Owner: Rosemary Mancillas, Full-timer
FMCA membership number: F310757 (joined in 2002)
Type of pet: standard poodle
What factors did you consider when choosing your pet?
I knew that my living in a motorhome and traveling to many places and meeting new people would require a special dog. I wanted one that did not shed, or shed very little. But, I should have remembered that we don't choose our pets, they choose us.
One day I was walking by a booth at an antiques show and I spotted a gorgeous black standard poodle sitting on a director's chair, silent, regal, alert. He was king of all he surveyed. That was it — I fell in love. I started researching the breed and talking with breeders. The more I learned, the more I liked — they were intelligent, had good temperament and don't shed ... yes!
So, on July 4, 2000, a little black curly headed poodle puppy came into this world and eight weeks later became my dearest companion. Sasha, my "Yankee Doodle Poodle," and I have traveled on the road together since August 2000.
What do you like best about motorhoming with your pet?
I can't imagine coming back after a day's worth of errands or adventures and not being greeted by the loving, twirling, excited black blur on the top of the stairs. Sasha has introduced me to innumerable new friends as children and adults alike see him, smile, and want to pet his soft curly head if he would only stop twirling (his trademark).
How have you made motorhoming with your pet safer or more enjoyable?
In case of emergency, I carry something in the motorhome or my wallet with information that says where my motorhome is parked, and that Sasha will need attention if something happens to me (e.g., an accident). I give contact names and phone numbers if there is someone locally I am visiting.
Was it easy for your pet to adapt to motorhome travel?
Yes, but during our early travels, Sasha had some persistent health problems not related to the motorhome mode of travel. We visited several veterinarians along our route and eventually saw a specialist in Tucson. He ran some tests, diagnosed the problem, prescribed some medicine and discussed a treatment plan. Sasha is doing fine now.
One time as we walked, Sasha was savagely attacked by an off-leash German shepherd. I know of no campgrounds that allow dogs to be off-leash, but some dog owners think the rule applies to everyone else's dog but theirs.
What is your favorite activity to do with your pet while traveling?
Our walks. I never cease to be amazed by Sasha's antics when he sees another dog, cat, bird or squirrel or tilts his head at an unfamiliar sound or animal that gets his attention. His tongue comes out as he twirls in delight and snaps the tether of the leash, almost yanking my arm out trying to give chase. I am often asked, "Who is walking whom?"
Do you have any tips or advice for other motorhome owners who travel with pets or are considering traveling with pets?
You can find plenty of information at fmca.com/motorhomingguide/pets and other places on the Internet that will help you choose the right dog. Some issues to consider are breed, training, grooming, suitability for travel, exercise requirements and temperament (in new places with strangers, around other dogs).
You can also search the Internet for kennels, groomers and animal hospitals. I have asked other motorhomers and campground staff for recommendations for kennels. Good kennels will allow you to inspect them and require that your pet have records and proof of all vaccinations, as well as inoculation for bordatella (kennel cough). Heartworm medication is a must if you travel in the South or East. I also recommend flea and tick protection for your dog. It's no fun to "bomb" a motorhome to destroy a flea infestation.
Remember that a dog cannot be left in the motorhome without attention to its needs. So if you are not prepared to leave a dog in the care of a pet-sitter or a kennel, you could be limited in your activities on the road if you can't take him or her with you. Since I am a full-timer and not in "tourist" frame of mind, this has not been an issue for me. I usually stay somewhere long enough to make arrangements at my leisure for Sasha's care.
Do whatever it takes to make your pet safe and comfortable on the road, and most important, please be courteous. Always leash and clean up after your dog.