By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Never traveled with your pet? Can you take your pals with you? It’s an important consideration. We’re slanting our thoughts on the matter to those who call dogs and cats their pets, but some of the underlying principles will apply to other species as well.
First, some pets aren’t travelers — just by temperament or perhaps illness. Have you taken your pal in the car for a trip? If they enjoy car travel, the adjustment to RVing will likely be a cakewalk. On the other hand, while our cat associates car travel with going to the pet groomer (BAD!), she doesn’t seem to have the same hang-up about the RV. It may be a matter of a psychological adjustment.
For pets who can handle RV travel, the next issue is often one of safety. We often see motorhomers rolling down the interstate with Fido or Fluffy plastered up against the windshield, enjoying the scenery as much as their human friends. What we’d hate to see is Fluffy or Fido literally plastered up against the windshield if a collision occurred. Hence, in our RV, Ithmah J. Kitty rides securely tucked away in her travel crate while on the road. When in camp, she has the roam of the RV, and enjoys sitting on the dinette, peering out the windows and formulating catty opinions. Heaven help us if we could translate her thoughts!
Injuries from accidents notwithstanding, having your pet free-ranging when motoring can lead to another issue, exemplified by an experience off the newswire: A young woman was traveling with her pet in the car, and poocher — maybe thinking he could help — got down amongst the pedals. Distracted by the help, the young lady plowed off the road and into a tree. Less dramatic, but still a potential problem, is allowing your furry friend to tuck their head out the window and let the breeze blow their ears back. While it may be a grand feeling, a bit of grit or a bug blown into the eye can wreak ophthalmic havoc.
While on the safety subject, always keep ID tags on your pal, ones that can be readily deciphered. We once found a lost kitty on the desert — he wore only a rabies vaccination tag. We were finally able to track down the cat’s sympathetic veterinarian, who after checking his records obtained the owner’s name. Unfortunately, the name didn’t correlate with a telephone, and after a great deal of work we finally tracked down a relative, who finally found the man. The reunion between cat and owner was heartwarming — literally a leap and a meow into “Dad’s” lap. He told us this was the second time he and cat had been lost from each other. The cat’s name? “Lucky.” We lie you not.
Paranoia aside, an ID microchip under your pet’s skin could save his skin. Collars get broken, ID tags can fall off, but microchips last forever. But be sure to keep the microchip database folks updated with a good phone number.
While we’ve never been asked for it, when crossing some state lines and international borders, your traveling pal may need to show a certificate of good health. You’ll get one of those from the vet, and that means vaccinations will need to be up-to-date. Not a bad idea. It’s bad enough being sick when traveling, but if your buddy gets ill on the road it may be even more misery.
When RVing, we humans want to have a good time. Your pet is no different. Be sure to bring toys, their bed, and favorite foods. An extra leash isn’t a bad idea for dog walking — you could be a long way from the pet store if something happens to your primary leash. Be sure that your pals get a break, too; a stretch break at the rest stops is good for everyone.
Finally, check in advance when trip planning to make sure your buddy is welcome. There are some RV parks that have an absolutely NO PET policy; others are quite pet friendly. Checking in advance can make the trip far easier.