Ideas for Making Your Stay at an RV Park a Little Easier With Pets

Shrinking Dogs and S&H Green Stamps It’s a good idea to immerse yourself every now and then in the world that you routinely write about. Otherwise known as a “reality check”, these real-life excursions confirm that the books and articles you write are still relevant. In my case, I primarily write about camping and RVing with pets. So for the last two winters, I decided to immerse myself in one of the nation’s most popular RVing destinations (and maybe the most popular RVing with pets destination also)—Florida. Florida, as many of you probably know, represents the winter getaway for millions of campers and RVers at hundreds of RV parks open all winter long. When the annual migration officially begins after the holidays, sleepy locales like Fort Myers, Orlando and the Florida Keys are quickly transformed into jam-packed RV park winter communities with big-city traffic, crowded restaurants and terrific weather. Thus, as a reality check for camping and RVing with pets, Florida is about as real as it gets. First of all, someone or something is shrinking the dogs. It appears that the vast majority of RVers with pets now own dogs that weigh less than three pounds. On a typical walk, we routinely encounter miniature poodles, miniature dachshunds, miniature collies, and other dwindling little canines. By contrast, our German Shepherd now seems like a furry dinosaur that trudges through the campground looking for small dogs and other tasty snacks. I’m not sure where all the normal size dogs have gone but the trend is clear. Tiny is in. On a more ordinary note, I’m still amazed at the level of voluntary compliance with the usual assortment of pet rules at RV parks. For example, most folks keep their dogs on a leash, and the vast majority of campers and RVers still pick up after their dogs when taking a walk around the RV park. They may not stop at stop signs, obey red lights, or call their mothers, but they do pick up after their dogs. Even so, I’ve often wondered why campgrounds and RV parks don’t offer incentives (like green stamps or little prizes) to people who diligently pick up after their dogs. You would drop your little baggie off at a centrally located redemption center where an appreciative attendant would give you a hearty thank you and a “puppy poop picker-up-er” gold star that you could proudly wear around the campground. My next observation has to do with the issue of exercise. As full-time RVers, we’ve noticed that very few parks and campgrounds offer fenced-in play areas for dogs. Anyone who has been traveling with pets has probably noticed this. Even though dogs need to run every day to stay in shape and use up excess energy—it’s been months since our dog had any real exercise. We do take our dog for a number of walks every day, but a dog can’t get much exercise while walking with a leash, and that is the limitation when traveling with pets. As a solution, I think RV parks and campgrounds should install treadmills for people with pets. We could then take our dogs for a true workout without ever leaving the RV park. Most of these devices can be tilted to increase the intensity. Some can even be programmed to simulate famous races like the Boston Marathon. If we’re not careful, our dogs are going to be the next victims of the sedentary American lifestyle. Then it’s only a matter of time before our dogs are buzzing around the campground in little electric carts. I wonder if Medicare would pay for that. Maybe there’s a simple solution to all these modern-day problems. Consider this. There are plenty of parks and campgrounds that don’t allow pets. The people that stay there, in all probability, simply don’t want to deal with the annoyances and inconveniences that pets create. So why not open a park that accepts only campers and RVers who are traveling with pets. Since everybody would have pets, it would be the ultimate pet-friendly RV park. Then again, why not dispense with all the rules associated with pets in an RV park. If we got rid of the leash rule, ours dogs could run free and get all the exercise they needed. We could even eliminate the rule about picking up after your dog. Then again, maybe we should keep that one. After all, if they start giving out green stamps for every bag you turn in, I might be able to get that electric knife I’ve been wanting. Check out Camping and RVing with Dogs in the Woodall's bookstore.