Trip Report: Dutch Wonderland (with Penny)

Penny’s our 3-year-old rescued Puerto Rican street dog. Roxanne is our 2-year-old bright red Winnebago. They haven’t spent a lot of time together, until this weekend that is.

penny and roxanne

We occasionally use Roxanne as a second car, or a way to escape the house if there’s home improvement or some other loud thing going on. So Penny has been inside, and she’s been on errands. But our summer adventures were sans dog, we’ve never taken her on a camping trip in the RV before. This weekend, we did.

It was a Girl Scout trip to Dutch Wonderland, where we’d already spent a fun weekend this summer. We had a campsite in the shade, with an electric hookup for fans and air conditioning if needed. And the campground was an easy walk from the park, so we could check in on her as often as we wanted.

So we made sure she had food, water and entertainment, and we took off for the land of Halloween-themed child amusement. We think Penny did pretty well. Even though she had never seen a roller coaster before, let alone camped underneath one!

roxanne under roller coaster
(Thank goodness the coaster stopped at 9 p.m.)

On the first check back, the van had gotten a little warm. So Lindy cooled it off and put up some shades. Penny was happy to see her, but no more anxious than when we leave her at home. I imagine the view was more interesting from the front window.

Dog, meet dogs

The bigger worry wasn’t actually the RV or the campground. This was Penny’s first camping trip in more than a year, the last having ended in a serious fight in the tent with our other dog, Roxy. Lindy witnessed it, much to her horror. That was the last time any of us camped in a tent, and the trip that got us thinking seriously about RVs. It also resulted in a new home for Roxy, and eventually, an RV named in her honor.

Ever since that fateful trip, the social butterfly from the office dog park has been distracted and fearful, or at least on alert, around most other dogs. So this trip was a test of Penny in a multiple-dog environment. Campers love to bring their dogs, and Old Millstream Campground had no shortage. Every age, every shape and size and every temperament was represented, among the many grandparents and grandchildren who seemed to be staying for the weekend.

Ready, set, dog…

And we were prepared. We had armed with a muzzle in case any dogs got too close (they didn’t), a leash with a harness, tips from the trainer and the secret key to Penny’s immediate attention — string cheese. Sure, there was some barking, some leash tugging and some growling. But we managed to keep her attention on us as we walked around the campground and other dogs walked around us. She slept well with the three humans overnight and didn’t make a sound. 20161030_101858-2016-10-30t18_52_25-387The little cushion above the fresh water tank was the perfect size for her dog bed, and the perfect height for her to look out the window. I like to think she learned a bit this weekend about how being around other dogs doesn’t have to be stressful, and can have delicious, cheesy results.

Penny also got plenty of exercise and plenty of stimulation, probably a lot more than if we’d left her home with a sitter. In fact, she’s zonked out in her bed at home as I write this.

Roxanne has been very useful for quick overnight trips this year. Dutch Wonderland is almost exactly two hours from home, which makes for a long day or an easy trip home after one night of camping. It was nice to have our dog with us this time.

Making campgrounds great again

Meanwhile, with the election barely a week away, we encountered something we’d never seen in all of our years of camping. Campaign yard signs. In front of people’s RVs. Yes, it’s possible that some of these folks were staying through the election and wanted to have signs out in front of their homes. (There are long-term rates at Old Millstream.) But let’s just say we were reminded the rest of the country doesn’t always vote the way Maryland does.

Also published on Medium.

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