Living on Wheels

Flyin’ Jane and the Winnebago

The tale of an upwardly mobile RV dog

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Over half of all RVers have pets, and I’ve written about them from every possible angle except one. The angle of “what if your pet doesn’t want to give up its nice, comfy house and yard to go live in your tiny RV?” In fact, that angle would never have occurred to me if not for the story told to me by one of the permanent residents and part-time office clerks here at Rose Valley RV Ranch.

Anne and Chris Brown moved here permanently about a year ago after having been on the full-time RVing trail for a year and a half. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Anne ran a training stable for Arabian horses in Corrales for 20 years and showed them all over the country. She met Chris at a horse show in Canada and ended up marrying him and moving to Columbus, OH, where he worked as a legal researcher and she opened a dog grooming shop.

One day she stopped at a Flying J truck stop for gas, and when she went inside to pay, a malnourished, scraggly-looking dog kept trying to get in the door. 

“Whose dog is that?” she asked the clerk. “Yours,” the clerk said. “She’s been hanging around for two weeks. Get her out of here.”

When Anne held open her truck door, the dog jumped right in. “I thought she might kill me, but instead she just licked me,” said Anne, “so I took her home, cleaned her up, and called the vet.”  The dog, which Anne called Flyin’ Jane, had heartworms, other worms, a broken tooth, and various other problems that needed treating. Fifteen hundred dollars and a week later, Anne brought her home and began looking for a new family for the dog. But because she was part pit bull, no one wanted her, so she became part of Anne and Chris’s family, which a year later included a blue heeler named Dot that they adopted as a puppy.

Six years later the couple retired, sold their Columbus house, and bought a 22-foot travel trailer so they and the dogs could hit the road fulltime. Only one problem--Jane was a couch potato whose favorite pastime had been lying on their couch in front of the fireplace. The travel trailer had no couch, no fireplace. Sure, each of the dogs had its own comfy bed, but Jane really missed that couch.

Eventually, the Browns landed in Arizona for a month’s stay, and there they met Sue, a single RVer with a huge luxurious Winnebago Motorhome. Sue’s dog had recently died, and during the long walks she took with Anne and her dogs, she and Jane bonded.  Jane loved going over to Sue’s RV for happy hours. She’d stretch on Sue’s couch in front of Sue’s fireplace, or sometimes take a nap on Sue’s queen-sized bed with its soft, fluffy white comforter.

One day after a walk, Jane refused to go into the little camper with Anne. “Let me take her overnight,” said Sue, “she’s just upset. Jane never slept in the camper again.

 ‘Hey, even I wanted to move in with Sue, so I can’t blame her,” Anne told me. “She has a 4-wheeler and Jane gets to sit in the passenger seat when they go for rides. And Sue cooks lots of meat, like roast beef and steaks, and shares with Jane. They spend summers outside Seattle and winters in Arizona. Jane loves it all.”

Still, it’s a bit of an ego-crusher when your dog chooses to divorce you. “Sometimes Sue would bring her by the camper and Jane would let us pet her, but then she’d drag Sue back to the motorhome. If she could talk, she’d have said ‘thanks for the seven years—see you later. At least Dot didn’t miss her—she’d always wanted to be an only child.”

I know dogs have a reputation for being blindly loyal to their humans, so it’s refreshing to know that here and there, you’ll find one with discernment, who knows a good thing when she sees it and takes the steps to make it her own. A pooch with an eye to the main chance. A pooch after my own heart.

(mug) Sheila and husband, Jimmy Sowder, have lived at Rose Valley RV Ranch in Silver City for four years following five years of wandering the US from Maine to California. She can be contacted at sksowder@aol.com.