Full-timing with Dogs Like Wyatt

Full-timing with dogs like Wyatt is a never-ending thrill ride. This boy has kept us on our toes, starting the day he hit the road with us.

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He’s older, but not quite wiser.

Why, Wyatt?

Wyatt Ray Dawg lost his leg to neglect at eight months old. The abuse ignited his lifelong battle with mental health challenges. One way he tries to cope is by eating inappropriate objects. Here’s just a short list of non-food items he has eaten (and lived to bark about):

  • A road flare
  • Denim shorts
  • Socks
  • Sneakers
  • Various towels
  • A dog treat pouch and belt
  • Trash can contents
  • and now, a leather planner / organizer

The eating always happens when we leave him alone. If it wasn’t for pet insurance, we couldn’t have been able to cover the costs of his stomach obstruction removal surgeries (one topped out at $5,000!).

Even a few minutes of solo time is too much for Wyatt. So we carefully pick and choose when to do it, and try to our best to set him up for success when he stays behind. For starters, we rarely go away more than two hours. We also try to avoid leaving potential chew toys out in the open. But we’re human, and sometimes we forget. So now, Wyatt wears a cage muzzle when he’s alone. He can drink water while wearing the contraption, so it’s completely humane. 

The Reality of Full-timing with Dogs Who Live on the Edge

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You pray a lot when you live with Wyatt.

They say the Universe only throws at you what you can handle, so I guess that means Jim and I are capable of handling a lot when it comes to living with an anxious German Shepherd Dog. Combine that trait with leash reactivity, and you’ve got a never-ending learning experience as a pet parent. 

Despite the many animal behaviorist training books, DVDs, pet psychics and German Shepherd specialists we’ve consulted with and spent money on over the years, Wyatt is only about 50% better than he was as a young dog. He’s now 10, and although we had always hoped he would mellow out by now, the reality is, Wyatt will never be that Rin Tin Tin German Shepherd fantasy dog.

Yeah, he’s a troubled soul, but he’s also a dog who will defend us with his life if the situation called for it. And for that, we will stand by his side as well.

5 thoughts on “Full-timing with Dogs Like Wyatt”

  1. Awww, poor Wyatt. Tahoe is the same way–he doesn’t eat things but he will tear at them to try to get out. We’ve lost more than one RV door screen to his panic. He wails in despair if we walk away for more than a minute and it’s heart-wrenching.

    He’s always been anxious, but he’s gotten so much worse since our bulldog died. Then our cat died and he was totally alone if we left, and sheer panic ensued for a 15-minute trip to a store.

    We can’t leave him alone, ever, because it also causes anxiety for us, wondering what we’ll come back to. So for peace of mind, we use a pet sitter if we’re going to do something that isn’t dog-friendly.

    Despite all the trouble, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He is the sweetest boy in the world. He’s gentle with people, especially children, and loves meeting all sorts of other animals.

  2. I’m so impressed that you’re able to full-time with Wyatt. We have a dog that sounds very similar. We got her from a shelter when she was 6 months old. She’d been found in the national forest tied to a tree and just left there. She’s also 10 years old now, very leash reactive, afraid of strangers and doesn’t like to be left alone. She also used to eat things when we left her alone. Now, the only things she eats when we leave her are any food items that she might be able to get to. We’re careful about that, but I swear she’s learned to levitate to get to them!! We don’t full-time but do go on extended trips and find it very difficult sometimes. We are always seeking places to go with her that are low-key and not very crowded — especially not too many dogs around. It’s definitely a challenge!! Someday soon we’d like to full-time so I’d love to hear more details about how you handle it.

    • Oh my dog Jennifer, your poor dog! Geez how can people be so awful?! I’m so glad she found you. As difficult as she, and dogs like Wyatt can be, they do have many, many lessons to teach us about patience and humility.

      One of the reasons we are almost always out boondocking in wide open spaces is not just because we enjoy it, but also because it’s good for Wyatt. He does better when there is less activity around us. Most times we avoid crowded RV parks filled with small dogs on Flexi leads.

      Camping around friends is also challenging, especially if they have dogs. One of the most stressful situations for Wyatt is knowing that we are hanging out at another friend’s RV, with their dog and not him. We don’t get him together with other dogs very often, sad to say.

      That’s pretty much our solution to dealing with his issues. That, and the muzzle. Prozac worked for a while but once we took him off it, we realized it wasn’t doing as much good as we thought. He’s medication-free right now, and better than he was, but still a handful.

      So nice to know you can relate! Thanks for giving your girl a loving home.

  3. I didn’t realize he is so troubled! Poor guy.
    We got Jack at 10 months from a family that left him outside with a black lab until we got h.m, He had never had a grooming and maybe a bath—not sure. To me he was a beautiful bundle of fur. He had to learn everything so we went to puppy school. His reaction to us was pure love and gratitude for everything we did for him.
    Very different story but it shows that there are plenty of dogs in many situations that need someone to love.
    Now at 10 years old he is in charge! He dictates our lives and vacation/trip decisions and that’s fine with me.
    He’s a great dog – you met him in Whitehorse. But he has his moments..he has taken to peeing in the house when we leave him alone. We have tried a lot of solutions but the thing that is working so far is putting him in our bedroom with his bed and a bowl of water.
    In the RV he has never peed…maybe he is telling us we’ve been home too long :).

    • Patti, your dog is such a sweetheart, I am so glad we got to meet Jack. And he, no doubt, won the lotto when he met you. What a lucky boy to find his way to your home. I’m also betting that he’s giving you a big hint about when it’s time to roll! Thanks for reading about Wyatt, hope it explains why he went nuts when we walked by Jack the day we met at Walmart!


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