Once a year Rod and I review our wills. It’s not a pleasant task, but it’s important to ensure Ty and Buster are provided for if something happens to us. None of us gets out of here alive, and revising these documents only takes a few hours and gives us with peace of mind.
During this year’s update it occurred to me that, even though our wills are current, our preparations (should they be needed) were woefully inadequate. I’d been missing a huge hole in our plans for years!
Life is uncertain for everyone, but living full-time in a motorhome poses a unique challenge. If Rod and I left to get groceries and got into a car accident, how would our families find Ty and Buster in the RV? They could spend precious hours calling all the RV parks within driving distance of the crash site hoping to locate our motorhome – and if we were camping off-the-grid, they’d be completely out of luck.
Then there’s the issue of proximity. Our immediate family all lives in the Midwest and on the East Coast. We spend a big part of each year out west, so expecting my parents or sisters to pop over and take care of the dogs is out of the question. And, unlike most pet owners, we don’t even have a regular pet sitter or boarding facility to count on.
Finally, how could our family members be expected to know the ins-and-outs of taking care of the boys? Ty and Buster are senior dogs, with all that entails. They take prescriptions and supplements, require help maneuvering stairs, and have a routine that makes them comfortable. If we were no longer around, we’d want their lives to stay as stable as possible while they adjusted.
So, how are free-wheeling pet lovers to provide for their pets? With technology, of course!
My phone is programmed with an ICE number – the “In Case of Emergency” contact that would lead paramedics or the police to my parents. After they received “the call” the first hurdle my family would face would be finding Ty and Buster in the RV. Luckily, this was easily overcome. They make an app for that … in fact, they make a lot of apps for that!
The free version of the family locator app, My Family, gave us all the functionality we needed and then some. Setup was easy, and my parents and sisters were able to join our group by entering a unique invitation code generated through the app when I sent them invitations. The rest of my family can even turn off tracking for their locations since I’m the only one whose whereabouts are uncertain.
Rather than installing the app on my phone, which I almost always have with me, the tracker resides on a tablet that almost never leaves the motorhome. My Family opens to a map that allows me to verify our location is being reported accurately. But most importantly, my entire family can now quickly track down our RV in case of an emergency.
Since we’re normally far from friends and family, if Rod and I couldn’t care for Ty and Buster, my sisters would be in charge of hiring a pet sitter to look after the boys until reinforcements arrived. All three of my sisters have pets and are skilled online researchers – I trust them to find a topnotch pet care provider. But that person would be unfamiliar with our dogs, and even if he or she knew where the motorhome was – how would they get in?
We solved this problem by putting together a detailed description of the dogs and their care. Everything from where to find their food, medicine, leashes, toys, and treats, to when and where they like to sleep. There’s a bit about how we manage Buster’s reactivity to other dogs, Ty’s methods of communicating that he needs to go outside, and our tricks for getting them to take their pills. In addition, we hid a spare key on the outside of the motorhome and the document has instructions on where to find it.
Uploading the file to a Dropbox folder shared by my family gives all of us access to it and allows me to make quick edits if things change with Ty and Buster. In the event of an emergency, my sisters could easily forward a person who’d never met our dogs everything they’d need to know about them.
Our wills lay out our wishes for Ty and Buster and provide funds for their care. A friend has agreed to take the boys if Rod and I are gone, and the executor of our estates has a copy of our wills and knows that his top priority will be ensuring that the boys get to her as quickly and comfortably as possible.
It’s my most sincere desire that these plans are never needed. But imagining our dogs languishing in our motorhome for days before someone realized there was a problem upsets me more than the prospect of dying. Knowing that we’ve covered all our bases to ensure Ty and Buster’s safety, and that my family is on board to help, is a huge relief. No one lives forever, and being prepared can make all the difference for those left behind.