People and their pets

I’ve been told that RV sales have been very high since the pandemic hit. People want to travel, but are unsure of the safety of motels and other public accommodations. Having a recreational vehicle of some type gives a traveler a portable bedroom, kitchen and bathroom that can travel with them. It certainly seems that there are a lot of travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes on the highways as we have been making our trip. The campgrounds aren’t quite full to capacity, but there are plenty of campers in every campground where we have stayed on our trip.

I have to assume that there are a lot of folks with campers who are inexperienced. Most are a lot closer to home than we were when we were in South Carolina. The majority of campers that we see in campgrounds are from the state where the campground is located, or from a neighboring state. For example, tonight we are very close to the Minnesota state line and there are quite a few campers with Minnesota plates in the campground as well as a lot with South Dakota plates. Those of us with license plates from more distant places are the minority.

Often we strike up conversations with neighboring campers, so we know some of the stories. The night before last we were in Missouri. We were parked next to a family from North Carolina. It was their first big trip with a travel trailer and they asked us things such as how many miles per day we planned on our trip. On this trip we have planned from 300 to 400 miles for most days, with a couple that were a bit longer. They seemed to be planning about the same distances as us. Their destination is the Black Hills and they, too, were taking one night between Missouri and the Rapid City area.

Other campers are surprised at the distances we cover. The people from whom we bought this camper had never towed it more than 250 miles from their home. They would be surprised that most years we tow our camper 3000 to 5000 miles.

The result of all of these differences is that most campgrounds have their share of campers who are inexperienced with the customs of campground life. In a campground where the campers are parked close to each other, experienced campers know that the driver’s side of the camper is for utility hook ups and the passenger side is for awnings, picnic tables, and outdoor activities. When there is a row of campers all heading the same direction, after you have set up your camper, you spend most of your time on the passenger side of the camper, giving the camper on the other side the freedom and a bit of privacy to do the same. In general, people walk around others’ camp sites, not through them. There are, however, plenty of campers who don’t observe those common courtesies.

Last evening the folks on the passenger side of our camper had their lawn chairs and other items out on the passenger side of their camper away from us. However, they tethered their dog on the other side of the camper, next to their utility hook up. The dog was being ignored by the owners. It was a fairly large dog and it started digging in the ground next to the utility post. It had made a fairly large hole, about 5 or 6 inches deep when the owner came around the camper and discovered the digging. He calmly said to the dog, “Stop digging. Don’t be stupid.” Then he busied himself with trying to get his cable TV hooked up. He didn’t issue a command to the dog. He didn’t stop it from digging. He didn’t go over and pet the dog. He didn’t bring it a water dish or a food bowl. He just ignored it for another hour or so.

We’ve also camped next to campers who put out their dogs in kennels and ignore them. They might put out food and water when the put the kennel out, but then go on with their activities as if they didn’t own a dog. Sometimes the dogs bark or make noise and it is as if the owners can’t hear them. I suspect that those same people put their dogs out into their back yards at home and ignore the barking as well, annoying their neighbors.

A lot of campers travel with dogs. We’ve seen folks stop at a rest stop and take out three or more dogs from a single RV.

I like dogs and cats and other pets. However, we do not currently have pets and when we did we didn’t take them on road trips. We’ve seen plenty of responsible pet owners traveling with their pets and caring for them as they travel. But we’ve also seen others who have strange relationships with their pets. We see folks with small dogs that they carry everywhere they go as if the dogs couldn’t walk. I’m not sure that the dogs appreciate it, but I really don’t know. I don’t want to tell others how to treat their pets, but I have observed some pretty strange behavior.

We’ve seen pets dressed up in costumes, pets that are put out with long leashes and a few that are allowed to run off leash, which in most campgrounds is a violation of the rules. We’ve seen pet owners that clean up after their pets and others that leave messes for others to clean up. We’ve seen signs that use humor to try to get pet owners to be responsible. “There is no poop fairy.” “Our campground is not a bank. Don’t let your dog leave a deposit.” It is obvious that the signs are a response to a problem that campground operators have experienced.

I guess campgrounds are just like the rest of society. There are a lot of good neighbors who are responsible and a few who are less so and don’t seem to follow the customs and rules. It is sad, however, to see pets who are neglected or ignored. They didn’t get to choose their owners.

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