Written by: Jeremy
I mentioned in a previous blog that we have talked about living in a travel trailer or, full-timing, for as long as we can remember. As a family, that has two big dogs and two cats, including three seniors, the idea of full-timing with pets was almost always at the top of the list of excuses for why we could not do it. We are just not the type of people that would make other arrangements for any of them based on life plans that may have changed since we said “I do” to these strange creatures how ever many years ago. In fact, we had all but decided that we would at least wait until we had a couple fewer cats and maybe one less dog before we entertained any type of full time expedition.
After we bought the travel trailer, we soon found that our thirteen year old cats Helen and Omar love the trailer. After living in it for a few months while we were in between houses, we knew for sure that this plan could work. If not “for sure”, we knew we were willing to give it a try. After we moved from the RV into our mountain cabin this summer we found that Omar wanted nothing to do with the musty old cabin and he mostly preferred to stay in the adjacent and newer RV. Given our future plans, we let him stay there most of the time this summer as the rest of us prepared to join him in the Fall.
The cats have lots of large windows to look out and the same comfy queen sized bed that they basically live on in our normal house is still always there; including when we are driving. Sure navigating through the dog gauntlet can be a challenge for them, but overall, I think they like the feeling they get when they have to swat and dominate the big dogs every now and then.
We even have little cat leashes and a cat play pen so that they can all get some fresh air! You should see some of the looks we get when people stroll by our camping spots and see Omar sunning himself on the picnic table.
Yes, it can be tight quarters, and finding a good spot for the litter box and other issues had to be dealt with. With senior cats, we decided to make prescription medication and food arrangements up front and all of our vet records are on board and digitally available. Our pets are also registered in the Banfield nationwide veterinary network so if we need routine care we don’t have to go through the whole process of transferring records to a new vet. So far, the cats have done well and they seem happy; or at least as happy as 13 year old indoor cats that live in an RV with big dogs get.
As for the 160 lbs of mutt we are taking with us – what can I say, dogs are dogs and we love them but they are not necessarily easy or cheap. Our older lab mix Hank’s is still pretty spry but most of his over-active collie puppy years are well behind him. Even though he doesn’t really know it, he has been looking forward to dipping his feet in the ocean for the first time for over ten years now. We can feel his excitement and anticipation growing as our excitement and anticipation grows for him.
Although our younger, big-boy, Rufus, can be a handful, the question, “you want to go for a ride?!” is, without a doubt, the most thrilling sentence he has ever heard a human-being utter. He has no idea where we are going or why and yet he has been up for this journey with us since the moment we met him down at the shelter.
Like his older brother, he does not spend one moment of his life focusing on the “what if?” obstacles and fears associated with travel and he certainly does not perseverate on his past. Staying one hundred percent focused on the potential opportunity ahead is not a problem for either one of our dogs. In accordance with our similar philosophy in life, why should we not be primarily the same?
I can see why dogs were good companions for the early pioneers. Surrounding yourself with energy forms that only look forward and never back can be a very good thing when living on the move.
We have a nice set up for them in the back of the crew crab and with quite a few miles under our belt already, they have been fantastic truck riders and travel companions. The cat crates double as a level platform support area for the dogs and this also provides another options for the cats if they aren’t traveling in their preferred position in the trailer bedroom. A dog ramp helps Hank get into the truck and it also provides a nice agility obstacle for Rufus to bound over when he enters the truck using his preferred full-speed, airborne launch method.
Yes, I am sure a couple of lap dogs like the ones we see everywhere we go, would probably have made better full-timing companions, but then again, probably not for us.
RV Lesson # 4: We are who we are and we can make this trip what we want. We can and will live, breathe, and move with our family instead of with excuses or regret.
Besides, indoor space and a fresh, clean smelling house are way over-rated when you have an entire continent to explore. All you need is a comfy place to lay your head at the end of the night. Hank and Rufus agree!