An excerpt from the book “Ruby’s Tale”
“You people are crazy! Six dogs in a motor home?!”
If you’ve seen ex-reality TV stars the Goslins traveling with their
eight kids, you’re reminded of a mini-military operation. To those
traveling with multiple dogs in a motor home, it’s nothing new. It’s
But for Lynn and me, the challenges were different. Vacationing
with a family of Rottweilers and pit bulls, we could forget about
hotels. (We tried that just once, but more about that later.) It’s not
just a matter of tossing the dogs into a dumpy motor home and
bouncing down the road with the idea that everyone will think,
“Awww, isn’t that cute.” We had better have them well trained and
socialized with ourselves established as pack leaders. Believe us, we
would be dealing with public perception and fear. There was no
room for untrained hooligans.
We had experienced prejudice close to home earlier. It is certainly
no different on the road. Everything we did, said, wore, and
drove, and our and the dogs’ behaviors, would all be up for scrutiny.
If we were to use these dogs as ambassadors, it would be best not to
get into people’s faces. Let them be curious and come to you.
For years, we’d visit a particular KOA campground in the Dakotas.
The manager, to his credit, was always cordial, but kept a close
eye on us. Then it finally happened. Lynn and I were outside at the
campsite, lounging, reading, and enjoying a sweet summer afternoon
when the manager walked by, stopped, and looked at the dogs.
Ruby and Katie, on leashes, barely moved their heads. He continued
to watch us to the point of being somewhat uncomfortable.
Oh man, he’s going to ask us to leave and we haven’t done anything
wrong, I thought.
Finally, he spoke, “I really can’t believe how well behaved your
dogs are. It’s so nice to see these kinds of dogs owned by responsible
people. I wish more owners were like you. Over the years, we’ve
had to ask people with all kinds of dogs with behavior problems to
leave. But people are always afraid of those kinds. (Oh, I just love
it when people say “those kinds.”) Many KOAs won’t let you in no
matter what. If you’ve got a $2 million rig or an older unit, if you
have those kinds, you can’t stay because their insurance companies
say no. I go through a different insurer than most and have had no
problems so far. But you people are making a good point!”
I nearly leapt up and kissed the guy on the lips! I casually replied,
“Thanks, sir, for noticing. We appreciate it.”
With that he said, “No problem.” He gave a smile and a quick
nod and walked on.
Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, had it so right when he said,
“You must be the ultimate pack leader. There must be rules, boundaries,
Whether it’s at home or vacationing, when you have dogs, particularly
dogs of this size and power, you better have control. If not,
it could spell big trouble for you, the dogs, and the breeds whose tarnished
image you’re trying to improve, not to mention the poor soul
your beloved pet may be intimidating. It’s training, training, training,
and socializing, socializing, and socializing. Be smart about it.
Prepare for travel. There are always different environments, strange
people, animals, smells, and unexpected events that will be much
easier to deal with if you’re ready for them. None of this is rocket
science . . . just common sense.
When we would stop for a potty break, a sightseeing moment,
or a dinner out, we were always peppered with questions: “How do
you do it?” Followed by, “Isn’t it way too much work?” And occasionally,
“What have they done to the inside of your motor home?”
We’re happy to report that the interior of our bewheeled vacation
home is free of rips, tears, chew marks, or mistake spots. And actually,
no, it isn’t too much work.
(Part three tomorrow)