With Tom Tom Festival in the books, the Road Team is ready for the full festival season to really get underway. We’ve left the comfort of Charlottesville, Virginia and embarked toward the woods of Brevard, North Carolina landing in Charlotte for Tuck Fest this weekend. While we travel, Henry, our scruffy trash dog, lays on the bed behind us, starring out over his tiny home kingdom. Our #vandog goes everywhere with us, and because of that, he deals with a lot. We drag him to festivals, sit next to him during long car rides, and have him lay inside while we reorganize the van for the third time that day. But being a #vandog has its perks too. Free reign at campsites, new smells every night, dog friends all over the place, and pets from almost every human that walks by. Check out below how we make the best life for our #vandog while living the #vanlife ourselves.
Food and Water
The most important of all things. We have a special container we keep his food and water in so his food doesn’t get wet and we don’t have to pour water out every time we move locations. Henry self-regulates his food intake so we make sure he has the opportunity to eat whenever we stop. This means taking more time at gas station stops, finding places to put his bowls at friends houses and closing it before we sleep every night so critters don’t get to it. It also means packing in extra food every time we backpack or hike. He’s worth the extra pounds.
On long travel days, Henry is just as antsy as we are in the van. Gas stations usually have a grass plot to stretch both human and dog legs. I like to do a walk over first to check for broken glass and anything else dangerous he may encounter. We play fetch with him at whatever location we end up at to get a bit more energy out before bed. The glow in the dark ball really helps with that.
On non-long-travel-days, Henry tires himself out and puts himself to bed early. These are the days that make #vandog travel so rewarding. When we hike, he is often off leash if the regulations allow it.
“Your dog behaves so well!”
Thank you, it didn’t happen overnight. I spent hours and hours with Henry as a puppy training him after work. I’m still training him. We work on behavior every day so I can continue bringing him everywhere. If you’re curious, I used a softer version of the Koehler Method. In essence, you and your dog are a pack of two and the human is the lead dog at all times. Order the book (we’re not getting any money for it, it’s actually what we used years ago), take a look, and post with questions. If you’ve met Henry, you know he behaves 95% of the time, is calm, and will put up with two-year-olds pulling on his ears while he eats. That’s a win in my book.
Dirt in your Home
If you’re choosing to live in a van, then you’ve already chosen to live a life with dirt. Your bed will get dirty, your floor will be a mess, and your dog will love it. Henry sleeps on a dog bed at the foot of our bed in the van, but we still invite him up on our bed every once in awhile. Shake everything out, bring a broom in the van, and embrace the dirt.
Tick check, shots, rest after injury. Henry blasts through fields and scrambles rock walls. He’s become graceful in the outdoors. But that doesn’t mean he comes home clean and injury free every evening. His paws get cut up, he gets ticks under his coat and is exposed to a lot of weird bacteria. We make sure to give him the rest he needs, check him for ticks EVERY night (also ourselves), and get him to the vet whenever we’re in town for a checkup. He takes heartworm medication monthly and gets all his shots on time. He is most definitely more healthy than Ben and me. The other thing to take into consideration is leaving your pup in the van during the summer. We try to leave him in the van as little as possible. It gets dangerous very quickly when the van starts to heat up. We have multiple fans, water, and always park in the shade if we know he’s going to be in the van for an hour or two.
But it’s all worth it.
Having Henry with us changes the game when we come back from a hard day and he is really to cuddle. He raises moral every chance he gets, everyone at festivals loves him, and he’s living his best life from this van. Not all dogs are meant for #vandog life. Temperaments have to be taken into consideration when changing lifestyles. But Henry is a #vandog through and through!
There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors like Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel.