We love sharing stories from people having fun traveling with their pets – especially when they do things a little differently than us! With a pack of four rescue dogs, Barbara decided that the best way to take her pups on vacation was to rent a dog friendly camper. She and her husband put their concerns aside and packed up the pooches for a week-long road trip – and today we’re delighted to bring their story to you.
Sharing YOUR pet travel experiences may be just the nudge someone else needs to pack up and head out with their own best friend. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for Take Paws, let us know!
Taking any type of vacation is unusual for us. With four large rescue dogs (including a 2-year-old who’s been blind from birth), the question has always been, “Who would take care of the dogs?” They aren’t little angels, after all. We’ve spoiled them perfectly, allowing them the run of our home and access to beds and sofas.
And because we live in the mountains of Colorado, on land surrounded by a national forest, we’ve also been lax in teaching them the social etiquette of cities. In a pinch, dear friends stayed at the house with our rascals for a few days at a time, but we would never be so bold as to ask them to stay for longer than that!
So when the stars aligned this Spring, and we had the opportunity to get away for a week, we knew we’d be taking the hounds with us. My research led me to GoPetFriendly.com, where I found tips and insights about traveling with dogs that I had never considered. I began to think, “We can do this … but we don’t own an RV.”
Through the magic of Google’s search algorithm, a travel trailer rental agency started popping up in our feeds, and that got our wheels turning. This was a smaller company than those popular RV rentals you see on the road, and much more affordable. (Apparently, there are a lot of them out there and some allow pets.) We already had a truck, so we selected a 30’ bumper pull travel trailer from their inventory and started making our plans.
Our goal was to drive less than 6 hours per day, take time to walk, hike, and see some sights we’d never stopped at before … with the dogs. We laid out a loop: west to Utah, south to Arizona, east to New Mexico, and then north back to Colorado. It was our maiden voyage, so we didn’t want to be too ambitious – we just needed a break from the snow.
Stress of the unknown did seep in as we prepared for the trip. Would the dogs bark at every noise in the campsite? They aren’t used to having neighbors! Would they be so upset that they would damage the rented trailer? Our blind dog, Panda, worried us most. How would he handle the ever-changing environments?
We told our kids and friends about our plans, and all of them said, “Oh, that sounds like so much fun!” But, considering all the things that could go wrong, I replied, “Yes, it will either be a lot of fun … or a disaster.” As it turned out, our little devils became angels for the entire duration of the trip! One reason was our preparation and accommodation for their needs. The other reason was that they were just happy to be with us … 24/7.
Panda did show a little distress over some of the situations, like getting in and out of the trailer on those less than solid steps. But we were patient, and after listening to the other dogs doing things a few times, he soon had to prove he could do it, too!
His hiking abilities on rocky terrain astounded me. He needed only to listen to my steps to navigate the trails.
The dogs couldn’t have had a better time, and watching them enjoy our adventures made the trip more fun for us, too. Panda met his first real life fire hydrant, we saw Hole ‘n the Rock, and stayed for three nights at Goulding’s Camp Park in Monument Valley. It was a beautiful area with all the amenities one could asked for, including trails right from the campground.
Traveling off-season made finding campgrounds really easy, and the temperatures were a lot more pleasant for hiking than if we’d been there during the summer.
On our way to New Mexico we stopped at the Four Corners Monument. Dogs are not allowed outside of the parking lot, but we did meet Pez, and I’m sure that if we had stayed longer he could have told us a few exciting travel tales!
That night we camped at Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico – it was lovely and we wished we had had more time to spend there! The only drawback was an abundance of low-lying cactus; keeping Panda from walking right through it was tedious.
Our final stop was an overnight stop at the Royal Gorge KOA near Canon City, CO. Before heading home the following morning we visited the scenic Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. The entire park is pet friendly, even inside the Visitor Center, just not in the restaurant. “We understand that your pets are your family,” the ranger said.
We were also told that some dogs are weary on the bridge, but ours have a bit of pack bravado and did just fine. Panda kept his nose to the boards however, trying to figure out the gentle sway and hollow sound beneath his feet.
We left ourselves enough time on the way home to clean out the trailer before returning it, hoping to have our entire $500 deposit returned. A truck stop with car wash and vacuum worked perfectly, and the company thanked us for bringing the camper back in excellent condition.
The ease of renting the trailer and the flexibility it gave us to travel with our dogs was fantastic. The joy it brought us to see them happily enjoying our adventure guaranteed many more trips like this for us … and hopefully for other pet owners, too.
About the Author: Barbara McNary lives with her husband and four rescue dogs in the mountains of Colorado. You can connect with her (and Panda) at @bigblinddog on Instagram. The rights to all photos in this post belong to Barbara McNary and were published here with her permission.
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