Feb 032020

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.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Responsible Pet Ownership”

  1. How true. We never wanted a dog when we were fulltimers. We never wanted a dog in the house, the truck, etc. All that changed when a beagle showed up on our porch last April. We’ve taken two trips since he became part of the family. He loves traveling and took well to a leash. When not on a leash, he is inside with us.

    A funny story. We were in a campfround near Cape May, NJ last summer. I was walking Biscuit. A woman and two young boys (who looked to be about 4 and 7) were walking toward me. The boys asked if they could pet the dog. (Every child should be taught to ask first). I said sure, Biscuit loves to be petted. The younger child asked if he was a pit bull. I told him, no he’s a beagle. The boy said…. Oh, I eat beagles and cheese for breakfast.

  2. Couldn’t agree more! Our dog was big and friendly but strangers would only see this big black animal with lots of teeth. Our cat ALSO managed to hide in part of the slideout but we weren’t dumb enough to close it without finding the stupid cat. It’s the people who are supposed to be in charge and if they aren’t then dumb things are going to happen. Pit Bulls are lovely dogs but stupid owners and people who train the dogs to be aggressive are ruining the breed.

    Love reading your blog, keep up the good work!

  3. How true. We never wanted a dog when we were fulltiming. And when we settled in Alabama we said no dog in the house, or the truck or on furniture. All that changed when a beagle showed up on our porch last April. It took a few tries but he is fine on a leash. As we live out a bit and no real close neighbors we has the run of the property. Never goes far.

    We have taken him on some trips in the RV. He’s either inside with us or walking while leashed. A funny story. We were in a campground near Cape May NJ last summer. I was walking Biscuit. A woman with two young boys approached us. The boys looked to be about 4 and 7. They asked if they could pet my dog. Every child should be taught to always ask. I told them sure, Biscuit loves to be petted. The younger boy asked if he was a pitbull. I said no, he’s a beagle. The boys reply…. OH, I eat beagles and cheese for breakfast. Hey, he could have said Biscuits and gravy.

  4. You nailed it Nick! I have two very small sweethearts who bark like they’re Rottweilers. They are never off leash outside our camper. Never! We leash them before opening the door. Recently, at an RV Rally, I witnessed an off leash rescue dog of a larger breed sniff then try to attack a Yorkie. The owner had her leashed Yorkie yanked up like a flying monkey so that the larger dog did not hurt him. I was shocked that the owner of the larger dog didn’t immediately do something but she sat in one place and said well she doesn’t usually do that. She would have gotten her azz thrown out if that had been my Yorkie! No excuses! Dogs have walnut-sized brains. Humans should take that into consideration!

  5. In my last life before retirement I was a UPS delivery driver. Each time I was bitten ( 3times in 8years before I went big truck driving)
    , the owner said” no problem come on out the dog won’t hurt you” … I was then bit or snapped at. The owners were all shocked! The love able puppy to you is a territorial animal and sees a threat. The last lawyer ( ups employee benefit I saw on a
    Will matter slid me his card and said if somebody’s dog bites me and breaks the skin again go to the hospital and then call him. I think he was helping my retirement plan ( and his own) also 😉
    I like you, love dogs , had several , but as full timers I won’t put a animal through that and we want to travel and see things , they are just to restraining and I won’t lock them up for hours I’m not motorhome nor will I stay home missing out. Maybe when we settle down again ..
    people lose their minds over their 4 legged kids .. I kinda get it , but really ? They are going to cost some ankle nippers family a bunch! I’ll bet there’s more guys just like that lawyer.

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