Olive and I have been together for three and a half years, and things were pretty tough for her before we found each other. As a result, she can be afraid of everything in the world. I’m so proud of her and the adjustments she has made to being on the road.
WE GO TOGETHER LIKE BAMA LAMA DING DONG
One of the biggest pluses to this transition is that Olive and I are together almost all the time. I take her with me when I can when I’m exploring new areas.
If the weather is too hot or if dogs are not allowed, I may go sightseeing after breakfast and return before dinner, but it is a lot less time away from her than when I was working.
THE QUEEN AND HER CARRIAGE
Olive loves being my wingman when we are in the car. She has a special booster seat that allows her to see outside. So, I thought she would love being the copilot in the RV too. Not so much. I think the passenger seat sits up so high and the windshield is so large that it scares her a little bit. Her preferred perch is on the back of the sofa, whether we’re sitting still or driving down the highway.
I like to call this one “Portrait of Pooch With Oranges:”
You may recall I was very worried that Olive would bark at every little thing when I was away from the RV, getting us kicked out of RV parks. Thankfully, that has not transpired. Olive barks more when I am with her than when I am not. I’ve asked neighbors to tell me if she barks when I am away, and she does not, unless someone actually knocks on the door or stands really close to the rig. Then she barks her little head off, which I am happy for!
GETTIN’ OLD AIN’T FOR SISSIES
When I wrote about Olive’s first 10 days in the rig, she had just begun to use the entrance/exit steps on her own. I was so relieved, because I did not want to spend our lives picking her up every time we wanted to go in or out of Nellie! I also wrote about the foam steps that I fashioned for Olive to get on the bed at night, and since that time I hired an upholsterer to make them nicer looking.
The steps continue to work like gangbusters, but she won’t use them to get down. In the mornings she jumped off the bed, which is quite high, onto a mat in front of the shower.
Somewhere back in Texas, I leaned down to put the leash on Olive’s collar to go for a walk. She whimpered and piddled a little bit. This behavior continued all the way to California, and it got worse. Sometimes when I pet her around the ears, she whimpered. She was clearly exhibiting pain behavior.
The vet in Palm Springs ran Olive through a series of range of motion tests for her neck, and a battery of x-rays. The diagnosis was a soft tissue injury, likely caused by all the physical exertion in the RV! She is around eight years old, after all, and none of us are getting any younger. I felt just terrible. The vet advised to switch permanently to one of her harnesses instead of a collar, to reduce neck stress. I now help her down from the bed every morning, but I still let her use the steps to get in and out of the rig. The results have been phenomenal. She’s no longer exhibiting pain behavior, and we did it without using any of the drugs the vet prescribed.
A WORLD OFF ITS AXIS
Neglected and abused animals thrive in a routine, and in many ways I ripped Olive from our happy routine in Seattle. Every day now when we exit the coach, she doesn’t know if she’ll recognize the smells or if she will be in an entirely new place. She no longer has all of her human buddies in the neighborhood (who took her months to trust) to pet her and give her treats. While she can take or leave most other dogs, in Seattle she saw the same dogs every day, and she came to enjoy running into them. On our travels, she stays away from dogs she does not know, resulting in very little interaction with other animals.
Boss Tweed would love on Olive if she would let him, but she growls and snarls if he gets too close. Nevertheless, they are good company for each other. You will always find them in the same room together, even if they are not cuddled up.
The transition has definitely been harder on Olive than Boss Tweed. Still, she’s happiest when she is with me, and I am certainly happier when I am with her, and this lifestyle affords us a lot of time together. My little trooper is making it work.