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Old 08-19-2010, 10:59 PM   #1
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Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Hi all,

You may have seen me clogging up the towing forum with questions about whether or not our Subaru Outback can tow a 15A or (perfect world) a 17A. It looks like we are limited to the 15 A, at least with this car ... and it is a car that we hoped to keep until it dies, so we'd prefer not putting ourselves in a situation where we have to trade in and upgrade.

So that leaves us with a 15A ... a theoretical 15A, at least. In which two reasonably fit adults (5'6" and 6'), and two seventy pound Golden Retriever mixes, need to peaceably coexist. We plan to use the trailer for recreation, but also for work. We're radio journalists and have some audio and photographic equipment .. not a huge amount, maybe a suitcase's worth? And we need room to work on a laptop with a little equipment here and there.

We're mainly concerned about whether our pups will be constantly underfoot. We'd thought maybe we could just leave the 15A's bed down at all times for them, but realistically we're going to have to use that larger table every so often. So we're very curious how people manage with large ones in tow? Do you use the screenhouse option? Do you find yourself constantly having to move around to accomodate your dog? Constantly having to take down and set up bed/table so that they have a place to go?

How much of a pain is is it to stow your bedding and swap into table? Where do you put the bedding?

Is there any sort of modification that would allow us to extend the small dinette table in such a way that we can make it larger temporarily for work? I know it would block the door, but if we know we were gonna be in there for awhile? Thus allowing us to leave the bed intact?

Also, has anyone modified that back dinette -- the bigger one -- to become a u shaped sofa with a table?

Thoughts? Advice?

Sweet dreams,

Elizabeth
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:47 PM   #2
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

We have two big labs but so far have left them at home when we've gone camping b/c bringing our two little kiddos along is already more than enough for us right now. We are fortunate to have several different neighbors who are kind enough to look after our dogs while we are away. So, sorry, but I can't help you on your direct questions regarding bringing the dogs along however, a few possible options you could consider...

If you are in a temperate climate (not too hot or cold or raining), then you could use a collapsible camp table with some camp chairs & work outside. You could set it up under the awning if it's too sunny & bright out.

Alternatively, if your dogs would be content & obedient enough to stay in it, a collapsible kennel/fencing/pen area could be set up outside the trailer for when you are working inside & need the space. Maybe something like this?
http://www.amazon.com/Panel-GoGo-Bla...274543&sr=8-10
Our two labs would likely want to chase deer and jump out so I wouldn't trust it for our dogs but maybe it'd work for yours.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:24 AM   #3
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

My wife and I travel with our 17B, two young boys and a German Shepherd Dog. Our 8 year old happily shares his bunk with Cassie, our dog, or should I say our dog shares her bunk with our boy? She also likes to sleep under the table when it is set up. If we have no problem with two young boys and a dog, two well behaved adults and a two dogs should be ok!
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:10 AM   #4
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

DDevin, for what it's worth, we're talking 15A. I feel very confident we'd be okay in the 17A, it's the 15 that has me nervous ...
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:14 AM   #5
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Well, if you need specific answers for the 15A, I guess I can't help. I was going to give you some insights based upon many years of camping with 3 dogs in a 17' Casita, but I guess it won't help. Sorry

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Old 08-20-2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Oh, yikes, no, I would still love to hear everyone's experience ... I thought I was just a dunderhead last night and maybe didn't clarify that while we WANTED a 17 we're probably going to have to stay with a 15 regardless.

Sorry about that Dave. I'd love to hear more about Kaya, Nola, and Pepper's journeys ... All beauties, btw. Is Nola by chance a New Orleans rescue?

Elizabeth
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:26 AM   #7
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Not a problem Elizabeth. Yes Nola (golden/chow mix?) is a Katrina rescue. Deb was down there for 6 weeks on animal rescue operations after the dikes broke and brought Nola back...scared and scarred (from the chemical stew she had to live in). We just found out Nola has lymphoma, probably due to that chemical stew, so she's just started chemo. Poor thing.

Back to camping. Dogs are on the floor at night, but when I get up to get our coffee, the pack gets to be on the bed...for the floor space. We always left the bed made (due to the bedding storage issues and the hassle of making it) so the dogs were underfoot when we all occupied the trailer at the same time...but we tried to avoid that when possible, and when impossible, the dogs got the bed and we got the trailer. The most important things we have learned are:
  • Microchip your pet!
  • Bring their shot records
  • Know the location of the nearest vet
  • Dogs get heat stroke far more easily than humans. Make sure they have plenty of water and shade
  • Lots of dogs get snake bitten (Deb is a Vet Tech and sees it all the time)
  • Dogs love skunks (ask yourself how I know that)
  • We spent most of our time outside the trailer, mainly using it to sleep, so the outdoor plans are more important than the indoor ones
  • All of these trailers are tiny...so plan on playing Twister as you maneuver around the dogs
  • Dogs are even more territorial in the strange environment of a campsite...so watch out for other people's dogs. Ours are trained, socialized and know who is boss...many other people's dogs are not
  • City dog's pads wear out fast on gravel roads.
  • Did I mention, dogs love skunks?

Two rhetorical questions:,
1. Why is it the folks with the giant whale trailers have the tiny little dogs, and the folks in tents and tiny trailers have big dogs?
2. What if there were no rhetorical questions?

Dave
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:56 AM   #8
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Elizabeth;
My opinion is, if you have to use the dinette/bed of the 15A for work, you will quickly find the hassle of setup is very tiresome. The biggest problem is actually making the bed; crawling on the matteress while trying to tuck the sheets in is an interesting feat of legerdemain. If the small table is the right size for your work, it may suit you...but did you notice the seatback angles? You'll definitely want some lumbar cushions.

The dogs will definitely be under foot. In the Casita we found it best to have one person moving at a time...and we're both of a reasonable diameter . I'll say it again, these are tiny trailers. We finally moved from a 17" Casita to the Escape 5.0 for the additional room. I'm sure owners of those giant multiple-slideout whales would think we were crazy to "move up" to a 19' trailer, but that's what draws us to these fiberglass eggs...the minimalist nature of the experience.

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Old 08-20-2010, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Dave,

The scenario you describe with the takedown/setup of the bed is exactly what troubles me. In the 17, we'd have a permanent bed and a good-sized space to work. Clearly we'd lose that in the 15. I don't think we'd need that big table every single day, but we'd probably need it quite a bit ... and the takedown/setup spiral begins.

Has anyone worked any sort of modification on the small dinette table where it maybe folds out and becomes larger? I know that this would make the table extend in front of the door, but let's say we were working in there for a few hours and didn't need to go outside.

Does anyone else have any other magical ideas for modification that might allow this to work a little better? Maybe I should look at the layout for the 15B and see if the different arrangement of stuff there gives me any ideas.

Elizabeth
(p.s. if anyone wants to trade a Subaru 2.5 for a Subaru 3, let us know ...
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

BTW, here are the two travelling companions ... Fernandina (aka Fern) the Golden (Retriever) Girl, and Dovekie the Golden Retriever/Wirehaired Pointing Griffon mix.

If only they would let us use them as pillows, this would all work out nicely.

Elizabeth
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:20 PM   #11
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Aww, sweet-looking dogs!

We don't have a dog of our own anymore, so we rent them! LOL We do often camp with my son's dogs. And we do have a 19' which is much more spacious than a 15'. But if we're not all sleeping inside or out taking a hike or walk on the beach, the dogs are normally on these lightweight chains outside the trailer. They really don't mind at all, there are a lot of critters to watch and we're outside with them much of the time.
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:40 PM   #12
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

When outside, our guys are usually tied somewhere where they can get near us. They normally perform their world-famous "dog-weaving" stunt several times a day, for our viewing pleasure. The intricacy of the woven product the dogs produce is often enhanced by the twigs and stick they incorporate to add an additional textural element to their design.

I've gone through several different kinds of nylon rope and have finally found one which doesn't knot as badly...operent phrase, "as badly." None of which stops them from finding inventive ways of using their ropes to tip over the water dishes.

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Old 08-21-2010, 05:55 PM   #13
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

After our last excursion to SW Alberta in early August, we're leaving the dog at home if we expect to do anything besides hang around camp. It was too hot to leave the dog in the trailer, even if we were comfortable with that, and too hot to have the dog in the car. So, Les visited the museum and I sat in the car with the dog. I got groceries and Les sat in the car with the dog. No romantic dinners out or afternoons lounging in some waterfront bar.

Dog can come if we go to a lake and stay there. It's not going to get to go to Portland, Bend etc. in Sept.

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Old 08-21-2010, 06:25 PM   #14
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

We've found a lot of local vets and kennels will day-board or even board by the hour, so we usually dump them into doggie daycare when we are out 'splorin'

Dave
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:44 PM   #15
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo
After our last excursion to SW Alberta in early August, we're leaving the dog at home if we expect to do anything besides hang around camp. It was too hot to leave the dog in the trailer, even if we were comfortable with that, and too hot to have the dog in the car. So, Les visited the museum and I sat in the car with the dog. I got groceries and Les sat in the car with the dog. No romantic dinners out or afternoons lounging in some waterfront bar.

Dog can come if we go to a lake and stay there. It's not going to get to go to Portland, Bend etc. in Sept.

baglo
Glenn:

Have a heart! Dogs need vacations too!

Our dog came with us to Bend in July when the temperature was 33 degrees C. during the day (91 degrees F.). We had all the windows open in the trailer and the Maxx fan running full throttle, and it was manageable. Sometimes our dog was outside in the shade when shade could be found.

We have an Escape 13 and our cocker spaniel is happy sleeping under the double bed at night, and he dozes on the floor under the table when we are eating meals. When we were at the quilt show in Sisters we found a wonderful shade tree which kept the car reasonably cool during the day with the windows partly open, and we took short walks with him.

Without a dog, what would be your excuse for walking on the beach? Just as a camera helps to discover the beauty of nature, a dog helps you to meet interesting people and to explore the country.

Brian

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Old 08-21-2010, 10:04 PM   #16
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

I have to admit, I'm getting a kick out of seeing everyone's pups. I suppose it's okay to shamelessly plug our own Dovekie; we actually did a story on him for NPR -- you can link to it via our under-construction webpage (http://www.longhaulpro.org). So he's used to a fair amount of attention, a pup worthy of an Escape (pun intended) ... at least we think so.

Anyway ... still curious if anyone's modified that small front dinette in the 15A to allow a flip-out and slightly larger table ... which would make it a little easier to manage without having to constantly setup and take down the back dinette/bed?

I'm also very curious (and maybe I should post this separately so it doesn't get lost in this thread) -- how difficult is it to access the storage if we were to, say, make that back bed permanent? Is it possible to do a giant drawer in the area under where the dinette table would normally be? Or, if we were to make that a permanent human/dog bed, would we find ourselves constantly lifting a heavy mattress to get into the hatches, etc? Or reaching deep into cabinets beneath?

I don't know if any of you remember this mod, but we're thinking something along these lines ...

http://escapeforum.org/index.php?topic=1105

Has anyone experimented with a u-shaped couch in a 15 or 17? Or a small dinette along the side wall (with the kitchen along the front)?

Curious. Again, I may just post these questions in another topic in the event they get lost in our Pup Photo Shoot here ...

Elizabeth

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Old 08-21-2010, 10:48 PM   #17
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Elizabeth - Reace is usually willing to work with people with modification ideas, when they are possible and safe.
It would be worthwhile to run some of your ideas past him to see if he could do them for you, rather than have to rework what has already been done.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:58 AM   #18
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Elizabeth,
Here's an apt link from the Casita Club forums:
http://www.casitaclub.com/forums/ind...28&hl=underbed

As to access to the storage under the bed, several folks have had Reace put supplemental doors on the ends of those areas, to avoid just that "take the bed apart to get a roll of twine, remake the bed afterward" you mention. In addition, exterior hatches can be added for access as well.

Dave

p.s.: while Dovekie is an obvious charmer, I must admit I'm impressed with Fern's picture. Did you play with it in Photoshop?

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Old 08-22-2010, 09:35 AM   #19
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

Dave, Fern is au natural. No cosmetic (or Photoshop) enhancement necessary.

Thanks for the Casita underbed link ... I'll check that out in a bit.

~e
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:07 AM   #20
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Re: Travelling with dogs -- how do you manage?

I hate to be a wet blanket, but, all this very good discussion and your clear misgivings about if the 15 is going to work are very well founded. I think you are trying to get a square peg in a round hole. It is not going to fit, at least not without shaving the edges off.

Right now we have a 13' Casita and we travel, sometimes, with our Golden Retriever. We always leave the bed made up to avoid the hassle of making and remaking if we were to switch to the dinette configuration. We are ONLY in the trailer at night. We spend all of our time when camping outdoors. When the three of us are inside, the dog is indeed constantly underfoot (and she is only 62 pounds). For us, that's ok, because it doesn't happen very often and it doesn't last long. We only go camping a half a dozen times a year, and the typical trip is three nights.

It sounds to me that your situation is quite different. You are going to be using the trailer often, for long periods of time, and be inside much of that time, with the dogs. I think you are going to find it much too small very quickly. If you were just making the occasional weekend trip with the dogs, sure, you could make it work, but, long periods of time will get old pretty fast. In the towing topic you kept trying to see if the 17 would be possible. Right direction. Then dismiss it because the Subaru can't handle it. Sorry, but, I think wrong answer. In my estimation, what you need for the type of use you have outlined is either the 19, or, the 5.0 (or a Bigfoot, or Burro). You will need floor space for the dogs, and working space for your vocation. Look back at Texscapees post on the 19th. He put it perfectly. Find the trailer that fits your needs, and get a tow vehicle that fits the trailer. I believe the Subaru is just not going to work. I would suggest, accept it, and move on. I believe you will be much more satisfied in the long run.

I think I can very easily appreciate your situation. We have the trailer we do because it was all our tow vehicle can handle, just barely. We have to be constantly watching our weight, draining the fresh tank and water heater before we drive to shed weight. Leaving things at home because we needed something else to take. For example, and trying to stay a little more on topic, when the dog travels with us, we bring her x-pen for her to hang out in outside at the campsite. That means we cannot bring our solar panels because we cannot afford the weight of both. In addition, we can only bring the dog on weekend trips when we don't bring much (clothing and food) for us, so that we can use the weight allowance for her. By the way, the maximum trailer weight allowance of the tow vehicle may not be your limiting factor. For us, the limiting weight allowance is the combined weight rating (CVWR), the weight of the tow, everything in it, and the weight of the trailer combined. I suspect that by the time you pack the Subaru with all your stuff, the dogs stuff, and the dogs, you may not be able to tow much of a trailer at all. You may find that even the 15 will have you overweight. There are very few vehicles, except pickup trucks and real (truck based) SUVs, that will allow you to pack to the roof, and still tow a maximum weight trailer. Check the owner's manual very carefully for all of the various weight ratings.

So how do we manage with our dog? We stay outside except to sleep. The trailer is really little and the dog isn't. We love having the dog along so we just roll with it and get by. We bring an x-pen and ground mat for her. In case you don't know the mat is the exact same mat as the awing mats that are sold for RVs except quite a bit less money because it is "dog" stuff, not "RV" stuff. It provides a floor for the x-pen and keeps her out the dirt and weeds while lounging in her pen. We have a shade cloth we can rig up for her, or, sometimes we set up the pen at the trailer under the awning. She likes that a lot.

Our plan is to move up to a larger trailer in the next couple of years. We will do this when the trip lengths become longer and we need the room for the dog. Yes, there will be an appropriate tow vehicle to go with it. I think of it as just part of the price of admission.

Hope this helps,

Bill
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