Many full-time RV dreamers who join Jim’s Facebook Workamping group ask about workamping with pets. We’ve just completed our first summer season workamping job without a dog. The experience has given me a greater perspective on the pros and cons of working and full-time RVing without pets. There’s good and bad, of course.
Let’s get one thing straight: I miss Wyatt Ray Dawg.
From his crazy eating antics to his non-stop vigilance as RV sheriff, our life is less colorful without him. As his guardians, Wyatt’s emotional and physical needs took first priority wherever we went, whatever we did. We spent twelve years doing our best to give him what he needed. Anxious and clingy, that dawg wanted to be around us 24/7 or he would hurt himself. Not even prozac and constant training could get rid of that behavior. Wyatt is why we have always been selective about the workamping jobs we accepted. The gig had to be just right for all of us.
Workamping without Wyatt was the easiest gig, ever
When Vickers Ranch asked us to come help this summer, I was more excited than usual to take it on. Now that they’re out of the cabin rental business, they promised me the office work would be a picnic compared to previous years. They only needed me a few hours a day. Good pay, easy work, awesome scenery, and great people? Of course I nudged Jim into agreeing it would be a good deal, even though he would be full-time!
After a few weeks on the job, Vickers’ prediction was right. The office work was easy and minimal. As the weeks went on, I started thinking about how much easier it is to workamp without dogs.
Back when we had Jerry, I felt constant guilt for leaving him at home. Our dog was dying of cancer, the clock was ticking faster and faster. The Vickers didn’t mind if he was with us while we worked, but he didn’t have the stamina to keep up with us on the job. What were we thinking, leaving him at home all day?
When Wyatt was alive, we felt the constant stress associated with loving a high-anxiety dog. We recorded him while we were away on the job at Vickers, and this is what he did:
Every time we left and closed that door, I wondered what would happen. Would he do something stupid? What would we come home to? Was he lonely? Was I being a bad dog mom by leaving him alone for a few hours, five days a week? With no good emergency veterinary care within 200 miles, I feared that some day we would need to leave our job in order to save his life.
This summer, I had none of that worry. Workamping without pets was pure freedom. At times I felt guilty for even acknowledging how happy I was that we didn’t need to worry about Wyatt anymore.
The Pros and Cons of Workamping with Pets (and Without them)
First, the Pros
If you have an adventurous animal, it’s so much fun to introduce them to new sights, sounds, smells, and people. To see new places through their eyes gives you another perspective, another chance to experience why you went there in the first place. I miss that so much right now.
As a pet parent, workamping doesn’t get any better when your boss doesn’t mind if your dog comes to work with you.
And if your animal is the friendly type, you can make lifelong friends with others who also have sociable critters.
Finally, after a long day’s work, there’s nothing better than coming home to a happy pet who wants nothing more than to love on you, and remind you what really matters in this world.
Now, the Cons
Workamping with pets adds an extra challenge into your situation. If you place your pet’s needs first (and I hope you do), you will need to carefully screen job openings.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Will the boss allow me to check in on my pet throughout the day? Not just for lunch, but for pee breaks and walks?
- How close will I be workamping to my rig? Will I be so far away that I can’t get there in time if, say for example, a bear tries to get inside? Yes, that really happened to us when Jerry was alive.
- Is the workamping location safe for my pet? For instance, is it so close to a highway that if my pet escaped they could get hit by a car? Do they have adequate outdoor play and potty spaces?
- What about other workampers and their pets? Are the campsites so close that our pets will be nose-to-nose? Are those other pets sociable? Will my animal constantly feel threatened, or act aggressively toward those pets?
- What about wild animals and livestock? Is my pet friendly toward other critters?
- Can I get my pet’s food brand easily shipped to me? Or is there a good pet food store within driving distance?
- And what about veterinary care? Are there any excellent vet clinics nearby?
If you don’t place your pet’s needs first, you’ll probably regret taking that job.
Sure, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and feel like you need take a workamping job that isn’t ideal for your pet but pays the bills. If so, I encourage you to keep looking, there are many workamping gigs out there. But if you still want to take that less-than-ideal job, and it’s a short-term gig, like when I worked at Amazon, you two will probably survive OK. But if that workamping job requires you to be there longer than a couple months, perhaps you need to ask yourself if workamping is the right lifestyle choice for you and your pet.