BY NAOMIE MCLEES, A FreeWheeler Furkid
Mom and I joined FreeWheelers way back in 1999, when we discovered the group at Olema, shortly after Mom had bought the first RV4NAO. Our first encounter was two large German Shepherds running free to greet us – and a very nice lady saying, “no” – to which they immediately stopped and politely waited for introductions. Shiloh and Tarka remain my dearest friends (and protectors) to this day. Just like the classic TV show’s theme song, “those were the days” …when the group was small, everyone knew each other and all the other dogs knew each other as well – when 10-12 people would be around the fire each night, their pets curled quietly and contently at their feet. Even those without pets in our FW group didn’t object because the pets were so well mannered and under the control of their humans.
Well, this is NOW, the FreeWheelers group has grown by leaps and bounds and some of our members have decided that their pet shouldn’t have to follow the basic rules of good manners and common sense. We love all the new members and the dynamics of meeting old friends and making new friends — human and canine, feline and others – but with the growing group it’s now necessary to have some “Pet-Equitte” rules so that everyone can enjoy equally our gatherings.
So here’s some hints for our human members and our animal friends – some may sound a bit harsh but that’s sometimes what happens when just a few push the envelope and break the rules.
First off – did you know it’s AGAINST THE LAW to allow a dog or other domestic animal and cats (domestic or feral) to roam at large (free) inany RV park? Allowing this to happen not only puts you, the RV guest in jeopardy but also our host parks for violating the laws– and they will probably be hesitant to invite us back if we put them in jeopardy. Roaming “at large” means NOT being confined either to a leash, tether or in a secure enclosure or in your RV. Even if your canine (or feline) companion is the most well-trained in the world, don’t walk through the RV park, to the bathrooms, or be at our FW gatherings unless your companion is on a leash attached to you – the human.
Secondly – each RV park has its own rules regarding pets. Be sure you’re aware of them and follow those rules. If they have a dog area, use it! If they have a doggie “run”, that’s great and maybe other FW pets can join yours in a leash-free romp. And, remember to always pick up after your pet – whether when on a walk or at your campsite. My Mom says there’s nothing worse than stepping in “poop” and makes this awful “eeuhhhh” noise when it happens.
Third – If you’re new to the group, go slow – us old-timers like to check out the new furry visitors to be sure that they fit in with our group.
Fourth – sometimes the nicest dogs (and cats) in the world react negatively to the changes they encounter in RV travel. Even if they are docile at home, they may become aggressive or protective when away from their normal environment. Or that may just be their day-to-day temperament which you tolerate – but others shouldn’t have to. FW humans, if your animal is aggressive toward others or toward humans, it’s your responsibility to keep them under control and if necessary away from the group as a whole. We’ve had instances where a little bitty dog has taken on a “monster” dog and although the big guy didn’t retaliate – he could have and the results would have been catastrophic.
If your pet is a “biter”, then make sure that he/she can’t be in a position to bite. If this does happen, you’ll be asked to take your pet away from the group and confine it to your site during the remainder of the outing.
If your pet is a “barker”, do whatever you can to prevent it from barking incessantly and disturbing others. Sometimes your pet will be fine in the RV but will bark at every leaf and noise outside….gee, what’s the solution to that one?
We know that we have to follow the “rule” that I’m not allowed to come to events where there’s food being served or where the event is indoors – sad for me but makes sense as some canines don’t have good table manners and can get pretty disruptive – but Mom always rewards me with a treat when she comes back from those events and reminds me that by having this “rule”, I can still come to the other gatherings – especially the ones at the fire at night – which I really love — but only if I remain on my leash at all times and with her or one of my adopted “aunties”.
Finally, don’t leave your pet outside unattended, even if he/she is in an enclosure – remember, we’re camping and there’s a bunch of feral critters out there at some of our sites – who might just love a morsel of your furry friend.
And if you’re going to leave your pet in the RV (and it’s not against the RV park rules), be sure you’ve let someone else know in the group and that they have access to your RV, just in case! How tragic if there was a fire or other emergency and your pet was trapped – and you were nowhere to be found.
All and all these are simple and reasonable guidelines – which will make everyone’s life a little easier on our FreeWheeler outings! Let’s just follow them and the basic rule of good manners – and we can all have a wonderful time!
See you at the next FreeWheeler gathering!