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Dog is my co-pilot: Better places to stop for RVers with pets

By Scott Linden
“Dog is my co-pilot,” says the bumper sticker, and for RV travelers it’s literally true. They share our adventures, buoy our spirits and are best friends on this journey called life. Like ourselves, our four-footed traveling companions need to get out of the rig and stretch once in a while, for physical and mental health and, um, to “do their business.”

But where?

Roadside rest areas are a hornet’s nest of dangers for pets: traffic; toxic substances on the ground; roaring, gear-grinding 18-wheelers; sketchy “pet areas” harboring everything from parvovirus to fleas. Drive away as fast as you can! Refueling stops are even worse. Fill up, pay, and get outta Dodge.

Find better spots

I’ve been driving long distances with dogs and RVs for almost 30 years, and have compiled a short list of tried-and-true stopping places for pets than the usual rest areas. They’re safer, quieter, more peaceful, secure, and relatively convenient. I make a habit of searching on Google for these types of locations as I sense a potty stop coming on, and seldom have to go more than a couple of miles out of the way.

Here they are:

• Church parking lots
• Athletic fields
• Public schools after hours
• Public parks (unless expressly prohibited)
• Playgrounds
• Gun clubs
• Municipal “campuses”
• Office parks
• Colleges in summer
• Little League fields
• Fairgrounds
• Elks Clubs
• Shopping mall parking lots, early in the morning

Many of these places are enclosed or fenced, making them even safer. Seek permission (or forgiveness) and don’t wear out your welcome – it’s a rest stop, not a campsite. To assuage your conscience, pick up someone else’s litter while you’re there. And certainly clean up after your pet.

This land is your land

In the rural West, it’s often easier. Much of the land off the interstate is yours and mine – public – so check your GPS and enjoy a quick hike, guilt-free. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Grasslands, state parks, offer wide-open spaces to exercise a dog and its human. “Wild” public land has its own set of rules, mostly common sense. Some residents would love to eat your pet, sting, bite or chase it. And vice-versa. If you’re not totally confident in your dog’s recall, keep him on a leash.

You and your pet are, hypothetically, on a journey of peaceful relaxation. Why not your rest stops, too?

Host of the RV Travel podcast, Scott Linden and his five German Wirehaired Pointers have traveled 42 of the 50 United States, usually towing an RV.

##RVT1001

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Karen
4 months ago

See, as I posted earlier I get flak from people now just because I have dogs. I am a multiple dog owner here, 4 dogs, why because I have sheep herding dogs that work as well as recreate. I have stopped at and use a lot of the same places mentioned. Why not? I pick up after my dogs and they are well trained. Trained to not run up to strangers, my problem, people run up to them with hands out, staring them down and want to pet them. Believe me, they don’t want you to approach them, or put your hands all over them.
what difference is there if I stop at a peopled rest stop with all the hazards, a park, or public land. Most likely someone is going to walk over that ground, have a picnic nearby or their child is going to throw a ball. If you take your child to a park chances are a dog, or human or a wild animal may have been past there and left a calling card at some time. At a CG near the river last week and my dogs found piles of human poo, 4 feet from the water line. It happens.

Traveler
4 months ago

Churches? As a pit stop for Rover? No way! We travel with 2 dogs and that is a hard no for us. And yes, we always pick up after our dogs, poop bags in the pocket.

WEB
4 months ago

Are you serious with athletic fields, playgrounds… Little League fields? Do you think the athletes and kids really like it if pets just defecated and urinated right where they play? If you think that is OK, just try picking up the {bleeped} with your bare hands or wiping your hand over where they peed. Some people.

WEB
4 months ago
Reply to  WEB

The word “t-u-r-d” gets “bleeped” (above) but “jackass” (seen elsewhere) is OK?

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
4 months ago
Reply to  WEB

Wasn’t me, WEB. I think our IT wrangler set the filter up to bleep some words. If I bleep something, I’ll put that it was “bleeped by Diane.” And you can tell I didn’t bleep your comment because I wasn’t up at 5:30 a.m. 😯 —Diane

Janet Herrell
4 months ago

The biggest problem with the ,pet is the owner. Way too many times the owner does not pick up after them. And I do not like seeing or stepping into the “results” of their visit.

WEB
4 months ago
Reply to  Janet Herrell

Just know that Scott and their four-footed traveling companions may have just been to the fields where you want to picnic and where the kids want to roll around in the grass. 🙂

Last edited 4 months ago by WEB