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Dog Boondocking and Which RV?


Joe45

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Hello everyone. I hope this is the correct place to put this.

 

I will be going to school (MBA) for a year in Escondido, CA and live in AZ. My school cost is pretty much covered, but the issue is rent. Quite expensive in that area.

 

I have been considering boondocking, as this is my goal anyway-full timing in an RV. So here are my concerns and questions. Please let me know what you think, advise, etc.

 

I have a dog-an 80lb shepherd mix. Very well trained, rarely barks, very housebroken... she is my best buddy and there is NO way I will give her to anyone else.

 

I don't have an RV yet. I drive a Toyota FJ Cruiser (5,000lb tow rating).

 

I would like a Class C motorhome, but unless it's a diesel it won't tow the 4,800lb FJ on a trailer (can't flat tow an FJC). So I am looking at alternatives.

 

I have considered a travel trailer until I can afford perhaps a used diesel Super C.

 

My concerns are leaving my dog in the trailer/rv while I am in class. From what I understand classes are in the afternoon/evening so I am thinking leaving some windows open with running fantastic fan vents on solar could work, along with perhaps an app on my phone to remotely monitor temperature in the camper. On days where I have to go to LA I can put Jedda in a doggie day care.

 

Has anyone here done this? Any suggestions/advice?

 

Thanks!

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I have a dog-an 80lb shepherd mix.

Welcome to the forum!

 

I fully understand your feelings for your dog, but however unpopular.. and to be brutally honest... I feel you are doing her a great injustice. She has been bred as a working "outdoor" dog. No amount of ventilation is going to see her healthy and happy cooped up in any size of RV.

 

I know it might be painful for you, but putting her best interests first.. is there no one you might be able to leave her with in AZ while you are away at school?

 

I DO know she would be completely overjoyed to see you whenever you were able to make it home.

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Hey Joe, they say opinions are like.... well you know how to finish this. I'm a younger RVer, my wife (then fiance) and I fulltimed for two years with a dog and cat, though we did not work remotely while we did. So we returned to the S&B life for now, while we work our professional jobs. However, we are still looking on how to get back to being full time AND making full-time money (ie consulting, running a web biz, etc)

 

I think boondocking or even paying for a campground on a monthly basis will save you money in the long term compared to regular S&B living, esp if you already use the rig on your off time to go travelling (as we do almost every weekend now that we live the S&B life). We actually would have continued to live in the RV fulltime while working if we could have, but here in the Bay Area no park would take us and our 70 lb husky mix on a long term basis (most had no-dog or small dog only rules, damn city folks).

 

Unfortunately, i would say that the FJ is the biggest problem. Either you'll want to tow it, which means you'll need a big enough rig, or you'll want to use it as a TV, which means you're going to be limited in what you can tow. I traded my Highlander for a 3/4 diesel back when we were getting ready to go full time, and it was the best decision I ever made. We originally started looking at TTs that the Highlander could handle, but I'm glad we went the truck route, it turned out wonderfully.

 

The other option would be to go smaller, if you can stand it, and stealth camp in a conversion van or something of the like. Sounds crazy, but I now work in Silicon Valley and there is a large contingent of full-time, professional people here that live out of their RV's full time, due to the rent crisis. They go to work, park in the parking lot, and then usually go stealth camp somewhere after work. Some of them do have dogs as well.

 

As for the dog thing, only you know best for the situation. There was no way I was leaving my dog behind either, and he did wonderfully full-timing, and everyone who knew him would say he had the best life a dog could have (how many dogs could say they peed on 46 different states?) I know what my dog did when I was gone for 8 hrs working full time (sleep), does it matter if he's sleeping in a 2k sq foot house, or a 200 sq ft rv? They'll adapt. As long as you're monitoring environmental levels, (I monitor alarms using a Leeo, temp/video/audio using a spare cellphone and some apps) and getting to the rv to let them out often (say between classes), they'll have a much better life than living in a S&B with someone who works 9-5.

 

Good luck, and sorry you're going to become a B-school brat! :-)

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Welcome to the forum!

 

I fully understand your feelings for your dog, but however unpopular.. and to be brutally honest... I feel you are doing her a great injustice. She has been bred as a working "outdoor" dog. No amount of ventilation is going to see her healthy and happy cooped up in any size of RV.

 

I know it might be painful for you, but putting her best interests first.. is there no one you might be able to leave her with in AZ while you are away at school?

 

I DO know she would be completely overjoyed to see you whenever you were able to make it home.

Thanks for your input. Jedda has always been an indoor dog. When I leave for work now she's inside a good 8-9 hours. Every morning I throw the ball with her, and I take her hiking. But she is actually really mellow when inside and is a couch potato-and follows me everywhere. I don't see the difference between her vegging out while I'm gone on a sofa in the little 800 square foot cabin I am renting, and vegging out on a sofa in an RV-especially since I will walk her in between classes and every other time I can.

 

I have thought of a stealth van too, and I don't think even that is a problem.

 

My real concern are two things: temperature, and security. She has a very deep shepherd bark so I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to do anything when they hear that. With temperature, and an alarm/monitoring system, I think I can do it.

 

I'm as attached to her as she is to me, and when I left her in daycare for almost two weeks my anxiety was awful. I couldn't get off the webcam!

 

Also, I was homeless and semi-homeless for almost a year. During that time Jedda and I slept in a little 1997 2 door Jeep Wrangler with a soft top in winter, at 7000 feet. It was miserable but the only other option was putting her in a kennel and me going to the homeless shelter, so I opted for staying with her.

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Might I ask, what benefit will a MBA be to you if you are going to fulltime? Not dismissing, just curious.

 

Jim

No problem!

I'm getting an MBA in Film Production. I am an artist, photographer, and videographer. I plan on full timing in an RV that will be both my home and traveling studio. If I am going to do a documentary or independent film, or sell my art, I can move around easily. The MBA simply broadens my prospects and can also allow me to get a part time at a college. The only difference between an MBA full timing and living in a house are that with the house I am stuck in one place and limited in opportunities, and with the RV I can move to where the next job is.

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I think boondocking or even paying for a campground on a monthly basis will save you money in the long term compared to regular S&B living, esp if you already use the rig on your off time to go travelling (as we do almost every weekend now that we live the S&B life). We actually would have continued to live in the RV fulltime while working if we could have, but here in the Bay Area no park would take us and our 70 lb husky mix on a long term basis (most had no-dog or small dog only rules, damn city folks).

 

Unfortunately, i would say that the FJ is the biggest problem. Either you'll want to tow it, which means you'll need a big enough rig, or you'll want to use it as a TV, which means you're going to be limited in what you can tow. I traded my Highlander for a 3/4 diesel back when we were getting ready to go full time, and it was the best decision I ever made. We originally started looking at TTs that the Highlander could handle, but I'm glad we went the truck route, it turned out wonderfully.

 

The other option would be to go smaller, if you can stand it, and stealth camp in a conversion van or something of the like. Sounds crazy, but I now work in Silicon Valley and there is a large contingent of full-time, professional people here that live out of their RV's full time, due to the rent crisis. They go to work, park in the parking lot, and then usually go stealth camp somewhere after work. Some of them do have dogs as well.

 

As for the dog thing, only you know best for the situation. There was no way I was leaving my dog behind either, and he did wonderfully full-timing, and everyone who knew him would say he had the best life a dog could have (how many dogs could say they peed on 46 different states?) I know what my dog did when I was gone for 8 hrs working full time (sleep), does it matter if he's sleeping in a 2k sq foot house, or a 200 sq ft rv? They'll adapt. As long as you're monitoring environmental levels, (I monitor alarms using a Leeo, temp/video/audio using a spare cellphone and some apps) and getting to the rv to let them out often (say between classes), they'll have a much better life than living in a S&B with someone who works 9-5.

 

Good luck, and sorry you're going to become a B-school brat! :-)

 

Your experience is interesting. The boondocking/fulltime camping saving money is what I thought as well. I found a campground near where I will go to school but it's about $750 per month plus electric. They will give me a 10% discount as a student, but still seems a bit high. But it's southern California so maybe it isn't high.

 

My dog does the same thing when I'm gone for 8hrs: sleep on the sofa. Hell, she's on the sofa most of the time when I'm home-unless she is lying on the carpet, following me to the bathroom, or eating/drinking. In fact, going to school I think we'll have even more time together since I can walk her between classes and still go on walks and hikes.

 

I agree that the FJ may be the biggest problem. I absolutely LOVE that vehicle, but it may have to go. The ideal setup seems to be a used Class C toyhauler-then I can use the garage for my workshop and eventually get a motorcycle and keep it in there. The stealth van may also be an option to start out in.

 

My biggest concern is temperature and security for my dog. I am thinking that a couple of open hatches with those fantastic fans running on solar rechargeable batteries would be good. Also, painting the roof with that aluminum reflective stuff, or installing a roof rack with a wood base to provide a barrier between the sun and the metal roof.

 

In addition, I was homeless and semi-homeless for almost a year. During that time Jedda and I slept in a little 1997 2 door Jeep Wrangler with a soft top in winter, at 7000 feet. It was miserable but the only other option was putting her in a kennel and me going to the homeless shelter, so I opted for staying with her.

 

I agree that she'll be better off with me than with someone she doesn't know who has a 9-5. And so will I!

 

I'll have to check out those things you mentioned for monitoring your vehicle. I guess they work with the smart phone? Did you find the feedback from the system reliable and real time?

 

Thanks!

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You have to figure unless you are well shaded a trailer is going to heat up like a car. Vent fans going will help but you will need to keep a close eye on the temp and test things out ahead of time so you are not risking the dog's health while gone. We seldom leave our dog alone, but we are retired, but when we do we leave the gog alone we leave the AC on.

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You'll need internet access at the trailer to be able to check on it of course, but if you've already considered this, this is what I would use to keep an eye on my pets if I'm away an extended period of time (and what I use in my S&B in general):

 

1) Temperature Monitor. There are all sorts out there. I haven't looked for an app yet, since I'm not sure how accurate a cell phone will be for ambient temp (I figure most phones use any thermometers to measure phone temp). But if there is a phone that does ambient temp well, this would be the simplest solution. I've tried the Control Products Freeze Alarm, which dials out via a phone line, but I couldn't get it to be reliable using a cell phone connection. Also wouldnt work with a modified sine inverter. I now use a Leeo Smart Alarm at the house, which has temp and humidity monitoring, as well as listens for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and will notify you via app or phone call. It only plugs into a 120v outlet, so you would need an inverter to use it, most likely pure sine. but it is so easy to use and reliable that I'd use this if we were going full time again.

 

2) Audio/Video monitoring. I've tried setting up my own IP cameras and VPNS and what not, but its messy and difficult to deal with over a cell connection and moving around. I recently found and started using an app called DORMI. It works really well, both locally (LAN) as well as over the internet. It is a baby monitor app, but it has alot of great features and seems well designed. I've used it as a LAN only method to watch some bikes tied down in my toyhauler while I was on the road, by installing it on two old Galaxy S4s I had lying around. By just having them on the same wifi, I was able to see and hear everything realtime, without having to use a connection to the internet. It is however, well suited for watching via the internet. It will only show video if you press a button to see it, or if it detects sound. So this way you aren't streaming video all the time and thus using up bandwidth. If you want to watch video all the time, you can just turn up the mic sensitivity all the way, and make sure to have some background noise going. The sound detection could also work to see if he is barking alot, or if an alarm goes off in the rig (smoke, temp, etc). It will also warn you if the connection has been severed, which is really great.

 

3) Keeping temps down: Fantastic fans work great, but if its 100 degrees outside, will only be so effective. If you ever have to deal with this, you'll probably know beforehand, and can put him in doggy daycare or with a petsitter for the day. Otherwise, most rigs are pretty well insulated, much better than a car. If we were going to go full-time, i would install a remote start for my onboard Onan generator. This would allow for the genny to automatically start up if the AC needs to run. This is of course if you aren't hooked up to shore power, but need the AC to run while boondocking.

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As far as the dog - we are in central Illinois - from sun up until about 4pm our insulated, dual pane window motorhome with main awning out is in the sun. The temperature inside with windows open and vent fans on gets up to 82 or higher her in IL. I cannot imagine how hot it would get in AZ unless you are at a higher elevation. The co-hosts here have a travel trailer - not well insulated - single pane windows - theirs with some shade will get up to 96 inside when its only 78 outside. I'd rethink this . Too risky for the dog. Only takes 10 minutes at high temperature to cause seizures and permanent brain damage. If you were going to be in a park, you could leave your AC set for a comfortable temp and then monitor.

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Well I grew up near there and it can get REALLY hot. From US weather data average high May 78, June 82, July 87, August 89, September 87. Those are averages, it can get MUCH hotter on any given day. However, you can rely on plenty of sunshine which just does not mix with a pet in a trailer. It was 72 and sunny here in Northern Michigan today and our trailer in partial shade was 79 with the screen door open and 1 window open. It is a well insulated Arctic Fox with double pane windows.

 

If you love your dog, you will leave it behind.

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Personally, I would never leave my dogs in an RV in that situation--dry camping...unless you have auto generator, etc. I would find a park with full hookups. There must be some at a lot less than $750 a month but I don't know the area so it may not be possible. Besides if you are dry camping and going to school how are you going to find the time to dump or get water or have electricity to study or use the computer?

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