Keep it Simple Sunday: Vandwelling Dogs Part 1: Why I have a Dog (shouldn't you?)

Dog-Me-Gloria-karen-Woofstock

Here is the real reason you should have a dog: women show no interest in me, but Homer is a babe magnet! That’s Gloria and Karen, two super-vandwellers at Woofstock!

I’ve had quite a few requests to write a post on dog care for vandwellers. To be honest with you, it never occurred to me that would be of interest to you. I mean, it just seems obvious to me now, but I forget just how scared I was when Homer and I first hit the road. Would he run away? Would he be okay driving all day? Where would I find to let him out for a walk? How would we cope with the heat? After I remembered that, I knew I needed to do a post on Vandwelling dogs, so here it is. This one got too long so it will be in two parts. In this first part I deal with a lot of my personal philosophy, so I am doing it as a Sunday Sermon, the next post will be all Pet Practicalities.

Dog-Shaver

Homer is right in the middle of all my happiest memories.

Before we get into the practical issues of vandwelling dogs, let me tell you why having Homer is worth any sacrifice he requires. I am not a person who connects with others easily. I would go so far as to say for most of my life it was difficult for me. I like people, I love helping them, but I don’t really understand the whole concept of “love.” Except for blood relatives, I’m not sure I have ever “loved” anyone. But, when it comes to my dog; I know what love is! I give my whole heart to him without holding anything  back! I have never made a connection like that with any person. In fact with my last girlfriend, I told her I probably couldn’t “love” her in the traditional sense, but I promised to mimic the love I had for Homer and treat her just like I treated him. Believe me; she was getting the better end of that deal! Let me tell you the four critical lessons and gifts that I believe dogs give us.

Dog-Homer-Work

This is my “office.” Homer often squeezes in while I am working–taking up most of the bed. He makes a great armrest! At all times, I am either typing or petting him! This is also how we sleep; again, I am either asleep or petting him.

1) Touch is essential for happiness, and pets give us that. Our society practically forbids men from touching others. Most of us certainly don’t touch other men and even with our wives or girlfriends we are generally uncomfortable with it outside of sex. But when we get a dog, it is totally acceptable to pet them as much as we, want, so most of us can’t keep our hands off them; at least I know I can’t! It’s been my experience that many men are totally devastated when their dog dies. I have had more than one friend who was so upset he had to take time off work. I don’t mean to denigrate the depth of the connection between women and their pets, it is also very strong; but with men it is exceptional. Our pets meet our deep emotional need for touch that society forbids us.

Dog-Happy-Dog-Running-Free

Steve’s dog Zeke running wild and free. Dogs are the model for my life.  By giving Homer a life where he can run wild and free, I get to run right alongside him!  No Leashes For Us!

2) By their deaths, pets teach us how to live. Modern life does everything possible to shelter us from death. The majority of us have never seen anyone die or picked up a dead, lifeless body (I’m sure a few of you have, but most have not). That is one of the most horrible parts of civilization–that it separates us from the act of dying and consequently the majority of us live our whole lives in terror of death. By living such short lives, our pets confront us with death. Most of us do everything we can to avoid learning the wonderful lessons they are giving us, but if we will open ourselves to them, we will have better lives because of it.

Dog-pack-Williams

The Pack running free in the forest around Williams. Homer needed a pack, and so a tribe was born.

My last dog got so old that I had to put her down. I took her to the vet who administered the shot while I held her. I felt her body go soft and limp. We then took her home where I had dug a hole and I laid her down in it. I told her I had given her the best life I could and that I was sorry it was not better. To say that I was devastated by that would be a total understatement! But it was also life-changing because from that moment on I decided to live with death in mind instead of doing everything I possibly could to pretend death didn’t happen. So when I got Homer I promised him I would give him the best possible life I could. My every decision in the last 5 years has been made with Homer’s needs first and foremost. I have one goal in my life: when I lay him into the ground I can kiss and hug him one last time and say with every fiber of my being that I gave him the best possible life I could.

The miracle is, by giving him his best life; I also gave me my best life. I don’t love myself enough to make it happen, but fortunately, I loved him enough! What about you; are you living an unpleasant life but your fears keep you from changing? That means your fear is greater than your love for yourself! If you loved yourself enough, you would want you to have your best possible life and take the leap of faith.

When I needed a job, the thought of going back to work in a Big Box store was repugnant to me, but I would have done it anyway. But I couldn’t do that to Homer, I couldn’t leave him in the truck 8 hours a day. I didn’t love me enough to take good care of me, but I loved him enough to take proper care of him. So I found a job as a campground host and we were both ecstatically happy. If you can’t love yourself enough to do whatever it takes to make you happy, get a dog and totally love him and make him happy!

3) Pets teach us the utter joy of selfless living. Dogs require a lot of work! They have to be watered and fed and taken to the vet and played with and kept cool and kept warm and let in-and-out and cleaned up after they poop or have diarrhea in the van. YUCK! They can be a giant pain in the butt!! And yet to sacrifice ourselves out of love for the other is our main reason for being on earth. If we don’t do it, we will never be complete, healthy, happy human beings. Or, at least that is what I believe.

4) Pets help us live a longer, healthier, happier life. That is not just my opinion, the science is in and there is no question you will be healthier, happier and live longer if you have a pet. Here is a great presentation on their health benefits:

http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-pets-improve-your-health

Dog-me-Homer-Woofstock

Here we are at the “Woofstock in Prescott. I went looking for a new dog for Homer. Notice I can’t help but touch Homer whenever he is near.

The bottom line for me is that there will never be a time when I don’t have a dog. Homer is approaching 10 years old and for an 80 lb dog, that is old age. He is obviously slowing down and is an old dog. I’ve actively started looking for a younger dog for him to train and to keep him young. A dog-less life is an empty life for me. In the next post we will look at the practicalities of dog ownership in the mobile life.

Bob
About

I’ve been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

95 comments on “Keep it Simple Sunday: Vandwelling Dogs Part 1: Why I have a Dog (shouldn't you?)
  1. Kim says:

    Interesting theory about how men need dogs to fulfill tactile needs. I agree with all your sentiments here – especially about Homer being a babe magnet!
    Kim recently posted…Trail Ridge Road and a Day in BoulderMy Profile

    • HoboHounds says:

      My husband is constantly touching our dogs and giving them affection, and they absolutely love it! Bob makes a good point as to why he has the urge to pet them more than I do.

      • Bob Bob says:

        HoboHounds, in one of my marriages it actually became an issue how much I loved my dog. I suspect that in more relationships than we know about wives/girlfriends wish their mate could show them as much affection as he shows their dog.

        It sounds like have a health marriage because you are happy for your husband and your dogs that they found a way to be happy. That’s real love.
        Bob

        • Kim says:

          I am the same way with my dogs. None of the potential relationships has worked out, because I loved ‘an animal’ as much or more than the person I was with. It’s seen as even crazier when you’re a woman, like I am. We’re supposed to love people and children- not dogs and solitude.

          • Bob Bob says:

            Kim, that is societies expectations, but as we throw off their shackles so many of us find our authentic selves are very different from the stereotypes inflicted on us. Be yourself, and you’ll be fabulous!! Bob

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kim, you are the only babe his magic failed on!!
      Bob
      P.S. Just being cute, I know that didn’t make amy sense, but you are a babe–just a happily married babe!

  2. Hi Bob

    I’m glad that you love Homer so much, although I have to say that I personally dislike dogs and could never see myself owning one. I like your points about coming to terms with death, but we can do that with older relatives and in other ways too, without giving us one more thing to look after!

    Now, I know that you care for Homer very well, but I see so many dogs and pets these days who are bought for Christmas and get no love from their owners. They are underfed and under-exercised and end up being mongrels that annoy me whenever I go out.

    My nephew was recently bitten badly by a dog through a letterbox as he was delivering papers. My ex-wife has a friend who was almost killed when she was younger from an attack by an Alsatian.

    All I am saying is that though there are plenty of well-behaved and nice dogs, on the whole I already think that there are too many in society and I dislike the fact that they are bred just to hand out to families who often mistreat them. They, in turn, usually make my life as frequent runner miserable. The last thing I want is more people getting dogs!

    I like

    Eric
    greenminimalism recently posted…How To Achieve Goals FasterMy Profile

    • Al Christensen says:

      As “The Dog Whisperer” might say, bad dogs are made by bad owners.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Eric, I am at a loss as to how to respond. You are welcome to your opinion and I wish you the best.
      Bob

    • Beth says:

      Eric,

      Unfortunately it sounds like you have some relatives that have received the worst of what dogs can offer. Dogs are nearly identically genetically to wolves.

      While we have selectively bred them to be domesticated they still need our help to know how to be affectionate loving creatures. (Dogs like Homer, Zeke, and my dog Sprocket are all examples of dogs wonderfully predisposed to be loving with just a little help from their owners). I would absolutely agree with you that there are perhaps too many dogs in society, mostly because I feel that most dogs are not cared for as part of the family. Working dogs that are not treated as family are still important part of society; however, they are less likely to cause trouble because they have a purpose–just like people dogs without purpose can be trouble!

      P.S. I’m a runner too and make it a point to call the local animal control officer whenever I have a problem with a dog. Often, it doesn’t amount to anything but if it can prevent people from having excuses to run (or to dislike dogs) it’s worth it. 🙂

  3. Sonja L says:

    Bob:

    Thank you. Your writings have inspired me over the years, but this is the first one that made me cry and prompted me to write. Best sermon I’ve heard in years. I look forward to part 2.

    Sonja
    Vandwelling in SE Alaska

    • Bob Bob says:

      Sonja, thank you for your very kind words. I’m really glad the post spoke to you!

      I’m afraid Part 2 is just nuts and bolts about how to care for a dog in a van. What part of SE Alaska are you in? How is vandwelling there?
      Bob

  4. Al Christensen says:

    I’ve had one dog — a Jack Russell named Zorro — and it was a great experience. I had to put him down in 2005 and haven’t gotten another. First, I had to finish grieving Zorro. Then I got used to not needing to care for a dog, not needing to structure my life around one.

    Now everyone is asking me if I’ll get a dog to take with me on the road. My first impulse is, “No.” I need to figure out this new life first. Will I even be able to take care of myself? But I’m open to the idea of having a dog again. I need to see how things work out.

    • Al this is what i did, I wanted a dog for over a year, but I needed to get all my ducks in order, to include finances, before I even seriously thought of getting a dog… I knew what i was going to get as i had an Aussie/Border collie before, so when Zeke came along all was set and I was ready to give him the best life i could give him… We are celebrating our first year anniversary this month and man i have not had one dull moment with him, and certainly no regrets… I don’t know what I would do without Zeke now, he is so engrained in my daily life and such a joy to have around… Don’t rush getting a pup, when he/she crosses your path you will know it…

      Steve N Zeke…

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, I think you are wise to go slow. I was a vandweller for 6 years in the city before I got Homer when I started living on public land. So I had already figured out the basics of living mobile. In fairness to the dog you should wait till you are confident you can care for him adequately.
      Bob

  5. HoboHounds says:

    I’ve always had a deeper connection with animals than people too. Interacting with dogs comes more naturally to me. My relationships with dogs are much more peaceful and rewarding than most relationships I’ve had with humans. If people had the integrity dogs do then the world would be a much better place. I can’t imagine my life without a dog by my side. The benefits far outweigh the sacrifices I have to make to accommodate a life with dogs.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hobohounds, we have that in common. I sometimes feel guilty because if I see some kind of abuse toward animals, I am crushed deep into my soul, but I see homeless people and abuse to humans all the time and I can pretty easily just brush it off. I’ve even wondered if there isn’t something wrong with me.
      Bob

  6. Judith says:

    Thanks for writing this, Bob. It is obviously straight from the heart. I feel the same about my dogs and would not be without one. Toby cheers me up, makes me laugh, and keeps me grounded in practical matters when I get lost in my worries. I would feel very strange without a dog. They are the best of loyal friends, but as you point out, a major commitment. My last dog lived to age 17 and Toby might too.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Judith, I bet you are going to love a longer, happier healthier life because of the good care Toby gives you. You are both very lucky to have found each other!
      Bob

  7. Calvin R says:

    Bob, you gave me something new. I have learned about death and letting go from pets, but never realized it. Thanks.

    I never liked dogs until my wife persuaded me to get one. Lil is a miniature (or teacup) poodle. She’s a rescue; a small dog but not yappy and is very intelligent. Lil loves to travel, too. Eventually we rescued another miniature poodle. When my wife left, she took the dogs with her. I miss the dogs.

    For the person who dislikes dogs: you are entitled to that. However, don’t believe that the dog lovers here are causing more dogs to be bred. Ask whether we are buying from breeders or adopting/rescuing dogs that others have already brought into this world.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Right Calvin, I think mixed-breed mutts are much better dogs than pure-breeds. Homer was a 4 year old big, black dog and statistically those are the hardest to adopt out (the older the more difficult). And yet he has been the best possible dog for me. My next dog will also be a mutt and between 2-4 years old, I don’t want a puppy in the van.

      I can relate to missing the dogs and not the ex!
      Bob

      • HoboHounds says:

        In my experience adopted dogs that are full grown make the best companions. It’s almost as if they’re more grateful and appreciate the (most likely) better life you’ve given them.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Hobohounds, I agree completely and that is just what I am going to adopt this time (or should I say let adopt me).
          Bob

  8. Gloria says:

    Bob,

    Wonderful and heartfelt post. I had misty eyes when you spoke about death and putting your previous dog down. I know the day will come and I don’t look forward to losing my Rochelle. Having no children, I think I treat her as a daughter. I love living the van life with her and couldn’t imagine it without her. We’ve been full time now for almost three weeks and she’s been such a joy. I’ve had her spayed (thanks to Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, AZ), we’ve hiked miles together with the rest of the crew and endured the heat together like champs. We somehow have learned to even snuggle together in a twin bed. LOL. I love my baby girl!

    Gloria

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gloria, I almost talked about how often women treat dogs like their children. Actually I was going to talk about you but didn’t want to till I asked first! Rochelle is very lucky to have you, and of course you are equally lucky to have her. But having you both as friends make me the luckiest one of all!
      Bob

  9. Suzann says:

    Excellent post as always Bob.
    While vandwelling in Gainesville, one of the first things I noticed was my cats absence though she is more attached to my roommate because my old cat sat on my lap all the time when I rescued the current cat.

    Until I’m full time on the road and have better ventilation, etc. in the van I can’t justify having a cat or dog, but one day I will.

    Homer is very fortunate to have you.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Suzann, that is very self-less of you to put the needs of the animal before your own desires. If you can’t give them a good life then you should find a way for them to have a good life. Ultimately it is all about doing what is best for them and sometimes that is finding them a better home than you can provide.

      After my first divorce I had to let my beloved Abby go with my kids to their mom because that was best for her and for them. It was hard, but it was right so I did it.
      Bob

  10. Gennifer says:

    What a beautiful post, Bob. I’m so glad we had our dog, Zeus, with us on the road, as well as our two cats. They actually adapted to life on the road quicker than we did!

    And if it wasn’t for our previous dog, Jade, I doubt I would have become a van dweller at all. If you’re interested, you can read about her and how her death inspired me to live a happier, fuller life here: http://www.gennifercarragher.com/2012/05/13/onquittingjobsandlovingdogs/

    • Bob Bob says:

      Oh Gennifer, what a wonderful post in your blog, but I cried buckets of tears! Jade gave you so much, and left you a better person. Thank you for sharing that!
      Bob

  11. Lynnzie says:

    Once one loves them self… it becomes easier to love others of the 2 legged variety… the 4 legged are the easiest because of their unconditional love.

    http://www.abundancetapestry.com/how-to-love-yourself-in-17-ways/

    I think you have #17 down very well.

  12. Per-Gunnar says:

    I had a poodle named Rasmus that we euthanize at age 17. It was really heavy, perhaps the greatest loss I have had. I also like dogs. I do not have a dog now, but hope to get one in the future (when I work less). I do not know why I like dogs so much, but I guess it is for them always being happy to see me and they are great company. And about the thing with touching, with a dog, it’s easy to tell him or her when it gets too much (touching), that´s more difficult with a girl :). Another reason why I think I like dogs so much is that they are “silent”. They do not have lot of opinions about this and that as people always have. I really prefer quietness instead of chatter.

    Bob, you are one of my favorites to follow, really like your blog and everything that you contribute with, thanks.

    Per-Gunnar from Sweden
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    • Hunter says:

      My every decision in the last 5 years has been made with Homer’s needs first and foremost.

      Great definition for love. I’ll bet you do things out of love for him, to protect him, that he thinks are not for his benefit.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Hunter, you are absolutely right, hat is my definition of love! Love is a verb, not a noun. Feelings come and go, “love” too easily becomes hate. But, actions mean everything. You are also right, sometimes he hates my “love”! He can’t figure out why I won’t let him play with the porcupine, rattlesnake, or black bear, to him they look like lots of fun!
        Bob

  13. GARY GREEN says:

    hey now bob, no way would i travel without a dog.i think steve has it right. a dog will find you.(your) the one that has to make the commitment, to take the best care for your pet that you can. the friendship and the company is worth the cost of food an care they need.if i were a women and think of boondocking alone i high recomend a dog,the smaller the better,think watchdog!!.bad poeple don’t like dogs as a rule (j.m.o.)devl does not like dogs ether!!!.ishe, my dog is the best thing to happen to come along for me in along time.they bring peace and happness were they go.fellow traveler, gary

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gary, so your advice is to go to Mexico and he/she will come!!

      Just kidding! Gary’s great dog Izzy came to him while he was in Mexico
      Bob

  14. marshall says:

    It would be very difficult to imagine life w/o our two cats, Cal and Little Grey. They give us so much joy and pleasure its crazy. They really are like dogs in the van. Right up in everything and just as goofy as possible. They have more love in one paw than most in their whole bodies. We love them dearly.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Marshall I also love cats and if it were practical for me I would have one. If I had cats like yours I would for sure! But most won’t stay home and I would worry myself sick every time they ran away.
      Bob

  15. Harmony Rose says:

    Bob, I have loved your posts and today, it epitomised everything that you are as a human being. Thank you for verbalising what I, and most probably a large group of other people also feel – an undying love for our non-human beings.

    Indeed, having my beloved Border Collie in my life has been one reason why I could not foresee living in a van or travelling. I thought that it would not / could not work….and so I feel I must continue with the status quo until she is no longer with me. Again, you have managed to shatter the restriction that I actually placed on myself. Instead of trying to make her and I fit into the vandwelling life, why not make the vandwelling adventure fit in around us.
    Thank you for expanding my reality xox

    • Bob Bob says:

      Harmony Rose (what a wonderful name!), if you are going to be boondocking as opposed to living in the city, it is pretty easy to keep your dog. I know many others with them and I can’t think of anyone who has had any problem. However, while their life is better (boondcking dogs hit the $500 Million Lottery of doggy life) the dangers to them also dramatically increase. There is more risk for them out here. But I totally believe that if Homer were able to choose, he would gladly embrace the extra risk.

      If you have any questions about keeping your dog, feel free to ask!
      Bob

  16. Bob says:

    Great post as usual. I just bought a 98 Scamp 16 I plan to tow behind my Jeep when I retire and go full time in Sept. I have a 9 year old Westie coming with me so I am very interested in the next installment.
    Thanks Bob

  17. Sandy says:

    You nailed my feelings regarding my two little yappy 4 pound yorkies!! I love to touch them, pet them, sit with them etc,etc!! I’ve always had dogs in my life and I have also learned how to deal with their eventual death….intense mourning and physical pain for 2 to 3 days and then much sadness for the next 2 to 3 weeks…..and then I’m off to find another dog to share the next 10 years of my life with along with my dear husband who…..although he is jealous of my dogs willingly cares for them when I am traveling for my job and keeps them ready for me to love when I return.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Sandy, Yorkies can be the best friends you could ever hope for! You are lucky to have found yours and to have such a supportive and understanding husband.
      Bob

  18. Lately, I have been kidding about all the really great guys in our tribe… and how much I like them, except for the fact that most of them sleep with a dog. Bob, you know I love dogs and I especially love Homer. I love him so much in fact, that if he ever needed a home, I’d take him and figure out a way to deal with my asthma/COPD issues. I had a dog as a kid… and spent all my waking hrs and many sleeping hrs with him. I had a dog as an adult, and he even pulled me out of a reservoir. Everytime I spend time with Homer, Tony, and many of the other tribal dogs, I want to run right down to the local shelter and get my own dog. But I know it is not a wise or healthy decision for me. I am a widow, and plan to remain alone the rest of my life, but if a guy every came along who could love me the way you describe loving your dog… I might have to reconsider my status.
    Charlene Swankie recently posted…A Swankie Bunk (bed)My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Charlene, all any of us want is to be loved, but so few of us really know how. Dogs demonstrate how. I wish that love for you as well, whatever form it may take.
      Bob

  19. Bodhi says:

    I have the same connection problem… dogs and cats are easier than people.

    Recently I have been clinically and casually diagnosed with “high functioning, low spectrum aspergers”… maybe. So now I just blame my issues on that.

    Thank you for this post. You are a special guy… and you and Homer are very lucky to have each other.

    I was planning on joining you this past January at the RTR but my dog was sick… all my plans changed. His needs came first.

    Peace, Bodhi

    • Bob Bob says:

      Bodhi, you have very capably summarized the secret to happines, finding someone or something to say this about:

      “all my plans changed. His needs came first.”

      When you can say those words, and truly mean it, life is good.
      Bob

  20. CAE says:

    Once again, you’ve nailed it

  21. Gary Stern says:

    When my 120lb Alaskan Malamute “Juneau” died, 6 years ago, I was devastated. I have been to a lot of funerals in my 65 years, but her death put me into a funk. I would take her for a ride and she would put her head on my shoulder (from the back seat) so the wind would blow in her face. Every once in a while she would rub her snout on my cheek when she shifted position. As she aged I built a carpeted ramp so she could get into my jeep easier. I always kept the rear seats down so she had a comfortable place to ride. I can still imagine the clean smell of the soft fur on her head. She never barked, she howled and if I mimiced her sound I could get her to answer back.

    The siniew that made the bond so strong was her total lack of unkindness. She was never mean; never uttered a harsh word, never turned on me. She died without ever dissappointing me or doing me any harm. That is a life that will never be matched by any 2 legged “friend”.

  22. My son is using this blog post to back up his assertion that it is time for Mutt to have a new puppy brother or sister. It is tempting but seems so impossible.

  23. Great post Bob. Homer is an awesome looking dog, no wonder the ladies dig him.

    I’m looking forward to reading part II of your post as I have been battling with the decision on whether to get a dog to travel with me or not. I have always had dogs in my life, but I currently don’t own one. I recently helped my 20 year old nephew deal with the loss of his 14 year old dog a few months ago. The dog’s name was Biggio (after the Houston Astro player) and we affectionately called him “The Big Guy” because he was the biggest male Boxer we had ever seen.

    Thanks for doing a brain dump on these pages for us. 🙂
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  24. Diane says:

    Another great post Bob 🙂
    I did my very first graduate project on the benefits of enlisting the help of a dog when counseling. My project was based on counseling children of abuse…but the benefits are there for adults as well. I love how self aware you seem to be and how you allow yourself to be vulnerable in an attempt to help others. I am not into men…but if I was, I would look for a man with your qualities. You and Homer have an understanding, appreciation & love for each other that is different than is available between people. I could totally relate to the feelings that arose from your words. Thank you for the smile 🙂
    Diane
    Diane recently posted…007My Profile

  25. Beth says:

    We’re a family of 3: Forrest, Sprocket and myself. This means there’s no question of whether the dog is included in anything (and if he *can’t* come because of some restriction, we make the best arrangements possible for him).

    Sprocket wakes up EVERYDAY happy as can be to see us and is incredibly excited for a new day of adventures. We wake to a wet black nose peeking into the bed and go to sleep with him snoring at the foot of the bed.

    As Bob mentioned, dogs require a lot of care but rarely (even when we were in the van and he had to go outside every hour because he was sick) is it *work*–it can be hard but for all the love he shows me, it’s the least I can do.

    …Speaking of dogs…my labrador needs to go swimming. Off to the river!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Beth, you and Forest must have been very, very good in a previous life to have deserved such a great friend as Sprocket. And the same for him to have found you guys! You are all very lucky!
      Bob

  26. Naomi says:

    Excellent information, as usual. I’ve had the privilege to care for dogs and cats all my life. Everyone has a right to their own opinion about animals, and I don’t like to be around folks that don’t like them.

    I knew I’d found Mr. Right 18 years ago when my cranky calico, Columbia, who didn’t like most humans, immediately sat in his lap the first time the two met each other. Great judge of character! 🙂

    ~Naomi

    • Bob Bob says:

      Naomi, all three of you were very lucky to have found each other. Cats are very intuitive, it sounds like yours lead you down the right path.
      Bob

  27. Naomi says:

    One more comment – there are resources available in most communities for folks with limited finances to have their pets spayed or neutered at low cost. Check with your local shelter. If they don’t know, check with other places (state humane society director, state veterinary board, rescue groups, etc.).

    ~Naomi

    • Bob Bob says:

      Naomi, funny you should say that, a new member of our group just joined us and had neer got her dog fixed because it was always leashed or penned up. But out here all the dogs run free so she was going to end up with puppies for sure. The Humane society in Prescott arranged for her to get her dog fixed for $25 total, which was much less than it should have been.

      So you are right, it’s well worth the time to find out if it will work for you.
      Bob

  28. Kasey says:

    Awesome blog article!!! We have 3 dogs with 3 adults in a small RV. I’ve just started a blog about it (SimpleNomadicLife.com). Our dogs sleep with us also.

    As a female I have issues connecting with people but not with my 3 yo female, Tara. She’s half-Chihuahua and half-Miniature Pinscher. She’s a little diva and it’s never a dull moment with her.

    I didn’t want to go back to an office job so I’m now working part-time for an eBay PowerSeller. She’s still a little mad when I come home since I’ve been gone for so long but very happy to see me.

    My husband’s rescue dog is 16 years old!!!! He is also having to come to terms that his time is limited with him but he knows that his life has been 100 times better than before he was rescued……..

    Keep the awesome heartfelt posts coming!!!!

  29. Diane says:

    As I was getting my teeth cleaned this morning I found myself thinking about this subject (mainly to get my mind off of the scraping of tools against my teeth) a few thoughts came to mind that I want to share on here. I have groomed pets for several years. I started with a shop and later went to mobile pet grooming. I prefer mobile grooming. Many people have asked me why, especially because having a shop brings in more money because you schedule several dogs at a time and work on them as you can, each pet spending extended amounts of time in cages with loud (and often scary for some) dryers. For a long while I would respond with various answers based on financial or business reasoning…but reality is…I prefer to complete one pet at a time, devoting 100% of my attention to that pet. This answer is not understood by non-pet lovers lol. Most folks don’t realize that many of the people you leave your pets with are not the nicest people. When I began working as a pet groomer I worked with and for other shops (for a short while), I refuse to do this again…I was an emotional wreak by the end of the day. My advice would be to get to know your groomer or vet, make sure you are comfortable with them before you leave your baby with them. My train of thought is going in multiple directions this morning, so I apologuise for that. While at Camping World yesterday a man came up to an knocked on my van window while I was sitting in the drivers seat checking out my purchases. BTW – my van has my grooming business name on the side. He had some qurestions about grooming…he asked if grooming was stressful. Here is where the difference between grooming for money or grooming becuase it is part of who you are come into play. The correct business answer would be “no, not at all, it is like a day at the spa” but the reality is…if he is asking this question…I already know that grooming has been stressful for his pup. And…for some pets…grooming is about as much fun as I had this morning in the dentist chair. After spending some time talking with him he told me the horror story of his pets last trip to a big box grooming shop. I offered him suggestions on how to find a groomer (or vet) that he could trust his pet to. He asked if I would be his pets groomer (my van is not set up yet…I went back to school yada yada…that is another story) anyway, I assured him that if he did as I suggested he would be able to know within a few questions if the next shop (or mobile) was the corrct place for his dog. So, back to my original thought this morning, while mobile grooming I came across many shut ins (not sure if that is the correct term) people who rarely leave their home. Thier pets were EVERYTHING to them. It took me some time to wrap my head around the intensity of the bond they had with their pets…actually, it took until I went back to school and spent time researching how pets are theraputic. I (and many of you all) already know this to be true. But it was interesting to see it in practical use in therapy. Many of my customers would open up to me and share their stories (what an beautiful display of trust). I have my own story and I know the space they were speaking from. So, I will stop writing for now, I could go on for days on the benifits of having a pet, but honestly…if you are reading this post, you probably already know 🙂

    • Diane says:

      after reading the entry I realize I should have enabled spell check lol

    • Bob Bob says:

      Diane, many of us are wounded and broken people to some degree. The more broken we are the more our pets give us. I’m more broken than most, so Homer means a lot to me. he has been a huge part of my healing. You are fortunate to know that and be part of other peoples healing.
      Bob

      • Diane says:

        Yes…I agree, broken is a term I know too well. Pets help us heal and become functional…I want to say whole, but honestly, I don’t know what that even looks like 🙂 For me, my pets fend off the demons so I can rest, they give me more than I can return, they give me hope 🙂 and thank you for your kind compliment 🙂

        • Bob Bob says:

          Diane, no, wholeness is a foreign concept to me as well. I am not fond of the idea of demons so I like to say the craziness in my head and heart. For me giving away love in service is the only thing that keeps it in check. Homer is the one I love the most and the easiest. Everyone else I try to serve in all the love I can muster.
          Bob

  30. Patrick says:

    Too much love for dogs. How ‘ about love for another human? Love for mother? Love for Father? Love for your kids? Do you spend time taking care of your elderly parents?

    • Naomi says:

      Patrick, in my humble opinion, people who love animals have more of a capacity for love for people as well. I’ve always viewed comments such as yours with suspicion. To me, comments such as yours seem to display some sort of jealousy or other negative emotion by the commenter toward any affection given to any one other than the commenter …

    • Diane says:

      Patrick, No one here is suggesting that love for another human is wrong. In fact, by loving a pet and learning how to “feel” again or maybe even feel for the first time, some people learn what love is (in its purest form…unconditional). It is impossible to read body language via the computer screen and often emotion is fed into words, so I am not going to assume anything about you as a person. I do want to point something out that might help you understand where I (I don’t want to assume for others) am coming from. The people you mentioned (immediate family members) are often the ones who “took” trust, who showed that love is not pure, not honest and was given with conditions. So, having a pet whose sole purpose in life is to love and protect is a big plus for some.

      • Naomi says:

        Diane, I like your response better than mine. I apologize if my response seemed harsh.
        ~Naomi

        • Diane says:

          Naomi, It is my belief that some folks need conflict/drama in their life, and if it is absent, they create a situation and try to draw others in. Please, never back down from your beliefs or your words. Not everyone will agree with them, but that is what makes life interesting. The bullys of the world out themselves pretty quick, I prefer to know where people stand on issues so I can avoid them if needed.
          Diane recently posted…buffaloMy Profile

          • Naomi says:

            I appreciate that, Diane. It is difficult to tell what’s in a person’s heart or mind when reading typed words, and at first I felt that I had overreacted. After seeing the other person’s last response, I realize that my comment was correct. I agree – some folks like to stir stuff up. It’s a shame.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Patrick, it seems like you think it is one or the other, is it impossible to have both? If so, that means there must be a very limited supply of love in the world so we should hold on tight to all we can get. On the other hand, maybe there is an unlimited supply and its only a matter of each of us to allow it to flow through us.

      I know a guy once who said that he had a vision of himself and that there was a huge pipe that came down from the heavens and flowed through his head and into his heart. There was a spigot on it through which the love of the universe flowed into his heart and out of his belly into the world. But he had closed the spigot and the love couldn’t flow through. That had created a giant hole in his heart that was destroying him. In his agony he had been doing all kinds of things to fill the hole, but nothing worked, he was always empty.

      After a lifetime of excess and agony in desperation he opened the spigot and allowed the love into his life and to flow out of him freely to others. He was never empty or alone again for the rest of his life. His pain was gone and replaced with peace and joy.

      I am not that man, (I only saw him once in my life and have never seen him again) but I believed him and have tried to follow in his path. There is still nothing good in me, but I have found an unlimited supply of goodness and all I have to do is give every bit of it away and never try to hold any of it for myself.

      I believe there is more than enough love to go around, all you have to do is open the spigot.
      Bob

  31. Patrick says:

    No jealousy, just wanting to put things in perspective. The one reason you love dogs, because it does not know how to think for itself therefore you can control it whatever the ways you want or you have relationship problem with another human beings for whatever the reasons you have such as selfishness or control person. I’m sure you heard many time from the mass media that dogs give man unconditional love. That’s horseshit! Pet industry is most profitable industry and spends billions of dollars to brainwash the general public that “dogs give people unconditional love”. Please prove me wrong! Don’t give foods and shelter for your dogs for a week or two to see what‘s happen to “unconditional love”. It will barks at you to death. If it smart it will run away. If it‘s not smart it will die.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Patrick, I think you have it mixed up, Homer doesn’t give me unconditional love, I give it to him. His only job is to allow me to love him, and that he does very well.

      It is in loving him that I am healed. And yes you are 100% right I am so fucked up I can’t love other people. So I love dogs, and by loving dogs I can begin to learn how to love people. I see that as a good thing.
      Bob

  32. Diane says:

    Well, Patrick I would be willing to bet that elderly parents or young dependent children might react in a similar way if denied attention and food for a week or two. I would imagine a person who does such a thing to another living creature that was dependent upon them (human or animal) might have some serious control issues. Caring for a pet is actually the opposite of selfishness. I can see that this subject has hit an emotional sore for you, but I don’t see it as an opportunity to bash others for their opinions and ways of life. I can say that I am very glad that you are aware of your feelings toward pets. One last note, all three of my dogs were abandoned (left without food for weeks as you put it) by people who I would consider “selfish” so, I have to be honest and tell you that your flip remark about pet people being selfish…just not accurate.

  33. Patrick says:

    Give love a lot of love to your parents and your kids. Dogs are just another animals like pigs or cow.

  34. Susan says:

    Bob, you remarked in your article:

    “I don’t mean to denigrate the depth of the connection between women and their pets, it is also very strong; but with men it is exceptional. Our pets meet our deep emotional need for touch that society forbids us.”

    I understand that you are not able to perceive the view of a woman not being a woman…but I would very much hesitate to say that a man’s connection with his dog is any deeper than my own with my beloved dog Domino (Border Collie/Blue Heeler). He came into my care since he was two months old, I have lived in my tiny celica with him, brought him everywhere with me, even to work, one job I had to quit because I was forbidden to leave him in my car. He is incredibly well trained, loving, and polite. I have had complete strangers run up to him and throw their arms around him. More than one person has remarked, “He looks at you like he is a person, I keep expecting him to talk to me.” He is my world, and no one can come between us, even my significant other who I feel is the love of my life. (He adores Domino as much, if not more, than I do.)

    I do understand what you mean however when you say men are somewhat forbidden to touch others, and yes, even more than women. This is a very regrettable but true situation. I sincerely believe that healthy touch is integral to being a healthy person. I believe it is very difficult to feel loved if we are not touched, and that goes for men especially. But men are taught in this culture that the only really acceptable form of touch is sexual in nature, and are therefore deprived of a lot of joy.

    I am doing what I can to change that in my profession, but that is another story.

    Just wanted to let you know that we women who are dog lovers love our canines as much as you men do, I don’t say more because I feel that we are all capable of that kind of love, should we choose to let ourselves.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Susan, of course you are right, I said that very poorly, I didn’t intend too imply that your love is any less than mine. In fact one could easily argue that women are much more in touch with their emotions so are capable of greater and more intense love.

      Like many things between the sexes, it is not a matter of greater or lessor or more or less, it is a just different. I am very sorry to have implied anything else.
      Bob

  35. Susan says:

    Bob~
    Thanks for the clarification. =) I do believe true and unconditional love is unquantifiable. Its magnitude is incredibly far reaching, whether you be man or woman. Canines can and do bring it out in some of us. Truly a wonderful thing. =)

    ~SK

    • Bob Bob says:

      You are very welcome Susan, I regret implying men love their dogs more than women, I didn’t mean that.

      I know Homer brings out the very bet in me, much more than people do!
      B

  36. Gigi says:

    Hello , I must say that your blog has helped me understand a little more the love and special connection a person can have with their

  37. Lee says:

    I like dogs but are sooooo allergic. I have cats any advice on RVDwelling with our kidos ?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Lee, I’m sorry but I’ve never done it so I really don’t have any advice. I do have several friends who lost their cats within a few months of going full-time. It’s a hard life for them. I also have friends who have had cats on the road for years with no problems, so it can be done. Cats are so individual that it’s hard to generalize with them.

      There is lots of danger outside the van. so if you can keep them inside they will be better off.
      Bob

  38. John Gray says:

    Thanks Bob. Great article.

  39. Reba says:

    I can’t even imagine life without my Chichi (goldador). I don’t know how I used to live without her. I feel so sad for people that are alergic to dogs.

    This was a great post! Thank you.

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