Motorhoming | Family Motor Coach Association

Candy and Mike Mayo make many new friends, thanks to Shih Tzus Andy and Scooter.Owners: Candace and Mike Mayo, Loveland, Colo. 

FMCA membership number: F248599 (we joined in 1998)

Type of pet: two puppies

Breed: Shih Tzu

Names: Scooter and Andy

Age: 1-year

How often do your pets accompany you on motorhome trips?
Always! One of the reasons we love motorhoming is that we can always bring our pet “children” with us. Besides Andy and Scooter, we also bring our cat, Slippers, along.

Andy and Scooter are one month apart in age, from different litters. They were "breeder rejects" whom we acquired through puppy rescue. One has a tail that didn't "sufficiently" curl and one has a double row of teeth. Talk about making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. They both have wonderful personalities.

What do you like best about motorhoming with your pets?
Our pups are very well-behaved, so they’re a joy to bring motorhoming. They love going with us and are always the first ones in the motorhome when we bring it to our house and begin the packing process.

Was it easy for your pets to adapt to motorhome travel?
Our pups are only a year old, but from day one at four months they loved riding in the motorhome. They couldn’t manage the steps yet, but loved going.

What type of motorhome do you own?
We just purchased our “retirement motorhome” — a 2006 Fleetwood Excursion, full-wall slideout. Our plan is to travel around the country, taking our furry friends with us. We could never full-time it, though. We need that home base.

Do your pets have a favorite spot in the motorhome?
If they’re not on my lap when I’m in the passenger seat (both at one time is a lapful, for sure), they’re lying on the cool kitchen floor or, since we have a diesel, on the floor between us.

What are your pets’ favorite toys?
Anything that squeaks LOUDLY or something they can chew on. Some dogs try to remove the squeaker, but ours seem to love the sound they make as they drive their “people” crazy!

Have you modified your motorhome to better accommodate your pet?
The second time we took out the new motorhome, my husband came outside with me to “get the lay of the land” before he backed in. Our motorhome was still on the drive. Well, the puppies jumped up on the passenger seat and promptly stepped on the automatic door lock button (our older RV didn’t have such a modern convenience). Mike was locked out, keys still in the ignition. Mike stood at the window and continued talking to the pups. Finally, they stepped on the button again, and he quickly pulled the door open. Now, we have a Tupperware bowl (yet another new use for Tupperware) over the door lock button so they don’t lock us out again. So far, it has worked very well.

What is your favorite activity to do with your pets while traveling?
Our pups are very friendly and think the whole world is there and eager to greet them. Our favorite thing is to walk through the campgrounds and let our little “ambassadors” introduce us to new friends. What a conversation starter they are. We have met so many new people thanks to Scooter and Andy.

Advice for other motorhomers who travel with pets or are considering traveling with pets?
If at all possible, start them motorhoming early. The sooner they’re exposed to it, the more comfortable they’ll be with the whole experience. If you travel with a club or group, take the extra time to go around and “introduce” your pet to all the other pets and people — one by one. It is overwhelming if you bring them to a campfire or other group function for the first time, and they’re “rushed” by all the other dogs.

Some people don’t think about what happens if you lose your dog — or they lose you — while you’re traveling with them. Boys will be boys — and ours pushed open the screen one day and went exploring. We actually have two separate tags on their collars in addition to their rabies tag and local humane society license (boy, do they jingle when they walk). One tag has our cell phone number and the other our home number (most pet tags don’t have room for both on one tag). If you lose your pet while camping, they will only be able to “find” you through your cell number. This can make a huge difference.

Also, please have your beloved pet microchipped. All humane societies and vet offices should have the ability to read the information on those chips. And also remember that if you move, you need to contact the chip company to change your address in the database.

Pet stores also sell little “capsules” that hang on the collar. In these, you can include more information saying that you are an RVer and that your pet is traveling with you — again including your cell phone and also your e-mail address if you take your computer with you as you travel. You might even describe your RV — make, model and year— and include the license plate number. This is especially important if you’re traveling in an area that does not have cell phone service.

Other comments:
We also travel with a cat named Slippers. When we took delivery of our “retirement RV,” we had never owned a motorhome with a slideout before. Unbeknown to us, Slippers had found a way under the slideout bed, and we caught her leg when we were closing the slideout.

My husband felt absolutely horrible, because he had no idea the cat was snuggled under the bed — or could even get under the bed. But there was a gap between the bed and the bedside table and that’s how she got underneath.

Slippers ended up with a compound fracture in the rear leg and required surgery. They had to put in a plate and screws. After the surgery, she also required physical therapy. We had just paid our license tags on the new motorhome, which in Colorado is based on the weight of the vehicle and is NOT inexpensive, and now we had a $3,000 vet bill.

Slippers is fine now. We’re not sure how many folks travel with cats (or even small dogs), but they should know about the potential hazards of the slideout beds.

We are trying to figure a way to put in an insert that would block the space so that our cat can’t get through that hole again. If anyone has ideas, let us know via e-mail: [email protected].

If you would like to participate in Pet Spotlight, send an e-mail to [email protected].

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