Camp Ugly, Camp Heartbreak

Tuesday, April 22

The crew and I are camped on BLM land north of Moab, Utah.  Our camp is a patch of bare, flat ground shared with other RVers near a canyon frequented by Jeepers and OHVers.

The day starts early, as most do these days, with Spike’s potty run.  It’s around one in the morning.  I slip into my boots, open the door and turn on the outside light.  Spike jumps out into the circle of light.

At that moment I have an urgent need to use the bathroom.

I leave the door open for Spike and duck inside the bathroom.  When I go outside to fetch Spike, he’s no longer in the circle of light.  I figure he’s walked away to poop. That’s his custom.  He will not defecate anywhere near the Best Little Trailer.  I wait.

And I wait.

A bitterly cold wind blows. 

I run inside to put on my heavy shirt over the thin shirt I’m wearing.  I stand in the circle of light waiting for Spike.  I want to call him, but I know it’s useless to do so, Spike being deaf.  He should be back by now!

I grab a flashlight and walk around the communal campsite. 

Maybe he’s snooping around the other campers. Maybe somebody left trash out and he’s rummaging through it.  I shine the light around and under their rigs.  No Spike.  I point the light at the grassy areas around the campsites, scanning the slopes.  No sign of him.

I’m getting nervous.

No need to worry.  This is Spike being Spike, running off or snooping somewhere.  He’ll come back any minute now.   I go inside and turn on every light inside the Best Little Trailer.

Another search around the camp is fruitless.

This is not good.  Something is terribly wrong.  Spike wouldn’t stay out in this wind and cold longer than he has to.  He probably wandered off and became disoriented.  Everything is strange to him here.

I hurry back inside.  Bridget’s sitting up, wondering what’s the matter.  “It’s okay, sweetheart.  I’ll be right back.”

I grab the keys to the PTV and run outside. 

I start up the engine and turn on the headlights with high beams.  Surely he’ll see this and come back.  I wander around with the flashlight, squinting to see his white form in the dark.   I stand absolutely still, listening for the sound of his paws on gravel.  Nothing.  I sense he’s nowhere near.  I’m sick at heart.

I break down.

Where did he go?   Oh my God, he’s gone.  Spikey’s GONE!  My throat constricts, the tears fall, the wind blows my hair into my eyes.  It’s so cold!  Where IS he?  

As I hurry back to the BLT, Bridget runs toward me.

“Oh, honey.  You don’t need to be out here.  Where’s Spike?  Do you know where Spike went?”  It’s no use asking Bridget for help.  I had a dog once who would go fetch my other dog.  Bridget isn’t that type of dog.

We go inside and wait.

I’m distraught.  Sobbing, I make a pot of coffee, just to have something to do.

I could unhitch and drive around looking for him.  No, that would be dumb.  I’m liable to mess up, the state that I’m in.  And where would I look?  I don’t know these roads.  No, I’ll stay here and wait.   Our camp will look familiar to Spike and he’ll find his way home.

I pour a cup of coffee and wait.

Three cups later I’m still waiting.  I’m sobbing uncontrollably, rocking back and forth chanting, “Come back, Spike.  Come back, Spike.”  Flashes of Spike  . . . Spike soaking in the mud, Spike sleeping at the foot of the bed, Spike hopping up and down in anticipation of supper . . . .

“Please, God, please bring Spikey home!”

It’s 3:13. 

At first light I’ll unhitch and drive around looking for him.  Maybe I’ll find him walking up the road.  He’ll be tired and so happy to see me.  Maybe I’ll see his white form on the side of the hill where his heart stopped beating.  Maybe a coyote got him and I’ll find what’s left of . . .

“No, God, PLEASE!  If I have to give him up, I’ll do it, but please, not now!  Not like that!  Not like that!”

I look at the time, thinking an hour has gone by.

It’s 3:27. 

“Will this night never end!”

By first light I’m out of my mind with despair.  I’ve made several rounds with the flashlight.  My eyes are swollen, my throat sore.  Bridget gave up the vigil an hour ago and sleeps beside me. I sit at the table, leaning on my elbows.  I hold my head in my hands, grieving.

The doorstep rattles!

I turn and it’s Spike!  “SPIKE, YOU’RE BACK!”

I leap to my feet and scoop him up in my arms.  “Oh, Spikey, you came back!  You came back!”  I place him on the bed, kneel down and bend over him, pressing my face into his shoulder.  More sobs . . . tears of gratitude and relief.  I check over his body.  Everything looks okay.  Poor guy.  He’s exhausted.  I can’t believe it!  I thought I lost him forever.

Soon he’s sleeping soundly.

I sit next to him, petting him, reacquainting myself with each precious paw, his bent ears, his warm belly, his bony behind.  I don’t know how long I sit like that.  The sun comes up.

“Thank you, God.  Dear God, thank you for bringing my boy home.”

What a night, from the deepest sorrow to the greatest joy.

The day is grey, windy, cold.  Bridget and Spike sleep most of the day.  I can’t sleep.  I’m too wired from all the coffee I drank and stunned from the outpouring of emotion.  Mostly, I hug Bridget and Spike and thank God they are still with me.

Wednesday, April 24

Three fifth wheels move into our communal campsite.  Two of them are toy-haulers.  They park next to us.  Two pick-ups and a travel trailer arrive.  One truck has a utility trailer.  I make a count of my neighbors. . . five RVs, seven pick-up trucks, six dune buggies/ATVs/OHVs/whatever and three motorbikes. 

I pack up and we hit the road in search of another camp.


NOTE TO ANY READERS OR TROLLS POISED TO PASS JUDGEMENT:  Please, if you feel compelled to criticize and scold me because I let Spike out of my sight, drum up some compassion and refrain from writing a sharp comment.  I didn’t have to share this with you, but I did it in order to keep this blog an honest account of my life on the road.  You can rest assured I am sorry for what happened.  Any hateful comments will be deleted.


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196 Responses to Camp Ugly, Camp Heartbreak

  1. DeadEye says:

    Am I first?

    • DeadEye says:

      Now I will read your post. Hi, RV Sue! Just chuggin along on a Friday night!


      • DeadEye says:

        What a heartfelt account of a really bad and emotional night. I am so glad Spike found his way back. It is in no way a fault of yours that he wandered a bit too far. He may not have been used to all the nearby “traffic” and got disoriented sniffing here and sniffing there and the first thing you know he’s out of sight, etc.

        On to better camps.


    • susan says:

      I am so sorry! And, I can say, “been there done that”! There is no worse feeling in the world. Thank God he came home. Now, if you could just figure out where the heck he went!

  2. Larry M from the PacNW says:

    I’m really glad things turned out well in the end Sue. Best wishes!

    Larry from the Pacific NW

  3. Lisa W says:

    Oh Sue! I am so very glad Spike made his way back. I was worried as I read your post as I knew it would devastate you to lose Spike that way. I hope that when it is his time he will cross the rainbow bridge in his sleep with you and Bridget beside him, and that time is still far away.

  4. Pleinguy says:

    A stressful situation for sure. You did what you cold under the circumstances. But, a happy ending with Spike’s return. Hope you find a more peaceful camp.

  5. Jo Wishnie says:

    Hi Sue,

    So sorry for your anguish at almost losing Spike. Poor Spike. He probably got distracted by something that interested him and then got disoriented. They do take over our lives and our hearts don’t they. So glad he’s back safe and sound.

    Would someone really criticize or scold? Sheesh. I hope nobody that mean is reading your blog.


  6. Diann in MT says:

    Dear Sue,
    Bless your heart! I am so sorry that you had to endure that horror! God DID protect your Spike Boy and brought him home to you safely. He was confused some how and disoriented. God held you and the crew in the palm of his hand. Bless little Bridget tor her sweet presence. I am so glad you are away from that place. Safe travels, Sue and crew. BTW you and the crew are in my prayers. Safe passage, Sue.

  7. BeckyIO says:

    **Hugs!** That’s the worst feeling in the world, I know. So so so happy for you that he came back safe and sound!

    When my friend’s cat ran out of the door of my RV in the first month or so I was living in it we spent over three hours searching for him in the dark, eventually like you we put out food, kept the light on, and waited and hoped and prayed. Normally he doesn’t try to get outside but another cat had ran past the door just as we opened it and he instinctively chased it. He returned on his own tired but unharmed and it was such a relief.

  8. Oh, thank Heavens, Spike returned!! I hope you’re all at a more peaceful campsite. It seems even the most private of us campers have to suffer through a less than private camp every so often. I’m currently camped overlooking Carson City on BLM land. The campsites are all trashed up here, but, it’s better than city camping, in my opinion. All the best to you and crew!

  9. Paul says:

    Wow, so glad he came home to you.

  10. Saly Jacob says:

    Sue.. My heart stopped several times during this post… please please do not let anyone make you fell bad for allowing your 4 footer friends to be who they are. Your care and love of them is so obvious… and to allow them to “do their thing” as is their norm is simply allowing them to live their lives and be happy with you. My two dogs and I applaud you three for enjoying every day to the max! Life happens- as you are enjoying it. Sad but true, happy but life. Sally and Violet and Music. Our best to you all!

  11. Debra says:

    So sorry you were so scared. I had my dog Buster wander out of the yard and those were the longest two hours ever. Found him on neighbors deck taking a nap.

  12. Diane, Blue Ridge Mts., VA says:

    Sue, I feel your pain…any true dog lover would. I am so glad that little nutcake is Okay and safely back home! I wonder what they do when that happens…a lot of wild animals are nocturnal, maybe they are on a scent. Who knows, but the distress is real.
    Can’t wait to see your next camp and hear more.
    By the way, thank you for your response to the heater question I posed. It was appreciated.
    Take Care, our red eyed friend.

  13. Rob says:

    I’m glad it worked out ok for you.

  14. What a relief! I hope you & the crew are now in a good camp site. Thank you for sharing this story with us, Sue.

  15. Susan Smith says:

    Sue, I think Spike did a fantastic job of finding you!! What a guy! With all the traveling you do, it’s a wonder he could figure out just where you were & recognize his home on wheels! Wow…you will sleep well tonight!

  16. Willow says:

    Dear Sue,
    We have all had horrific times like this, last year my little cat disappeared for 3 days I imagined all kinds of horrible things happening to her till I made myself sick. There was a happy ending when the doorbell rang one night at 9pm with Willow in my neighbors arms, I made a fool of myself sobbing and saying Willow you came home. She was more interested in a platter of chicken and her best pillow. Sorry you had such a scare, God Bless you and the crew.

    • Illinois Jane says:

      Willow, I understand. My cat was stolen while I had her chained outside my apartment–I would check on her every few minutes. She had on one of those collars (pink) with “rhinestones” and I think the kid thought he could get some money for her. After taking the day off work, plastering the area with signs–$50 reward (in 1986)– I got her back at the end of the day. All that day I was so scared she would be tortured or something. Three days of that must have been horrible for you. Our precious little friends.

      • Willow says:

        Thank you for your note Jane…I’m happy your little Rinestone kitty found her way home….

  17. Linda says:

    Thank goodness Spike found his way back. I wonder what kind of adventure he had. I can imagine how you were out of your mind. Once while camping in Canada, I got up to take our dog Bailey out for a potty run. It was very dark and the stars were beautiful. Bailey (- a rattie ) and I went back in the tent and then I couldn’t find our other dog, Sam — a blue heeler, mostly blind and hard of hearing. My husband and I couldn’t figure out how we would not have noticed Sam slipping out of the tent….but he sure was not there. We were panicked and looked everywhere…the tent was not that big and yet no Sam, nor was he in the campsite. We finally found him curled up asleep between the tent wall and the air mattress — the angle of the tent wall made just a little triangle where he had just enough space, and yet was completely hidden, and he never even heard us calling him. Close calls. I’m so glad he’s okay…Spikey, that is.

  18. Eileen P. says:

    Tough post to read, but glad it had a good outcome. We will all hug our little doggies a little tighter tonight.
    Eileen in Phoenix

  19. Gail Reese says:

    Our little guy snuck out when I left the camper to use my cell phone for a client call. My hubby didn’t see him leave either until I had come back in and missed his usual crazy greeting at the door. We searched all over and no dog. He was only about a year old then and so tiny (only about 6 pounds) that I was scared to death the coyotes got him. After hours of searching, we made one last loop through the campground when a lady came out of her camper with our little guy wrapped up in a towel. It had been a cold rainy day and she had found him at her doorstep. She gave him a bath to warm him up and clean his muddy fur. She was so sweet to him. We were so glad to get him back safe and sound that we didn’t notice until we started to leave after a million “thank you’s” that the camper she had was exactly like ours! Same make, year, and model. In the entire campground there was only 2 identical campers – this lady’s and ours. We have a Holiday Rambler fiver and there are no dealers anywhere nearby so you rarely see them in northeast Ohio. It couldn’t be coincidence that our puppy ended up at the exact same camper. He thought he was home. So glad she was a caring individual.

  20. Don in Okla. says:

    My GOSH how we get attached to our four legged family members!! So very glad he is back and safe and sound. Been in the same situation several times and each time is heart rending. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Best wishes to you all for safe travels.

  21. Ray says:

    I’m so glad Spike was ok. I would react the same way if one of my dogs’ whereabouts was unknown. Them getting away from me is probably one of my biggest fears. Thanks for sharing.

  22. R M says:

    I love the way you write. I cried and felt your fear. I had a little wire haired terrier that I loved with all my heart that one dark and rainy night I let her out to “piddle” it would normally take her 5 seconds and she would be back at the door. I did the same thing you did and had to piddle. I went to let her back in in less than 5 minutes and she was gone! Panic!!! She was old like Spike and couldn’t hear and barely see, we were never more than three feet away from each other at all times. I looked for her all night. I think she wandered off a little farther than usual, and because of the rain, lost her own scent home. I called the dog pound early the next morning. They said she wasn’t there. I didn’t trust them and went and looked for myself and there she was. Squealing and happy to see her Mom. They had found her on a busy downtown street at least 6 blocks from home. It was totally out of character for her to wander more than 10 feet away from me. I think being old and she was losing her faculties. It was the same nightly routine that we had done thousands of times. It was a hard lesson to learn but I know I never forgot it. That grip of fear in your chest you feel. I am so glad he came home. You’re a wonderful Mom. It wasn’t your fault. It sure made for a good story though, the little criminal escape artist… Whew!

  23. Robin in Central Coast California says:

    Oh! I’m crying. I’m sooo relieved he came home! Love and blessings to all three of you, and a big hug to you. You are the best nutcake momma in the world, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Find some solitude and spend a day snuggling.

  24. lindale says:

    As I read, I could feel your pain and frustration. I thought of all the horrible things that could have happened from coyotes to someone taking him into their rig( just to keep him warm) and I know how you must have felt. It took about five minutes to read and it hurt but for you to hurt that long and look and look, I know how long a night can be. I am just glad he came back and everything with the puppies is okay. Now if you can just relax and not have nightmares, life can get back to normal. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I could feel your heart exploding with pain. Thank you for sharing.

  25. What a rollercoaster event. I would have totally freaked out to have a loved one missing. I bet Spike had quite an adventure, but what a scare for you. We were so happy to read that he came back unharmed. I know there are plenty of trolls out there, but anyone who reads your blog knows what a loving and devoted doggie mom you are. Hope your next camping spot is prettier and more peaceful.

  26. Carla says:

    Oh I am so happy for a good ending to Spike’s story.

  27. Rita from Phoenix says:

    OMG I was so upset and sobbing and praying everything turn out okay…and it did!!! Shortly after we adopted Ralphie (he was 1 months old), my son took the pups across the street to the park when the sun went down. All the dogs have harnesses with reflectors so when we shine the light around we can see where they are and they wear reflective collars on top of that with name, telephone#. Anyway, Ralphie ran and disappeared into the dark cuz he didn’t see my son…he probably just saw a big light shining but nothing else. It was one of coldest night and we searched and searched but no Ralphie. We both couldn’t sleep and sat in front patio until sunrise to begin our search again. We crawled out from under a park utility trailer a street down from us. He still had his sweater, harness on and we were sooooooo happy. So, it happens no matter how careful we try to be. I am so glad Spike came home unharm. I was praying a coyote or owl didn’t get him. I was reading Me and My Dog’s blog and she tells a coyote wandered into their camp unafraid…prob looking for food. Take care Sue and I’m glad everything turned out well.

  28. Garry says:

    Sue – I am truly shocked (and probably a little naïve) that you would have to post a warning to negative posters about this experience. The many followers you have absolutely feel the overwhelming love and concern you have for Spike and Bridget. I applaud your strength and willingness to share – prayers and good travels.

  29. Pam H. says:

    Thank goodness Spike is back safe and sound! Best wishes to all.

  30. Mark Watson says:

    I found I have a lump in my throat just now.

  31. Sidewinder Pen says:

    Whew. Your vivid writing brought back memories of a few similar nights with my pup (through the years). The emotions are so strong. I’m so, so glad Spike found his way back to you and Bridget (and I bet he was glad for the warm welcome of you and Bridget, and the comfort of his home waiting for him).

    Let’s call that camp “done.” Sheesh!

    • Gayle says:

      I’m sure Spike knew this camp was not your style. So he was probably out scouting mud puddles for a quick soak before taking off.

  32. Dominick Bundy says:

    Hi Sue and Crew, My heart sank when reading about Spike missing..Thinking the worst, but hoping for the best.. Which did happen. I know the anguish you were feeling..I been there also. And after 2 days I had a happy ending for me as well. .. Thank God Spike is back with you save and sound.. God Bless you and the crew.. Dominick , Rochester, NY.

  33. Sherry in Oregon says:

    Bummer, Sue … glad everything turned out ok. Just too bad you had such a stressful incident.
    That’s ENTIRELY enough drama for a while …. I guess there’s no need to repeat THAT experience anytime soon, huh? LOL
    Sending good thoughts to you & the crew …

    • Sherry in Oregon says:

      BTW — I don’t have any furry family members at this time … but I have felt that very feeling when my kid is out of my sight …. you express the emotion very well! Let’s just hope you don’t have to “express” again.

  34. Tawanda says:

    Oh Sue,
    I could feel your words reading this post, your fears, anguish, grief and sorrowful hopeless/helplessness, then the surprise, joy and great relief to be reunited with the lil’ guy upon his return.. Your being stunned at the outpouring of emotion as well is heart wrenching…
    I believe loss of a loved one is one of if not ‘the most’ painful helpless feelings to experience in this life.
    How true the words of Kahlil Gibran “When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    Hope you are now camped in an area of peaceful tranquility giving yourself time to process and re-center… ((Hugs))

  35. Timber n' Rusty says:

    Oh Sue, I thought it was going to be awful as I read your blog about Spike and stopped because I started to think about Timber and what I went thru losing him and started crying . I’m s glad he came back and glad you moved to a better spot. I Pray your ok ,,,,,,Rusty n’ Timber

  36. Robert says:

    Miss Susan,
    Don’t you ever, ever change the way you write in your blog, it’s whats in your heart and soul. I would stop reading it if you did.
    Im a long haul truck driver and I take my dog with me, (Mini Aussie) that dog is my best friend, I would quit my job to find him. I like you, travel the country and it’s like a big camping trip.

    Your profound belief in God and the way you talk to him is also an uplifting read, better then going to church because you actually live it!, as I do and lots of others.
    By your chosen path to happiness doing what you do, I will always stand behind you and so will a lot of others. Im sure there are a lot of people that would pack up there stuff and haul ass to help you if you needed it.

    Never lose your outstanding personality, creative thinking mind and sense of adventure and respect for the Lord it will take you far into late years in your life with enjoyment not regret.


    • You’re good people, Robert. And, yes, a lot of us would hurry to Sue and Crews side if she gave a shout-out that she needed us. Safe travels.

      Sue, not your fault. I know I have watched my kid with an eagle eye, and the minute I turn for 2 seconds, she’d be gone. Ease up, cut yourself some slack, and thank God again for a wonderful outcome. This too shall pass.

      {{{Hugs to Sue and Crew}}}

      Cat Lady

  37. Teresa says:

    Sue, I am so relieved for the happy ending. I love your stories about your crew, and I’ve become used to chuckling through them. I have to say that I held my breath through the entire post, feeling pain along with you. As with others I’ve experienced similar, and I can only say you 3 are in our thoughts and hearts.

  38. Sue says:

    OMG ! What a fright Sue !!! You about had me in tears ! So glad Spike came home.

  39. DesertGinger says:

    Oh Sue, I am so sorry for your terrible scare, and so happy you have the Spikester back. I can imagine the anguish you went through, waiting through the night, unable to do anything. My wish for you is that you move to a lovely boondocking spot that is quiet and isolated, where you can spend a few days peacefully enjoying the sights and being with your crew. I can’t imagine that anyone would scold you…but if they did it is just a statement about their compassion (or lack of it).

  40. College in Tehachapi says:

    So glad for a happy ending to your terrible night. Happy that you can continue to enjoy Spike and his craziness.

  41. Elizabeth says:

    I felt plain sick reading in the first part…very glad Spike showed up. Coyotes must have been elsewhere that night. Looks like it is time to always leash him up when you go outside. For his protection. Being deaf is hard…and maybe his eyesight failing too now? We managed with our old dog in such condition for many years…but it meant a leash…at all times. She adjusted. So did we.

  42. Donna in CT says:

    Ohhhhh, I am very empathetic and my heart was hurting so much I had to skip to the bottom to see if he was okay before I could read the rest! I’m so glad it turned out okay in the best possible way.

  43. Rita from Phoenix says:

    I was feeding my dogs and had a thought…maybe Spike thought you wandered off into the night and went looking for you. Since he can’t hear and maybe he didn’t see you go into the BLT to take a piddle. He prob thought OMG where did she go? and off he went being the protective Spike that he is. After hours of searching down the road and no Sue, he returned home. I bet he was just as exhausted but relieve that you came home! It put a smile on my face to think he did go searching for you. You think that’s possible?

    • Cinandjules (NY) says:

      That’s a wonderful thought! He wasn’t going to leave you out there for the critters! Protecto Spikey! I like it!

  44. Heda says:

    So glad he’s back and how clever was he to find his way home.

  45. rollininclover says:

    What to do with these furry babes who own our hearts! I’m right there with you in spirit.

  46. Marsha (MI) says:

    Sue, I’m so glad things turned out the way they did. As I was reading this post I was thinking how much we’ve all come to love your little crew and while they are yours, they’ve also come to be ours. In fact, yesterday I was thinking if I would ever get a pet, I would want a Spike in my life. Yes, I have a favorite. Even his disappearing is part of his personality. It’s just unfortunate that it happened in the middle of the night, making it difficult to track the little guy.

  47. Maggie says:

    AwMan, Sue!

    What a wretched night. I like Rita-from-Phoenix’s conjecture that Spikey was actually worrying about where you were. They do that, y’know 🙂

    You are probably miles away from Moab by now, but if you were to take route 128 along the Colorado River you’d find several BLM campgrounds. The best (imho) is Goose Island. The petroglyphs on the cliffs across from the campground make for a fascinating afternoon of sittin’ & starin’. LOL.

    Thanks for all you do, RVSue.
    Strong hugs from it’s-FINALLY-Spring-in-Vermont.

    • R. (Western Colorado) says:

      Maggie, I took 128 early Thursday morning and couldn’t believe how many campers were in each site including one at the end near Dewey Bridge. I’m not sure RVSue would like to camp there because it looks like campers are almost on the top of each other. I think the area near the Island in the Sky of Canyonlands would have less campers. I couldn’t wait to get out of that area. Today (Saturday) I had to give up on my hike because of wicked winds and rain. Did you know yesterday a part of I-15 got closed in both directions because of extremely strong winds?

  48. Who could possibly write a hurtful comment to such a genuinely heartfelt post? I have been just where you were with a deaf dog. My heart was racing as I read. I am so glad the coyotes were not around.

  49. MB says:

    I was right there crying with you toward the middle of the post. And cried harder when he came home. I have had moments like that too. It’s the not knowing if they are OK that is so agonizing. One hour seems like days! And then you see that beloved face coming toward you…………pure JOY! So glad Spike found his way home to you and Bridget! Love from VA…..MB (human), Sissy (cat) Hazel, Wyndy and Bella (dogs). 🙂

  50. Marcia GB says:

    I could feel your anguish as I read what you wrote. I’ m so glad that Spike found his way back and all is well. How scary! Hope you’re enjoying a quiet weekend in your new location.

  51. Wendy says:

    Hugs to you Sue, I have had a night like that when one of my fur babies did a wander, the feeling when you first set eyes on them again is wonderful! We know we have to loose them sometime, but not that way. So glad you are all together again. ( my hubby thought I was going crazy when I ran to the door because I could here the dogs tags, opened door and my boy was home.)

  52. Cheryl Ann says:

    Oh, Sue…I read this and nearly had a heart attack! I feel your pain. My black lab, Ripley, got out of our front yard (completely fenced with a 6′ wood fence) once and wouldn’t come back. I called and called for her. Finally, in tears, I gave up. Yup. The little bugger came back about an hour later. Phew. I guess this is why we have gray hair, eh? Please give Spike a hug from me.

  53. Ladybug in Mid-Tenn says:

    When I started reading, I figured everything would turn out ok knowing that your posting was a few days behind, plus a comment on the previous post about another Spike ‘adventure’! Doesn’t make easier; been there, done that and they didn’t come home.

    But I have to ask….did you have the smallest, fleeting thought go through your head the same my mom did when I opened the car door in a moving vehicle and I almost fell out? ‘I OUGHT TO KILL YOU FOR SCARING ME LIKE THAT!!’.

    Yeah, never made sense to me either….

  54. Sue Lachman says:

    Hi Sue, My husband and I are new “workampers”.. we both have our own lap top so we can read “RV Sue” on our own. I am still crying for the sadness and now the happiness about Spike. We always enjoy your postings over a cup of coffee. Stay healthy, and my your RV keep on moving 😀 … Hugs to you and your RV crew 😀 … Mike and Sue

  55. Barb George says:

    OH SUE! I am so thankful Spikey came back and is ok. Hope you are getting some rest and recovery from all that!!!

    Breaks my heart you had to warn the trolls. I hope and pray you haven’t had to delete anything!

    For all of us, our ‘4 on the floor babies’ are wonderful and we need them… holding mine a bit closer this morning.


  56. Patsy says:

    Oh Sue, I am so glad things turned out and Spike came home to you!! I have gone through this myself and know that feeling. God Bless you, may you never have to go through that again. Hugs to Spike!! hopefully you find a nicer spot where you and the dogs can just relax and be safe. take care.


    OHHH, SUE, Thank goodness everything turned out okay. I think of you and the crew so often. I would hope someone wouldn’t say a negative remark to you. I think a another reader would let them have “It”””” I know I would…. hugs to all

  58. Cathie says:

    Glad the little imp is back home.

  59. Glenda from Glendale says:

    My stomach was in knots as I read your post Sue. As a dog owner, I can’t imagine any greater fear than losing one. I truly believe God heard your prayers that Spike come home safe and sound. I’m so thankful that things worked out well and grateful that you shared this with us.

  60. Kristi says:

    How terrifying, even for the reader–especially since I am well aware that you would have also written the post even if it had turned out differently. So glad he found his way home.

  61. Pen row says:

    Put a bell, something that tinkles on both dogs. Don’t take off. for both my dogs their tags tinkle so I can usually hear them. If I lose my hearing their bells will get bigger.

  62. Doug H says:

    Sue, sure glad Spike showed back up. Not sure if anyone else mentioned this or not, but I was in Walmart yesterday and saw a collar you can put on a dog that has a light that turns on so it would be a complete circle of light. I didnt look real close at it but it looks like something that you use on top of his other collar. that way at night you would be able to spot a light out in the dark. Hope this helps, we lost a cat this way for a short while, but got her back after searching for 2 hours. we now have a small blinking light we put on her if we go out at night with her on her lease in case she gets out of it.
    Happy to see things worked out ok. enjoy your blog.

    • Patsy says:

      Like Sue this has happened to me also, so now when we are out camping especially Mashka wears a glow in the dark collar.. I love it can see exactly where he is all the time, really does help. tried the bell on him but he hated it.. Sue also enjoy your blog and hearing about the crew!!

      • Sidewinder Pen says:

        I like the idea of the lighted collar (as opposed to the bell, which other people might “have” to listen to in the middle of the night, whereas a light is silent). Of course there are times it wouldn’t work either (like if you lost track of it, or they went behind a hill or something) but it could be really good at times – certainly couldn’t hurt …. oh, unless it messed up the dog’s own night vision? That might not be good.

        I suppose there is probably a radio collar that works with an iPhone these days, but I have not kept up 😀

        I did have my bud “chipped,” which is where a small chip is implanted under the skin on their “withers.” Apparently most police departments etc. have the readers for them these days. That said, it’s of course no use out in the boondocks against predators (I got it because it was a requirement for a specific trip). My guy was also basically deaf for the last few years of his life, although he could still sometimes hear a very sharp hand clap, which was how I called him (if he was close enough). It is such a powerless feeling when they can’t hear and aren’t looking at you!

  63. WTXCal says:

    By the “heartbreak ” in the title I was thinking the ending would not be good. I’m very happy for all THREE of you that Spike was trooper enough to find his way home. I put myself in your shoes, what a LONG night! You might need to have a GPS installed on Spike!

  64. Pat/Texas says:

    Sue…don’t know if you’ve ever written about Spike & Bridget but are they litter mates and how long have you had them. I wonder where spike was…..probably sniffing around all over the campsite and probably wasn’t too far away! So glad he came home!

  65. Pat/Texas says:

    PS….I know you have written about them but just wondered about there background!! Haha

  66. Marcia in PA says:

    So relieved that he is safe and sound. Rest now. You three are always in our hearts.

  67. Susan in Dallas says:

    So relieved that Spike has returned and none the worse for wear! It must have been difficult to write this post and have to relive the fear even though you knew it had a happy ending.

  68. Teri in SoCal says:

    I started crying as soon as I read the title of this post, thinking it could only mean one thing. Do you think he either got disoriented and couldnt immediately find his way back, or my other thought was that he just decided to do a little exploring?

    I’m just so glad that he came back. I think we all know that horrible feeling Sue. Have a wonderful happy day.

  69. weather says:

    Knowing that after that heart rending night you continued to considerately respond to each comment on your posts says so much about you.
    Prayers,when only God knows what sanctuary our loved ones will find,can hold so much passion.
    Thank you for giving such effort through life ,one result is that your blog is a sanctuary, on the journey of many people.

  70. Geri Moore says:

    Girl! Ya gotta quit making my heart do flip flops! We are so glad Spikey returned! Chuck and I went through the same thing with our kitty, “Bonkers”. She decided she wanted to explore California. We stayed an extra 5 days hoping she would come home, but she never did. So believe me when I say we feel your pain and your joy when you saw him on your doorstep! Thank you Lord for this happy ending! You are a good Momma and the nutcakes know it!

  71. Michelle, SLC,UT says:

    Oh Sue, I am crying for the pain you and your family endured. Nothing is worse than losing a part of your family. Give Spike a big hug for me.
    Update on our Sportsmobile, they have the lift installed and it will go into production on the 30th of the month. They have been really helpful in making sure we will be able to travel with the wheelchair. We can’t wait until August to start working on our bucket list.
    Thank you for sharing your life and giving us the hope of living a much happier life.

  72. Gayle says:

    I am so happy for you that everything worked out alright. We travel with our beloved companion too & I can imagine how heartsick you must have been. Spikey is a little stinker, isn’t he?

  73. Deb from NJ says:

    So sorry that you had to go through this….So happy that Spike arrived home safely! I think he needs a cow bell… What a stressful episode this was… you need to do something that will lift your spirits. Maybe a new campsite! Some Happy music! Shopping for a new hat! Just know that your readers are here for you and sending positive thoughts your way!

    Hope you are having a great day!

  74. John K - Mobile, AL says:

    Wow, that is some really bad Moab Mojo. I was on the edge of my seat as you told your story about the missing Spike. You really have a way with words. I do think, and am fairly certain that others would agree, that you have a flair for writing and should develop that talent. It is very easy to self publish these days. You won’t get rich, but you can enrich others! That is 2 cents worth (which in today’s economy is worth nothing).

    • Sidewinder Pen says:

      I know what you mean (a book or something) but my reaction was “but she already is!” (enriching the lives of others). As much as I enjoy books, I (selfishly) don’t want to “distract” Sue from the blog, as I enjoy it so. With a book I know I would just sit down and devour it, cover-to-cover. The blog forces me to savor it and “live in the moment” 🙂

  75. phil says:

    Amazon has lighted led collars and clip on led lights

    • DesertGinger says:

      Whoa Bob…that’s a good idea but so pricey! 12.95 monthly. I only at $12 for my Internet hookup. I can’t say for Sue but on my fixed income Chloe will have to manage without GPS.

      • bobg says:

        Well, I was only offering it as an example. I’m sure there are better deals, short of buying Spike his own cell phone. Not having a pet, I have no particular experience with this.

        But I’ll bet there are pet owner’s groups that would know of a tech solution.

  76. Gary says:


    A couple of thoughts. First, Spike leads a great dogs life as he gets to explore his surroundings every day. You give him a variety of environments most dogs don’t get to enjoy. So when he decided to have a dogs night out it was no big deal to him. I will bet he was never over a couple hundred yards away. He probably investigated every clump of dirt, track in the sand and every new smell he could find. Throw in a little rodent chasing and he probably had a grand time. Getting home was not a priority until he was tired and/or hungry. Your pouring of love and affection on him will just assure him that returning to the BLT is a great thing to do.

    Second, the lighted collar idea is not a bad one. My brother has a little black dog that you cannot see once he wanders away from the campfire. Now that he has his lighted collar we can easily track his whereabouts.

    Glad Spike is back and I truly understand the worry about the unknown. Our human imagination is both a curse and a blessing at times. I choose to believe he was just on a “walkabout” and had an adventure.

    Be safe.

    Gary n Lynda

  77. Pam Ridgely says:

    This post was too long…..I had to race to the end to make sure it was going to be a happy ending. ; ) I then went back and read the whole thing.

    There is nothing worse than not being able to find your dog, esp. when it’s dark and they can’t hear you. As for you going to the toilet, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

    We have a black lab and let me tell you, in the dessert, a lighted collar is great, we had one. I’m so relieved you found him.

  78. First a lump in my throat, then a tear rolling down my cheek, and finally outright sobbing. As a former “not a dog person”, I’m a recent convert. My children and their semi-new additions have shown me something I never knew I was missing. Now, a loss would bring absolute heartbreak. SO happy Spike made it back! Excuse me while I go hug my grand-dog…

  79. Donna P says:

    All that matters is that he came home safely. So happy for you!!!

  80. irene austin says:

    hello Sue,
    I can’t imagine your fear. My boy, Radar, has been deaf since birth. We have taught him hand signals and do everything we can to keep him safe. Loosing him is my greatest nightmare but it is more than possible. You can’t call him.
    We share Spike and Bridget with you every day, they are precious to us because of their own special ways, and because of how much you love them.
    I have an RC collar that vibrates and whistles depending on which button you press. The vibration will hopefully get his attention, if not, the whistle should tell us where he is. But there are no guarantees.
    I think your lifestyle taught him the skills to find you and Bridget even in the dark.
    He is an amazing little soul.
    Having met them both, and you, I very much shared your panic, fear, and your relief. Stay safe and know you are giving your family the very best life they could have.
    irene, harold, fizz, sadie, and radar…

  81. John says:

    I so identify with your night of worry. I can’t count the times my dog has been gone for less than a hour and every imaginable horrible thought has goes through my mind and then there he is looking at me.


  82. katydid in Chicago says:

    Oh Sue,

    What a heart wrenching experience to go through. The minutes tick by so slowly when our all-encompassing love and concern for our furry friends is involved. I’m so glad that Spike returned from his extended wanderings unharmed. Celebrate his return without guilt. There’s nary a pet-owner who hasn’t been in the same place at one time or another.


  83. Rita from Phoenix says:

    We recently purchased a light on collar also…it snaps on collar about the size of a quarter but boy is it bright. We recently took our dogs on a road trip to rez and my Chowder would disappear into the dark but I could see the light (he has a white coat). We heard coyotes in the wee hours so we kept track of our four little dogs.

    • Darci says:

      I am so glad you mentioned this as I recently ran into a gentleman out walking his dog with one of these. When I was approaching the man in the dark I couldn’t see him from a distance but I could see this really bright flashing light. I kept walking toward it because I couldn’t figure out what it was from far away. Then when I got close I could see it was the dog’s collar. I thought is was a great idea. It is something I am meaning to buy for mine too as I often let them outside in the night and then worry when they don’t come back quickly…which usually means I am wandering around with my flashlight calling their names until they run back with a big grin on their faces. :-/

    • Cinandjules (ny) says:

      Great idea! My sister bought one for her cat that likes to sneak out the back door into her yard. In PHX there are all kinds of critters that will eat him.

      LED light is the best for seeing in the desert!

      This is from your amazon link:

  84. Terri From Texas says:

    Well Sue,
    The mark of a good writer is one who can just manipulate the heck out of their readers emotions! Boy you did it to me! 🙂 I am so glad you got Spike back!!!
    It is awful when one’s pets go missing. Btw, I don’t mean “manipulate” in a bad way. I used to have a cat who got angry when I would leave so he would disappear on me until I was distraught and then casually appear and act like nothing was wrong! I think Spike did go looking for you. Again, please take care and hug Spike and Bridget for all your readers!

  85. Dixie Nivala says:

    Hi Sue. Hope you’re getting some rest and recovering from this emotional ride. I’m almost exhausted just thinking of all the grief you were going through. I’ve been in the same situation–I know the heartache! My sympathy to you for what you went through. I’m Thrilled Spike found his way back–and for your total honesty in sharing this with all your “on line “family. With much support and Love!! Double HUGS to the PUPS!! Dixie(AZ.-MN.)

  86. Cinandjules (NY) says:

    The wind probably affected his sense of smell and he got disorientated. Glad he found his way back.

    But if you ask Spike….he won’t admit to being lost…he was simply doing a perimeter check! “Everything’s fine out there Sue I’m going back to bed. Why ya have the coffee pot on so early…..can’t sleep? Can you turn off the lights please…it’s shining in my eyes!”

  87. Bev says:

    So happy Spike is o.k. Our fluffo cat wandered out of the m/h in Arcata, CA as we were packing to leave. I was devastated. We left the door open and I continued to do the inside chores. When I pushed the button for the slide to come in, Sara heard the voice and came charging into the m/h. The voice is a warning to make sure everything is out of the way for the slide to retract smoothly.

  88. Marg says:

    Now, what kind of mindless idiot would fuss at you for your care of your pets? But, after reading the news, we have a lot of mindless idiots just laying around. I am so glad Spike is okay, and he might just not have found the right place to poop. My daughter’s poodle will sniff around for ages before she finds just the right place. Besides, as we get older, sometimes we might go and then change our mind and go again. TMI.

    I saw a picture yesterday I want to use on my Facebook site. You know I will tell exactly where and who it came from. We had a chipmunk on our porch eating corn with the squirrels this morning. (I put corn all over the porch to keep the squirrels off my bird feeders). I wanted a picture but my hands just shake too bad. Good thing my goal in life was not to be a brain surgeon.

  89. Laura says:

    Wow, Sue. I’m glad this had a happy ending.

    I know you use a “vest” for the pups when you walk them. I use a 30′ cable tie-out for Jed when I’m in a campground, and at nights hook it to the handle right next to the door of the trailer. That way I can easily reach it, clip it on to his collar, and let him out to do his business without my having to go along. I can just stand in the doorway and let him have some privacy. But I can also reel him in if he decides that a late night stroll is looking like fun. I got my cable at a pet store, but I know you’d be able to find something on Amazon. Mine has hooks on both ends, so it’s easy to loop it around almost anything.

    Our four-footed friends give us waaaay too much gray hair! Hugs to all of you …

  90. DeAnne in TN says:

    Heck–I say go for a mini-cam that’s attached on a little helmet so you can see what he does during his outings! LOL Glad all is okay.

  91. Lana in Phoenix says:

    I’m a chihuahua person. Several years ago, my little 3 lb. Missy was outside with my dad. I was keeping watch because dad gets distracted easily. I had to run in the house for a second, and when I got back Missy was nowhere to be seen. She loved to explore and with no one watching her for a nanosecond, off she goes. My house is in a large gated community on a golf course with coyote sightings several times a week, even seen on my back porch. Several hours later we finally found her several blocks away, she had to have crossed several streets to get to where she was. I know exactly the helpless, panicky feelings you were having. Fortunately I was in a familiar place – I can’t imagine being in strange surroundings.

  92. vada wetzel says:

    I really don’t think alcohol is the answer to life’s problems but a few lines into your post I was thinking it’s medicinal qualities were going to be required for you to make it through that night! Awesome ending but my breathing still has not returned to normal…

  93. Okay, that was most definitely a difficult post to read. Had me in tears, too!! So glad Spike came home:)

  94. DEBRA from the Ozarks says:

    Thank you Lord for answered prayers!!!!!!!!!!!

  95. Kathy from Florida says:

    I am so glad Spike made it home safe.

  96. Wickedlady says:

    Sue, I had sympathy tears rolling down my face as I read this and then had tears of relief.

  97. Rik Skelton says:

    I’m so glad you’re all back together, I’ve experienced that with a coupe of the cats I’ve traveled with, one I waited for on the side of the road in Mississippi for 3 days. I would never deprive the of freedom. I have dogs now and let them free anywhere there is room, I would rather lose them while they are living free than to confine them for the rest of their lives. Because I love them.
    Keep doing what you’re doing, I spent 20 years doing what you are. I miss it terribly, I live it through you.


  98. CheryLyn(Oregon) says:

    It is amazing how fond of Spike and Bridget I have become as you have woven their personalities and adventure thru your blog. I’m so sorry for the anguish you went thru have been there-very glad he made it home. I was thinking just the other day how I was looking forward to pics of Spike soaking his way thru the summer and Bridget’s “looks”. Wishing you a peaceful day.

  99. I could see one of us doing that. Or worse, Toby sometimes gets to be such a pain, we just let him out, (RARELY) but then with a start head out to grab him. Kind of concerned about Elk in CO., I have heard they don’t tolerate dogs well.

    So glad to read Spike is back.

    • R. (Western Colorado) says:

      Don’t worry about elks in CO. They do not go around to look for dogs. If you camp just keep your dog(s) on a leash so they won’t scare wildlife. Never heard of anyone’s pet being killed by elk.

  100. mockturtle says:

    Praise God! 🙂

  101. Val R. Lakefield On. says:

    Wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the first paragraph….”Oh No” I said out loud,
    read some more, and shed a few tears for the little guy. What a relief to know he is safe with his mom.

  102. Patricia from Florida says:

    Whoa!! That post made my heart skip a few beats! Time stood still for a few minutes as I read thru. So happy for the good ending. You sure can weave a spell with your words.

  103. R. (Western Colorado) says:

    I’m relieved Spike came home but where did he go?
    RVSue, I don’t think you’re traveling right now because of winds and rain. There suppose to be up to a foot of snow in northern part of UT. If you still around Moab I can give you a few ideas which way to go. You could consider them and then do what your heart and Benchmark atlas tell you to do. We suppose have a vey nice weather starting on Monday. Be safe.

    BTW, on Thursday afternoon I had my first Navajo Taco at Twin Rocks Café.

  104. Jennifer says:

    I almost couldn’t read through the whole post I was so afraid of the ending…I’m so glad he came back. I have been in the same boat – one of our dogs is a runner and disappeared at dusk at our house in Georgia when there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. We couldn’t drive anywhere to look for him, so instead I took to wandering the streets, wailing and yelling his name out while hysterically crying. We lived in a rural area so didn’t have many neighbors but one neighbor did come running out when he heard me – and then looked at me like I was a little crazy when I told him I was looking for my dog! My husband finally found him about a half mile from our house with snow balls stuck to all of his fur. Worst feeling ever while they’re gone, such immense relief when they’re back. So relieved for the happy ending!

  105. MK stuck in NE GA says:

    Ohhhh Sue what a stressful night and I’m so glad the Spikester is back! I’ve been through that many times with my JRT Gator, who’s crossed the bridge and several times with my Swedish Valhund with the high prey drive – gone if there’s deer or squirrels taunting him. Get some rest at your new campsite and I hope it’s less crowded!

  106. Chris says:

    Your near tragedy led to some good ideas from readers about tracking pets if they get away. I have always traveled with a sheaf of 8×10 colored photos (from the copier) which I could use in an emergency. I would/could write my cell phone # on the flyers and post them in the area the pet disappeared. Just a thought. So happy for you that this tragedy was averted.


    • Nickie (OR) says:

      What a great idea! Thank you so much! I am going to make a few copies of photos to keep in our RV right now, just in case!

  107. Katy in NH says:

    Hi Sue,

    So glad that you and the nut cakes are fine! Something similar happened to me too. The best feeling in the world when they come back! Extra treats tonight for everyone!

  108. Deb from Ohio says:

    I’m so glad Spike came home!

  109. Larry G says:

    Ive been reading, keeping up with you after a short absence, I’m SO glad everything turned out ok with the Spikester.. I did not read all the posts and comments so maybe this has been mentioned but you might consider getting a training collar for him, with his hearing loss if you work with him it might be the one way to “call” him back if he wanders off. I know it won’t tell him which way the camp is but it appears he is able to figure that out for himself. Anyhow,,,,,, thanks for sharing your life with us..
    God Bless Ya’ll

  110. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Oh, Dear Sue….I read your post crying as so many others were. Was wishing I was there to help you try to find Spike. I am so glad that he made it home safely. God is always with you and the prayers that many of us “send up” include safe travels for you and your little nut cakes. By you sharing your life with us, you have become a part of your reader’s lives, too. There was a collective sigh of relief and then more tears….happy tears….when we got down to the happy ending.

    It seems that Spring is finally here in VA. The azaleas are blooming as well as the lilacs. The lilac’s scent is heavenly….wish I could send you the aroma! I spent the better part if the day working in the yard. Saw my first yellow tail butterfly (on a purple lilac….does it get any better than that?!), dragonfly and a couple of cute striped, blue-tailed lizards. I need to put out the hummingbird feeder…the hummers should be here soon!

    Wishing you a blessed evening, Sue. Hugs to you and the crew from me and Gracie (my pup).

  111. Dedra says:

    I know the pain that you went through.
    It only took 10 seconds for me to lose my little 4 pound Chihuahua she was there and then she was gone. We we’re taking a walk and a person with a black floating coat scared her and she just disappeared. I turn my head to look at that person and it only took 10 seconds.
    She’s always right under my feet and I kept circling around and around I saw her orange ball but she was gone. I was blessed just as you were, God returned her to me, it took hours for her to make it home. I never knew that I had so many tears . Everyone said that it was impossible that such a little dog could find her way home. Miracle: God breaking the law of nature just for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

  112. TKMN says:

    Yikes! I am glad all turned out ok.

  113. rvsueandcrew says:


    Thank you for your heartfelt responses to the disappearance and reappearance of Spike. Apparently many of my readers know the anguish of losing a pet, and you were able to empathize with me. I read every word you wrote. Forgive me for not replying individually to 125 comments! Thank you for sharing your personal stories and for your suggestions.

    RE: Spike’s disappearance . . . A few readers suggested Spike thought I was lost and went looking for me. Uh, this is Spike. He doesn’t do rescue. It’s all about HIM. Haha!

    Here’s my theory . . .
    The landscape around the large campsite is comprised of low ridges and mounds of earth, not very high but high enough to obscure Spike’s view of the BLT. No camper other that ours had lights on. It was dark except for the BLT and the bright lights of a power plant a few miles away.

    Spike probably descended on the other side of a ridge to relieve himself (He doesn’t follow scents.). He became disoriented and, thinking the power plant lights were the BLT, walked in that direction. Maybe he topped another ridge after walking and resting for a few hours. When he looked back he could see the PTV headlights or the BLT lights, thus correcting his direction. That’s my theory.

    RE: suggestions for collars and lights . . . . I’m seriously considering them. The crew cannot be tied out, as one reader suggested, because Bridget and Spike can slip a collar or a harness very easily (thick necks, small heads). BTW, Bridget and Spike have been “chipped.”

    I need something I can do quickly when half-asleep. I think slipping on an LED-lit collar before night potty runs might be good to try. I’ll order that when we are near a UPS hub. I also will go to the bathroom BEFORE letting Spike out the door!

    RE: My warning to trolls . . . A few readers were surprised that I felt it necessary to ward off hateful comments. As it turns out, everyone responded to this post with empathy and kindness. Bless you! Whether the warning was unnecessary or produced the result I intended, I don’t know. Mean comments are appearing on my blog with less frequency as time goes by. I believe the goodness and caring of you readers is an antidote (or maybe a repellant) to mean-spirited people. Love does conquer!

    Lastly, I apologize for causing sadness or distress. I almost didn’t write this post for fear that would happen. Then I thought — Am I only going to report the happy parts of my life? Only the parts that make me look good, smart, wise, happy, etc.? I can tell from your comments that you appreciate that I didn’t hold back.

    Thanks again! Next post is a happy one — I promise!

    • Teri in SoCal says:

      I was so upset I had to have some wine and chocolate.

      Yes…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Cindy says:

      Hi Sue, Spike and Bridget,

      I’ve been following your blog (along with Tioga George, and Nina at WheelingIt) for several days now…I’m totally fascinated and riveted! I signed up for both yours and Nina’s!

      I’ll be leaving for my own RV trip next week to the Ozarks.

      Re; Spikey’s disappearance…I like the idea of lit-up collar (they also have lit-up tags)…esp. out there in the dark campgrounds. Also, I think the lights would actually be a deterrent to wild mammals approaching him…they might find the weird light frightening.

      What I’d like to add is the benefit of a pet ID tattoo. Certainly it won’t deter a coyote, however, it will deter theft…or shall I say; someone not returning your dog to you…either intentionally, or indirectly. And you would certainly want that to happen immediately if he were to get lost. But you were worried about judgement comments, at the beginning of this post? What if someone assumed you were a bad “dog mommy,” or something, and didn’t want to give him back?

      In 2011 I adopted a Chihuahua puppy and was petrified someone would try to steal her while we were on the road…her being so small. So I got her and her older Shih-Tzu sister tattooed. It was done on their lower abdomens in between their spay scar, and inner thigh. This pet ID method is coming back in style full tilt because people have found that chips are flawed in that STILL there is not a universal scanner available, and also that if a pet ends up at an animal testing lab…they are required by law to not touch ANY animal with a tattoo, and subsequently must find its identity. PLUS, if your pet is stolen…you have irrefutable proof that that particular animal belongs to you, whereas a chip…you can’t do that. A cop won’t go onto someone’s property to retrieve your pet, just on your word….as it turns out. You have to be able to prove on the spot that the “property” is yours before they will act.

      Here’s more info: and:

      I have mine registered at both of these. Also at the time…I had no professional pet tattooist available to me, so I used a human tattooist. However, just 2 months ago a pet sitting colleague (I’m a professional pet sitter, by trade) of mine has started doing pet ID tattooing, here in Mesa, AZ.

      And more and more people are bringing back the practice. I highly recommend it.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Very interesting, Cindy. I can see where the tattoo has advantages over the chip. The chip, if it is scanned, which is a big if, gives more information. Both Spike and Bridget aren’t pure breeds and they have some years on them, both facts make them unlikely to be stolen. I would be more concerned with a tiny dog or an expensive dog.

        I’m glad you found my blog and that you are now following me and the crew! Thanks for sharing this information. . . and welcome to my blog!

        • Cindy says:

          Thank you, Sue!
          I found myself looking at cargo vans and fiberglass trailers online, this evening…! I like the “Ollie” and the new Nissan cargo van.

          “Big if” is right…the chips do slip through, sometimes.
          But I wanted to add that on the dog tattoo registries, not only is the same information there that are on the chip registries, but the person who did the tattoo, and a backup phone for an extra person are also given.

          Anyway, it’s the biggest deterrent to theft….and it’s not just purebreds and young pets, you want to protect yourself against those weirdos who sell animals to labs…..a growing problem. And they’ll take any animal.

          But of course you and the crew are not really that vulnerable to that…..I’m just glad you got Spike back unharmed!

  114. Bea says:

    Glad your boy came back unharmed.
    We had a similar experience when our dogs run off after a fox over a frozen lake that was all mushy ice. A fox is light weight, but a Labrador Retriever is heavy. We yelled, but no responds. Molly came back 5 min later. No Boomer for an hour. We thought he had gone through the ice. That was the worst time in my life! Imaging him struggling until he drowned. I know exactly what you went through. – Then I saw a tiny dot coming over the ice. It grew in size and it was Boomer. He had exhausted himself but he was alive! I was so happy! I didn’t scold him either, was my fault that they were off leash when the lake was unsafe. I start shivering just writing this, it still sits in my body. Unfortunately we lost Boomer a few month later, cancer.
    Molly is on cloth-line when she has to go outside in the night. That way I “know” where she is. (Like the idea of spot light on the collar. Have to think about that.)

  115. Cathie Laurent says:

    I think you need to post the good and the bad, no matter what it is. If we can be jealous of you for the “good”, we can cry along with you for the “bad”.

  116. Cinandjules (NY) says:

    Hope your night is going well. Can you feel the love tonight?

    Here’s something for you. Quite funny

    My Travel Plans for 2014-2015

    I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots.
    Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

    I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

    I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.

    I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

    I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

    I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

    Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

    One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

    I may have been in Continent, and I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

  117. weather says:

    Good answer not trying to respond to each one in the flood of beautiful emotion sent to you this time. You,thank God,have your hands(and heart) full! 🙂

  118. Starlight says:

    Seems to me – since you felt guilty for letting Spike out of your sight, you sorta figured that other people would find guilt, too. (It never crossed my mind that it was your fault.) It may just be that Spike wants to sleep outside at night. It may just be that he has to check out everyone else’s RV to see if there’s a dog with them. Have you ever thought about putting a fence around the under-side of your trailer and seeing how the dogs do outside at night?? Dogs are outside critters, all in all. Hey, I like sleeping outside myself !! — I’m glad Spike didn’t fall over a cliff or get attacked. He’s a character.

    • CindyB says:

      That idea scares me. Sue spends time in coyote country and coyotes will go thru a fence to get what they want to eat. Until Sue gets an 85 pound pit bull like I have, I think she should keep the nutcakes snuggled up inside with her. On 2nd thought, my 85 pound pit bull loves snuggling up inside too!

  119. Bob says:

    Boy have I been where you were at with all those emotions. In the motorhome with two black dogs who totally disappear when out of the light and for some reason get so bold at that moment. My headgear spotlight and two flashlights in hands in an old robe. Now we know where the extra terrestrial sightings come from. Once at home my then golden retriever puppy of 6 months seemed to have slipped the fence out of the yard. We searched without success. Having given up hope I went upstairs to the bedroom and noticed the bathroom door closed which was unusual. Opened the door and there she was sound asleep. Had apparently come in when we left patio door open for a brief minute and somehow got trapped when door closed. Oh the joy. I so know your feeling and so thrilled for your happy ending.

  120. Edie says:

    Glad everything turned out ok with Spikey. I was in extreme suspense reading that. Very glad he is safe and sound. I have a friend that won’t walk her two big dogs at night without the LED lit clip on their collars and her headlamp flashlight. Looks goofy but the pups are easier to find that way. They look funny running around with the flashing light (actually all of them look funny in that get up). Lol

    Have a great evening and give both pups a hug 🙂

  121. AnnieB says:

    Oh TG he came back! I know exactly how you felt when you thought you had lost him. BTW, did he tell you about his adventure? (!)

  122. Nan says:

    Poor Spike, he must have had a senior moment and became confused. And YOU! Oh my gosh, If it were me, I’d be frantic also. I’ve done the same thing with Oliver and Olivia and the little poops seem to know it’s a good time to do some exploring. Don’t beat yourself up for this. Just learn…and I am positive you will. Hugs to you….

  123. CindyB says:

    I would never criticize you for what happened. What were you supposed to do – have an accident right outside the BLT? I have to admit I scrolled to the bottom IMMEDIATELY to see what happened – I can’t stand suspense, especially when it involved a precious puppy. I’m so glad Spikey came home, but don’t you wish you had a nanny cam on him so you knew what the little devil was up to while he was out?

  124. Lee J says:

    Oh Sue, what a tale of woe, I am so sorry you and Spike had to go through this and I am so very happy he was able to find his way home. Good dog little buddy.

    I am a tail ender here, commenting to you, my computer died…and I am suing my husband’s…so expect a new IPad and a new camera (on my wish list for a long time) plus a few goodies, cases etc, to show up on your Amazon list.. Maybe the funds from my purchase will help buy Spike’s new collar!

    I just read this post to my husband and we were both teared glad it ended well for you both.

  125. Kitt says:


    Few understand the true meaning of a broken heart unless they have lost a loved one, animal or human. Like many of your readers, my heart was beginning to crack as I read through your post, thank God that Spike clattered back up the steps to home. I could just feel the immense relief and happiness that engulfed you both.

    Thank you for sharing not only your profound happiness but the heartbreak as well. You are truly an exceptional writer, photographer, and all around kind person. Our world could stand a lot more like you and your amazing followers!


  126. Karen says:

    Oh Sue, I can hardly imagine what you went thru. I have two rat terriers and would react just like you if anything happened to one of them. Sooo glad to know Spike came home, give him a hug for me please!

  127. GypsyPurl says:

    No mean comments here, I know how it feels when your pet disappears or is sick; you are worried beyond all reason! I am just so thankful and happy Spikey is alright!!!

  128. Dawn in Mi says:

    You and the crew are loved. So obviously. Glad you are all safe.

  129. Illinois Jane says:

    I’m so glad Spike came back to you and am sorry you had to experience a night like that. How agonizing for you.
    You take good care,

  130. Wheeling it says:

    I am SO glad that boy came back. What a terrifying, horrible heart-wrenching experience! We almost lost Taggart our first week RVing. I accidentally left the door open and she was gone. I sobbed like a little baby and was totally frantic for over 2 hours. Thankfully she came back just like Spike. So I know what you felt like that night. So happy he’s back!


    P.S. I’ve heard they have glow in the dark collars now. Don’t know how good they are, but someone else recommended them to me. We put a little LED light on Polly at night when we take her out.

  131. Chris B says:

    Well, that little rat ….. terrier! 🙂 I had to skip right to the end! I couldn’t stand it! I’m glad that there was a happy ending. First thing that I thought of was Rusty and Timber.
    We just returned from a trip to Cottonwood AZ Dead Horse Ranch. It was a nice place to go for a few nights living in luxury (water and power) and checking out the surrounding area. After night #2, I was telling Clete that I really appreciate how quiet all the campers were and that this was the most pleasant campground that I’ve stayed at in a long time. Then Friday night rolls around……PARTY!!! I mostly avoid campgrounds and totally understand your feelings about the people with the need for speed. I had the need for being loud, drunk and obnoxious group!
    Take care, Sue! I’d love to know where Spikey disappeared to! (Diego said that he would never do that!)

  132. stan watkins says:

    I was praying as I was reading. Amen

  133. Ros says:

    Sue, I too have a dog that I love with all my heart. I too have followed your blog, dreaming of a future that he and I could one day follow in your tire tracks. This event broke my heart and filled me with fear because as an owner of an independent and spirited guy, I could easily see this happening to me. For tonight just float in the emotion of joy in Spikes return, and then tomorrow,……………….. ground him!
    BIG hugs,

  134. Janis Harrison says:

    Sending cyber hugs …..try saying that out loud, four times , real fast LOL
    Love Love

  135. Bob says:

    Wow that was a scary story, been there too, and so glad Spike is back!

  136. Peggy says:

    I am a friend and Sheldon and Ellen. They forwarded your blog to me as I am a retired teacher and just purchased a toy hauler. I plan to travel and bring my animals with me also. I have to admit I was in tears reading this one and was so relieved to read Spike had returned safely!!!!

  137. Marilu, Northern Ca. says:

    I’m so relieved that Spike is safe. I hope you have found a beautiful, peaceful camp where you all can relax and enjoy each other.

  138. JodeeinSoCal says:

    Oh the horrible places our minds take us when loved ones are missing! Somehow when Bridget went back to sleep I knew Spike was okay. Probably sneaking a few brews with the rowdies across the campsite……..

  139. Karen LeMoine says:

    What a wonderful happy ending:) God bless you all!

  140. Karen LeMoine says:

    Sue, this is off topic but sometime down the road would you address the subject of coming off the road when the time comes to do so. Am curious what your Exit Plan is is. This is a subject that needs to be address as we are all getting older. Thanks.

    • Ed says:

      This Exit Plan question is asked approximately once a month. Almost always with some reference to how necessary it is as we age.
      I have a question of my own. Why are stick-n-brick residents never asked this question? I read a lot of RV blogs and see the question posed in many of them. I also read a few blogs written by people that live in a fixed sticks-n-bricks and NEVER do I see them asked the same question.
      The underlying assumption when the question is asked of someone that lives fulltime in a RV is that they MUST at some point in time give up their RV and move into a sticks-n-bricks. I think asking the Exit Plan question of a fulltimer is equivalent to asking a sticks-n-bricks resident “When are you going to sell that big old house you live in and move into a nursing home”?

      • Rita from Phoenix says:

        I tell my kids, do not burden yourself with taking care of me when I longer can. I’d rather be in nursing home. I’ll know when it’s time. Fortunately I have never owned a huge house. I live in a fortable bungalow that I raised my kids in. It’s comfy and still is. I wasn’t house poor….I traveled a lot 🙂

        • Rita from Phoenix says:

          Oh, they opened a new elderly home a block from my home across the park…yippee!!

  141. Louise says:

    I am so glad Spike is home safely! It is so terrifying when they go off like that, and they will do it. My old guy will be 15 next month, and he still slips off for an adventure when he gets the chance.

    Sue, please don’t apologize for distressing your readers. Your ability to write in a way that creates empathy is a wonderful gift, and your willingness to share it is your gift to us. Life is not always happy, and sharing the dark moments as well as the shining ones is a good thing.

  142. Alan Rabe says:

    How dreadful, I have been there with my cats and I know that helpless feeling all to well. But all’s well that ends well, right, yeah.
    Too bad about Moab. I have been going there every 3 years or so since 95. It is 2 15 hr a day drives from my front door, all but the last 35 miles on just 2 interstates. The last time though was 6 years ago, but I could see then that the place was going Jackson Hole-ish. Too much popularity and demand. Always went in late Oct to Nov and the campgrounds were usually empty.

    Well best wishes to you and yours.

    P.S. Don’t need no stinking exit plan. It will be decided by forces way out of ones own control, just ENJOY it while you can. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  143. Mick'nTN says:

    In my thirty years of being a “Cat person” I probably had 30 feline induced scares. I try to tell myself that they have great self preservation skills but it doesn’t help much. Over reaction is quite normal when you love the little buggers. Hugs to Spikey and Crew.

  144. Barb George says:

    Hey Sue!
    Wow, I love the lighted collar idea! I may need to get one of those for my wee Racy, as he has taken to wandering down the street and ignoring me (and he looks a lot like Spike, even though he is supposed to be a (mini) chihuhahua… there is NOTHING mini about my Racy!).

    I am so glad the trolls are out trolling other areas and not polluting your site. GOOD!

    Does your trailer have a door light? I am just wondering… my old Moosee (68 silver streak) does not, and I sure do want one! Gotta work on that one.

    Sending you oodles of poodles of hugs
    Barb 🙂

  145. Piperlin says:

    I was so afraid to read to the end of your blog! So, so glad it turned out good. I hope no one wrote to judge you. We have all done things we regret. Besides you can tell how much you love your crew. Love your blog but this one had me in tears just thinking about Spike being lost. I am happy for the outcome. Hope you have recovered. God bless you and the crew.

  146. Wickedlady of WA says:

    I think the exit plan question is asked because at sometime or other we will have to hang up our keys. Where do we land on a permanent basis?

    • Rita from Phoenix says:

      Tioga George hung up his hat and now lives in a studio apt. He had a heart attack, had surgery, and gave up the RV life. He was an RVer for 11 years.

      • Karen LeMoine says:

        Rita, thank you for your reply. Right now my hubby and I are in the Joseph City Az area. Hes still working but Im not. Vertigo finished off my job. We have a toyhauler along with 4 chis and a cat. If anything happens to him Im getting rid of this 38 ft rig and downsizing to something I can handle. This is a reason why Sues’ blog is important to me. Just love reading about her travels with her fur kids.

  147. Pauline from Mississippi says:

    I, like many of your readers, cried while reading this. I can’t imagine what you went through. I know it was pure torture but you have absolutely no reason to feel any blame. Give Spike and Bridget a hug from Aunt Pauline

    I love you, My Dear Sister .

  148. Karen LeMoine says:

    Rita, that will probably be my plan also, a studio apartment or just pak my rig in an rv park.

  149. Ron Sears says:

    Been here done that Sue. I tripped going down the stairs of the motorhome and fell on my side making sure that I didn’t land on Darcy. Well it was dark and I was running around in the dark the same as you. As the sun came up my neighbor sees me running around the neighborhood crying and my friends show up to help me look to no avail. Well by that time I had to have a drink, thinking of my little baby out on her own for the first time. Well we looked and looked and I had a few more drinks…well to make a long story short, she had ran down the road to a truck wash where a woman was going to take her home until she tried to bite her. She then took her to the pound. Well we had called the pound earlier and they called and said they were pretty sure they had her. So my son drives his nearly drunk crying father to the pound to find the little rat in a cage. She would not look at me knowing she had messed up big time. But I got her bailed out of jail and took her home where we both took a deserved long nap!! The things these wonderful family members put us through…gotta love it! Be safe..

  150. Grace says:

    Hi Sue, So many sweet comments that I just can’t read them all so I don’t know if anyone has mentioned a lighted collar for Spikey or not. I’m so glad he returned home on his own. We had the same thing happen when our Gretchen (German Shepherd puppy) disappeared in the dark at one of our campsites. Fortunately, she returned on her own also, but not before we nearly had heart attacks! She now has a battery powered led collar that has two settings — steady red light or flashing red light. It doesn’t seem to bother her night vision or anything she’s up to but it sure helps us know where she is. My husband got it off the internet. We just slip it on when she’s outside at night for some peace of mind. Grace (in Tucson)

  151. Krystina McMorrow says:

    Poor Spike!!! He must have been terrified. Thank God he came back. Like others, I was crying MY eyeballs out 🙁

  152. Judie Ashford says:

    Thank goodness for a happy ending. I’m sure I am repeating what someone has said, but I was on the edge of my seat reading your post. So glad for the happy ending. I wonder if they know what the word “anguish” means! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


  153. Anthony says:

    I just popped in to catch up and while reading about your dog, my heart ached for you, because I feared the worse. I had a similar experience a few years back. I let mine out to potty while I went and did the same. It was coming a pitch fork rain and I figured he would go under the trailer. He was attacked by something, but somehow managed to get away. While I was out in the rain searching for him, he saw me and ran for his life and jumped into my arms. He was a blindly mess and I rushed him to vet hospital. A few stitches later he was good as new, but your story brought back a ton of memories. I’m so thankful your story ended well!

  154. LilNomad says:

    Hi Sue,
    Spike and Bridgette need those blinky collars for night time like cyclist wear…that way we can see him when he wanders off. Im glad hes home safe and sound.

  155. Sandy says:

    I have a friend who puts small cow bells on her dogs so that she can hear them even if she can’t see them. I have also felt your pain….my black dogs disappearing into the darkness. Glad for happy endings.

  156. Glenda in OZ! says:

    Oh Sue I was crying right along with you and so scared for your and Spike……… glad he returned………such a nightmare. I write this with tears in my eyes……….I no the fear that gripped you and the total relief…………phew!!

  157. Terri says:

    Having had animals my entire life and having 5 cats and a dog right now (she’s blind, chihuahua, 13), I know exactly how you felt. I was getting panicked while reading your post, for you. I would have done the same thing once he came home, pretty much just stayed awake and looked at him, and hugged him, and petted him, until he would probably be like “geez, Mom….quit it, will ya?!” If any people would find that they should comment hatefully on your post, well, (1) they need a life, and (2) they are just horrible people. Thank you for writing it. So glad for you that he came back.

  158. Abase says:

    I’m so thankful that I read the post out of order and knew that you had found Spike. Still it was heartbreaking to read. It’s one of my greatest fears.

  159. Lu Ann says:

    Oh – I’m so happy Spike came home! We’ve lost our cat before (inside cat) and our black lab as well (found her locked inside a back shed) – but it’s super scary and devastating until you find them again! Glad everything’s okay! Safe travels!

  160. Jolene/Iowa says:

    My heart was breaking as I read this post. I knew Spike came home because I am not reading this in real time but I could feel your anguish while reading this. We love our pets so much!

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