Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
A couple of weeks ago I drove from my home in Colorado to Arizona for the Phoenix Open with my two dogs. I parked my truck camper in my friend’s driveway in New River, Ariz., for a few days. I found that there were so many cactus and cactus spines on the ground that it was nearly impossible to go out of the camper with the dogs without them getting stickers in their feet. Likewise, I would get them in my shoes and then, of course, the spines would get tracked into the camper where my bare feet would find them for the second time. Was this just an anomaly of the particular area I was in, or is the whole state like this? This experience has me never wanting to go back to Arizona. It just seems cruel to take dogs into an environment like that. Thank you, Bob! —Tom F. of Fort Collins, CO
I am not nor have I been a dog owner at any time during my fulltime RV life, including all my trips to the desert, but since I previously have had dogs I understand your concern. Yes, there are cacti throughout the desert parts of Arizona, but it is not common to have the ground littered with cactus spines. Some cacti, such as jumping cholla, grow in sections several inches long and break off easily when brushed against and fall to the ground. But you and your dogs will likely step over – not on – them.
But I have never found an abundance of individual spines, broken off from the cacti, to be a problem, especially in paved areas or on trails. Why your feet discovered so many is unusual and I would think that more travel in the desert might reveal cacti spines not the problem that they seem to be to you now.
On the other hand, maybe desert dwellers traveling to forested parts of the U.S. might find that their dogs have brushed against poison oak or ivy and then transferred the oils to their humans, resulting in nasty rashes. They might then wonder if forests are safe for man or beast. But that doesn’t deter them from visiting forests, nor should cactus spines deter you from visiting our wonderful deserts, though careful precautions should be taken.
However, since I can’t provide you with a perfect solution to protect your dogs’ or your feet from cactus spines, I would invite any dog owners that live in or frequent the deserts to comment below with what they have found to be the best remedy to protect human and dog feet from cactus spines. Maybe someone will offer up an effective solution.
Editor’s note: Here are some dog shoes on Amazon that claim protection from thorns.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .