Who is that sweet-looking dog with the orange collar and vest? It's Cher, a service dog (hearing) who helps her Oregonian owners enjoy their motorhome travels.
Type of pet: Service Dog -- Hearing
Breed: Golden/Lab mix
Owners and FMCA membership number: Karen Brockett and Larry Holcomb, F405066, Corvallis, Ore.
Pet’s name: Cherelle, “Cher”
Pet’s age: 5 years in April 2010
What type of motorhome do you own?
A 2009 Itasca Meridian
How often does your pet accompany you on motorhome trips?
Every trip and almost everywhere while on the trip.
Does your pet have any favorite travel destinations?
Places where there are interesting smells and RV parks that have nice “pet areas.”
What do you like best about motorhoming with your pet?
Since Cher is a service dog she more than a pet. She offers me a sense of self-confidence and safety. Besides that, what else makes your motorhome more like “home” than a furry companion?
Was it easy for your pet to adapt to motorhome travel?
Cher is “Miss Adaptable” as long as she can be with me.
Does your pet have a favorite spot in the motorhome?
When we’re on the road she likes to lie in her bed, which we put between the front seats of the coach. Once we’re parked and “hunkered down” she likes to be on the couch with us.
What are your pet’s favorite toys?
Anything that has food stuffed in it.
Have you modified your motorhome in any way to better accommodate your pet?
We removed a chair with ottoman to make a space for her bed during daytime. At night her bed gets moved to the sleeping section.
What is your favorite activity to do with your pet while traveling?
I enjoy exploring the RV parks with her and taking her for walks fairly early in the morning when the parks are quiet.
Tips or advice for other motorhomers who travel with pets or are considering traveling with pets:
Please, please, please respect the leash rules of the RV parks and at other locations. You never know when you and your dog may encounter a service dog. Having your dog off-leash can cause complications for, and possible harm, to both the handler and the service dog and maybe even your dog. Also, why risk getting evicted from the park? When out walking with your pet, if possible, give the handler and the service dog some space.
Always ask the person with a service dog if you may pet or talk to the dog. Also, ask whether or not it’s OK for your dog to approach theirs. Sometimes it may be fine and in other cases not. It is not personal. Each handler and her/his dog is a different situation with different requirements. Thanks!
I have had a service dog for 2½ years now and I'm fairly well-versed in the rights of service dogs and their handlers. There are some places where service dogs can be excluded for safety reasons (for the dog's safety and other animals'). Zoos and animal sanctuaries being two that come to mind. Such facilities, however, do need to provide a safe holding area for the dog.
Laws and requirements for service dogs (also known as assistance dogs) vary by state. For a complete listing, refer to Guide To Assistance Dogs Laws published by Assitance Dogs International. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about Assistance Dogs to visit www.adionling.org.
My dog is a hearing dog and most states only require that she wear her orange collar and for me to use an orange leash. Both the collar and leash have "hearing dog" embroidered on them. To make access smoother for the two of us, I also have her wear a small lightweight vest that also identifies her. This makes her very identifiable as a service animal and I rarely have trouble.
More information about Dogs for the Deaf: www.dogsforthedeaf.org
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