Type of pet: Dog
Breed: Bichon Frise
Pet's name: Skipper
Pet's age: 11 years
Owner’s name: Jean and Garrett Mulder, Holland, Mich.
FMCA membership number: F342014 (joined in 2004)
How often does your pet accompany you on motor home trips?
100 percent of the time
What type of motorhome do you own?
A 2004 Newmar Kountry Star diesel pusher
Does your pet have any favorite travel destinations?
Since he cannot speak, he seems happy to go where ever we go. A hallmark of the bichon frise breed is that they are “people dogs,” non-aggressive and happy. Of course, there are variations, but on the whole, a purebred shows these characteristics.
We are fortunate that skipper is neither a yapper nor a barker when we are gone. However, he will protect the coach with a WOOF! if a stranger knocks on the door.
Skipper has circumnavigated the entire eastern USA aboard our boat. In our motor coach, he has visited 46 of the lower 48 states as well as Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador. He does not suffer any kind of travel sickness, for which we are thankful.
He did seem to enjoy traveling aboard our friends’ 39-foot Searay in the company of his pug friend, Rowdy, as we ventured out on the Pacific to see San Francisco, Monterey, Berkley and then back to our slip on the Delta in Calif.
When Skipper sees that we are starting to pack things for a trip, he gets his toy "squeaky,” lies in front of the door and looks at us as if to say, "I've got my bags packed and I'm ready!" When he hears that diesel engine start he is ready to go wherever we go.
What do you like best about motorhoming with your pet?
Companionship, and no matter if we are home or on the road, he has a high entertainment factor for us.
Was it easy for your pet to adapt to motor home travel?
No problem at all since he had traveled on our boat for his entire life. He does not get anxious about anything.
Does your pet have a favorite spot in the motorhome?
While underway, he lays on his big comfy LL Bean Pet pillow behind the driver’s seat, secure with three sides enclosed (outer wall, retracted slide-out and drivers seat).
What are your pet's favorite toys?
His 11-year-old old worn-out red fish named "squeaky"
What is your favorite activity to do with your pet while traveling?
Do you have advice for other motorhomers who travel with pets or are considering traveling with pets?
Too numerous to write in this space but a few brief ones are:
1) Carry your pet’s abbreviated medical info with you as well as any Rx for prescription foods.
2) If you intend to have your pet groomed or boarded at many places, especially in the South, make sure your pet has had the kennel cough vaccine. We ran into this especially in Pensacola. Fla., as well as when boarding at Disney and Epcot where they have beautiful free facilities on-site. Incidentally, in the warm south, the kennel cough vaccine needs a booster at six months. In the colder North, it is a one-year vaccine.
3) Affix your coach card, preferably with a picture of your coach, to your pet’s collar. Our dog has his own coach card with his picture on it. The info we write on the card is a) our name, b) our cell phone number, c) the name of the campground we are at and the site number, d) the date span of our reservation.
We got in the habit of using this ID card while boating and now do the same for land travel. Skipper has never been lost and he is not an escape artist, but we still take this precaution. I have taught pet-travel classes at Trawlerfest about and have spoken about pets’ medical emergencies. Several people have contacted me to say that this piece of information was the reason that their pet was returned quickly and safely.
4) Please do not allow your pet to travel on the dashboard, no matter how neat you think it is. Our dog loves us just as much and does not feel neglected because he must stay on the floor. I have seen large dogs walking around on the dashboard while the coach is traveling more than 65 mph. In one case, the large dog was in front of the driver with its head out the side driver’s window. If there was a need for a sudden stop, the pet can lose its balance and fall into the driver’s space. This action could cause sudden, erratic and possible loss of control of the coach. This scenario would endanger those inside the coach as well as other vehicles on the road. It is so dangerous. If people love their pets, then they should be responsible enough to keep them safe on the floor.
We affix a fabric bag to the handle of our leash and stuff it full of cheap, Ziploc sandwich bags. Owners know that their pet is going to relieve itself somewhere, so come prepared. Through our privacy screen windshield cover, I have watched numerous owners stand there while their pet relieved itself, then look around to see if anybody else noticed, and casually walk away.
These folks give a bad name to the rest of us who diligently clean up after our pets as well as the messes left behind by those who are not as considerate.
"Skipper" would clean up after himself, but he doesn't have thumbs to open the bags.