Vandwelling Pets: Part 2

You are here:
< All Topics

In my last post we looked at why I have a dog and in this post we want to look at the practicalities of having a dog in a mobile life.
Should every Vandweller have a dog?

Dog-Homer-tony

Whatever size your rig, there is a perfect dog out there for you! That’s Homer and Cheri’s dog Tony (the Tiger). They love each other!

NO! Absolutely not! Most of my readers are probably still living in cities and are still working at jobs. If that describes you, dog ownership is probably not for you. I’m a good example of that; when I got divorced and moved into a van, my dog (Abby) went with my ex-wife and kids because that was what was best for the dog and for the kids. I was terribly sad to be without her, but my needs were a distant second to their needs. I couldn’t stand the thought of Abby being alone in such a small space 9 hours a day. I also did not want her to be in the extreme cold and heat that I faced in Anchorage. So you have to carefully examine your circumstances and decide if a dog can have a good life with you in your van.
However, if you don’t have to work and are going to primarily boondock on public land, I would strongly encourage you to consider having a dog. I know they aren’t for everybody, but for the majority of people, they will give you back so much more than you could ever give them. And there is no better life for a dog (or for you!!) than living free and re-connecting with nature on public land.
How do you keep him cool in the heat?

  • As all you readers must know, I am a snowbird which means I move with the seasons so I avoid extreme temperatures. That solves nearly all my problems with heat and cold.
    Homer-Trailer

    In the heat, Homer instinctively heads for under the van or trailer where it is much cooler.

  • If we do run into some heat we just walk earlier and later in the day so it’s cooler and I carry water with me so he stays hydrated.
  • If we need to go into town I go early or late in the day when it is cooler and make it as short as possible. Of course I always look for shade to park in and put Reflectix in the windows.
  •  In camp I have a 2 ½ gallon bucket that is his water dish so he doesn’t accidentally run out.
  • Homer instinctively knows to go under the trailer, van or camper when it’s hot. Because it is in the shade all day it is the coolest place in camp.
  • Because the trailer stays surprisingly cool, in the hottest part of the day Homer will often “ask” to come into the trailer with me and sit in front of the fan with me.

What can I do if my dog has to be in the van while I go to work and it’s really hot ?

Dog-Homer-Meeting-minds

Homer knows who is the real boss, and he never lets me forget! That is James and Kyndal’s dog, Savanah in the foreground.

I have to be honest and say there is no good solution and I don’t think it’s fair to him to make him go through that. But here are some ideas I have heard from people who must do it:

  •  The best idea is to lay down a tarp or kiddies pool on the floor of the van and place a carpet, blanket, towels or a doggy bed on it and get it totally saturated with water; if you have a kiddie pool it can actually be standing in water. Then try to introduce your dog to it and get him to lay on it when it is hot. If he will, he should be fine. Keeping his belly wet will drastically cool him off.
  • Something else I have seen is a small home-made air conditioner made out of an ice chest. My friends James and Kyndal took a regular ice chest and removed the lid. Then they cut a piece of plywood to fit over it. He cut two holes in the plywood: 1) he cut one to fit a computer high-power fan 2) the other he cut to hold a dryer vent hose. He attached the dryer vent hose to the hole and ran it to his dogs kennel and wired it to the wire-frame front door. When he had to leave the dog in the hot van he filled the cooler with ice, put the fan in the hole cut for it blowing into the ice chest. He put the dryer vent in the other hole and the fan blew across the ice and through the hose into the dog kennel. He covered the kennel top, sides, and most of the front with a heavy blanket to hold the cold in (he left some of the front door uncovered so his dog could look out). He said it worked really well!
  • Here is a site that sells commercial swamp coolers for dogs. Be aware most swamp coolers don’t work well in high humidity areas. http://www.swampy.net/petairconditioner.html
  • Look here for dog cooling beds, bandanas, mats, vests and other products: Dog Cooling Products From Amazon.com
  • Finally, you can super-insulate your van, load it up with solar panels and batteries and run a small window or portable air conditioner. Run it before you go to work and then go out and run it again on your lunch hour. You will have to experiment with it to see how often it needs to run.

Does he ever get cold?

Bob-Bri-JR_Homer

Notice I have a coat on; it was cold in the Sierras, but Homer stays comfortable anyway.

We have camped in some pretty cold temps but it hasn’t seemed to ever be a problem. I have never be able to keep the floor of any of my rigs warm, so it is at outside temperatures, which I have seen down to the low teens. For a while Homer had to sleep on the floor and I was always worried about him being too cold. I gave him a cozy doggy bed, which helps a lot. I would also cover him with his own blanket when we went to bed. He doesn’t mind the blanket but he is a restless sleeper (so many rabbits to chase in his dreams!) so he moves around a lot It’s unusual for him to still have it on in the morning. I’ve tried a blanket vest, but he acts like I am beating him, so I can’t make myself leave it on him (who could resist those sad puppy dog eyes!). Because Homer is an 80 lb dog, I needed a pretty big bed for the two of us, so I rebuilt the trailer to have a wide enough bed for both of us. Since then, cold has not been a problem.
Can I have a dog and work at a job?
If it is in the city, I can’t imagine how that could work in the summer. To me, locking a dog up inside a van 8 hour a day just seems wrong; I couldn’t do it to someone I loved. However, Homer loved working with me as a campground host. We were together nearly 100% of the time in the cool National Forest. We both loved it. I was also offered a job at an RV Park on the Oregon coast where it is cool all summer so that would have been perfect for Homer.
Another way it could work is if you are a seasonal worker. For example, I know people who worked for Amazon.com for the Holiday season and they have a dog. It is a little bit of a hardship for the dog, but it is only for a few months at a time so it seemed to work great for everybody. Since it was winter, heat wasn’t an issue. Another job that could work great is Pumpkin (at Halloween), Christmas tree sales, or fireworks sales (at New Years). You can make a lot of money in a short period of time and your rig is usually right there with you.
What kind of food do you give Homer?
Dog-Wolf-Moon

Dogs are direct descendants of wolves. The closer they eat and live like wolves the better. Wolves don’t eat corn, they don’t live in houses, they aren’t chained.   Treat your dog and yourself like a wolf and embrace your INNER TRUE WILD-NESS!

In the great majority of dog foods, corn is one of the primary ingredients, even in many “premium” brands. That is not acceptable to me so I feed him grain-free foods. While they are much healthier, they are almost always much more expensive. The exception is Costco’s Kirkland line of dog foods. They are grain-free and quite reasonably priced, so I am a Costco member. It costs $50 a year, but just the dog food makes it worth it for me. I buy his treats there as well. Their brand of dog biscuits is also healthier and cheaper. They sell 3-5 pound bags of dried chicken or duck breast strips that Homer loves and are very good for him. They cost much less per ounce than even Walmart so I buy those for him. I always have dry dog food out for him, but I also give him a can of Pedigree dog food every day. I think it’s the main reason he has such a shiny, wonderful coat.
Is he ever lonely; does he ever miss having other dogs around?
Dogs-Zeke-Van

Zeke is the perfect vandwelling dog!! He has been so good for Homer, and Homer has been so good for him. Having two dogs isn’t twice as good, it is 100 times better!

This can be a hard one if you aren’t traveling with a group. Dogs are pack animals and generally they prefer to have other dogs around. Most of the time I have had Homer we were alone, and he was happy. But now that I travel with friends, he is much happier with other dogs to play with. Homer loves Steve’s dog Zeke, and Zeke loves Homer; it is such a joy to watch them together!! Homer is very noticeably healthier and more ennergetic with Zeke around. Zeke is keeping him younger and Homer is mellowing out Zeke with his very mellow temperament! If you have the room, I think you should have two medium sized dogs. They will be happier and you will give and get twice as much love. Hard to see how that is not a good thing!
Is he a good watch dog?
Homer is the perfect watch dog. If someone new comes into our camp he is instantly at alert and probably barking. But he never barks at anyone else, and if I invite and welcome the new person into camp, he is instantly at ease. While most dogs aren’t that perfect, they are all territorial and nearly all will alert you that someone or something is coming into camp. If you are looking for a practical purpose to own a dog, this one is all you need! You will be safer if you have a dog in camp.
Will my dog run away?
Every dog is different, so I can’t really answer that. I am only aware of one boondocker who lost his dog and that was just a freak circumstance. When you provide a dog a perfect life with all the freedom he could want, why would he run away? Homer has nearly total freedom, so he stays with me because he wants to be here (and because I give him food, water, shelter and love in abundance)! Would you run away from that?
Because Homer has a lot of coonhound in him, he frequently ran away after animals when he was younger, but he was never gone for more than 2-3 hours. It was terrifying when he disappeared at first, but I adapted to the reality that he was as close to a wild animal as I could let him be and freedom brings much greater risk. So it was either a leash or greater risk. I chose risk.
Do you bathe or trim homer?
Dog-Homer-Zeke-Lake

This is as close as Homer ever gets to a bath: playing in giant mud-puddles!

I have never had to, not once. He walks a lot on hard ground which naturally trims his nails and his short, course, oily hair just naturally cleans itself. But some breeds of dog will require their nails trimmed, baths and haircuts. It’s just another way of serving the one you love, and if you will look at it that way, it becomes a joy instead of a hardship.
What about cats?
I have never had a cat as a vandweller so I can’t really address that. I love cats and I would be delighted to have one now, but I am afraid he would run away. That may be an unfounded fear because I have known several vandwellers who own cats without any problem and I have only known one who lost his cat. Unbelievably, I know several RVers who have cats who let them run free and have been doing so for years. To me it seems inevitable that the cat would get lost, caught by a bird-of-prey, or eaten by a coyote, but I have never heard of it happening. The one person I know who lost his cat was camping in town when the cat jumped out and ran away never to be found again.
Homer is so big that he is at much less risk living as a wild animal than a cat would be. No single coyote would ever take him on and on several occasions he has even chased a pair of coyotes and they just run away from him. Only a Pterodactyl would be big enough to carry Homer away, and they are extinct! Losing an animal is so hard on me (especially cats) I can only own medium to large dogs which greatly reduces their risk.
What are the risks to dogs on public land?
I brought Homer out here to make his life better, The surprise was that it made my life so much better. We have faced risks and hardships, but they all pale into insignificance compared to what we have gained.

I brought Homer out here to make his life better, The surprise was that it made my life so much better. We have faced risks and hardships, but they all pale into insignificance compared to what we have gained.

Next Sunday I am going to do a post on this so I am going to brief right now. But the answer is pretty obvious: rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, porcupines, ticks, fleas, and giardia. Homer and I have literally come face-to-face with each and every one of them (except giardia and scorpions) and we have come out unharmed. But for most people the risk to your dogs while boondocking is much less than he would face if you lived in a city. I think there is a much greater risk of him being run over in traffic, from being attacked by other dogs, being stolen or running away and being lost in a city than any risks in the country. You will have to make your own decision about that.
If I missed any questions, feel free to ask in a comment, I didn’t intentionally skip it, I just forgot!

Previous Keep it Simple Sunday: Vandwelling Dogs Part 1: Why I have a Dog (shouldn't you?)

76 Comments

  1. Rolf Fritschi

    Good stuff about dogs.In some States (Texas, Arizona)it’s illegal to leave a dog unattended in the car. In Arizona it can cost you hundreds of $$. Last September my dog of 13 years past away. Her name was Peggysue (Peggysue I love you with a love so thru and blue OOOO Peggy my Peggysuuue). My Granddaughter told my without Peggysue you are only half a man. I wasn’t ready for a puppy so we went to the rescue shelter and I got myself a 9year old Aussie, now I’m a man again.

    • HoboHounds

      Here in WA I’ve seen signs at Walmart warning you not to leave pets in your car. I’m not sure if it’s illegal here or not, but obviously people are looking out for it. So even if you’ve taken precautions to keep your pet comfortable you could still be risking a ticket, or worse…

      • Bob

        That’s a very good point HoboHounds. Fortunately most of us vandwellers block all our rear windows so the public can only see through the front windows. If I have to leave Homer in the van and I know he is safe, I still worry about people wanting to “rescue” him. So I block him from being able to get up front or being seen.
        Thanks for pointing that out, it is a really good point.
        Bob

      • Jenny

        I live in Washington also. I believe it is illegal based on temperature – if it is warm out, it can very quickly get too hot for a dog. They do not cool down as efficiently as people can. I know that animal control officers can legally (and should) break a car window to remove a dog in heat-related distress.

        • Bob

          Jenny, I think that is true in most places. And like you said, it’s a good policy!
          Bob

    • Bob

      And a very good man at that Rolf.
      Bob

  2. DougB

    How thoughtfully written! Wouldn’t mind seeing a section on how you feel out problems before selecting one at a pound, though that’s probably one of those touchy-feely things that can’t be generalized. Me, I’ve owned pets for decades, and this is my big chance to not have to be chained to the responsibilities any more, or to have to endure putting any more down because of terminal illness. Or dealing with touchy stomachs. That said, I must admit that as a newbie walking or biking in wildlife areas, I’d feel a lot more at ease with a fair-sized dog to act as an early warning device. But then I’d worry about it getting snakebit, so there you go.
    Having been on the road for most of a year, I have to say that I’ve seen a lot of confused, anxiety-ridden, aggressive, and bad-news dogs in my lifetime. So far, except for shop owners’ dogs unleashed in their own store, remote vandweller’s dogs seem to take the cake for being emotionally well-balanced. To this point I can easily approach any vandweller’s vehicle on foot and know I’ll eventually make it there. Can’t say the same for many RVers (and many sticks & bricks), even with breeds that would normally be friendly by default. There’s a big difference between a dutiful challenge and a mindless drive to attack. Some vandwellers claim a personal dysfunctionality of some sort or other, but since dogs do reflect their owners, seems to me like nitpicking one’s own home run afterward.

    • Bob

      Doug, as usual you are right, the decision to have a dog is not simple or clearcut. Everyone has to work it out for himself. I also really agree that vandwelling dogs as a whole are exceptional. To me it just goes to show that if you put any animal (people included) in its proper environment (living free in nature) most personality disorders will be corrected.
      I am going to take that last sentence as a backhanded compliment!
      Bob

  3. Dave

    When I was still working and living in a 5th Wheel, I was given a rescue dog and I wondered how that was going to work out….especially since the first time I left her in the 5er for just a quick run to Lowes, she tore up the screen door. She had, and still has at time, separation anxiety. Fortunately for her, I was the “Director” of the Public Library that I worked at, so I did not even hesitate to just take her to work with me. For the next 18 months she was the “Library Dog”, and kids would come to my office just to see and pet the “Library Dog”. How fortunate we both were…. Thanks for your good posting on having a dog.
    Dave (Marcia and Bubba and Skruffy the Library Dog)
    GoingRvWay.com

    • Bob

      Dave, you were very fortunate to have a job where you could take your dog to work with you! it sounds like a win-win for everybody to me!
      Bob

  4. Billy

    I use to buy those chicken strip dog treats at Costco for the longest time until my dog got really sick. I would avoid buying them at all costs. If you look closely or do some research, the chicken is from China. There have been reports that it’s tainted and disease ridden. Just a thought. Enjoyed reading your post!

    • Bob

      Billy, thanks for pointing that out, I will look into it!
      Bob

  5. Gennifer

    One thing I would add: We always had plenty of water, cooling towels and fans in our van when it was hot, but we worried that someone might walk by and, not knowing all that, break a window to “liberate” our dog from the heat. So we left a note on the dashboard explaining that our van was “climate controlled” along with our phone number in case people were worried. Never had anyone call, but it gave us peace of mind whenever we went shopping and had to leave Zeus in the van.

    • Bob

      Very good point Gennifer, I should have pointed that out. I have all my windows covered so no one can see Homer inside and I block him from getting up front. But I am rarely in that situation.
      Bob

  6. Charlene Swankie

    Another well-written article. I sure wish COPD issue didn’t prevent me from living with an animal in the small space of a van. I miss having a dog in my life, but when I am with the tribe, I get to enjoy the company of Homer, Zeke and other great dogs, in the grand outdoors where COPD isn’t an issue for me.
    One very important point you made was… that if you give them all the food, water, treats, and love you can give them (everything they need), they won’t run away, even if they are loose. I recently met someone who only gave his dog what he believed the dog needed… and he was having great trouble keeping the animal at home. You are right in always keeping plenty of food and water out for Homer.
    One thing I observed about Zeke’s food and water, is that other dogs could learn that the water for was for any dog, but don’t touch Zeke’s food. Whereas at your camp, dogs will share Homer’s food. They can learn the differences like this… and learn the differences in people too, generally. What really confuses them with me, is they sense I really love them and want to pet and play with them… yet they aren’t allowed to really get involved with me… due to the COPD and all the dust they kick up under my nose. This is too fine a line to draw in their animal brains, so I have to set my limits and withdraw as the case may be. I don’t expect them to understand… it is MY problem. No one is hurt by my situation but me, especially if I compromise my needs in order to play with them. It’s a sad situation. For the vandwellers who have come to understand and respect my needs, thank you.

    • Bob

      Charlene, you really are in a unfortunate situation with your COPD, it costs you a lot. What’s worse is that it is just the luck of the draw that you got it and I didn’t.
      While Homer would never run away, I have been concerned that he would run off after something and get lost. When we first get into an area i keep a closer eye on him until he knows the area.
      Bob

    • Kara Bunch

      Hi Charlene!
      I just read your post and checked out your van. I have a couple of questions for you. I am seriously considering moving off the grid, and I have COPD. How do you Dr yourself? Cause I have stage 2, and I just want to get out there and go.
      Thank you!

  7. Dixie

    Hi Bob! Another GREAT post as usual–lots of good useful information. I totally agree with you about having a dog (or two!)I had Not had a dog since I was a child and our daughter got us one.( We had a cat for 20 years!) Once on her own she discovered dogs! She’s absolutely crazy for dogs (I could’nt understand?) Now I do!!! We LOVE the dog she got us—so much so we got another one(a rescue)for his pal! Now my Hubby & I each have a lap full of dog many times a day!!!They have added SO MUCH to our lives!!

    • Bob

      Sounds like you have a very happy home, plumb full of love!
      Bob

  8. Diane

    My opinion is that one dog per person is the best option (again…just my opinion) That being said, I have 3 dogs and a cat (who thinks he’s a dog). Each pet has a story (like each of us) and each lived with abuse of neglect prior to finding a home with me. Having 4 animals makes any road trip a challenge. If anyone could offer words of advice on this I would be grateful 🙂 The solution I am working on is to design the interior of my van to be very user friendly for them, but it is not ready. I want to make it out to the summer RTR and this is the thing that has got me second guessing coming out :/

    • Bob

      Say it ain’t so Dianne! As long as your dogs are socialized they will love the freedom and other dogs! You may have to be watch your cat, depending on how she does about staying in the van. I will be very disappointed if you don’t make it!
      Bob

  9. Martin Hamilton

    If people can’t be alone and need an animal to pacify them then they need to get an apartment. These poor animals are suffering much more than they should be and all at the selfishness of a human being. Read, watch videos, exercise, and do have a hobby. Please don’t take your homelessness and selfishness out on a poor animal. If you boon dock ok but otherwise get a spouse or live in an apartment. If I see animals in vehicles and it’s hot I will call the cops. Enough said. I love my van and love cleanliness. Filth is a bad thing. Thanks….Martin

    • Bob

      Martin, no domesticated animal has ever had a better life than my Homer. He doesn’t suffer even a little! Personally. I think a little filth is not much of a sacrifice for the pleasure of his company. I like a little filth.
      Bob

      • HoboHounds

        I don’t see what selfish people torturing their pets with their irresponible homelessness has anything to do with the cleanliness of a van…

        • Bob

          Hobohounds, while there is no direct connection, it is true that having a dog makes a van much dirtier. Homer sheds like crazy at certain times of the year and he tracks in mud, dirt and rain so there is no doubt he makes it dirtier. but a little dirt doesn’t scare me!!
          Bob

        • Mara Alexander

          *grins at HoboHounds*

          • Bob

            Agreed!

    • Cheri

      I may be VERY wrong here and anyone is welcome to correct me on this. I don’t know Martin Hamilton at all and never paid much attention to his comments but if you click on his name he seems to have a bunch of nutrition like stuff he is selling. Could he be writing negative comments as a way to get noticed. Maybe to get some of us to go to his website????

      • Bob

        Normally that would have been one of my first thoughts also, but Martin is a regular commentor and it is ALWAYS good stuff. So I have no doubt that it was an honest comment written from his heart. You can’t judge someone until you walk a mile in his shoes so I am sure he has legitimate reasons for his feelings.
        Martin, your comments are always welcome here!!
        Bob

        • Cheri

          Thank you Bob… I should have gone back and read more of Martin’s comments before I posted that. Martin, I apologize for my comment. The little dog Tony, in the top picture with Homer is my fur baby and he has a close to perfect life in the van. My life revolves around his needs and comfort. I am sure there are vandwelling dogs that are not cared for and loved but I can’t remember ever meeting one. HUGS Cheri and Tony.

          • Bob

            Cheri, I understand your sentiment, we dog lovers can’t understand why everybody doesn’t love dogs, and the simple fact is a lot of people don’t like them. And that’s fine, we are all different!
            Bob

      • Mara Alexander

        I thought that too, Cheri. Wasn’t just you.

  10. CAE

    I try not to judge

  11. Diane

    Animal abuse (like child abuse) is everywhere and is not limited to the size of the dwelling you sleep in. I groomed my neighbors min. poodle today (who spends most of his time alone in the backyard) the poor guy had fox tail stickers in his groin and armpits. The owner had no idea because he works 6 days a week and is rarely home and spends very little time with his dog. The way I see it…the shelters are full of dogs and they are killing so many every day. I would rather this and other neglected dogs have homes where they are given more…but he is alive, and now he is clean & his knotted hair is short life isn’t perfect, sometimes you have to get dirty, but saving a life…human or animal seems worthwhile to me. Too much judgement going on…

    • Naomi

      Well-said, Diane.

  12. Naomi

    It astounds me that I see so much petty criticism here. Bob takes the time, makes the effort, shoulders the cost of providing/maintaining 2 websites and a blog devoted to helping people. I realize that folks have the right to disagree, but it seems that if one is going to do that, one could take the time and effort to do so respectfully and constructively. Surely that can’t be so difficult?
    Bob, I have no doubt that you can take care of yourself, and I probably should not have posted my mini-rant, but such petty judgmental posts bring out the she-bear in me. I won’t do it again. If I hadn’t vented now, I would have popped, and that would not have been pretty.
    ~Naomi, slinking back into her she-bear den …

    • Bob

      Naomi, no popping please!!! I like she-bears, they are always welcome in my blog and my camp.
      I too am amazed by the strength of negative reaction this post has elicited. I accept the honesty and depth of feeling that it comes from, but I can’t relate to it.
      Every so often I say some stupid and controversial things that causes an uproar, I just didn’t think this was one of these times.
      Bob

      • Diane

        Good morning 🙂
        I think this topic has hit a lot of emotional triggers for people (or maybe just me lol) and that is why is has been such a controversy. When you talk about solar, roof vent, insulation, etc there is no emotion tied to it like with pets, so probably not a good idea to do a post on politics or religion any time soon lol. Naomi, I hope you always speak your mind, your words are powerful and valid, never back down, and, thank you for the compliment on my photos 🙂 on that note, I just added one of my pets, just click the link below this post (my kids) Bob, I am working on a solution for the RTR, maybe leave my cat at home and have my sister pet sit. My dogs are awesome, the oldest Chaqueta the Chihuahua…well, this might be her last summer, she loves road trips and adventure. CJ the medium one is a little butterball and will be instant friends with any kids that shows up at the RTR, then there is Sierra – she is to me what Homer is to you. Once she figures out this is a new pack, she will be good to go. She loves hiking but has been delt a crappy hand in life with bad hips 🙁 I take her for walks several times a week and manage the problem with a baby aspirin a day. I am grooming a friends dogs today and gotta get ready…I am supposed to be on summer vacation form my school district job, but to the people whose dogs I groom this just means I am available to groom lol. You all have a GREAT day.

        • Bob

          Diane, I hope it all works out and you can make it. I’m interested in your baby aspirin a day for Sierra. Homer is showing some wear and tear in his hips also so is baby aspirin okay for dogs? Homer is 80 pounds so would a 85 mg aspirin be okay for him? And you do it daily-365?
          Thanks for the info!
          Bob

          • Diane

            Hey Bob,
            Sierra is just 5 years old, about 6 months ago her hips were so bad I had to consider the possibility of putting her down. She whined several times per night when she would get up to shift positions, walking was painful for her and for me to watch…I took her to the vet who suggested a couple types of surgery. I researched on line and discovered two things that seemed to have positive results…Rymidal(spell check) and buffered baby aspirin. I talked with my vet and he would only sell me a weeks worth of rymidal. He wanted to do a complete blood panel to see if it would hurt her liver…ugggg. I then went to walmart and bought the half dose aspirin. I crushed it and put it in her food, by day two…it was like her hips were fine. Now…keep in mind…everything filters through our/their liver. From the People on the street” research I have done, the dose I give her (one low dose a day…she is about 60 lbs) is fine. I have gone 2 days without giving her one (to see if I could cut back)…I found that I could skip a day or two a week. I have not seen anything negative yet. For me it was the correct choice. I hope this helps 🙂

          • Bob

            Diane, thank you so much for that information. I will try that with Homer! Fortunately he is still getting around pretty well, but he has lost a lot of his endurance. We have cut our walks quite a bit and seems to be struggling sometimes. Thanks again!
            Bob

          • Jaqkey

            This is the first time I have been to your website. I absolutely love it. I am trying to buy a minivan, and see how my two dogs do with it. Taking weekend trips that kind of thing.
            Diane, sorry I’m not trying to be a know it all, or a downer, but my vet is totally against giving dogs aspirin. Long term he said it causes bleeding in the stomach and gives ulcers. He doesn’t even like to give them short term.
            I give my dog, Biscuit, Tramadol. I think it might be a little bit above aspirin. It’s inexpensive, that’s always a concern. Biscuit is eight. I only give him meds on the days he seems to be in pain with his leg. I give him two at a time, and I’m lucky if he actually gets one down his throat. I am always finding one of the pills around the house 🙂
            I pay more for peanut butter than I do the medications 🙂
            Just thought I would give another view. Really do love this site. People after my own heart.

          • Bob

            Jackey, my vet also told me to not give Homer aspirin. He prescribed Rimadyal (also known as Carprofen or Novox). it’s a NSAID. It’s fairly expensive but it makes a big difference in how much Homer limps, so I buy it for him. I was hoping to be able to skip days but he needs it every day.
            Thanks for the info!
            Bob

      • Mara Alexander

        This was an awesome and well-written post, and I’m not even a dog lover, so I -literally – don’t have a dog in this race! lol.
        I suspect people just don’t like seeing someone calling you “selfish and homeless”, and have reacted in a protective manner. I have to admit…I was not only taken aback by that, but I have to disagree with you about the motives of the comment, and we can agree to disagree. 😉

        • Bob

          Now hold it right there Mara!! I’ve had enough, NO MORE MR NICE-GUY!! From now on I am always right!! (I still can’t figure out how to put on a smiley face or there would be one here–maybe i should hire a very nice and knowledgeable webmaster to teach me these things!)
          Bob

  13. Susan

    Having been homeless, and having to live in the car with my dog, and knowing other homeless people with dogs, I would venture to say that they are, on the whole, much better provided for than some of the pampered pets that people get in nicer homes so that they can have a dog. When an animal is your day by day companion, and protector, and friend, you often, even when you are homeless, take better care of them than you do of yourself. I knew homeless people who bought food for their dog even when they didn’t have enough to buy some for themselves. Those dogs are with their people (their favorite place) almost constantly and are given much love and attention and training. Often I would go out to my car on my breaks from work, take Domino out and walk him, feed him, play with him, several times a day. Afterwards we would go down to the beach and run. He was definitely not miserable or neglected. The weather wasn’t hot when I had to live in my car, so I never needed to worry about keeping him cool. Though, now, I have to live in a house for awhile, when I take him out I freeze several milk jugs in my freezer and take them with me. I block out all the windows, park in the shade, leave the roof vent open, and he curls up on top of the frozen milk jugs. He is border collie/blue heeler so he has pretty long furry hair and can overheat easily, so the 6 or so frozen milk jugs (filled with water) keep him cool nicely. I also leave him a bowl of water to drink should he gets thirsty and a toy to chew on. Works well for us. =)

    • Bob

      Susan, I agree 100%! I’ll go without before Homer will.
      Bob

  14. Morgan

    Hi Guys, I know in a heartbeat why I would travel with a dog or better yet 2 dogs and it’s the same reason or one of the main reasons I have them now! For their noses! Since I’m a die hard Doberman man, I laugh when I see those “buy a home security system” ads on tv. I say, just get a couple of Dobies & you are guaranteed an “Early Warning System” and all the security you need! The unending love and devotion that comes with this is just a huge bonus! Morgan

    • Bob

      Morgan, I couldn’t agree more!! You are 100% right!
      Bob

  15. ROB C

    Hey, Bob if you get a chance, I suggest you look at Diamond Naturals Brand dog food. I have been using Diamond Naturals Lamb and rice, No Corn, No Soy lamb meal primary ingredient ($32. @40 lbs bag”) My dogs are large breed, 13 years old and doin fine. But I do spoil them I usually give them 8 oz of either beef or chicken each day with 400 mg fish oil and a Osteo bioflex tab to help with Athritis.

    • Bob

      Rob, thanks for that tip, that looks real good. I’ll keep my eye out for it. Also good idea about the fish oil and osteo tabs.
      Thanks!
      Bob

  16. dan novinger

    Great post. really enjoyed this post.
    I think that living in a van would be a great place for a dog. Our family dog is a rescue dog, a West highland white terrier mix, about a 20 pound dog, and you couldn’t ask for a more loyal loving companion, friend, or watchdog.
    We spend as much time as we can with our dog, which is nearly full time, and I think we’d be very happy as a mobile pack.
    I think the person who objected to mobile owners, just doesn’t realize what a perfect environment it is to be with your dog most of the time, and how good that is for the human and for the dog.
    Great post as usual with thoughtful insights and sharing the benefit of your observations and experiences out there doing what you do and seeing what you see. What a pleasure it is to read your blog. Keep up the good work.

    • Bob

      Dan, it sounds like your dog also won the Doggy Lottery of life! Thanks for you very kind words!
      Bob

  17. Jennifer

    Bob,
    I wanted to thank you for your two posts on pet ownership while traveling. I am close to starting my van camping adventure and I decided to take my two furry companions with me. I could not bare the thought of leaving them. They are my family.
    I grew up in a rural area where our dogs were allowed to both run free and come inside the house. I am confident we had the happiest dogs in the world.
    I think the people who scoff at the idea of bringing animals along on travels are not animal lovers and are better off not having one. If you are able to care for an animal in a house, you can definitely care for one in a vehicle. As a house dweller with pets, I already know that I have to deal with having a little bit (understatement) more of hair and dirt to clean than most people, but I am okay with that.
    I think this topic also directly relates to another common topic on vehicle living – FEAR. We too often transfer our fears onto our animals…we are afraid they will runaway so we keep them locked up inside. We are afraid they will get hurt, so we keep them locked up inside. These are ANIMALS! They deserve to live as animals live. Let them discover their world around them, chase prey, run free! I am happiest when I see my dogs doing what dogs were made to do…and so are they!
    When I would visit my family in the country, I would let my dog off the leash and he would swim in the creek, run through the woods and totally ignore me – but as soon as I was at the door to go inside … he would come barreling after me.
    Don’t be a pet OWNER – be a pet LOVER.

  18. Security Guards Christchurch

    in my point if of view having a dog in home is good idea …..
    as it beutify the house also it also protect ur house from burglar in night… this is best article abt dog

    • Happy and Oakley

      Bob…ya might want to try the Kirkland canned dog food…its about 79 cents a can and is also a 4 star rated food…the Kirkland dry is a 5 star food…not saying Pedigree is bad…just that Kirkland is 4 star and less expensive…thanks for all you do and all the good information…loved your book, too…Happy and Oakley in Utah!!!

      • Bob

        Thanks for the tip!
        Bob

  19. Kate

    Hi Bob,
    You should try to give Homer some rosehip powder in his food. It is good for Osteoarthritis in human.
    I give my dog rosehip powder and it helps her very mutch.
    I wish I could live the free life in a Van, but I don’t think it is possible in my country. RV’s are very expensive here. And it is not allowed to sleep in vans, unless you get it registred as an RV, and that is ridiculus expensive. You have to pay 2000$ every year in fees.

    • Bob

      Thanks for the tip Kate, I will look into rose-hip powder. Some countries make it nearly impossible to live in a van or RV you just have to do the best you can with what you’ve got.
      Bob

  20. Myddy

    I love this article. I have 2 dogs, a cat, and 3 snakes. I love my animals, play with them several hours a day, and while my van is not massive, my animals are healthier than many people with a lot of money. I know this by the vet I go to. He constantly compliments their health and wonderful personalities on their bi-yearly checkups. I rarely see them sick or have any issues.
    I can understand that some people don’t treat animals well, but it’s harsh to relate that to being homeless. I was a specialist on animal abuse cases when I worked for the city, and I was never once called for a homeless pet being abused, neglected, or uncared for. However, I went to many well to do rich homes where animals were beaten, starved, and left in the heat tied to a pole in the ground. So I can strongly disagree that homeless people don’t take care of their animals.
    Also for Martin Hamilton’s comment about cleanliness: whether or not you yourself like cleanliness doesn’t really matter to others. Your definition of cleanliness is not universal law. A little dirt is easily swept from a van. Blankets can be washed. That comment is equivalent to saying I hate straight people and because I dislike straight people, all straight people should be gay because I personally disagree with it.

    • Bob

      Myddy, thanks for your feedback! It’s really good to hear from someone with your experience that being homeless doesn’t mean being abusive to animals. I never believed there was any truth to that but I’m glad for the confirmation.
      Thanks!
      Bob

  21. Tim Murphy

    I am enjoying your blog and learning a lot. I was reading about keeping pets in the van, and especially about keeping them cool. I wanted to share an experience I had. When I took a trip to Florida, I took my daughters pet rabbit and my pet ferret. It was during a sring break so naturallly it was quite warm and humid when we went. I was not concerned about overnight in the car, since it was cool, but during the hot sunny day I was worried about leaving them in the car, especially when getting a meal t a restaurant or such, especially since ferrets are very susceptible to heat strokes. What I did was take a large ziplock bag into the restaurant, and asked them to fill it with ice, then wrapped it in a dishtowel and placed it in the carrier. The rabbit and the ferret would just lie on the bundle of ice and keep cool, while it also lowered the temperature in the carrier.
    I know this is usually short term, but there are soft containers, like bags, that are insulated to help slow the ice from melting, while keepin the material cool, a lot like an ice pack. I figured this might work if you are going to be gone for a few hours.

    • Bob

      That’s a great tip Tim, thanks for sharing it!
      Bob

  22. kitty

    Hello, I live in my Savana 2500 xl with a high top with 7 cats and a starling. When I bought the van I designed it for the cats. those metal van deviders with a door on the frount and the back. I can comepletly open the van and the cats can’t get away. The I have shelves running fore and aft two thirds of the lenth of the van. closest to me are closets on booth sides. The side cargo doors enclosed and with aluminum screening on the top. So I can open the side doors also. I sleep on a platform that is set between the port and starboard shelves. There are four litter boxes which I clean every day. There are two shelves above the litter boxes for my gear. Around the inside of the hightop is a catwalk that the cats love and can jump up to. The rear of the truck has a shelf with two double cat “condos” witch gives 4 of the cats a place to hang out while the other 3 lounge on the dashboard in the sun. The entire van is insulated. The cats and I are going on 3 and a half years in the van

    • Bob

      Wow Kitty, I am very impressed! That sounds a wonderful home for you and your best friends!! I admire anyone who loves their furry friends enough to think about them first, I feel the same way!
      Bob

    • Jesse

      Kitty, that is so cool!! My fiancee and I are planning to start van living in about a year and a half; we have two cats and a starling now, and were worried we’d have to find long term petsitters. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m very impressed!

  23. Jane

    Tried to get your opinion through the ” contact me” section of your site, but perhaps this is the place for it. I’m a hermit, live alone with my 15 dogs. Plan to sell the house, buy a few acres in WV and live in a class C, traveling here and there when I get the urge. Want to remove the rear bed and add their crates (they are all inside my house with me, crated when I go out and at night….each goes to their own bed each night), and I’ll sleep over the cab. We’re all very close and they play, eat and nap together. Will ANY campground allow this many? Am I free to do what I want on public lands? I’ve lived with large numbers of dogs all my adult life and know how to handle them. My concern is the public perception of being invaded, and turning me away before they realize that to me, this is normal and I can control them. What is your opinion?

    • Bob

      Jane, I think that is a totally doable idea! I can’t imagine having 15 dogs, but I totally relate to enjoying the company of dogs more than the company of people!! My dog is never mean to or me or judges me. All he ever does is love me in his own way.
      What you want to do will work extremely well on public land. There are plenty of places where no one will care about how many dogs you have and as a snowbird you can move with the season so they don’t get too hot or to cold. They will love living semi-wild out here!!
      However, I doubt if you could find any RV parks to take you in. But, i’m no expert because I don’t live in an RV. Most Parks will let you have one or two dogs (especially if they are small), but I doubt if any will let you in with 15.
      So you will have to live on public land and when you are moving between them you can always stay at Walmarts or truck stops along the way. No problems there. The only problem will be finding a place to walk them all but even that can be figured out.
      I say go for it!! That sounds like a very good life!
      Bob

      • Jane

        Thanks for the encouragement. I found an RV just today that looks as though it will fit our needs….mine and the dogs’. So, kind steo closer to freedom! Thanks again.

        • Bob

          You’re very welcome Jane! Bob

  24. Dani Ellis

    Duralactin has worked wonders for two of my oldest dogs who developed hip problems and arthritis. It’s natural and won’t foul up their liver like Rimakill (Rimadyl) will. BTW I fulltime RV with several cats and dogs.I really started to enjoy driving with all my dogs in my truck once I crated the 3 rowdiest ones and put the rest in seatbelt harnesses. Wonderful, and the kids are safer, too. Kitties I crate and sit the crates on my bed when underway. My cats are all excellent RVers.

    • Bob

      Dani, thanks for the tip about Duralactin. I may give it a try for Homer but I have to admit i’m not hopeful. I’ve tried everything everyone has suggested and nothing has helped yet. It’s cheap enough to give it a try so I will. Thanks for the tip.
      Bob

  25. poker ceme

    Quality posts is the key to invite the users to pay a quick visit the web
    site, that’s what this site is providing.

  26. ash green

    Thanks for such a nice content. Apppreciate it 🙂
    Cheers
    If anyone interested similar one’s have a look here petcareio thanks

Table of Contents