Anyone who has ever had a dog, knows that they are more like children than any other animal. They need to be fed and watered and exercised on a schedule, they require almost constant supervision, they need to be taught right and wrong, they crave your attention, your love and positive reinforcement. Sometimes they have an attitude problem, and you need to lay down the law, or bribe them with something they desire. Any dog that doesn't appear to need all of the previous things mentioned, has either grown up outside on a farm or acreage, and can mostly fend for itself, or it is being neglected. It's sounds cheesy, but it is true that Patches and Maggie are like children to us, and unless a sperm hits an egg in the next couple years, they will be our only children. Or, our "fur-babies", as we like to call them.
When we decided to give up everything and live in a camper travelling throughout North America, we knew that it would be different than any other travelling we have done in the past. We were lucky enough to have friends to look after the dogs when we went to California and Cuba last year, and even had good ol' Uncle Rod to take care of the pups when we just wanted to have a romantic evening away at the Moose Jaw Spa, or at a hotel in Regina. We were beyond spoiled, and beyond grateful for our dog-sitters, and the reality has sunk in that we just don't have that option to fall back on while we're on the road this time.
In the past when we have traveled together, we did the regular touristy things like checking out museums and galleries, popular restaurants and clubs, shopping and just wandering around taking pictures at the tourist sites. Because of the dogs, we have not been able to do anything touristy "inside" since we left Regina. If dogs aren't allowed, in theory neither are we, at this point. Not that that has stopped us from getting out and about.
We have learned, that when you have dogs, even though some doors are closed to you, be it a museum, night club, or friends home, you can work around it. We try to plan our outings to include the dogs whenever possible, although sometimes that just isn't an option, so we work around it. When going for coffee, we try and find a coffee shop with a patio. When visiting friends or family that aren't keen on dogs, or when dogs just aren't allowed in their building, we make sure they get a walk in first, and then they wait in the truck while we eat/visit/drink. We make sure to always have their food and water in the truck, as well as a couple blankets, and doggie treats, and we check on them regularly. Instead of walking around a museum, we walk around downtown Victoria, or go to Goldstream, or even hunt for hiking trails at our campground in Malahat. Victoria, and Vancouver Island as a whole, is chalk full of things to do outside that are pet-friendly. We are very excited to spend the next couple months checking out all the outdoor adventure it has to offer, and are lucky to have two dogs who like these things as much as we do. They've camped with us before, they have been on boats and gone swimming....so this isn't new to them.
It's true, that the dogs have been having some trouble adapting since we hit the road. Dogs are territorial creatures, and with all the moving around, they aren't quite sure what their territory is, exactly. They were always very attached to us, right from the moment we brought them both into our home, and I'm not a dog shrink or anything, but they have most definitely been afflicted with a severe case of separation anxiety disorder. Due to the fact that they don't know where they are half the time, they become extremely anxious if we are not around.(barking, jumping, scratching at windows for example.) However, over the past week I have noticed that they don't bark as much if left alone in the camper for a few minutes, or even in the truck while we run into a store for groceries or something. It is taking awhile, but I am hopeful that within a few weeks, we will be able to leave them in the camper like we did at home, and it won't stress them out as much. Like a child, our dogs are upset when mommy and daddy aren't there, and we'll just have to be patient while they learn that we will always come back, and that we aren't leaving just to be mean.
Even though it has been challenging, I do not regret our decision to keep them, and bring them on the road. They make all our walks more exciting, they help us meet other dogs and their owners, and all our evenings at home enjoyable, thanks to their playfulness and their willingness to share their body heat and cuddle. They are our family, and no matter how weird that sounds, it is true. When asked what we were going to do with the dogs before we left, I think Zach's sister Rhonda summed it up best when she said "What do you do with your kids? You take them with you!".