Meet Hobbes, a French Bulldog with Midwestern roots, who spent his formative years growing up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In April 2019, Hobbes hit the open road with his human, Sarah, for a multi-month adventure, where they’ll explore the U.S. by RV before eventually settling down in Northern California.
All summer, the Pet Food Institute will be checking in with Hobbes and his owners to see where they are, what they’re seeing and doing and what tips they have for taking a pet along on an extended road trip. We’ll be sharing dispatches here- scroll down to read all of their updates from the road, with the most recent at the top.
June 25, 2019: Montana
After rolling out of Northern California at the end of May, Hobbes and his family have been exploring the West, with stops in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. We visited several National Park Service sites so far: Crater Lake National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. (Hobbes had a few strong words for the bison that walked by the car window). It has been fun to explore small and historic western towns like Cody, Wyoming and Livingston, Montana. You can read more about our off-the-beaten path discoveries on our blog here.
We have stayed in eight different campgrounds over the last three weeks, and each one has been a slightly different experience. Hobbes seemed to enjoy boondocking in Grand Tetons National Park the most. “Boondocking,” or dry camping, means camping on public lands – for free. The catch is that these lands usually don’t include amenities like running water or electricity, so you are truly “off the grid.” But, with a little preparation, it can be a great way to get away from the crowds and experience nature. Just be sure to follow Leave No Trace ethics and leave the campsite as good or better than you found it.
Now that we have a couple months’ experience of full-time RV living behind us, here are five of Hobbes’ top tips for RV camping with your dog:
1. Before going on a long road trip, let your dog get acclimated to your rig. We took Hobbes on several weekend trips in the RV before we started our coast-to-coast journey to make sure he was comfortable in his new home. Bring along some of their favorite toys, too.
2. If you are camping without electrical hookups (and therefore no air conditioning), it’s important to watch the weather forecast carefully. We won’t leave Hobbes home alone if it’s too warm. The RV stays fairly insulated, but our worst nightmare would be for him to overheat in the rig! It’s important to have a routine in place when leaving your dog. Set up a crate, give him a toy for some positive distraction, open the windows for fresh air, turn off the RV’s propane for safety, etc.
3. Make sure your dog’s vaccinations and flea and tick preventatives are up-to-date. Store all of your dog’s records in one secure spot so you can easily find it if needed. It’s also a good idea to do an internet search of veterinarians in the area that you are visiting, just in case you need to call one in a hurry.
4. Watch for wildlife. If you are camping in a remote area, chances are you may have some wild animals for neighbors. We had an elk stroll through our boon docking site in Wyoming and hang out around us for an hour! Hobbes did not seem impressed; he just chewed on a stick and ignored the elk completely. Keep your dog on a leash so they don’t get themselves – or any other animals – in trouble.
5. Be considerate of fellow campers. Most campgrounds are dog-friendly – and some even have a dog park on site – but as crazy as it sounds, not all campers are dog people. Try to keep your dog’s barking to a minimum and be sure to pick up after them. Also, respect the rules of the trails. Most National Parks do not allow dogs on hiking trails. (Pro tip: But often, nearby National Forest trails do, and they can be just as scenic).
Looking for more information about camping with your dog? Here are some more resources that could help ensure your RV road trip is a fun, safe experience for both you, and your pet!
We are spending a couple more weeks in Montana and then will circle through the Pacific Northwest in July. Hobbes seems to enjoy this slower pace of travel since he gets more time to explore each city. There’s always someone new to meet!
May 31, 2019: California
Greetings from California, as Hobbes continues his summer adventure!
When we’re on the road, Hobbes usually sleeps on the couch in the RV. We try to keep our travel time to 3-4 hours on the road on any one day and aim not to move locations more than a couple times per week. Hobbes has full access to water and a favorite indestructible toy stuffed with treats if he gets bored. When we leave the RV, we usually put him in a pop-up travel crate, where he is happy to hang out for up to six hours or so.
You may wonder how we make sure Hobbes gets enough exercise while on the road. That’s something of a trick question since many French Bulldogs prefer to sleep most of the day away. The real challenge is making sure he doesn’t overdo it with the dog treats! Luckily, Hobbes is a pretty athletic little guy for a Frenchie, and his weight stays a pretty consistent and portable 25 pounds.
When we get to our destination, we usually take Hobbes out on a leash for a walk around the campsite to meet any new neighbors. That’s his favorite part of the day, without a doubt. Hobbes is a people person dog. And while most of the National Parks do not allow dogs on their hiking trails, they can ride in your vehicle, and Hobbes absolutely loves going for a sightseeing drive through nature. He’s been to at least a dozen National Parks so far during his seven years!
After we made it through Nevada (which we found to be highly underrated – definitely check out Great Basin National Park!), we spent a couple weeks visiting family in Northern California. Hobbes was able to join in on a fun walk for a good cause in support of Parkinson’s research in Sacramento with his friends. After that, he got a much-needed bath to wash off the last of the Utah red dirt off him. He of course was not a fan of smelling like pear and oatmeal, but he looked like a brand-new dog afterward.
Don’t let the pitiful photo fool you, about two minutes after this was taken, he was strutting around the pet supply store like he owned the place.
We had a full house in the RV during a long weekend trip to Yosemite, and one rainy day turned into a movie night with five people on the couch. That’s pretty much an ideal situation for Hobbes.
In the coming weeks, we will be headed through Wyoming and Montana to visit some more of our favorite parks. Will let you know if we spot any bison – let’s just say that Hobbes had strong opinions about those odd-looking dogs when we explored Yellowstone a few years ago.
Check back soon for our next update!
May 1, 2019: Utah
Hobbes has always loved a good road trip, so he has truly embraced his new nomadic lifestyle. There are so many new human friends to meet on the road! As he has gotten older, Hobbes has learned to prefer the company of people to dogs. He also loves how dog-friendly the campgrounds are!
The biggest adjustment has probably been that Hobbes no longer has his “alone time” during the day, so he’s had to get into a new routine to squeeze in his beauty sleep. He’d probably sleep 12 hours a day, if possible! On travel days, he usually sleeps in the backseat of the car, which is currently the “chaser vehicle” behind the RV. When he travels in the RV, he sleeps in his travel crate.
When he is home alone for more than a few minutes, Hobbes stays in his “den,” a pop-up portable crate that he honestly enjoys. French Bulldogs are more prone to back injuries (although Hobbes doesn’t seem to know or care about the risks, go figure), so we are careful to limit his jumping when we’re not around.
Hobbes enjoys dry kibble, and he’s never turned down a classic baked dog biscuit. His dog food is stored in an airtight plastic container, which helps protect against insects possibly getting in. With being exposed to much more nature than he was in Washington, DC, we are also making sure to keep Hobbes up-to-date on his flea and tick and heartworm medications.
The month of April was a whirlwind through the south and southwest. During his visit to the adorable small town of Panguitch, Utah, a kind barista made him a special dog-friendly beverage. Those are only for special occasions, though!
We are currently in California to focus on work projects, but Hobbes will be back in the RV soon to explore more of the west, most likely Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The route is still in the works!
Until next time!