Dear RV Shrink:
My wife and I have been full-time traveling for three years in our 35-foot fifth wheel. We’ve had a dog our whole married life but when our Schnauzer died just before we started traveling we decided not to get another dog while traveling. That only lasted a few months.
My wife wanted a dog real bad. I would point out to her other campers at 0-dark-thirty in the morning forced outside in inclement weather walking their dogs. I argued that we have a small living space and that a dog would limit our hiking in the many areas that do not allow dogs on the trails. I pointed out the expense a dog incurs and a crimp in our no-schedule lifestyle we were then enjoying.
Well, we now have a new puppy that has torn our cushions and given us a limited schedule of how long we can be gone. Most of the time it’s me out at o-dark-thirty with the little poop machine, allowing him to sniff every bush in the campground and toting a rubber glove to deposit his deposits somewhere appropriate. All the time I am trying to avoid the land mines that a majority of other less responsible dog owners have left.
I am resenting this mutt and my lack of backbone to “just say no” to dogs. I should have written you before the fact, but would appreciate some advice now. —Leashed in Lubbock
You are absolutely right. You should have written me first. The responsibilities involved with having an animal are the same as having a child. I get this type of complaint all the time.
The fact is you agreed to a dog. You and your wife are a management team. You both have needs that are important to a happy lifestyle and often these needs can clash, as with this dog. You admit you made your best argument for not traveling with a dog (early walks, damage, tracking in wet and dirt, expense, limited camping and hiking opportunities, small living space, scheduling inconvenience etc.). It’s obvious that your wife was on the debate team in school and you where busy playing football.
It is unfortunate that you are not accepting the dog, but look at the bright side — you made your wife happy. There is no going back. You now have a dog to raise, toilet train, feed, educate, love and enjoy. Yes, I said enjoy. That is what you will eventually come to do.
Your dog will live a good decade or longer and eventually wag his way into your heart. So why not accept your fate. The companionship is a respectable trade-off for what you are giving up. You will probably see many beautiful sunrises you would otherwise have missed. You will also meet many new friends on your relief-effort walks, and next time you don’t agree with a decision that has a huge impact on your lifestyle, you might become a better debater.
One technique you could have used was, “How about an indoor cat?” They don’t require early morning walks, they offer good companionship, they can be left longer, no campground restrictions, no mice in the “fiver”, and they make purr-fect traveling pets. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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