Saturday, 11 October 2014

Living on the Road with a dog - Q & A | Dog-sitting Oscar

For quite some time now I've been contemplating getting a dog to share the travelling life with..

A dog would make a great companion, and would be there to share my adventures with. I've met quite a few people living in vans who travel with their pet and it's got me thinking.

So, in Scotland recently when my friend Joanie asked me if I could take care of Oscar I was keen to see what it would be like to share my space with a small companion. Oscar is a Jack Russell terrier and therefore not too big for my small home, and also has a really adventurous character. He'd be perfect to try out life with a doggie companion..

I then had Oscar for a second ten day period in September, and was happy to look after him again after we'd had a great trip together back in July. I found that he was really adaptable and made himself at home in the van right away, relishing bring a part of the activity while camping and spending time on the Scottish coast.

He is an appreciative companion, really knowing how to enjoy the moment and always being excited and keen to get out and do something, or just relax in the evening while I read or listened to the radio.

One of Oscars favourite activities.. swimming!

Hes loves to dive to search for things on the bottom of the stony seabed..

Or throw a stick..  S P L A S H ! ! . .

And a  F L Y I N G  L E AP ! ! . .

Q: So after your dog minding experiences, what do you think about the prospect of taking on the commitment of becoming a dog owner yourself?

A: Well, I have learn't from comparing Oscar to other friends dogs, that dogs exist in all shapes and sizes, and have varying temperaments,and energy levels, even within similar breeds. So I know I'd have to spend time with the animal first in order to get a feel for how he or she might fit in with my lifestyle and living space. Certainly I now know that small terriers are very adaptable and fun to be with, loving change and new experiences as well as a familiar home to return to. So I think if the right one came along I'd seriously consider it.

Q: Would you consider buying a puppy, or would you prefer to adopt a rescue dog from an animal shelter?

A: I reckon there are both advantages and disadvantages to both, but I do like the idea of giving a new home to an animal that's had a bit of a life of his own before, and is not having such a great one now. Also with a puppy, I wouldn't really know exactly how he's going to turn out as an adult, though thats probably an intuitive thing as well. At the minute I'd be thinking more of a rescue dog.

Q: You've painted quite a positive picture about travelling with a dog. What have you found to be the disadvantages of it during your experiences with Oscar?

A: Well for a start, its obvious if you've never had a dog before, and don't know exactly what its like, its a huge commitment not to be taken lightly. There's a difference between ten days, and ten or more years. He is always going to be there, and always will need to be considered when going anywhere, or making arrangements to do anything. He'd need to always come along, or be looked after. Where he would stay when I'd be working is a bit factor, even influencing my of employment options.

Also, its important to consider the regular exercise a dog will need and the time commitments of that as well. Also, if you like times alone to enjoy your solitude, then depending on the dogs character, that may be less easy to do as he'll always be there. I'd consider this carefully, as Oscar was sometimes quite demanding for activity when I wanted to just sit quietly. Of course if he has enough exercise then he'll be more settled at other times, so how energetic the dog is, is going to have a big impact on how much you get to chill out without interruptions.

Another thing that wasn't a problem in my situation in Scotland, but might be if you need to do a bit of urban camping sometimes - is a dogs barking. Its not going to be possible to keep things quiet and settled if your dog will bark when someone walks by and alert people to an occupied vehicle. So thats something to consider too I think. On the other hand, this could also be reassuring in certain circumstances when travelling as your dog would be a good deterrent to thieves or other potential trouble.

Q: Were there any unexpected consequences of having a dog with you travelling?

A: Yes actually.. The first one was that things would becomes more social very easily. For example at a spot where there were other camper vans, the dogs antics and spontaneity would lead to conversations and making connections with the others, especially of course if they also had a dog. So its a good way to make friends.

I also found that as well as the dog having to fit in with my way of going about things, he'd also bring his ways into the home, and parts of the day would only be happening because he was there.. I'd take more walks and spend more time playing with him, or just sitting ruffling his fur and enjoying the company and affection - its certain a life changing thing. Its nice to have someone to look after and I found I was spending less time thinking about my own life.

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1 comment:

  1. My advice Chris, def get a dog. I now have 2 - Maisy of course and Ernie. Ernie is a 3 year old Jack Russell that I got about 3 months ago, he's nearly 4 and came from a family in Berwick that needed a new home for him due to their young daughters alergies. He is a fantastic little chap, such a character and everyone loves him. I fell in love with him the first moment I saw him - one ear up one ear down and within 3 days he and maisy loved each other too (bloody amazing for Maisy! ). He has just had his first trip away in the camper - a trip down to Kent to see family and friends and he loved every minute. He loved my parents and he loved being in the van. He has his favourite spot at night - lying right next to my legs under the duvet - makes an excellent hot water bottle lol. My personal advice would be to get an adult dog rather than a pup. With a pup you need to consider toilet training and although you don't have far to get the door opened in time in your van there will always be accidents and you therefore need to remember what a small space you live in!!!

    With me being unwell I could not have coped with a pup, however I am so glad I took on an adult dog - I got Ernie and he and I were so meant to be together and I'm so glad I could give him a great home.

    Oh and by the way, if you're thinking 'oh my god, she's living in a wee touring van now with two dogs!' Actually I'm not, I'm now living in a static van which I have bought on the same site and it has a great long ball throwing length to it when sitting on the sofa with lino that gives the perfect bounce which entertains Ernie to no end!