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Motorhoming | Family Motor Coach Association

When FMCA members Mona and Dan Coyle of Redmond, Washington, go motorhoming, they always factor an extra 210 pounds into the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating. That’s the cumulative weight of their dogs, April, Aries and Angel.

“I can’t imagine traveling without them, because they are our kids, our family,” Mona said. “And if the family goes, everybody goes.”

Mona, 34, and Dan, 27, work for Microsoft Corp. Dan is a software testing engineer at the corporate headquarters in Redmond, which is about 15 miles east of Seattle. Mona is a group assistant at the satellite campus in Issaquah. They met at the company’s annual picnic and married in July 2002.

All aboard
“The whole reason for buying a motorhome, for us, was being able to have the dogs with us,” Mona said. “We couldn’t do that in our Dodge Durango.”

A few years ago they took a three-day boat cruise from Washington to Canada. While they enjoyed the trip, they sorely missed their canine companions. “It was all we could do not to call the vet where the dogs were kenneled,” Mona said. “We even talked about finding a place that set up Web cameras so we could check on them via the Internet.”

Around that time, they started looking for a motorhome. “We’d go to RV shows and half the time we weren’t looking at how much we liked the motorhomes, but how suitable they’d be for the dogs,” Mona said. They bought their first RV, a 29-foot type C, in April 2001.

Dan already knew about motorhoming because his parents and grandparents owned RVs. For Mona, RVing was a “whole new world” -- but a world she knew the dogs could be a fixture in.

Always ready to go
April, Aries and Angel may have caught the motorhoming “bug” more so than Mona and Dan. “Our dogs even know the command ‘Get in the RV’ and run from our front door to the door of the RV when we’re ready to go on the road,” Mona said. “Just mentioning the word ‘camping’ within their earshot gets them excited for days.”

Seeking more space for the dogs, they upgraded to a 1998 34-foot Thor Pinnacle in April 2002, and joined FMCA the following month. Their Pinnacle has a living room slideout and a bedroom slideout, which means wider paths for the dogs to move about, Mona said.

The Coyles travel throughout the Pacific Northwest, always enjoying the companionship of their pets. For their honeymoon, the couple had planned to go on another boat cruise. “Then we realized we’d have to leave the dogs behind,” Mona said. Instead, Mona, Dan, April, Aries and Angle traveled in the motorhome to Icicle River RV Park and Campground in Leavenworth, Washington. “It’s what we consider our home park,” Mona said.

A mixed lot
April is a 9-1/2-year-old whom Mona obtained from a coworker. “She looks like a retriever-German shepherd mix. We call her the Queen of the Couch because that’s her favorite spot in the motorhome.”

About three years ago Mona and Dan adopted two puppies – Aries and Angel -- from the local humane society. They’re mixed-breed twins from same litter. With silky black and tan coats, they look like Gordon setters, Mona said, adding “We named them completely wrong. Angel is the more mischievous one.”

Now all three dogs weigh in the 70-pound range, which prompted the upgrade to the larger motorhome.

A dog and his bone
A bone, a soft blanket, a motorhome trip .... Life can’t
get much better for Aries, whose favorite spot is on
the sofa by the window.

Adjusting to travel
Motorhoming has been included as a normal part of the dogs’ lives, Mona said, so it wasn’t hard to acclimate them for travel. They are calm and handle the movement of the motorhome easily.

When they brought home the class C, they let the dogs become familiar with the motorhome before actually taking them for rides in it. “Then, we took them for a few rides around block and they absolutely loved it,” Mona said.

Mona pointed out that Angel occasionally suffered motion sickness in the Durango, but not in the motorhome. “Our biggest thing is making sure we have enough toys,” she said. “Our dogs like to chew on rawhide bones.”

Never alone
The Coyles’ work schedules have kept them from taking many long road trips. “A dream trip for us would be to Tennessee, where my mother lives,” Mona said. “We’d love to make that drive with the dogs.” They also want to travel to Colorado or Arizona in 2003.

A local FMCA chapter has caught their eye — the Puget Sounders. “We’re trying to get together to go to one of their rallies and meet them,” Mona said.

For the time being, “We pretty much go and hang out at the RV Park. We don’t leave the dogs unattended.” To prevent “accidents” inside the motorhome, they walk the dogs up to 10 times per day.

A tip that Mona suggests other motorhomers follow is “Keep an eye on your pets. Be with them. One thing we will never do is go camping somewhere and leave the dogs in the RV alone. When we go camping with our friends, someone always stays behind with the dogs.”

That makes April, Aries and Angel happy travelers — and very lucky dogs.

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