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RVing with Your Pet
By Julee Meltzer
Sometimes the best information in life comes from watching our pets. Here are a few observations of my own:
Most dogs seem to believe that they are the rightful owners of the campground they are staying at. Even if they are only staying one night, they still have all the full rights and privileges of ownership. That's why they bark and growl whenever you drive by their RV. If you don't believe this, ask them.
As I've reported in the past, RV dogs continue to shrink. The RVers in the next site have a three pound Chihuahua. Across the road, there's a couple from California who travel with a dog that is smaller than our cat. Maybe it's some environmental factor or the economy but for some reason — RV dogs are getting smaller every year. Regardless of their diminutive stature, these dogs also appear to own the entire campground.
RV manufacturers are finally starting to acknowledge that some RVers have children. As a result, newer RVs frequently come with bunk beds and wall-mounted DVD players. Someday, they might even acknowledge that RVers have pets. Until then, I'll dream about the perfect RV with a built-in cat box and a pet door.
Last week, on a really hot day, there was a three-hour power outage at our campground. We know that many folks routinely keep their dogs in their air-conditioned RV while they're away. However, if the power ever goes out (or the AC stops working), these same RVs quickly turn into ovens. In this case — we didn't have any way to know if there were any dogs inside. Therefore, if you leave your dog alone in an air-conditioned RV, put a note on the door or leave a key at the desk. Then, if the power goes out, someone can make sure that your pets are okay. Alternatively, there are an increasing number of technology-driven products that can notify you (via a cell phone) if the temperature in your RV exceeds a certain level.
If you must leave your pets alone in your RV, leave the TV or radio on. It'll help them to pass the time. A few years ago, one of our dogs was watching a documentary on wolves. When they showed a pack of wolves howling at the moon — our male dog raised its nose to the sky and began to howl. If they aren't into documentaries, try Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Speaking of pets, it turns out that the usual remedies for controlling fleas on dogs don't work anymore. We battled fleas for two years until we finally switched to a new product. The instructions indicate that the (edible) product starts to kill fleas within ten minutes. Now that's frightening.
If you want to keep insects out of your RV, don't use commercial pesticides or household solutions (like moth balls). Every year, numerous pets and children are poisoned when they inadvertently ingest these toxic chemicals. Instead, get a cat. Even when we spent eighteen months in the Arizonan desert, we never saw a single living creature in our motorhome. As it turned out, the cats dispensed of everything from spiders and flies to mice and tarantulas. Good kitty.
On that note, we believe that the safest place for a cat is indoors. However, even though we've tried everything, we can't find a way to keep our two cats inside the RV. As strays, they grew up in the outdoors and thus resent being "trapped" inside our motorhome. To date, they've figured out how to open screen doors, slide open window screens, and navigate secret passage-ways to the outside world. Last week, we decided to socialize at the community room at the RV park we were staying at. When we opened the door and walked into the room, we saw one of our cats sound asleep on the sofa.
On that same note; when we arrived at our present campground earlier this spring, we were the only ones there. As a result, we were able to let our dog run free for nearly three weeks. If you want to see your dog at its best — find some place where you can safely let them run off-leash. It's an unforgettable sight.
If you want to keep your RV cats REALLY happy on those long trips, get a catnip plant. You can hang it in your shower (if you have a skylight) or place it on a picnic table at each campground. Our cats get so rowdy on catnip, we have to pick the time when it's okay to break out the weed.
A few years ago, we were hosts at a large campground. As a result, we were given a golf cart to get around. Within a week, our two dogs would climb into the cart and wait for us to take them for a ride. Eventually, we stopped using the cart because we knew that it would only be a matter of time before they wanted to go out for a beer.