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20 – Carsick Dogs, Fright-Peeing Cats and Poop Chutes

Poor Sophie. It’s hard to be a carsick dog traveling thousands of miles in a very large, loud vehicle prone to mild swerving with every blast of wind from a passing truck. She tries very hard, but by day three we’ve learned to let her out the door the moment the RV stops. We’ve also learned to limit her water intake immediately afterward if we don’t want an encore performance. I have cleaned up more vomit in three days than I’ve seen in the previous five years.

Meanwhile, there are the cats.

Skeeter loves traveling. Once we made it clear that she would not be allowed to travel on the dashboard, she took to jumping onto one of the headrests then up into the overhead bunk, where she walks back and forth trailing her leash so that it keeps hitting me in the head before she settles in for a nice long snooze. Never let it be said that cats cannot be passive-aggressive.

Lizzy, on the other hand, does not love traveling. She is perfectly fine in the RV as long as it’s parked, but the moment it begins to move it terrifies her. She hides every time I turn on the engine. Unfortunately, as we soon discovered, she also pees.

This adds yet another layer to the daily stop and set up camp routine, in which I:

Jump out of the driver’s seat, trying not to trip over the dog bed wedged between the two front seats.

Unlock the side door while clipping Sophie’s leash onto her harness, throw the door open and bolt for the nearest patch of grass so that Sophie can empty her carsick stomach.

Walk around for a few minutes until she finds the absolutely perfect spot to pee.

Walk around for a few more minutes after she decides that perhaps that spot wasn’t quite perfect after all.

Ask her if she’s finally finished, then head back toward the RV. Jerk to a halt when she braces all four legs and refuses to move any further.

Turn around and go back to the patch of grass so that she can pee again. Walk around for a few minutes until it becomes clear that she just wanted to have another sniff at things, then have a stern word with her as she grumbles in response.

Go back to the RV and hand Sophie over to mom while muttering imprecations under my breath.

Tell mom to stop laughing.

Look for Lizzy. Fail to find her. Reason that, since there hasn’t been an opportunity for her to escape, she must be in the RV somewhere.

Get down on hands and knees to look under the table and in that weird little cubby on the floor behind the passenger seat that’s full of extra garbage bags, even though there’s no sign of her down there.

Hear a tiny rustling sound and realize that Lizzy is wedged in behind the garbage bags. Spend several minutes coaxing her out, then pull the garbage bags out to find the lake of pee she has left in her place behind them.


Tell mom to stop laughing.

Search for the cleaning supplies. Remember just in time not to use the Lysol spray within 100 yards of the carbon monoxide alarm and search for some different cleaning supplies.

Clean up the pee and put the resulting mess in one of the extra garbage bags, which by some miracle are not covered in pee.

Head back outside and open the side storage compartment to haul out the water hose. Remember that latex gloves will be needed. Head back inside to find the gloves.

Tell mom to stop laughing.

Head back outside to hook up the electrical line and the water supply.

Pull the poop chute (my highly technical term for it because I can never remember what it’s actually called) out of its special travel compartment, hook one end to the RV waste outlet and feed the other end into the sewer hookup. Gag just a little because having an extremely keen sense of smell is not always a bonus.

Try not to think about the fact that in the morning the poop chute will have to be flushed, unhooked, and wrangled back into its special travel compartment, preferably while actually touching as little of it as humanly possible.

Pull off the gloves, trying not to come into contact with any part that may have touched the poop chute, and throw them in the nearest trash can. Remember the garbage bag full of pee and things that I left in the RV.

Head back to the RV to retrieve the garbage bag full of pee and things.

Trip over one of the cats.


Take a deep breath and tell mom to stop laughing.

Take the garbage bag full of pee and things out to the garbage can.

Head back to the RV.

Wash from fingertips to elbows. Wash from fingertips to elbows a second time.

Decide that dinner really doesn’t seem worth the trouble. Pour a shot of whiskey then flop back on the bed and refuse to move for at least five minutes, even though I now have to pee.

And that’s just the first ten minutes after turning off the ignition.

I have friends who rhapsodize about camping in the woods or under the stars, the fresh air, the smell of woodsmoke from the fire pit, the coziness of being in a camper, the feeling of freedom from responsibilities. They make it all sound so wonderful.

I suspect that none of those rhapsodizing friends have ever actually camped. Or if they have, they’ve never dealt with a car-sick dog, a fright-peeing cat, and the dose of unavoidable reality that is the poop chute. If they had, they’d know better.


  1. Kerry Williamson

    Amber, this one made me laugh out loud (right alongside your Mom). Brilliant!

  2. Mia DelCasino

    At least now I know I have a partner in crime when and if our friends decide they want to “camp”. You and I can find the nearest hotel with a bar and meet our friends in the MORNING for coffee in the woods 🙂


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