Why our Dog Travels with us (an Ode to Indy)

 Indy protects the camp from squirrels with knives...he swears he saw one once... Indy protects the camp from squirrels with knives…he swears he saw one once…

We get lots of interesting reactions when we tell people that our dog travels with us full time. Most people think it’s a very cool idea, but have lots of questions about logistics (like how to choose the best tent for camping with a dog). Other people nearly immediately offer to keep him for us, assuming we are bringing him because we have no choice. Then there are the few individuals who look at us like we’re crazy. Here is an explanation of why our dog travels with us.

The truth is, leaving Indy somewhere while we traveled was never an option. Period. We do leave him for about two weeks a year while we go to Burning Man, but anything more than that has never been on the table at all.

 Indy gets so sad when we are packing up to go to Burning Man. Indy gets so sad when we are packing up to go to Burning Man.

I (Brittany) have had the joy of being Indy’s owner for over 8 years. In those 8 years Indy and I have moved across the country multiple times, been married, divorced, and Indy was by my side when my mother passed away from terminal cancer. Indy plays a huge role in my life, he has given me friendship when I’ve felt lonely, purpose when I’ve felt lost, affection when I’ve felt sad, and so, so, SO much love. In return it is my responsibility to keep him happy, healthy, and safe. I owe him that much considering what a beautiful presence he has been in my life.

At 12 years old Indy is officially a senior dog, he only has so much time left, and I absolutely refuse to spend large amounts of time away from him when our time together is limited. Tom and Indy also have a very strong bond, Indy loved him from the first second they met. In fact, I’ve never seen Indy connect so deeply with anyone besides me. Tom completely understands and agrees that Indy has to come with us on our travels.

 Morning snuggles are an important part of our routine. Morning snuggles are an important part of our routine.

Preparing Indy for this trip required a multi-faceted approach. Indy is already well trained and comfortable hanging out with me in public places like restaurants and bars, but I wanted to make sure that he would be comfortable camping and spending all of our time outside. To prepare for that we took him on several camping trips, and tried to make his camping experiences very positive by giving him special treats and freedoms on these trips (playing in rivers, eating small amounts of bbq meat, etc.)

It was also really important that Indy enjoy his bicycle trailer since he will be spending so much time in it. When the trailer first arrived I began the training process by setting it up in the living room (without wheels) and rewarding Indy with a “super treat” (a very high value treat like chicken or hot dog) anytime he approached the trailer. The idea here was to build a positive association with the trailer in Indy’s mind. We incrementally increased Indy’s exposure to the trailer, and it was about two weeks before we ever closed Indy into the trailer for an actual bike ride. Even now, every time Indy loads into the bicycle trailer for a ride he receives a “super treat” reward. Indy loves his bicycle trailer, so much so that he usually doesn’t want to get out when we make stops!

 Indy in his trailer Indy in his trailer

Tom and I are so excited to share this big adventure with our best friend, Indy.

Have you traveled with your dog? Would you like to? Tell us about it in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Why our Dog Travels with us (an Ode to Indy)”

  1. Catching up on your blog with the boys and love reading about it and seeing you so happy!! What do you do with Indy when you go whale watching or something? I always think about traveling with my guys but no idea how to do it logistically…think I need to hire a human escort lol 🙂

  2. Andrea, it was soooo nice to get this comment! We miss you and the pups! Logistically it is sometimes a challenge to travel with Indy. There are a number of fun things we’ve had to pass up on because we couldn’t bring Indy. For whale watching we were lucky, because we were able to plan it for cold weather when we could safely leave Indy in the motorhome (since we live in it full time it’s his home). When it’s warm weather Indy either comes with us or we don’t go. In Mexico there are dogs all over, so as long as we are sitting outside Indy can join us at most restaurants and bars. And honestly, we spent most of our time in Mexico laying on the beach which Indy is a PRO at hahaha.

  3. Hi Brittnany,
    Thanks for you blog. My husband and I just recently bought a Sunrader and getting ready to hit the road this Spring. We are planning on taking are two small dogs with us. I love the idea of a dog trailer so I have a few questions…Does it fold up? Also where do you store it? And I’m assuming you guys have bikes. Is that how you get around once your boondocked? Thanks! This is so helpful.

  4. Hi Tara! Congratulations on your new Sunrader, those are AWESOME! Our doggie bike trailer folds down flat once the wheels are removed (which is pretty easy to do). We traveled with it tied on the roof for nearly a year. I will admit, though, that we didn’t use it enough to justify the pain of storing it while we traveled, so we are no longer traveling with it.

    We DO, however, always travel with our bikes (they go on a bicycle rack on the rear bumper). Yes, we often use our bikes to get around when we’re boondocking, but we walk a lot as well. Basically, if it’s too hot to leave Indy safely in the motorhome then we walk and bring him along, or we wait until early morning or sunset time to take the bikes out, OR one of us takes a bike out and one of us stays with Indy.

    Depending on the size of your dogs I’ve also seen dog carriers that attach like a basket on your handle bars or rear bike rack, and for small dogs I think that may be a great alternative solution to the trailer.

    I hope this helps. Feel free to send us a message through the "contact us" tab if you have more detailed questions! 🙂

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