Remember that vow I took? Which one, you may be asking yourself, since there’re have been several. I’m referring to the one about not dressing up Missy, ever — not even for Halloween. Well, I kept it.
Nonetheless, she did participate recently in a contest for the best Halloween costume. She appeared au natural. As you can see from the photos, the other contestants took it far more seriously.
Who, you may ask, are these people and their canines? They are members of NOR-LOW, the Northern California chapter of Loners on Wheels. Missy and I participated in the last trip of the year, held in Plymouth, CA. The weather was crisp, the leaves were beautiful shades of red and gold, Sutter Creek and Jackson provided ample dining and shopping opportunities, and the company (human and otherwise) was superb.
I also enjoyed the added benefit of receiving advice from a retired dog behavior specialist, who makes Cousin #1 (the one who won’t allow stop-and-sniff) look positively permissive. Poor Missy still doesn’t know what hit her. She’s learning not to bolt from the RV when the door opens (a combination of consistency and vinegar) and is getting better at being left alone in the RV. I’m extremely proud to have been told by the strict trainer that, “It’s nice to see an owner who has expectations for her dog.”
The one area that shows no signs of improvement, however, is Missy’s nervousness on travel days. I’ve tried a number of approaches, but she continues to whimper, hyperventilate (otherwise known as pant), and shake. Not even Cousin #3 displayed this behavior in the passenger seat when I drove a twisty, narrow road in Lake Tahoe and she was looking directly down a cliff that ended hundreds of feet below in a body of water. I’ve tried leaving her (Missy) in the back of the RV, but that didn’t work. Next I bought a kind of box that attaches to the passenger seat and allows me to belt her in. She refuses to lie down, preferring to sit bolt upright and keep her eyes on the road. This goes on for hours, so when we finally arrive at our destination, she’s exhausted and sleeps the rest of the day and most of the next day, too.
Next up is a container. I recently assembled it, placed a soft padded blanket on the bottom, and put in some treats so Missy could become accustomed to it. She promptly entered the container and exited immediately with the treats. I was hoping for a more enthusiastic reaction. I have lowered my expectations on how much she’ll enjoy the container on travel days.
In other news, I have purchased another Smartcar and had Camping World install everything needed for towing. I don’t want to write about how long it took, how expensive it was, or why they can’t include a battery disconnect switch. Also, I think I’ve figured out how to handle the wobbling front wheels of the car during towing, which is another subject I don’t want to write about. I’m hopeful that the new deep-cycle batteries I purchased yesterday and may (emphasis on “may”) be able to have installed tomorrow, might (emphasis on “might”) address some problems I’ve been having. And no, I don’t want to elaborate.
I recently declared to the universe that the next time I run into a major problem (at this point I consider wobbling wheels, dead batteries, difficulty finding mechanics, and dump site mishaps as nothing more than troublesome inconveniences) I’m going to sell the RV and settle wherever I happen to be. This sentiment was deemed unacceptable by NOR-LOW members – which is just one of the many reasons I value their friendships and advice.