Saturday, August 14, 2010

On The Road With Mutley Crew, report 1

One of the reasons we got the Winnebago was so that we could travel with our three dogs. We discovered on our very first week end trip to the beach that three dogs in the 24.6 foot View was not going to work since one of the pooches turned out to be territorial and food aggressive in the confines of what is basically a one room kitchen/bedroom/pantry situation. Constant crating for Chili, the bossy blue heeler, was not an attractive option so we found a boarding kennel for her that she really enjoys.

Ah, Happy Paws. With a bone shaped salt water pool, outside play groups all day, private ball and pool time, indoor glass-doored spacious air conditioned and heated individual sleeping areas at bedtime with piped in soothing music what's not to like? And don't forget the grooming. This facility is located in East Orlando, near the University of Central Florida.

Our other two dogs, Abby and Ginny, got along perfectly on the RV and showed no signs of road stress so it seemed logical to board the third when we travel.

I'd done very little traveling fro a dozen or more years prior to purchase of the RV, partially because of my reluctance to be parted from my canine family, so I have little advice regarding hotels and car trips with dogs. The few occasions I experienced were pretty smooth: we stayed at dog friendly hotels in the La Quinta chain and stopped at highway rest stations for potty breaks when necessary. La Quintas (at least the ones we tried) welcome big and little dogs equally.

Once we began to take trips in the Winnebago we checked the books that list the campgrounds and noted that many listed in the Good Sam's Campgrounds guide book state that pet restrictions exist in many private and state campgrounds. We have not (as yet anyway) experienced this personally in our rambles through Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Virtually no one asked when making a reservation what sort of pets we have or how many or what breeds they are. The only 'restrictions' listed on the campground brochures are regarding excessive barking, leash use and poop bags. All very reasonable. In fact, many of the campgrounds we visited have fenced in dog play areas, dog walk areas, and one in SC even converted a putt putt course to a dog agility course!

The KOA and JellyStone parks are very pet friendly and provide multiple amenities for dogs and their humans. We also noted that a majority of campers we encountered travel with multiple dogs of various sizes and some take their cats along. I've even seen a parrot or two.

Since our RV is small, we do not tow a car for sightseeing but use the RV as our main vehicle as well as hotel. We have had some minor parking issues here and there but not often and always have to be thinking of the dogs safety when we are sightseeing, but the upside of this is that they are always nearby to check on, not left behind in the campground all day.

We had a hard time street side parking in Savannah but found that if we parked in the train station lot we could walk to the main attractions in less than ten minutes. And since Savannah is very dog friendly the pooches could go with us. Ditto parking issues in Pittsburgh where there were only three campgrounds well outside the city proper as far as we could find. St Augustine was a hassle as well. But then, it would be a hassle for cars of any type to find street parking there. There is always a solution, sometimes you have to look for it awhile.

I highly recommend the collapsible food bowls available through Camping World stores which work splendidly for travel in RVs or cars and there is a plastic no spill water bowl that gets thumbs up from me. We have a sign on the window informing folks of pets inside, extra vents and fans installed for their comfort and they always travel in harnesses and tags and have been microchipped. From experience, I also recommend bringing extra leashes, having a wet/dry vac on board, and extra towels. Don't forget a dog first aid kit, medications, and vet shot record.

All for now. Happy tails.

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