By Janet Groene, F47166
Is your pet a campground annoyance? Owners and nonowners chime in.
This month’s column includes information about tracking down your federal tax refund; how to start you own blog; and comments from our full-timer’s forum concerning folks who travel with their pets.
Get back your tax. The average tax refund check returned to the IRS as “undeliverable” last year was $963. One of those checks might be yours. Any taxpayer can file a change of address form (#8822). To receive this form, visit www.irs.gov or call (800) 829-3676. However, those who have money waiting for them should go to IRS.gov and click on “Where’s My Refund?” or call (800) 829-1954. You must give your Social Security number and the exact amount of the refund for which you filed.
Highway happy endings. Roy and Jenalda Ranum, F215226, had a major medical scare last year while on the road. Now Roy wants the world to know about the wonderful support he received from first-rate health professionals and a caring RV community. Emergency medical technicians responded to a 911 call made by Jenalda, and Roy was airlifted 100 miles to Duluth, Minnesota. There wasn’t room in the helicopter for Jenalda, but a kindly cab driver took her all the way to the hospital just for the price of gas. Meanwhile, the company that sold Roy his coach sent a driver to transport his motorhome home. “I tried to pay,” Roy said, but nobody would accept his money. “Insurance paid for the medical stuff, but all these other people didn’t have to do this. We are not alone out there in our motorhomes.”
Start a blog. Everything you need to know about starting and maintaining a web log, or blog, is included in a new book, The Everything Blogging Book ($14.95, Adams Publishing Group). Author Aliza Sherman Risdahl takes you from the why and where of blogging to the how-to. Soon you’ll have your own – usually free – Internet spot where friends and family can read your travel diary, see your photos, and leave their own messages.
Thoughts on pets. We asked members of our full-timers forum to chime in on the topic of pets: how to keep them safer, healthier, more affordable, and less troublesome to campground neighbors. We also asked those who do not have pets to air their gripes about people who do have them.
“I’m on the gripe side of dog owners,” admitted Fred Mucha, F266150. “When I’m camping, I try not to impose on other campers. Unfortunately, that’s not what too many dog owners do. I’ve seen dog owners tie their dogs to a tree or their [camper] and then leave the site, allowing the dog to bark at everything that moves. [Others] just leave the dog outside while they’re inside the RV and the dog will bark at people or other dogs walking by.
“Most dog owners pick up after their dogs and that’s good,” said Mr. Mucha, “but there are still enough people out there who don’t worry about it. There’s nothing worse than pulling into a campsite and finding [dog droppings] sitting right around the hookups. Again, too many dog owners aren’t considerate of other campers.”
“We would love to have some type of animal companion,” wrote Ken and Ann Sair, F381266, “but we spend a lot of time away from the coach seeing the sites, etc. We don’t feel it would be fair to leave an animal alone either in the coach or car while we are out, so we don’t have one. We do, however, visit with as many four-legged neighbors as we can.”
Ken and Sandy Berry, F360525, are pet owners who urge others, “Pick up after [your pets].” They take frequent rest stops to exercise their pets and they recommend using www.petsmart.com and 800-PETMEDS (738-6337) for supplies that make pets healthier and more affordable. The couple doesn’t have pet health insurance, an identifying tattoo or microchip on their pet, or any special liability insurance. “I’d be more afraid of Poncho licking someone to death [than injuring them],” Ken wrote.
Al and Doris Sutherland, F347882, lost their beloved 14-year-old mixed-breed terrier within 10 days after going full-timing in 2001 and they haven’t replaced it. “We think about the responsibilities, such as potty walks, having to park in specific areas, and not being able to take a pet with us on occasional overnights in the towed vehicle,” Al wrote. “We find the majority of pet owners to be very responsible (cleaning up, keeping pets under control), but there are those few who, for example, let their cats run free or who don’t clean up after a dog, especially if overnighting free at a Wal-Mart. That makes all RVers look irresponsible.”
Al’s pet peeve is people who leave dogs alone in the RV or tied outdoors at the campsite to bark constantly until the owners return.
A company called Bamboo Pets specializes in pet supplies and items for pets that travel. Its Web site – www.bamboopet.com – is filled with product news, tips on all types of pet care, and suggestions on how to keep pets safer on the go.
The chief causes of road accidents involving pets, the company reports, are driver distraction because of a pet, and pets darting into traffic. One solution is the Quick Control Harness with a built-in leash and a seat-belt connection. The company also offers toys, beds, grooming supplies, disposable pet bowls, and more. Check out the White Hot Safety Sunblock Shade, which protects pets from sun streaming in through windows.
Bamboo Pets products can be ordered through the Web site or are available in pet stores nationwide.
Upcoming on full-timer’s forum. Please give us your thoughts on how your methods of communicating with others have changed in the past year or two. Do you use voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP)? Satellite Internet? A Blackberry? Instant messaging? Have you changed your cell phone service? Do you still prefer the old ways, such as pay phones and U.S. Mail? Sound off to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name and FMCA family membership number. If you prefer, you may remain anonymous.