It’s our 3 months and 9 days anniversary of full-time RV living. So far this life style suits us well, however, it wasn’t such an easy transition for our 2 dogs, Casey and Murph. They are both 11 years old.
Meet Casey… We adopted him from Save the Animals Foundation in Cincinnati in 2005. He is an Australian Cattle Dog mix rescued from the streets of the suburb of Blue Ash where he was discovered just wandering around. Because of his brindle coloring some have cautioned us that he may be mistaken for part pit bull. We don’t know his story but he tends to greet everyone with excited barking and nervous energy. He can come off as aggressive but it really is all for show. Within minutes he is usually calm and submissive and quickly befriends those who were once strangers.
Casey is very protective of his family, and tends to either ignore or do that scary snarly teeth growl to other dogs. We watch him closely.
This is Murph… We adopted him from a Schnauzer Rescue in 2010. He was found in an abandoned house in Indiana.
The couple who originally adopted Murph lived in an RV (I know!) and the husband was suffering from allergy attacks. Murph needed more space and more exercise and a pappa who wasn’t constantly sneezing.
He likes to make a nest out of blankets and pillows by pulling and nudging and turning in circles until it is just right to lie down in and take a nap. Casey caught on to this trick too and tries to get to the blanket first so he can make his own nest. Murph also has an alter ego, Tasmanian Devil Dog Crazy Murph. At least once a day he starts rolling around as if possessed and then he pesters the sh** out of Casey. The two play loudly with yips and growls and sometimes warning yelps. Finally, Casey decides he’s had enough but Murph can’t take the hint!
So… downsizing was easy enough but teaching old dogs to embrace a new lifestyle was more difficult. Traveling in a motorhome confused Casey as there was no backseat to lie down on. Murph kept wanting to jump onto my lap as he preferred the front passenger seat. We laid down blankets between the driver and passenger seats and commanded the dogs to “assume the travel positions!” I was so tempted to let Murph sit on my lap to calm him down! Eventually the dogs figured out what their favorite travel positions were after 2 full months on the road. Casey travels back and forth from the bedroom to the couch to the dinette bench to the entry mat. Murph sleeps under my feet on the passenger’s side or cozies up on the engine cover hump between the driver’s seat and me.
Parking the RV brought new challenges. Would campers nearby complain about our dogs’ barking? Would we be asked to leave? Would we be those terrible dogs’ owners? To our relief none of the above has happened… yet!
Sleeping was a nightmare as well, ha, ha! Our dogs sleep with us, there, I said it! We had a queen-sized bed in our house and even then it was a tight fit. RV beds can be 6 inches shorter than regular queen-sized beds, as is ours, so dogs sleeping by your feet can quickly nudge one adult off the bed seeking a good night’s sleep on the couch.
So here we were, living out our dream in a 35 foot home on wheels, able to travel across the country to get up close and personal with a variety of awe -inspiring landscapes, but fearing going anywhere together without taking the dogs! Until we took paw steps…
First, we established a “home” in Lake Elsinore Marina and RV Resort for the next 5 months. Then we sat outside while the dogs remained inside the RV. Slowly, we started leaving the dogs alone for an hour or two while we shopped or did laundry. Gradually, we left them alone for longer periods of time until we felt more comfortable. We closed the shades and windows to minimize their outside distractions.
It wasn’t so much about Casey and Murph being home alone as it was them getting used to their new surroundings and respecting our neighbors. Wait a second, it was really about us! We had to decide when we felt comfortable enough to leave our dogs behind feeling safe and secure that we would return.
So far, so good!