By Liz Morrison.
Reprinted with permission of Fido Friendly magazine.
Has your dog started to collect Willie Nelson albums? If so, he may be itching to get on the road again – but not just in any old set of wheels. Your dog wants to see the USA and Canada in the lap of luxury, sprawled out rock star style on a plush doggy bed in a totally tricked-out recreational vehicle (RV). In fact, if Fido could talk, he would probably tell you that RV travel is the only way to go for the sophisticated canine.
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), there are approximately 35 million RV enthusiasts in the United States. Traveling by RV has become very popular in recent years due to several factors. Air travel, although often the quickest and most efficient way to get somewhere, has become more of a hassle since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And putting Fido on a plane can be traumatic as well as expensive. Car travel can be cramped and uncomfortable for long distances, and once you get to your destination, the only accommodations may be unfit for man, woman or beast.
RVs have become literal homes on wheels, especially the newer luxury models. If you have to be away from home, why not travel with your own comfortable bed, a full-sized kitchen stocked with your favorite foods and a 42-inch plasma TV with access to the Animal Planet? Fido agrees: luxury motor coaches are a great way to travel long distances. He has got all the comforts of home, he is safe if you have to leave him alone for brief periods, and best of all, traveling is a relaxing and fun experience for the entire family.
Kathy and Mike Moats have been traveling with their two Dobermans by luxury motor coach for a little more than a year. Their dogs, Casahry’s Jak of Hearts (Jak) and Terrylane’s Red Hot and Black (Ella), are champion show dogs and they travel all over the country to compete. The Moats have chosen the Diplomat, a top-of-the-line luxury motor coach made by Monaco Coach Corporation. They find that traveling by motor home is far more comfortable and relaxing than trying to find a pet friendly hotel in every show location, especially with two large dogs.
“It’s a lot more convenient for the dogs to have a motor home. It’s just absolutely their home. I think they are much happier and more content in the RV than in a motel,” Kathy explained.
She went on to say that, although she can take her two dogs to any hotel, there are not too many of those just off the highway. Kathy and Mike feel as if they are almost taking their own home on the road with them by traveling in the Diplomat. With a 40-foot rig, three slides (areas that slide out to add more room) and a whole slew of luxury amenities, who wouldn’t be happy? Some of the Diplomat’s options include top-of-theline appliances, a home theater system, a large bathroom and shower, attractive furnishings and a big, comfortable bedroom. Plus, there is plenty of space for Ella and Jak to spread out and admire their trophies.
One of the other draws of RVing is the camaraderie. The Moats tend to see the same people on the show circuit and have developed friendships with other dog owners who travel by RV. While on the road, they enjoy getting together with friends for parties or barbeques. The RV lifestyle is very relaxing. And they do not miss hunting for a suitable hotel after a long day of driving.
“Now (with the RV) I have beautiful furniture and beautiful appliances. I have everything I want. My dogs are comfortable and I don’t have to worry about anything. It makes (traveling) so much easier,” Kathy said.
Liane and Don Holder are “fulltimers,” meaning they live full-time in their RV, traveling and discovering new places 365 days a year. They are part of the Escapees, a full-timers group, and they love the vagabond life in their spacious, 35-foot Itasca Sunflyer with double slides. Joining them on their adventures are their 14-year-old son, Tom, and their six-year-old Pug, Peanut.
Tom, a BMX (off road bike racing) enthusiast, is home schooled, so while he gets an academic education, he also learns about all the interesting places he visits, including Alaska. And Peanut is having the time of his life sniffing new scents, meeting new canine friends and literally living in the lap of luxury.
“Pugs are excellent traveling dogs. They’re friendly and sturdy and they don’t bark much. Peanut likes (sitting on) the dashboard quite a bit, but then he likes Don’s lap when he’s in the passenger seat the rest of the time,” Liane said.
Peanut also has good communication skills. When he needs to make a rest stop, he will hop up on the dashboard, stare Liane in the eye while driving and begin to make a sound that resembles a yodel. As soon as they can, they will pull the rig over and let Peanut out to go about his business. Clearly, we know who is in charge here. Hanna, an Australia shepherd, loves living the full-timers’ life with her Hanna, an Australia shepherd, loves living the full-timers life with her humans, Nyles and Carol Nielson. The Nielson’s home on the road is a 33-foot Cardinal 33TS with two slides that is towed behind a Ford F350 CrewCab long bed pickup. They chose this particular RV setup because it affords them lots of living space without being too large for most RV parks.
“We chose this lifestyle for our retirement years to allow us the opportunity to travel around and visit our seven children and 13 grandchildren. We belong to Thousand Trails and Western Horizons that allows us access to RV resorts around the country, ” Nyles explained. Hanna, who has a very personable disposition, is especially popular with kids. At one of the parks the Nielsons frequently visit, she has won the hearts of a group of teenagers who refer to Carol and Nyles as “Hanna’s parents.” Full-timing allows them the opportunity to visit some of this country’s most beautiful parks and they particularly enjoy getting their exercise by walking Hanna and enjoying the wildlife. And Hanna loves traveling with Carol and Nyles.
“When we get ready to move, Hanna is anxious to climb in the truck. In fact, she understands the word truck and heads for the vehicle when she hears it,” Nyles added.
Once she is strapped into the back seat of the truck, securely buckled in her seatbelt harness, Hanna takes to the road like a seasoned trucker just happy to be spending quality time with her family. And the Nielsons enjoy having a loving canine companion on their travels who doubles as a security system.
John and Ann Kuohn travel the country in their 36-foot Monaco Beaver with their miniature Pinscher, Buckeye. John likes the convenience of having an RV and finds it a more practical way to travel than staying in hotels. Buckeye likes to sit up on the dashboard and keep watch, but occasionally, she will get into a little mischief just to keep the Kuohns on their toes.
“Buckeye is litter box trained so, if we have to, we can leave her for the whole day. One time we flew up to Barrow, Alaska and left Buckeye in the RV. She got into a box of Kleenex, and when we got home, it looked like it had snowed in our motor home. She sure can be a little pistol at times,” John recalled.