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Finding loving dog sitters while on an RV trip

| Updated Jul 30, 2014

The surveys show well over 75% of all RVrs travel with dogs. In fact, many  said because they want to take their pets with them is one of the major reasons they bought an RV in the first place.

Jennifer and I are the same. We enjoy the company of our Norwegian Elkhound, Tai, and bring him with us on most of our trips.

But there are times while we're on the road that Tai doesn't quite fit in.

Take the long trip west that we're now on.

Tai will be great for most of it. But the first part, a week in suburban Memphis where of right-year-old grandson was in a sports tournament, posed a major dilemma. We were staying with the rest of the team parents and grandparents in a hotel where dogs were not allowed. And the sports complex where the games were being played did not allow dogs in the grounds.

Added to that was the notorious Memphis heat. The temperatures were in the mid 90's each day, with heat indexes well over 100. So leaving him in our RV, even with the air conditioning running, just wasn't a good idea. If that AC should fail, the heat buildup inside the coach would would be potentially fatal.

We thought of leaving him 1,000 miles away, back in Michigan. But to take him on the trip west, which was to begin once the tournament ended, would have meant 1,000 miles back north, before we could start west.

I posted our dilemma on our Roadtreking Facebook Group. And among lots of suggestions we received, one turned out to be perfect.

A website called DogVacay, short for Dog Vacation, which lists thousands of trusted, licensed dog sitters who are willing to board pets in their own homes, just as if they were members of the family.

Tai was welcomed on the couch. That;'s Gordon and Sophia and two of their four dogs that made Tai feel like one of the pack

Just to see what it was like, I plugged in the suburban Memphis city where we would be spending most of our time watching the games. You can imagine my surprise when the DogVacay sitter we choose turned out to live directly across the street from the ballpark.

Sophia Townsend was her name and, with her husband, Gordon, she watched Tai all week. We even saw her walking Tai one afternoon and rushed over to say Hi.

The Townsends live  in a ranch-style home on a corner lot of a well kept subdivision and has a large, well manicured backyard surrounded by a tall fence, though in the Memphis heat, Tai much preferred the air conditioning inside.

I can't begin to say how thrilled we were to have found the loving dog sitters Sophia and Gordon and DogVacay.

As we continue our travels across the country, I'm sure there will be other occasions when we'll use it again.

To use the service, you have to register for a free account You upload a photo of your pet and answer some questions about his temperament. Rates are $25 day. Other services like play time, walks, even grooming, can also be arranged. Your dog's host family will even send you a daily note and photo of your pet, if you so desire. Each dog that is booked through is covered under insurance policy that includes $25,000 in dog medical coverage in care, custody and control of the host, less a $250 deductible.

The service also has a PAWtastic partnership with VCA-Antech, the largest veterinary group in the country to help handle any veterinary issues.



Mike Wendland

Published on 2014-07-30

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

10 Responses to “Finding loving dog sitters while on an RV trip”

August 04, 2014at1:42 pm, Gary said:

We have used DogVacay in Ft Collins & my pups love it.

August 04, 2014at8:51 am, Jack in Jax said:

As Emily noted, the charges vary – in our Jacksonville FL area 100%+ (from $20/night to more than $40/night). But it looks like this is a good tool to have available in the traveling toolbox.

July 31, 2014at4:57 pm, Roger said:

Great find! This is one of our biggest concerns as newbies to the RV world.

July 31, 2014at12:22 am, Emily said:

Glad you found a great petsitter through! We haven’t used them yet but have signed up and looked around at the site, and we think it’s a good solution for a similar cost to most boarding kennels. One small correction to your post, though. Rates are set by the individual host. Some charge as little as $20-25 per night, but I’ve seen hosts charging up to $50/night. The charge is clearly spelled out for each host so you shouldn’t have any surprises after booking.

July 30, 2014at4:07 pm, S. Brown said:

I have used and had good experience with DogVacay. I feel good knowing the sitters have been checked out, and my dog seems to enjoy the change of scenery. I’ve heard of Rover.Com but not used it personally. Have read good reviews of both from other dog owners.

July 30, 2014at7:26 pm, Jennifer Wendland said:

Thanks for telling us about Rover.Com. We may need it in the future.

July 30, 2014at3:47 pm, Gail Alexander said:

We started this free website for RV travelers a good and not so good places in your travels for groomers, vets, etc.. It is off to a slow start but we are getting the word out there.

July 30, 2014at11:17 am, Janet said:

Mike-What a great solution. Tai looks so comfortable and at home in the photo. This is much better than a boarding kennel. Great solution.

July 30, 2014at11:05 am, Paula Greer said:

I make pet sitting visits for four families just because I like animals and the extra cash. Today I am doing three visits and look forward to seeing my swimming labs and King Charles Cavaliers, my lab who goes for a walk and his sister cats and then a 6 month old Doberman who after his lunch sits on the couch with his nanny for a snuggle while his Chihuahua brother watches. Individuals watching your pets develop a relationship with your animals. It is amazing how these dogs know their routines and led me through it until we both knew it for good! Check your sitters out and go with your gut and the online references.

July 30, 2014at8:17 am, Dean Upson said:

I think that Mike found a good solution to his circumstance. I could not leave my guys with anyone. I would get separation anxiety, not them! I pretty much don’t go where I cannot take my dogs although I can see scenarios where I might have to, very reluctantly.

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