Photograph of a couple hiking

Doggie hacks

Tiptoeing out of the lovely double bedroom in our Willoughby Salsa Eco to make the first cup of tea of the day, I could see the early morning sun backlighting the grassy dune just outside my window. This is as good as it gets I reflect as I lazily drop the T bags into the blue and white striped mugs and think of my friends setting off to work. Then I saw IT. A large brown puddle right in the middle of the carpet. As my eye travelled around the van I saw two similar pools in less conspicuous places. We have only had the caravan a matter of months, what could have possibly gone wrong? Then I remembered.

Our lovely rescue staffie with a hare lip and cleft palette had been treated to a magnificent dark mahogany chew yesterday and this was the result; three large pools of brown goo, topped with dog biscuits, whose dye had been sinking into the carpet overnight. My husband’s contribution to the situation, bless him, was “Oh dear” as he burrowed deeper under the duvet. How glad I was that I kept a bar of vanish soap and nailbrush in the van. Kids, dogs, anyone can have a stomach upset and to have the essentials immediately available saves so much time and effort. I love stain devils but they are more specific. The other useful cleaning tool is the cordless vacuum cleaner which has an integral hand held cleaner. Its small head hoovers up copious amounts of sand and dog hair daily.

Wet dogs who run their bodies along the soft furnishings are not a plan for caravan owners and the Trover bone dry coat is the absolute answer. It is a drying coat which wicks the water away from the animal and is secured by two garters around the back legs, doing away with the uncomfortable underbelly strap. This system keeps the coat in position perfectly and the dog can rest in the coat until perfectly dry. I have just got a three-legged rescue dog who demanded a coat like her brother and which is kept perfectly in place with a strip of Velcro in the absence of a fourth leg. The coat itself washes and dries quickly, another essential for a van owner, and lasts for years. .

I keep our collapsible water bowl in the van with a plastic bottle of water to take on cross country expeditions together with the inevitable poo bags. A couple of adhesive hooks keep the leads and harnesses tidy by the door.

For our many friends who are elderly or wheelchair bound we have had a ramped deck built with a gated seating area. For dogs, this is a godsend; they can have the freedom, when the door is open, to get outdoors and it keeps the van clean. The deck gate prevents toddlers and dogs escaping and provides a place to sit, glass in hand to watch the sun setting.

Photograph of a dog