cat-and-dog-sleepDon’t know where you are, but I’m in the very snowy, very cold Midwest, Chicago area.  Fortunately, some of you are basking in the warm sun of the South and good for you!  And some of you are hittin’ the high road and relocating yourselves to warmer climates and sunnier environs. 

I have a few friends who do that every winter as they travel the southern and western countrysides in their big RV’s schlepping family, felines and furries.

But I’ve heard some rather hair-raising stories about some of their experiences as they attempt to entertain and accommodate their canine companions along the way.  Here’s a few tips of Do’s and Do Not’s when you trek the wilds expecting everything to maintain status quo as though you were in your own backyard.

Rules for Rest Stops

FIRST, you are NOT in your own backyard.  Always, always keep in mind that you are in foreign territory with foreign rules and foreign creatures, i.e., coyotes, porcupines, skunks, bears and wolves!  I don’t care how big and burly good old Roscoe, the Great Dane or 130 lb. Mastiff or Rottweiler, might be, he is no match for some of those guys out there who spend a lifetime learning how to skulk, track, attack, maim, kill and EAT whatever they run across.  Getting my point?

So here’s a few rules for those rest stop moments when Roscoe needs to pee, stretch, sniff or whatever he might need to do.  Keep him on his leash!  Never, EVER let your dog run free in those rest stops.  Aside from the Forest Ranger who will likely give you a ticket, if your pooch gets a whiff of something in the bush and he makes a mad dash to “get it,” the result could be devastating.  Remember the mention of bears, wolves, coyotes?  Well, if Roscoe smells them, they smell him and are circling the wagons just in case he makes that mad dash into the bush where they could hurt him considerably and drag him away.  As big as he is, he might put up a fight, but trust me.  He won’t win.  And here’s the bigger deal.  You could be hundreds of miles away from a vet’s office or hospital if he needs immediate care. And God forbid, if you let your little five pounder loose in the wilds.  He’s gone for good.   Don’t mean to scare you, but you need to be scared!

Rules for Dog Parks

Dog Parks.  Pooch Parks.  Lovely legal romping grounds for doggie adventure.  Again, more rules.  If you own a 4½ lb. Yorkie, like I do, an encounter with a 130 lb. Great Dane, as friendly or fun-loving he may seem, can be a horrific experience.  One wrong jump or even just a step, could break that little Yorkie’s back, crush a leg or even a head!  So here’s the deal on this one.  Use common sense.  If you’re a Yorkie owner and see a Great Dane, keep your baby on a leash to keep him safe.  If you’re a Great Dane owner and see a Yorkie, keep YOUR baby on a lease to keep from getting sued.

Doggie parks and rest stops and such are a wonderful invention.  But discretion, safety and common sense are key.  These little guys (or some big guys) are our kids!  Let’s keep them happy, but more importantly, let’s keep them safe.

And remember, just say Arf!