds of nature are so intense in our motorhome.  I know Otis would not have liked being there in a storm.  And there’s no way for us to travel only in places where there is no thunder — though we had very little thunder in Oregon!!!!!  I really don’t know what sort of decision I would make it I were back in that situation.  I don’t know if I would be the responsible retiree who had worked hard all my life and wanted to travel, but who had a pet that needed care and then had to face the choice of getting off the road myself so as to not cause the animal undue anxiety.  I don’t know.

It’s no one else’s business what decision any pet owner makes, I guess.  And we have seen all manner of RV pets, from turtles, and cats, to parrots and macaws.  Each owner has seemed attentive to their pet when we’ve seen them.  And I haven’t known the animals to have any idea if they were living a full animal life.  But I wonder…

I don’t like zoos because I don’t like animals in captivity, I think that’s unfair and wonder how we might feel if some alien put humans in cages for their amusement.  Life is precious, all life.  It’s one thing we can’t manufacture, life is magic, and I’m amazed by it.201301301339family2743From the moment the nurse plopped our newborn daughter on Peggys stomach I have been amazed at the gift of life and hallow it.

So, today’s blog isn’t about an opinion.  It’s all about a question mark. Have a great day, and why not stop by tomorrow and see what’s happenin’.



3 thoughts on “Dogs & RV’ing

  1. Good food for thought. I consider an RV similar to a vehicle and I would never leave my pet in a vehicle all day so I could not RV with a pet.


    1. Last night we had yet another incident of other campers coming by to complain about barking/whining dogs left behind by their owners.

      I really think that a lot of owners do not realize that just because the dog is in the RV does not mean that the dog feels ‘at home’. There ARE strange sounds and strange smells in new places and you’re asking a lot of your dog to understand that you haven’t abandoned them in some horrible place. Makes me angry to hear dogs whining the way they were last night. I called the phone number on the reservation and of course no one answered, so I left a message. Wasn’t much else I could do until this morning when I’ll go over there and talk with them. If there pet’s noise goes further than the bounds of their campsite they’re being a nuisance to others. pure and simple.



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