There are a lot of pros and cons and, beneath the surface, strong feelings among a lot of campers and campground owners.
First, I need to tell you about Tai. He has some issues. Like people, he has some emotional scars that have given him a couple of phobias.
People have shrinks. Lucky dog owners have Caesar. I have you, loyal readers.
See Tai was raised to be a show dog. His parents were both champion purebreds and the breeder who bought Tai planned to show him, too. Then, she discovered he had a small overbite. Instead of being a stud and show dog, he was neutered and sold to us as a pet. (By the way, if you met Tai, don't tell him. He doesn't know about the overbite issue and still thinks he's a champion.)
He is extremely well behaved. But he's a real wuss when it comes to flying insects. See, he thinks they're all hornets. When he was just a pup, he ran into a nest of them and got stung. Ever since, it makes no difference to him. Whenever he sees any insect that flies – mosquito, house fly, moth, anything with wings that is smaller than a bird – he cowers and hides in a corner. A couple weeks ago, he actually jumped out of our car while we were cruising a local campground because there was a deer fly in the car. He didn't hurt himself in that outburst, but that gives you an idea of the fright flying insects cause him. That's his first phobia -that insects equal pain.
The second phobia has to do with slippery floors. Again, when just a pup, he jumped off the front porch when he saw my wife cutting the lawn. He wanted to join her. Instead, he sprained his leg. And later that night, on our slippery tile floor, he patched out, torqued the leg just so, and felt the pain from the sprain. He made an immediate association. Thus, years after that sprain healed, he plants all four and has to be dragged across linoleum, tile and hardwood floors. To him, slippery floors equal pain.
Those are his only hangups. Because he has a thick, double coat, he doesn't tolerate heat well. But he is very well behaved, very friendly, seldom barks and, amazingly, always does his business deep in the woods, off the beaten path as far away from people areas as his leash will take him.
He's been in the Roadtrek on a couple of trips and seems to like it. But on the trip we're about to head out on, we'll be gone for several weeks, spending a lot of time in national parks from the Badlands to Yellowstone to the Tetons. Jennifer and I are very active. We like to do very long hikes and bike rides. I like to fish. We're told that the National Park Service prohibits dogs on many trails and in many wilderness areas. We've already encountered a lot of “Absolutely no dogs allowed on beach” signs.
So what do we do with Tai? Do we leave him in the Roadtrek for four or five hours at a time, with the AC running, of course? Are there doggy day care places around big high traffic parks like Yellowstone?
My son has offered to keep Tai in his house while we're gone.
But with our three kids grown and out of the house, Tai is part of our family and Jennifer and I are feeling conflicted about whether to bring him or leave him. I've asked about this on several online forums and have had mixed response.
One writer on the Roadtrek Facebook Group – Jim – says he ignores the no dog signs and says he takes his 90-pound bulldog everywhere. “If you have a well behaved dog…….ignore the signs and rules…Clean up after him, and if he is well behaved, who will complain? Also, if you have to leave him in the RT once in a while, well that is what AC is for. That's why you have an RT. And no one will break in, with a dog inside.”
Sue is another Roadtreker who says we should bring Tai. She and her husband have two dogs. “Our dogs always travel with us,” she says. “That is the main reason we bought the Roadtrek. We often comment that there must be something wrong with us because while we are out sweating and sightseeing, the dogs are enjoying the air conditioning and guarding their property!”
On the other side, Darlene advises: “if you have someone you trust to take care of Tai, it would be better for both of you. Weather is a concern if you take your trips during warmer weather. Even with AC, running your generator, there is the possibility of it to stop working, happened to us, and there are many places that restrict running them. There is a reason why they do not allow dogs on trails…bears for one and other wild creatures. It is for YOUR safety and the DOG. You'll enjoy your hikes & biking more if you are not worrying about Tai. We have no choice but to take our 2 dogs, and we always worry about them. There have been times we didn't hike a trail because of the length of time we would be gone. We travel more in spring and fall during cooler weather, which makes it less worrisome for warmer tempts. Enjoy your trip and don't worry about Tai.”
Truth told, a lot of non-dog owning RVers aren't exactly excited to see dogs next to them. Same with many campgrounds. Over on the RV Tips Facebook Group, Fran, from Tennessee, who works at a campground, explains why: “I work hard at keeping the shrubs and flowers in the campground looking their best and I'm sure employees at other campgrounds do the same. I watched 7 people let their dogs pee in a flower bed or on the shrubs within a 30 minute time frame this morning when they could have walked another 100′ and been in the pet lane. This eventually kills the shrubs and flowers. If we say something to them they get all huffy, defensive and rude.”
Rhonda, from Ohio, is a camper who probably echos a lot of others about rude and inconsiderate dog owners. She says: “A few weeks ago we were renting. A trailer couple of spaces over let their dog wander around and it pooped close to our tent and left it. Smells great in 90+ degree heat. There were a ton of places they could have let them go but just let it wander and go on our site. See it happening a lot even with people walking them on leashes.”
So, putting the initial feedback together from the various forums and camping groups I monitor, there seems to be a serious dog divide.
See why we're confused? Your comments and advice will help us make a choice about taking Tai on this trip or whether to leave him behind?