No doubt, there are a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle that have to come together before we take off. Jobs, school, insurance, selling a house, buying a house on wheels. But of them all, the most difficult piece- the one that almost made us give up on pulling this off- has been our dogs.
We are dog lovers and have always been a dog family. Before we had children, we had Bruno – a mastiff, and Callie – a labrador retriever. Bruno, despite living nearly his whole life with type 1 diabetes- requiring 2x daily insulin injections- lived to 10 years old, which is a full life expectancy for a healthy English mastiff. Callie passed earlier this year at 14.
We got our second English mastiff- Arlo- in December 2015 because we felt like we finally had time to dedicate to another puppy. And then life did a big LOL in our face, and we found out I was very unexpectedly pregnant a few months later. Expecting our 4th child, naturally, we thought it would be brilliant to add ANOTHER dog to the mix, and welcomed Rosie in July 2016. Have you figured out by now that we thrive on chaos?
Rosie was partly a promise to Leyna to get her a “tiny girl dog” when we found out she wouldn’t be getting a little sister. But, mostly, she was a thought-out addition to our pack. We knew Callie was too old and tired to play with Arlo, but he needed a playmate. Arlo and Rosie hit it off from day one, despite their massive size difference.
Anyway, all of that is to say that Arlo and Rosie are very much HUGE parts of our family. And so, when we made this announcement to anyone- friends and family, and also to the public- the first question many asked was, “What about the dogs??”
We only entertained the idea of bringing them both with us for about 5 seconds. There are a lot of families that travel with their dogs full time. It can be done! But it’s not something that we feel we can do in a way that’s safe for everyone and fair to the dogs.
First, there’s the whole issue of transporting them. We will be purchasing a truck, and there will be zero room to put them both in the cab. Transporting them in the trailer isn’t an option for us, either. We don’t plan to be stationary for long and will be driving a lot.
We briefly contemplated just bringing Rosie. We could kennel her on the floor of the cab of the truck. But we don’t plan to spend much time in our RV, and not every place we visit is going to be dog-friendly. That would mean Rosie would spend much of this trip in a kennel, and we’d hate that.
So we feel that the best option for them is to place them in loving foster homes while we’re on the road. We have every intention of getting them back when we return. We weren’t able to find someone to take both of them, and I get that. That’s a huge commitment. But Rosie is living with a family friend who also has a pug, and she’s adjusted well. We get to visit her anytime we’re in Austin, and her foster mom texts lots of pictures and updates. Leyna even writes postcards to her (as part of her homeschool writing assignments).
Arlo was with another friend for a couple months, and that helped us find time to get the house ready and on the market. We’d hoped he’d be a good fit there long-term, but it was beginning to look like their dog was not going to adjust to him being there, so we brought him home yesterday. And that’s fine! We are so appreciative that they loved on him while we worked to get projects done here. And it’s good to know it wasn’t a good fit before we took off. I’d rather be figuring this out here than from an RV park in Idaho.
We’ve been interviewing other foster families for him for the last week, and I think we’ve found a couple good fits. We’ll be making some home visits soon, and have been asking tons of questions. We really want to feel confident that this will be the last big change for him until we get back.
A couple comments have come through on social channels, questioning why we would do this to the dogs. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We wouldn’t have brought Arlo and Rosie into our family if this was on our radar then, but it wasn’t, and life happens. We’re confident we can place them in loving homes, and that we’ll be reunited when we get back.
I think because we care so much about them, this has been one of the hardest things to talk about with people who don’t know us. I feel pretty defensive about it all, to be honest. We’re doing the best we can for them, knowing that it’s not ideal that their lives would be disrupted like this, but also knowing they’re going to be just fine.