I received an e-mail from a lady suggesting that I write a story about the problems dog owners encounter with RV parks that will not allow animals of certain breeds or over a certain weight.
She said that she and her husband had been asked to leave three different RV parks because they have a 70-pound mixed-breed dog that she describes as “hyper, but very lovable once you get to know him.” She wrote that in the latest case, the dog ran out of their site and into the one next door when a neighbor stepped outside of his RV. The man didn’t know the dog was “all bluff and only wanted to play” and ran back inside his rig.
Soon afterward, the RV park’s owners came by and ordered them to leave immediately, even though they had reserved their site for a month. Her letter ended with “Nick, I know that you have written about being a dog lover and about the “loaner” dogs you play with across the country, so surely you know that an animal that can seem aggressive to someone who does not know it can actually be a big, lovable baby.”
I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m afraid we’re going to part company on this issue.
Yes, I do love dogs, and I never pass up the opportunity to play with a friendly mutt when I encounter one in our travels. But if a large, seemingly aggressive dog comes running into my RV site and I have to retreat inside, I’ll probably be reaching for something to protect myself. Just because someone considers their dog harmless does not mean it’s true, and I certainly do not know that! He may indeed be “all bluff,” but I’m not going to take the risk of getting mauled to find that out.
I think if these folks have been asked to leave three different RV parks because of their dog, they have a problem animal. I also think that they are a big part of the problem. Why was this dog, whose actions have caused them to be evicted from RV parks before, outside unrestrained? Even if the owners were outside with him, he should have been on a leash. There is no excuse for that animal entering a neighbor’s space.
German shepherds are my favorite breed of dogs, and I have had several over the years, some of whom were protection trained. I never allowed my dogs to be outside a fenced yard on the loose. To do so would be just as irresponsible as it would be to leave a loaded handgun out when my grandchildren, or anybody else, was around. Not because the dogs were aggressive. They were not. But when you choose to drive an automobile or RV, or to own a firearm or an animal, you take on a responsibility to society.
Anyone who allows their 70 pound “all bluff” problem animal outside of their home, off of a leash, be it a home on wheels or a sticks and bricks house, is an irresponsible pet owner, and I don’t want you for a neighbor.
Two recent threads on an internet group concern the dangers pets face in an RV. One ended happily, the other tragically. Both demonstrate just how important it is for RVers to secure their animals when traveling.
In the first case, someone wrote because their cat had disappeared inside of their new diesel pusher motorhome and they were frantically searching for her. They feared that she had managed to escape in some way. I told them cats have an amazing ability to hide in the smallest nook and cranny and suggested that they check on the top of their slideouts, as it was one of many places Terry’s cat managed to hide. Sure enough, the cat was right where I suggested.
In the second posting, someone reported that their cat had become frightened and disappeared on its first trip in their RV, when they ran the living room slide in. When they started to bring in the bedroom slide, they heard a horrific noise and discovered that the cat had hidden under the bed. They rushed the poor animal to the nearest vet but it was too late and they lost their beloved pet.
While some animals take to traveling like a duck to water, RVs are terrifying things to many pets, especially on their first exposure. Put yourself in your pet’s position. It is plucked away from its home and familiar surroundings, put down in a new location, and before it can get comfortable, the darned thing roars to life and starts moving! If you put me in that situation, I’d be running for cover too!
Many RVing pet owners put their cats in their cages whenever they go out for a few hours. Inside it is safe, it’s not getting into trouble inside the RV, and it has its food, water, potty box, and bed in it. If a fireman needed to rescue the animal, they would find it easily right in the living room and not have to fight or struggle getting it out, or look for it hiding somewhere in the RV.
Some people will object that cats and dogs don’t like being in a cage and will howl in complaint at being confined. Nonsense! When my kids were little, sometimes they threw a fit when I buckled them into their car seats. They still got buckled in. It’s the same with animals. Somebody has to be in charge, and I don’t relegate that duty to a child or an animal.
If you make your pet’s cage a comfortable refuge, it will be quite content to ride there when you travel or when you are setting up your RV in a new campsite or preparing to leave a campground. Yes, the animal might complain at first, until it gets used to its new quarters. But I’d rather put up with that learning curve than to lose a pet I loved.
Congratulations Janna Detweiler, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. We had 72 entries this time round. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.
Thought For The Day – We live in the era of smartphones and stupid people.