September 10, 2013

A 584 Mile Trip Full of Excitement

Sunday morning the H3 is packed, dogs are happy being able to go for a ride, they just don't know this ride is longer than the 11 miles to their veterinarian. The AC is already turned on high as we leave the driveway at 930am local. I realized I was leaving later than I had planned but I wanted to get there a late as I could due to the mid 90s temps that would be waiting for us. Little did I know what would be waiting for us.

My first plan didn't work out .... A year ago I had planned that I would slide the seat of the backseat forward, as designed and leave the back up to keep the dogs and storage separate. The space left after sliding my back seat part forward was too small for my bloodhound, let alone two other basset hounds. So I folded the back of the seats down, packed my sleeping bag, tent, bag of clothes, bag of dog stuff and my camp chair in the space between the front seats and the folded down back seats.

7 Gallons of H2O & Hound Sleeping Area

So it's beautiful, sunny, very little traffic all the way to St. Louis where I make my first major error. I am not sure why, nor what I was thinking about as I always have taken the bypass freeway around the city going in either direction but today I spaced it out and had stop and go traffic through downtown St Louis for 1 hour 15 minutes....they are rebuilding the intersection of I-64 and I-55. I wasn't the only one though...just as we moved down to one lane at the end, a truck pulling one of the largest 5th wheels I had ever seen, merged right in behind me. The driver did not look happy. The picture is a few miles from the city (you can barely see the arch above the middle green sign) and we are already stopped in traffic, with 3 dogs wanting to get out..... because "we were stopped".... and 1 hour and 15 minutes to go.

Just East of St. Louis - Arch Barely Visible Straight Ahead
We take our first rest stop on the west side of St. Louis on what I call a "high speed" rest area, where you exit the freeway from the left lane. So even though the park is set up nice for the hounds, their own area, parking at the curb....I find out really really quick what is an eventual issue traveling with 3 dogs.  I have opened the back door to put 3 different leashes on, of course as soon as the back door is open, the 2 bassets jump out NOT LEASHED.  I scramble getting leashes on both then step on the leashes so they don't move. To add to the excitement, with the semi truck noises, high speed freeway traffic noise that is very loud since we are in the middle of the freeway so to speak .... my 90# bloodhound is TERRIFIED!!!  She freezes, doesn't want out but does because the 2 other hounds are out of the H3. Her front paws are on the bumper but she's afraid to jump. Howling in her best bloodhound voice, I help her jump out of the truck. By the sound of her you would have thought I was hurting her.

As soon as she hits the pavement, she takes off sprinting, luckily to the grassy dog section, but that 25' retractable leash stops her in her tracks with my hand attached. IF it had been 50' she would have sprinted that 50' in a nano second. IF I would have had her on the standard 5' NON retractable leash I believe she still would have sprinted 50' and dragging me 45' of luckily I didn't have the standard 5' cloth leash on her. The 3 hounds and I get to the grassy area, all their noses are to the ground BUT...BUT...they are all going different directions, wrapping 3 different leashes around my lower legs. Fortunately I was able to step out quick enough that they didn't tie me up....LOL. Yet, I had 3 different leashes to untangle and 3 hounds all moving in different directions. The purpose of the stop was successful so all is good.

Before The Leash Tangling
Now back into the H3. I lift the 2 50# bassets into the back of the H3. They are NOT people so they DON'T move forward....they stand at the edge of the opening, where I have a 90# bloodhound that does NOT want to get back in....she is squatting onto the pavement as I try to get her to stand up, get her paws on the bumper so I can left her heavy ass up and get her in the H3, while rest park traffic is moving past me like it's a Indy500 or a NASCAR pit are flying into this park, a few feet behind me and the bloodhound.

All is safe....we are back on the road heading west.  That gives me at least 4-5 more hours to think about this dog situation I am in. The next time I stop for gas (H3 got 18.3 mpg on this trip), they all want out...why....because the truck is stopped, they think they are home. 

I drive onward across the state of Missouri turning south at Joplin onto I-49 after the delay through St. Louis and then a wreck delay after that. For those that have never been through this part of Arkansas, (NW) this is only my 2nd time and I will tell you....beautiful country. We arrive in the northern part of Springdale Arkansas ( NEW) with daylight and even though it's in the 90's, it feels a lot less humid than Indiana. I decided to head to McGaugh's RV dealership since there was enough daylight and take a look at the LiL Snoozy if I can. There it is ... ready for hookup in the morning.  I unload the hounds and we do a walk around, peeked inside the windows, looked underneath the trailer ... The LiL Snoozy is fantastic and I cannot wait until tomorrow morning. The trailer looked much bigger inside than the pictures I had seen.

I get 2 of the hounds on leashes, Heidi seems to be enjoying the grass so I leave her unleashed as the pictures show. As I am getting the dog food out and filling the water bowels, I turn around and Heidi is nowhere in sight....gone!! I put the other two leashes over the fence poles to keep 2 of the dogs there and go off yelling her name. There are a few houses that border this RV lot, she may have headed over there. Still cannot see her  .... yelling her name but no dog.

McGaugh's RV - Springville Arkansas

The Lil Snoozy

I go back to get the other dogs to take them with me on my search for Heidi. Usually the bloodhound will pick the scent up and find the missing dog when this takes place at home. Just as we move into the grass lot of RV trailers to start the search, here comes my basset sprinting like she was a Kentucky Derby winner down the home stretch. She wants to eat.

After 8 Hours of Sleeping it's Time To Relax

The Grass Feels Better Than That Blanket
 As you can see from the picture below, my bloodhound is very stressed out. She has her tail down, a look of all looks on her face, panting heavy, and a long tongue falling out of her mouth.  A dog that normally eats her bowl of food in a couple of minutes and then stands over the other dogs until they come up for air so she can eat their food ..... does not even eat one small kibble of food.  A dog that can drink water by the gallon at home, isn't interested in even getting her tongue wet. She doesn't want anything to do with what is being offered. The bassets never miss a meal....they eat at normal pace, guzzle water....and look at me and say "what's next?"'s time for a walk around the grassy lot.

A Stressed Out Bloodhound
3 tangled leashes later we finish our 20 minute walk around the edge of the trailer lot, thought #2 hits me .... Have I been wrong in thinking I could travel with 3 hounds, especially the bloodhound??  I and a few other friends have always wondered if it was possible or not. There is nothing HEAVIER than a stubborn bloodhound that doesn't want to co-operate. You can't change their mind.....I even tried to bribe her tonight with "milk bones"....didn't work.

The bloodhound is not a happy camper.

With the sun going down I stop to fill up with gas so I will be ready to leave in the morning. I check the tires, etc. Campgrounds were my first choice to stay at Sunday night, thus the reason I brought my tent. After arriving in the area, I see where the campgrounds are further away than I want to be on a Monday morning, it's now after 9pm central time and I haven't decided where to spend the night. I am thinking of just staying on the RV lot, dogs inside the truck and me on the grass in a sleeping bag...then Monday morning shower at the Shell mini truck stop a mile away. About that time headlights pull into the lot, pull in front of me 20' away and turn on their bright lights...thought it might be someone that worked at the lot. As I get out of my H3, they drive off. An hour later, now around 11pm, same headlights pull into the lot, they drive over to the building's front door and stop. I get out and walk over to the jeep just as they are pulling away. I introduce myself and find out I am talking to the original owner of McGaugh's RV lot. The man I am talking to "built it 45 years ago from the ground up". He sold it last year to the sales rep I have been speaking to this past week. From speaking to both men I can tell John McGaugh and Charles Hamilton are great guys.

John tells me I cannot stay on the lot overnight but there is a place about 2 interchanges down (4 milesaway) where trucks pull into a vacant store parking lot, across from the Walmart. I decide to stay there overnight, no traffic and no lights....the lights from the the Walmart parking lot across the street are bright enough for both lots.

I repeat the steps of getting the dogs out with the same amount of hassle as previous times. The 3 leashes tangle around each other every time the dogs get out of the H3. By this time it's dark and around 11:30pm. I also started thinking again if I was going to be able to travel with my dogs, especially the bloodhound. I didn't feel I could travel with just the bloodhound, even if she was the only dog. STILL the thoughts if the dogs would work or not, did not play into my plans for picking the trailer up Monday morning at 8am. I was tired but was excited and I couldn't wait for tomorrow morning to pick up the trailer and hit the road.

I figured a long walk will wear the 3 hounds out so they would sleep all night, so once again at 12:30am, the dogs are unloaded and off we go. Only this time the leash of the running basset Heidi slips out of my hand and she is sprinting off into the darkness. Once again after yelling her name, no dog. About 5 minutes later as I had put the other 2 dogs into the H3 so I could track her down, Heidi is sprinting out of the the darkness. Little did I know at that time, into the early hours of the morning, would it continue to say hot, even with the windows down. The bloodhound spent most of the night panting, not sleeping, but would sleep with the engine running and the A/C on. I was in full agreement and slept the same way...AC on, car idling. I could not sleep with the windows down.

I was sleeping in 30 - 60 minute intervals. The times I did not sleep, I spent thinking of my travel plans the next day. I would either go north on the freeway just long enough to get to US60 and head east or to go the back roads in the eastern direction, through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Between 3am - 3:15am for a few minutes, I finally realized traveling with the dogs could be a problem. A new potential issue occurred to me. With the trailer hitched to the H3, there would very little if any room to swing the back door open to let the dogs out. Even if I could swing that door open part of the way, would the 3 hounds be able to jump out the back of the H3 and miss the steel hitch? Getting them out the side back doors was even more impossible, because that would be one dog at a time and with the seats folded down, the "floor" was an additional 6"- 8" taller than what they were jumping off of in back. That was a reason I did not use the side doors earlier in the day.

I didn't think about the dog problems anymore and went back to sleep. Before falling back to sleep I had nothing but plans of meeting the owners in a few hours at the RV dealership (consignment sale), going over the trailer with them, paying them and heading east with a week vacation planned.

Around 5:15am Central time I bolted up out of a deep sleep like a lightning bolt had hit me, even wide awake after a pretty sleepless night…..KNOWING I COULD NOT GO THROUGH WITH THE PURCHASE. I couldn't travel with 3 dogs was the main thought. Even if they were to adjust to the traveling routines, the process of getting in an out of the H3 would be the same. Even with a pickup truck with the larger cab, the process would have been the same. I didn't feel the bloodhound would be a good fulltime traveler. Not only from her performance today, but other issues she has at times with separation anxiety, even as a 5 yr old bloodhound. What I feared years ago, today had provided me with my answer. It was not possible to travel with my 3 dogs.

After waking, I had decided to leave and head back to Indiana. I let the hounds out, going through the exact same routines as before and Sadie still scared to jump out. Once again I am trying to keep the two basset hounds near me by stepping on their leashes and trying to help the bloodhound (big baby) out of the H3.….luckily this deserted parking lot had small islands of grass inside concrete curbs, so all my hounds did their morning deed and we got back in the H3. During that 5-10 minutes when the dogs were out, I kept going over my decision of not making the purchase. I knew I couldn't buy the trailer, even as much as I wanted it. THREE dogs were a major issue….just ONE BLOODHOUND and no basset hounds would have been an issue. I did not see any way for this to work and there were a few things that would never change traveling with 3 hounds, but also 3 hounds that are bred to follow scents.

So as my truck idled and my A/C got the inside cooler, I was thinking to make sure, if this was what I wanted to do, back out of another trailer deal? After some soul searching while the H3 idled, I knew what I had to do, no matter how much I wanted to live the full time RV lifestyle. I sent both the RV dealer and the trailer owners, an email telling them I could not buy the trailer because I found out my 3 dogs were going to be a problem in the traveling mode. I also explained I did not find this out until after traveling 584 miles to buy and pick up their LiL Snoozy trailer. I was going to call McGaugh's RV when they opened up at 8am Central time but by the time I had a chance to call while driving, I got an email from the dealer and the trailer owners, both of them asking me if they reduced the sale price, would that make a difference. I was almost to Joplin MO and headed home by the time I had received their emails. I hated backing out of my decision and what effects that had on both the dealership and the private owners. I was also losing a great trailer at a great price.

Within that first hour of driving, I thought of nothing else. Could I find a way to make it work with 3 hounds? I had the time to turn around and get to the dealership before they opened if I could decide of a way traveling with the hounds would work. Could I buy the trailer and then take small trips with the hounds for the next few months? I felt even with the hounds adjusting to travel, the side doors etc ... I still felt I could not travel with 3 dogs. I could with 1 basset hound, not 2. I doubted I could travel with just the bloodhound alone.  She is just too much dog. Plus, every time yesterday I had 3 leashes tangled up beyond belief.

So the question I asked myself, before I decided not to turn back, should I buy the trailer now, since it's a great trailer at a good price...then park it (where I don't have a lot of room). Then use it for short trips to see if the dogs adjusted and/or keeping it for the time I would hit the road alone, without dogs. I felt as long as I had 3 hounds I would not be going on any kind of camping trips, long or short.

The final answer was no, I shouldn't buy it. Let someone that was going to use the trailer buy it.

Was fulltime traveling really fair to the dogs? Even at a boondock camp site out west, they would have to be tethered. The hound bred is not like terriers, shepherds etc....they are scent dogs...their noses go immediately to the ground and they are off once they lock onto a scent. Around home they will stay in the area most of the time off leash but just one rabbit or deer has sent them off on a high speed run ... no warning. Heidi had already ran off twice on this trip alone.

I finally realized what I suspected all along, but I kept pushing the thought off to the side …. even as good as my hounds are, well mannered, slept most of the way while driving….traveling for any length of time would be a problem with all 3 hounds. I spent the next 8 hours driving knowing that I was going to delay my travel plans. That was quite the letdown. It was very sad to finally find out I cannot travel at this time in my life.

Still I did find out this answer early enough before making a purchase. I do have a place to return to that really is a great place to live, minus the humidity and a few extreme cold winter days. Still, it will be very very hard reading bloggers that do travel and knowing that I cannot do the same at this time.

This morning as you can see below, Sadie is back in her element ... a little more peaceful and quiet than that "high speed" rest area on I-64. She is back to being a happy camper.

Back Home Again In Her Field - She Feels Better

Like the blog sub-title asks ...

"The decision process in deciding to RV full time, what kind of RV to buy and if this travel can be done with two basset hounds and one bloodhound?"

This blog was a decision I made 22 months ago when I decided I would open my thought process to the public. Maybe this blog would help someone that was thinking of traveling fulltime with dogs or for the first time and save them some research. I decided that I would be honest and tell both sides of my decision making process. It would also be my eventual traveling journal, something I could look back and read years from now. This blog turned into a mental rollercoaster at times only because I was being honest with my thoughts, those were available to the public to read. Being exposed at times bothered me, because I really am a very private person.

Still, back to the blog sub-title ..... The answer is no. Personally I feel I cannot and I have chosen not to travel with my 2 basset hounds and 1 bloodhound.

So my travel plans, and any kind of trailer/rv purchasing plans are delayed. I will not travel with 3 hounds and I will not buy a trailer or RV until I am ready to travel with only 1 basset hound or no hounds.  How long that will be, I have no idea. The option of giving the hounds away just so I can travel is NOT an option.

So that's it .... This will be my last blog post until I decide to travel, ...when that is I don't have any idea.

My decision is really not what is best for me but best for my hounds.  Non pet owners will find that hard to believe or understand, but that's the way it is.

Your dog .... "He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. Your are his life, his love and his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion"  ~Unknown author~


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