Its time Babu, my furbaby, got an update about his life living in a van!
So far I believe he is happy? Its been 6 months since we started living inside the van, and he has adapted brilliantly. He never wanders away from the van, knows not to run into the roads, whimpers on the odd occasion at night when he wants to go out to pee, and knows his bed is the swivel front passenger chair (although he mostly snuggles up to me all night, my doggy body warmer).
He is also aware of giving us space, usually seeking his own spot on the far corner of the sofa bed. Im quite happy having him close by, which has surprised me as I thought maybe spending 24 hours together might be too much? But he is my little boy, and Im so used to always having him around that its odd if he’s not with me. That is maybe the only drawback to living the van life with a dog, as I cannot leave him alone in the vehicle, especially here with our year long sunshine. I have left him a couple of times, parked in the shade with the windows open and a bowl of water whilst Ive gone to the toilet, shop or doctors. As leaving him alone longer than that is not an option, I will have to think about a job where Babu can come with me, or…we can work together (but more about that in a later post).
One thing for sure is that Babu does not enjoy traveling in the van as much as he did on the motorbike, which is a shame.
Before, Babu would get really excited the moment he knew we were going for a trip on the motorbike. I would get out the rucksack that he would travel in, and he would get out his pink lipstick, lol! He knew the correct way to get into the rucksack, pop his head out of the top and sit quietly. He would enjoy the rides with the wind blowing into his face and the people pointing.
Now we only drive the van. He seems fine with it, knows to sit in his chair, but I thought he would love sticking his head out of the window like all dogs? He does get excited however, after Ive spoken on the phone to someone and start prepping the van to leave, as he knows we are going to see friends!
Its been just over one year that I adopted Babu. Quite a lot has changed in his personality, and likewise Ive changed too.
When I first took this little stranger on, he was a quiet dog. He immediately accepted me as his pack leader and followed me everywhere (literally everywhere, even to the toilet!).
He has always been comfortable sitting with me, but grumbled a little if I got my face close to his, and snapped at me if I tried to take his toy or go near him whilst he ate. He was already 2 years old when I adopted him, so I have no idea of his previous living situation or treatment? What was obvious though, was that I had to teach him some discipline before he ripped my face off!
Unfortunately one night in a bar (probably 3 months after adopting him), a female friend was dog-sitting Babu, and he snapped at a guys face who ended up having six stitches on his chin! Luckily I know the guy, who said he wasn’t in Babu’s face(?), so I paid half of his medical bill.
Today, Babu is still not 100% trustworthy, but he has won over everyones hearts (even the chin guy rubs his head, albeit at a distance). Babu still grumbles at times, but only when people go to touch him. Im guessing he just doesn’t want people handling him, which is fair play. But let him off his lead to wander around and he’s as good as gold.
Some friends originally suggested I take Babu to dog school, to tame his grumbles. But I see it as a perfectly natural instinct for any animal who is approached by someone, friend or foe, to give a little grumble warning to leave them be? I just warn people beforehand that he’s grumbly and keep my eye on him.
Now with me, he’s totally different than before. Now I can rub my face into his neck when we play or cuddle, take his toys, or go to his food bowl whilst he eats without him snapping at me. Infact, hes totally submissive with me, although being a mix breed Terrier, he still likes to try his luck and occasionally attempts to do his own thing.
Which brings me to walk time. Babu is fantastic on or off lead. On lead, he walks by my side and never pulls. Off lead, he generally saunters 3 meters behind me, sniffing and peeing on everything! I call him to catch up, and he slowly at his own pace, joins me. This is when the Terrier kicks in, as he hears me, but he will never rush to join my side, so on goes the dog lead and game over for Babu.
At night, we break the law, coz thats how we roll! Its forbidden to have dogs on most of the beaches here, but so many people ignore this and take their furballs out at night for some exercise. This is the only time that Babu runs, and boy he is fast! For such a lazy dog, its a joy to see him sprint along the beach, jumping over rocks, going wild! By day you would think he was an old dog, but at night he’s like a young pup, acting his real age.
He is still not interested in swimming in the sea or getting wet though. Half of me is gutted because I would love to swim with Babu and teach him to surf, although the other part of me is happy to keep our van dry and clean of sand.
One of the things I am most proud of is Babu sitting on the wall next to the beach, whilst I go for my daily morning swim/bath in the sea. I will dump my bag with my clothes for him to guard, tell him to sit and stay, and I get 5 to 10 minutes of swim time. He always sits patiently on the wall looking out at me in the sea, whilst passing tourists snap his photo (Ive thought about putting a little hat next to him for doggy donations!). Babu knows that he gets breakfast after my swim, so he gets his prize for staying on the wall.
Babu still hasnt made any firm doggie friends yet, although Im not giving up. My best friend Miki, has 2 dogs, one large bitch and a small dog about Babu’s size. They know each other well enough now, but they are quite excitable when we go visit and Babu is the exact opposite, wanting to chill out, so he snaps at them to bugger off! After bottom sniffing and grumblings, they all relax around our feet whilst we drink fizzy pop!
I have thought about getting another dog so that Babu has a playmate, but its not really practical. I can carry Babu in one hand and shopping in the other, take him onboard flights if need be, find last minute dog sitters, there is only one passenger seat in the front of the van, and Im not working so the extra vet costs would add up. A few of my friends also think Babu may not take to having a sibling, as he is very much my dog and may be jealous to the point of being unfriendly? Anyways, I already have my partner in crime and plus one for going out, so why complicate matters?
Babu continues to bring new joy to my life and he has made living in a van more fun. Having him around keeps me company, and he has proved to be a good alarm dog, barking at strange noises in the night (if he can be bothered!).
I look forward to years of hanging out and traveling with my little buddy.
Again like always, I thank Louise Baker from PetpalsGC, for bringing Babu and me together. He is the best thing thats happened to me in a long time.