Tag Archive: Traveling with Dogs


Mason In Olympia, washington

Mason In Olympia, Washington

I really enjoy having an RV that is under 20′. It enables me to go almost anywhere and stay anywhere. Some roads and campgrounds have a 21′ max length, that’s never an issue for the LT.  The only limitation is in handling and roughness of the ride. The handling did seem to improve over time, towards the end of my trip the LT was powering ahead without much trouble in strong gusty winds. I was actually surprised just how strong the winds were when I parked and opened the door to discover walking was a challenge and took extra muscle power; we didn’t go far. I’d say there seems to some truth in what I was told that the new steering gearbox, tires, shocks, steering gearbox stabilizer and steering damper needed time to break in. When 3,000 miles have accrued, then I will know for sure.

The LT is capable of fairly robust speeds but I generally see little merit in traveling much faster than 55 or 60 mpg unless the roadway is particularly boring. I use the cruise control a lot. I know my mother hates cruise control, but I love it.  It keeps a nice steady speed and enables me to focus on being peaceful, relaxed and aware as I drive. Particularly when having handling troubles it’s something I will always use. My feeling is that those motorist speeding along can easily see another vehicle moving at a steady clip and plan their pass without pushing from behind.

My 1996 Class B Freedom Wide Leisure Travel can go anywhere.

My 1996 Class B Freedom Wide Leisure Travel can go anywhere.

The solarize curtain linings were great! A bit messy due to my lack of sewing skill but they not only kept the interior of my RV cooler they were a simple solution to creating darkness when parked under bright lights. My old system of mounting reflectix was awkward, the curtains with their linings were super easy. On the rear windows I could close just the linings or both the lining and the shade or just the shade.  Using the lining and the shade kept my dogs comfortable which was my goal.

Another perfect addition was the little auxiliary double fan which I mounted in the cubicle which used to hold the old TV in the upper front center of the rig. I really loved it as it meant I did not to run the generator while driving to keep the house air conditioner running. The fan pushed the cold air from the regular air conditioner back to the rear. It stayed nice and cool inside. I was really happy. When I stopped I’d open the wing windows and also turn on and open the upper Fantastic vent. I wish the old-fashioned wing windows were still utilized. You can’t put your hand in there and unlock the door and if you should need to turn off the air conditioner while driving such as climbing a steep hill in 100 deg heat you can open those windows and get a good blast of air, of course it’s hot air but still a lot better than opening the regular window.

AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan

12V AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan, $35.00 from Amazon. These look big in the picture but they are actually small, I recommend them! The two fans swivel and turn.

Not so great was the latex bed topper. When my GERD was especially bad I found I could prop  my bed/couch part way up and sleep halfway sitting, actually kinda curled on my side with my torso lifted up.  It’s a bit hard to describe . . .  was comfortable and it worked. I still had room to lay flat if I wanted and the dogs had room to curl up on the bed in the morning . . they like to do that when they get the signal I’m awake. Dogs are amazing at knowing that instant when a person wakes, even if don’t move or make a sound, they know. The latex proved to be too bulky and too hot and just not comfortable. My wool bedtopper was all I needed. I wound up cutting the latex pad into pieces to use for dog beds.

Sand in the bed. This was an issue since we frequently went to the beach.  Mason hair does not hold sand, or dirt; Lagotti hair on the other hand marries dirt and sand and keeps it wrapped tight letting little bits fall out over a very long time (it does not come out with rinsing or light washing but eventually it all falls out in places you don’t want it.)  The best but most time-consuming solution was to shake everything out before I went to sleep each night and I finally resorted to this solution. I tried sealing off the bed with covers, blankets, towels, dog beds; sand still got through somehow making me like the Princess and the Pea, thrashing around sand irritated. Nothing like sand rubbing on your skin. I move around a lot when I sleep by learned habit. This helps me not wake with dead spots, painful cramping, headaches, or limbs completely asleep . . . most of you likely don’t have this trouble; it’s part of whatever’s amiss with my body. Moving from side to side during the night generally takes care of it.

Sand on the floor. This was the same solution. I have the rugs overlapping in short segments so it was super easy to lift them out and shake, shake, shake, did this every morning before leaving camp.  To remove dog hair I use a plastic hair removal brush or if nothing else one of the dog’s brushes works.

This trip I never used the exercise pens or crates for the dogs. Mason never goes anywhere, so I attach a light thin leash to his collar and that’s it. I know it’s cheating as the leash is not attached to anything.  He likes to be outside if it’s sunny, otherwise his favorite place is on the rear bed or one of the captains chairs. I tethered Jackson with a long line clipped to the side door. At first I was tethering Jeana as well, but she was like Mason, she didn’t go anywhere so I used the same system as Mason. If there were distractions I’d clip all the leashes to the RV or occasionally to the picnic table. My dogs don’t like to roam. They love to be with me. If I’m leaving them for some reason at the campground, like taking a shower or something, I’ll put them inside the RV.

Camped at the Rogue River: Leashes on but not attached to anything!

Camped at the Rogue River: Leashes on but not attached to anything!

If you travel with dogs the number one thing you should teach your pets is RECALL. A perfect recall is so important. Your dogs should be so happy to come when you call, whistle, raise your arm in the air (my silent recall signal)  that they just don’t think about it. 100% recall is not difficult. That means a recall when they see a deer, a squirrel, another dog, whatever it is they should be more interested in returning to you. I know it sounds impossible but it’s not. I make allowances for squirrels but only in how long it takes for the recall, the recall still happens. If you want to know how it’s done message me.

There are tons of things for second place, here are some of them. No bark, stay here, wait, let’s go potty, don’t do that, stay on the trail, ignore those other dogs, do you really have to go out now? Not your ordinary commands like sit and heel, but things that are useful for traveling. I talk to my dogs the same as I’d talk to a person that needed my care. I read a lot of studies about what scientist believe about the intelligence and communication skills of canines. I take all that with a grain of salt, no, something bigger than a grain of salt. Dogs are not as intelligent as a 3-year-old or only capable of understanding 100 to 300 words or any of that. They are not human, An adult dog is extremely capable and intelligent. Some dogs are certainly smarter and more aware than others. It’s people who make dogs dumb and sometimes helpless. A dog cannot be compared to a human. How many dogs would compare their human to another dog? Wow, is my human dumb, I’ve been telling her for 10 years that I need …  fill in the blank here….  and she still doesn’t get it. A dog is another species. They are 100% (wow I get to use 100% again) intelligent. In my opinion dogs are brilliant.  Not many other species can understand humans let alone work successfully with us in hundreds of skills and tasks. That said, try respecting your dog. No kidding, they know what they’re doing, their motivations and purposes are not the same as ours. Every dog is a bit different from any other dog. There are genetic breed characteristic and drives, inherited, learned and environmental variances and disturbances. Dogs are emotional creatures, they dream, they play, they thrive on approval and happiness. they base their actions on being dogs and doing what is normal to them. Most dogs are responsive to rewards and excellent communicators. Why else would people love dogs so much? They even emulate us. And don’t think for a moment that they don’t train us, for some people more than they train the dog.

All 3 Lagotti. Waiting until I'm ready to go. This is what they usually do when off leash and I'm not moving.

All 3 Lagotti. Waiting until I’m ready to go. This is what they usually do when off leash and I’m not moving.

Teenage dogs are a challenge but that’s normal for many creatures. It’s a time of self-discovery and development of adult personality and skills.  As dog trainers say, it may seem your adolescent dog has forgotten everything you ever taught it and will not learn; it is not true, so preserver and maintain your lesson plan. I don’t tolerate nonsense from my dogs but I allow them to be fully dogs. They bark, they run, they jump, they get dirty, they get excited. I only ask them to adopt a skill set so that we can be together and become a team. They don’t have to do it (it being what I want them to do) all the time or in all situations (except a recall.)  Mostly their job is to be a dog and mine to be a human. We get along much better that way and when I need them to do something they do it. I make it a priority to understand their language. Dogs will tell you everything. They love to communicate, they do it with each other all the time and they do it with us all the time too.

We ask a lot of them, to go against their nature to do what we want. Please don’t yell at your dog unless it’s an emergency and be patient with them. If you live with a dog teach your dog how to get along with others and what behaviors are needed in what situations. Don’t teach your dog to be a troublemaker and then throw up your hands as if You had nothing to do with it.

Leash is on.

Leash is on.

 

 

What Happened to Gig Harbor?

Here’s another look at Port Ludlow: Boaters Guide – Port Ludlow Marina A little bigger RV and would settle here longer; visit lakes and beaches, eat in the restaurant, take a cruise, just a little more room I think but not too much. Do they have boat tours / rentals that allow dogs on board? 

Western Hemlock

Western Hemlock:  sorry photos aren’t better, wonderful trees in WA.

Big Leaf Maple

Big Leaf Maple

101 to Gig Harbor is about 2 1/5 hrs from Port Ludlow if you drive without stopping which I rarely do. I have to stop at little marinas and grassy parks just to see what’s there. Found a cutoff, Olympic National Park leading to Seal Rock Campground; a few spots were edged on the interior road so you’d be overlooking Dabob Bay, picnic bench and campfire tucked behind in the trees. These sites were for small RVs, under 21 feet. I saw larger rigs crammed in these spaces, couldn’t blame them it was so pretty!

Note…. Need to get Mason waterproof boots so he can do these rocky beaches with me and the Lagotti.
One can harvest oysters in season. The closest town  is Quilcene.

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Roadside stop

Am so happy to find the Pacific Northwest is stunning, you can’t go wrong esp when away from the crowds. 20 of the 40 largest continental rivers are here spread out from Northern California to Southern Alaska.  There are volcanoes:  Mount Shasta, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Rainier and Mount Garibaldi. Untold numbers of lakes, forests, rainforests, wildlife and did I mention the fruit and produce as well as the fish and seafood? It was cherry season along with fresh corn, apples, early peaches. The cherries were so good I found myself staring hard at them as if they were out of Snow White and were really poison apples, irresistible, red, red and white. Wow, this was how fruit tasted in my memories, rich, sweet, flavorful! The corn was amazing, really I had to keep looking at the food as I enjoyed it, I’ll never be used to tasteless (and expensive) produce where I live, pretty on the outside, empty inside; it’s been so long since I’d had these flavors I’d almost forgotten.

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The nearest RV campground to town center Gig Harbor was not particularly scenic but it was time for laundry and grocery shopping. I was again fortunate landing 1 of the 2 or 3 empty spots, it was the closest spot to the laundry which was good since I had a ton of it, with a large grassy area and away from any noise. You’d think laundry would not be confusing however it was very confusing. The machine kept indicating to add more quarters but if you do so, as I did, your clothes stay soaking wet at the end of the cycle and you have to start over. Something about an extra-large load staying wet unless it was actually extra-large, my load was extra-large with all the bedding and rugs. The time was whacked too, these machines had secrets, the regulars had to save me. Many of the campers were long-term, I heard the tales and woes of their lifestyles, how they arrived and how they’d be staying unless some future brought them a different fortune. One woman in particular said the only way she could leave was if she met a nice man with a truck; she’d divorced and her share was a beautiful 5th wheel and enough money to pay rent but no truck.He husband had been abusive, the kind that hit women. The laundry was expensive and took forever, it was done late and I wanted to get groceries before the natural food store closed. It was an odd store amazing produce and tons of unknown and decadent chocolate desserts, a small meat/fish counter and lots of beer, later I went to Safeway.  Late parking at the Downtown Harbor area was a breeze, everyone was leaving for the day,  so the dogs and I went for a long walk in the soft drizzle enjoying the scenic views.

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Gig Harbor Washington

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Gig Harbor. Clams and Oysters?

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Gig Harbor

I stayed in town a few days exploring the dog park and the beaches; traffic was intense. Read an article stating the numbers of vehicles had more than tripled the last decade. More residential areas, more shopping developments and a variant of roundabouts that were too small caused congestion everywhere.  I secretly ached to get in there and straighten out the transportation for this city. However I know how it goes, innovation in city planning is rarely appreciated in favor of the traditional. As an old boss of mine used to say when I suggested that if we had to put in parking meters (that really were not necessary) we at least put in a modern system allowing  payment by cell phone with a system that charged for time used with a variable fee depending on congestion and length of stay  (this not to punish parking but to increase turnover/availability as needed.) His response was a traditional plunk the quarter in the slot meter (and a quarter would buy 10 min or so) was the correct solution because that’s what had always been done, never mind that it wouldn’t work; those meters suffer constant tampering, breakdowns, collection problems, animosity and tend to waste valuable parking real estate…and so on… and who carries around rolls of quarters other than campers needing showers or laundry!

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Went for a nice walk across the street from the off leash dog park, very scenic, lots of dogs. Finding the off leash dog park was a nightmare even though it was nearby…  really really bad signage which I found to be the norm in pacific coastal Washington. Often streets which one is led to by direction or GPS are marked dead end, do not enter, turn into rough dirt and gravel and one has to guess, is that it??? Lots of times I gave up since it was not possible to safely park and check it out, didn’t want to risk needing a tow . 

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Things seen while walking the dogs.

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So many flowers, only captured a few.

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Sunrise Beach Park near Gig Harbor

Sunrise Beach Park on the Colvos Passage was a place I have to tell you about but not for the reason you might think. A bit of a rough road but no problem for my little LT.  My dogs had a blast, the pups running in the water and Mason sniffing trees. On the path up from the beach I let them run in the grassy field. That was the mistake!  How was I to know that hidden in the soft spongy green stuff was a light green, very sticky stinky poop and that their happy rolling around was not simple joy but a smashing of gunk into nice curly absorbent Lagotto hair!

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Having fun at the beach.

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My Good Boy Mason, running in the grass, he did not get full of icky poop.

There I was with my two forlorn Lagotti tied to a picnic bench with my bucket, water, wads of  paper towels and my Dawn Dish soap taking up a large amount of the parking area traipsing back and forth with supplies and dumping filthy wipes. All of us with a sour face. Mason was hiding under the RV watching, he was clean! It was super Yucky! No way would I allow Jeana and Jackson, esp Jeana in my rig like that. Eventually they were tolerable, that’s when I got stuck in the worst of the traffic as my GPS sent me searching for a pet store that was not there, then all the way to the other end of town for another store I could not find!!! Was about to give up when suddenly there was a big old PetCo not listed on Garmin or Cellphone. The clerk never heard of a product to spray on a dog to disinfect it, Nature’s Miracle makes it. Good grief, was Washington a separate island unto itself! When we returned to our campsite I sprayed them thoroughly with camp water, it was cold, to remove the Dawn dish soap and bam, Jeana’s tail went limp. I was real nice to her after that trying to cheer her up, her tail was very sore. Walked and walked to get them dry, then I left them to use the restroom; they spilled all their water on the carpets and went on a barking spree…. no, no no. I came out to yell at them and normally I don’t yell at them, I could hear them from afar. Jeana was on the dashboard having clawed away the front curtain, part of the dash cover and disconnected the electronics, she fit there easier than Jackson. Yep cleaned that up and installed the sunshield, then the curtains.

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Jeana after several washings with her tail all worn out downtown Gig Harbor. She looks clean doesn’t she!

I was not unhappy to leave Gig Harbor, heading out extra early on Sunday morning to Tacoma and the Museum of Glass.

 

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Leaving Gig Harbor very early morning. Lovely.

I wanted to make some changes to the last post and write more about indicators that can help you understand the body processes of your dog and help save a life. This information is found throughout the Internet and I hope the posters don’t mind that I recapped it here. Your dog or for that matter, a child, an elder, or any creature unable to help themselves needs your protection. We all hear about “accidents” but they don’t need to happen; and for those of you, like me that travel alone with pets should take the time to know what’s normal for you dog and to memorize indicators of a critical condition!

Normal body temperature for a pooch should be between 101.5 and 102.2.  For a very short time an increase to 107 – 8 deg. F. can be tolerated but not for long!  When hot, your dog pants.  A dog will pant for other reasons such as stress, excitement, fear, but when hot, a dog pants to regulate its temperature.  Panting creates an increase in saliva on that perky tongue, this moisture is utilized in the same way as a human’s sweat for cooling. If your dog has a short nose or a flat face, this mechanism is not so effective, likewise a double coated dog, such as a water dog or a northern type breed or mix will not handle heat as well as a southern type breed with a single coat.  Those thick fun to run your hands in, coats are meant to trap heat when swimming or in cold climates; however a point to know, is that if you shave your dog’s coat too close to the skin, especially if you’ve given your pal a bald cut he can not only sunburn but will lose his insulation. Your dog does not need a thick heavy coat in hot conditions but does need protection, just think if you shaved your head on a bight sunny day the top of your head would burn as well as your shoulders and maybe your back and so forth.   A dog’s coat not only keeps the cold away but also traps air to keep the heat away.

Going back to that tongue, watch it closely, note the shape and color, how far is it hanging? Get to know what is normal and you will discover a indicator of what’s going on inside. When staring to warm the tongue hangs gently, its shape will appear relaxed and soft; as the dog continues to heat the tongue extends and widens. The pinkish red color darkens to a deep bloody red when this happens it’s time to take a rest in the shade… say you’re playing a rousing came of  Tennis Ball…  Olympia’s favorite, and you see the tongue hanging way out and turning deep,  ‘ol team player still wants to chase, the edges of the tongue have now turned upwards, like a cup. . . your dog is hot and thirsty, remember a dog is built for action not introspection, it’s time for a break, time to get in the shade with something cool under the belly. Heat emergency happens quickly and is not dependent on how hot it is but rather the condition of your pet, age, the intensity of the activity, the humidity.  This is not the time to pack your dog in your RV and head off to get yourself a nice cool drink. Cool your dog slowly, watch that tongue and offer small amounts of water, spritz the coat and work some moisture in if you think its needed. Don’t offer food and do stop throwing that ball or Frisbee until  Fido shows signs of a more neutral temperature. When out traveling check for dehydration by checking your dogs gums …  if they are dry and tacky (pull back the lips and run your finger on them) your dog needs fluids, pinch the skin around the neck, it should snap back, if it kinda hangs your dog is dehydrated and you need to take action! If the tongue turns bright red or gray and pale you are in an emergency situation!

Here are some other ways dogs cool down:

  • The blood vessels in your dogs face and ears dilate when hot to draw the blood closer to the surface of the skin. . . you can help by applying cool water to ears and face.
  • Dogs sweat through their feet. Check the pads for redness, burning, cracking, to help cooling spritz water on those feet or get you dog in some nice lush moist grass. Always remove shoes when you’re back in your vehicle; you may be using them because the ground is too hot, so their pads can breathe.

Lean These Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

  • Rapid heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Petechiae (pinpoint, deep-red hemorrhages on gums/ skin)
  • Bright red mucous membranes on the gums and conjunctiva of the eyes
  • Hyperventilation (gasping for air)
  • Salivation early then dry gums as heat prostration sets in
  • Staring
  • Glassy eyes
  • Anxious expression
  • Refusal to obey commands
  • Warm, dry skin
  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

Cool your dog with cool water, not icy water and not ice!!!! Apply cool water to your dog’s belly, feet and the inside of its ears. Spray and drench your dog if you have enough water to do so but do so slowly depending on the amount of distress your dog is in.  Cooling too fast can do a lot of damage to your pet. Drench a towel and have your dog lay on it, get him/her under a hose, next to an air conditioner or a fan with a bowl of ice cubes set in front of it.  Offer plenty of water for drinking.

It’s always a good idea to take a Pet First Aid course.

It’s a good idea to measure the temperature inside your vehicle.  The ASPCA writes this: even on an 85-degree day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 102 degrees in ten minutes — and that is with the windows cracked. Do not be fooled by shade on a hot day. A car parked in the shade becomes a furnace due to the outside ambient temperature, plus the sun moves and a car once in the shade may soon be a car parked directly in the hot sun.

Interested in the science of why is so much hotter inside a vehicle than outside? Radiant energy, visible and infrared light, heats the exterior of your car and passes in from the windows but like a greenhouse, that heat cannot escape due to the materials from which your car is made but becomes trapped, the energy is absorbed and intensified as the interior of your vehicle radiates some of this energy back into the air.

If you travel with your dog  and you are alone, you will have times when your dog must stay in the vehicle; know what you’re doing!!!  If it’s risky just don’t do it. Sometimes you can stake you dog outside in the shade with a water bowl; in some places such as out in the desert in the summer restaurants and stores will graciously allow you to bring your  pet inside but watch that their feet don’t get burned and be sure to teach your dog to be calm and clean so others will be  equally welcome..

Use good planing when you’re on your own!  if you need to get groceries do so early in the morning or later in the day when it’s not too hot, provide ventilation with window fans, lots of water, ice packs, park in the shade, wet your dog down and provide a  wet surface like a thick wet towel if you need to leave your pet alone. I like to run the air conditioner on max before I park as it will stay cool for awhile and may give me enough time to complete my task before it’s gets hot. Run your generator for the air conditioner but flip on the vent and a fan as well (what if your generator should fail?  Have a back-up plan!)

Park facing into the sun!

Here’s quick list of some handy supplies:

Non-spill dog bowl for water
Solar Shields
Reflectix
12 Volt Fan
Cool caps
Easy Up
Cool mat or ice mat
Kool collar
Cool and frozen treats
Doogles (yes, sunglasses are available for your dog.)

Okay, that’s it for now.  Use this as a starter, much more to know. Ask questions if you want and I will try to answer them for you.