Because our dog has yet to learn how to type (he’ll get there though, just you wait!), I’ve decided to write this confessional on his behalf.
I initially hemmed and hawed at being his professional intermediary, mostly because we just wrote an in-depth article on why you SHOULD bring your pet along for a trip in the motorhome. And while it’s true that most pets do really well in RVs, I failed to mention that OUR pet doesn’t do well at all.
In fact, it probably wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that he hates it. Despises it. Probably plots our imminent demise nightly for bringing him on this dog-forsaken journey.
Our dog (Koa) is a three year old border collie. Don’t know anything about border collies? THEY’RE CRAZY. Widely considered the most intelligent dog breed, border collies are high-energy workers that need a job (any job!) to be happy, and can sometimes be a little neurotic.
Okay, I’m being nice – they’re often VERY neurotic. When left to their own devices for too long, border collies are known to entertain themselves in rather destructive ways… such as eating through your living room wall.
Thankfully Koa has never tended toward the destructive, but his Achilles heel is his skittishness; what he lacks in typical border collie problems he more than makes up for in his neurotic mistrust of anything he doesn’t fully understand.
Falling acorns in Vermont caused him so much consternation that he spent days jumping into our lap whenever they hit the roof. The silver lining was that Koa cuddled in bed with us all night, but unfortunately he spent most of that time sleeping on my face.
And don’t even get me started on car rides… I would rather get my wisdom teeth pulled without anesthesia than ride in a car with my own dog. He is that bad. We have trained and bribed and cursed and cried, but still our dog insists on having a nervous meltdown every single time we drive anywhere. He considers our mobile home safe and cozy most of the time, but as soon as the engine turns on its all OMG APOCALYPSE!!!
His neuroses are a little less prominent when he’s well-exercised (in other words, exhausted and taking a nap), so we do our best to oblige his high-energy needs. However, this gets a little tricky on the road.
For most of our trip we’ve been able to find empty fields or at least a quiet piece of grass for some frisbee action, but since being in the southwest we’ve run into an issue: thorns.
Dog parks are another option… for normal dogs. You see, our dog doesn’t always play well with others. Big dogs and medium dogs and sometimes even small teacup dogs make him nervous. Taking Koa to the dog park is like taking a two-year-old child who likes to throw sand in other kids’ eyes to the neighborhood playground — it’s just an all-around bad idea.
At this point I’m sure we come across as awful pet owners, and it’s possible that we are. But believe me, we’ve tried! During the first two years of his life we worked with SEVEN different trainers… many of which contradicted the others’ methods, some of which were downright awful, and none of which were able to make him a confident, well-adjusted dog. We learned all sorts of useful cues and fun tricks from some of these trainers, but his underlying nervousness remains; at root, our dog just worries too much.
He worries that the cats crouched under the RV are sinister villains planning their next nefarious scheme while licking hairballs. Campground golf carts are clearly ravenous beasts that eat dogs for dinner. The dude walking across the parking lot must be planning to invade our home, never mind the fact that he’s walking *away* from the RV.
Koa defends his home from these threats by sitting in Mayhem’s cab and barking at stupid shit THAT DOESN’T NEED TO BE BARKED AT. And while I admire his dedication (this is the job he’s given himself, and he’s determined to do it well!), I’m less than thrilled with his methods.
The thing is, aside from all this he’s actually an amazing dog. Affectionate and silly and eager to please…. and so darn adorable! After we’ve exhausted him with a game of fetch and he comes and collapses in our lap in a big happy panting pool of drool, everything else just melts away.
We adore our dog, but for the sanity of this pack we really shouldn’t be living in an RV.