6 Months on the Road- A Dog’s View

This past October my human parents decided to take me on a cross-country trip in our RV.  Of course I had no idea what that meant.  To me my whole world was home, the RV and some long weekends in Acadia National Park and the White Mountain National Forest.  I learned a lot of things in the past 6 months and thought I would share it with other dogs and humans who might decide to take this same adventure.

  1. This is a big country! I thought “going for a ride” was the most wonderful thing ever but there is a limit.  I reach my maximum ride time around 8-hours and really prefer to keep it under 6-hours.   I love the big window in the RV but I hate how far it is between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat.  I like riding in mom’s lap but I get tired of that after a few hours.  Mom refuses to let me run around the RV when it’s moving.  She’s afraid I’m going to go flying if dad hits the brakes.  I will lay on the dash in the front window at times but it seems like most of the time we are heading into the sun and it gets way too warm up there.  Mom came up with a great solution so I can sit next to dad.  She bought a nice square ottoman that I can lay on and it’s high enough so I can touch dad.  This is very important to me since we are best buds.  Mom likes the ottoman because it can double as extra storage space and a foot rest.
  2. Drinking water- Dad got in trouble with mom early in the trip because dad let me drink from a stream.  Of course she was right and I ended up with a really bad case of diarrhea and a trip to the vet on a weekend.  Ever since then I have been getting filtered or bottled water.  That way my GI system doesn’t have to adjust to new water supplies as we travel.  Mom won’t even let me near a stream.
  3. Dogs like routine.  My human parents brought along my favorite toys and bed so I would have familiar things with me.  They try to keep my other routines the same too- like bed time and meal times.  They even order my favorite food from Amazon when they can’t find it locally.
  4. Medical Care- My parents made sure I got a good check up just before we left home and that I would have everything we needed until we return home.  This year I get to take my heart worm protection all winter because it will be warm year round.  They also filled any common prescriptions I might need.  Mom made copies of all my important immunizations and saved them in a “gizmo” file on drop box.  My vet has an electronic medical record and mom can access this if needed.  This came in handy when we made that emergency vet visit.
  5. Not all national parks are as dog friendly as Acadia National Park so this has been a bit of a challenge when they want to take me for a hike.  We have found that most of the national forests and national monuments have been more dog friendly.  The following are some of the best:  Petrified Forest National Park, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Ancient Bristlecone Pine National Monument and Cuyahoga National Park.  The Grand Canyon and Yosemite do not allow dogs on the “trails” but they do allow them on paved paths.  The paved path along the south rim of the Grand Canyon is a great place to walk with your dog.  The bike trails in Yosemite are excellent as well.  We found out later in the trip that dirt roads in Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks are a great place to take dogs along for a walk.  One of my favorite new things was hiking in slot canyons.  It was like hiking in beach sand and it was cool from the shade created by the canyon walls.
  6. The desert can be a tough place for a dog.  There is very little shade, it can get very hot and there are a lot of prickly things that can get stuck in your paws. I really missed thick green grass.  When I saw my first patch of really thick green grass on the ride home I got super excited.  I ran through it, rolled in it and kicked it with my hind paws.  It was so nice to have soft green grass beneath my feet with nothing prickly in it.
  7. Mom and dad didn’t take me along when they went running in the 5k races.  Mom said I would slow her down.  Palm Springs has some great 5K races and almost all of them are dog friendly, in fact a lot of them are to help support animal causes.  Mom finally gave in and brought me to my first race, “running from the law for a great cause”.  I think I impressed a lot of people.  I know I impressed mom and dad who had no idea I could do a 13 minute mile.  That’s quite a feat if you think about my leg length and the fact that I’m almost 10 years old.  I was impressed because I passed many big dogs that were half my age.  I got to run in the Superheroes 5K and they even announced my name as I crossed the finish line.  If you go to Palm Springs in the winter I highly recommend convincing your humans to go in a 5K race with you.  The races are great for runners and walkers and the themes are really fun.  I really wish they had let me attend the “Santa Paws” 5K, everyone who participates in this race gets a santa suit.  Dogs get special themed bandanas in most of the races.
  8. Dog Parks- I’m not a huge fan but I saw many other dogs who absolutely loved these places.  Their humans had to drag them out of the parks, once they caught them.  Mom and dad had to “drag” me in.  Mom said it was good for me because I needed “doggy socialization”.  I don’t know why she thinks that is so important, I am perfectly content to spend my time around people.  There are some really nice dog parks and I do have to admit that it was fun to get rid of the leash for a while and have the chance to run.  Mom and dad even brought along my frisbee and small ball so I could play fetch. I hate to admit it, but mom might have been right about the socialization.  I have learned to “tolerate” other dogs and have found I even like a few.
  9. Take in all the local events you can.  Convince your humans to take you along if they are dog friendly.  I got to go to several of these events.  When I went to “strut your mutt” a local Palm Springs magazine saw me and invited me to be their “cover dog” for the latest issue of their magazine.  That’s right, I’m the “cover boy” for the spring 2016 edition of Desert Pet Companion.  Local events are a great place to take in the local culture and make you feel at home in your new environment
  10. Good etiquette.  Mom and dad try to make sure we have good manners wherever we go.  We want to make sure all the dog friendly places remain that way.  Mom makes sure we always do the following:  pick up after me, keep me on a leash and make me act like a gentleman (no barking, jumping).
  11. Home alone.  There are times when mom and dad can’t take me along.  They want to make sure I don’t bother “neighbors” because no one wants to listen to a barking dog.  The first thing is to make sure I’m well exercised and tired.  Mom says “a tired dog is a good dog”.  They make sure the air conditioner or fan is set so I don’t overheat and they pull the shades and turn on the TV.  The sound from the fan and TV helps drown out any noises from outside that might bother me.  I’m very thankful that I’m not left home alone often as I really like going on adventures with my humans
  12. Walks- Dogs love to walk with their humans and it is a great way to explore your new environment together.  Walks get us tired, keep us in shape and help stimulate our minds. Campgrounds are a great place to walk and a great opportunity for us to socialize with others.
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About gizmogoeswest

I just "pre-tired" from my job of over 30 years as a nurse. John, my husband and Gizmo and Sierra our Shih Tzus are embarking on our 3rd cross country RV adventure. We are searching for awesome dog friendly hikes and adventures
This entry was posted in Dog Friendly, Lessons Learned the Hard Way, The journey west. Bookmark the permalink.

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