September 2006

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Finding Bailey, My RV Companion

By Gloria Bryson Pyszka

I will always have special memories of when I first met Bailey, our Bichon, on a sunny afternoon in June 2004. At eight weeks, he and his brother, both little balls of fluffy white, were romping around the sun room of the breeder’s home, located out on the sage brush prairie of southwestern Wyoming.

I had just detoured south from the Grand Tetons, a summer trip from our San Francisco Bay area home that I’d been planning for several months. The detour was for the specific purpose of picking up Bailey from the family who breeds Bichons.

The RV and I had just found the family’s rural acreage after a couple of wrong turns.

Beyond their house stretched 450,000 acres of BLM land. I felt pretty much out of my element, coming from the San Francisco Bay area. (However, having been raised in eastern Washington state, I do remember many drives through sage brush country,

Let’s go back a few months prior to my first meeting with Bailey. A future "Bailey" had to be male, smart, and less than a year old. He also had to be hypo-allergenic, for other family members.

I had been put in touch with the family earlier in the year. I’d done my "new pet" homework and had made arrangements to pick up Bailey.

Two hours after first meeting the family – and watching Ann, a nurse, give Bailey a bath and vaccination shots - Bailey and I climbed into the RV. I put him in the small, portable carrier along with a Toys R Us "Bailey" stuffed animal to keep him company.

Off we drove. Bailey cried for the first half hour. I stopped and cuddled him. Drove some more. Stopped and cuddled.

Ann’s husband suggested that I stay in the parking lot of the Flying J Truck Stop some 50 miles north. He said that he knew the manager and it was safe.

So, I was doing another first – sleeping overnight in a truck stop parking lot. Just to be on the safe side, I parked under a big light, did not remove my clothes (to be "doggie" ready) and went to sleep.

Bailey cried. Since I like my sleep, I put him in my couch bed, and that was the beginning of sleeping with Bailey. (Be careful of how you train; it’s very hard to break habits sometimes.)

The cuddly, fluff ball and I spent the next 10 days bonding while driving to Sun Valley, over Tioga Pass to Yosemite, and back to the Bay area.

He’s been a great traveler ever since and loves to look over my shoulder (harnessed, of course) as we drive the highways of our great West.

Bailey is a fine example of his breed and draws comments wherever we go. I could certainly do without the visits to the pet parlor (bath and hair) several times each year. But, I have learned to wash and groom him between visits.

Bailey always draws friends wherever we go. He is an ideal companion for RVing.