Let me begin by saying my four legged fur baby Dudley, a Boston Terrier Mix rescue, is my favorite wildlife in the park, and thus, wildlife safety is especially dear to my heart. Animals found in nature are an integral part of living tiny in my Airstream. They provide me with lessons in choice when it comes to my point of view on my circumstances, as well as my place on the planet.
When I first parked here I was warned watch out for the skunks. We are the guests. The skunks are bold and will come up to your toes and kiss your toes without thinking twice. They won’t bother you, they’ll simply keep on traveling under, around your trailer. I asked if they would be kissing my dog’s toes too. Well…. Needless to say we have spent hours on end taking doggy training seriously, making sure that my dog would listen to me if the occasion should ever arise. Which by the way, I have had a skunk kiss my toes and I’m happy to say I survived scent free! Apparently one can try the tomato juice bath, but the reality is if my dog gets sprayed we will be smelling it for a few weeks inside and outside of the trailer.
Apparently it is rare, but we had the fortune of experiencing a five hundred pound bear wander through the area where we were parked. Local law enforcement went on a comic chase of the fellow who had made it through the local cities at the foothills of the mountain and found our lovely location. When I first heard about the sightings, I thought, yah right, five hundred pounds must mean it’s really three hundred, although that’s still a lot bigger than me! As it turned out, once caught back in the local neighborhoods swimming in backyard pools, the bear was actually five hundred pounds, so even in urban camping areas I found it is important that one takes care of trash appropriately, and does not leave anything good smelling laying around. Its great to get to know neighboring RV travelers, as they definitely keep each other up to date on sightings and safety. I have had so many nice neighbors help look out after my dog.
In addition to the bear there have also been sightings of mountain lions, huge raccoons, rattle snakes and a bobcat. Coyotes are the most common wildlife we have run into. It is true they are very clever and quiet. I’ve seen them on walks where one will show himself, then disappear in the brush across the path, then a second, third, until seven had passed. Needless to say, we went back to the trailer that day.
Coyotes and bears are dangers but don’t underestimate the birds. The geese will stare down my dog and come at him hissing. We also have an endangered bird that I’m not sure the name of but we lovingly call it the Jurassic Park Bird. It looks as if a child drew it into being, a great big blob of a body on tall skinny legs with a big pointy beak. It makes a very curious bizarre sounding sound. Dudley wanted to chase after it, even though it was bigger than him, and it just stood its ground and gave him a look that said “I will eat you in one bite.” So, we have spent lots of time training with audio tapes of birds, coyotes and other sounds. Hopefully that will all pay off. But honestly, when friends come for a visit and they take a pause, the first thing they notice is the serene sound of the birds singing in mother nature’s quiet tranquil beautiful backdrop.Last but not least there are the bunnies. They look so adorable I’d drive up at night and find six of them sitting like statues on my front yard. The bunnies are no joke! They would take on my dog but more seriously they do major damage to certain vehicles. Some vehicles have environmentally friendly covering on the wires that is in essence made of soy. So, yes, bunny steaks! The bunnies will destroy a vehicle with this type of wiring in no time and a lot of insurance will likely not cover the damage. In our case we found that ordering coyote pee online, yes – that’s a thing… and putting that on the ground worked as a preventative measure. But with that, we had to make sure not to track it back into the trailer. Also, guess what…coyote pee attracts coyotes! And so we go full circle.
Some preventative measures we like include, rattle snake training for dogs offered at the local sporting goods stores, always being aware of ones surroundings, and hiking with a big stick as well as friends. I am also on the look out for a spike collar to make my dog look less like dinner. It only takes a second to be snatched up. Unfortunately we were sound witnesses to the misfortune of someone else’s dog being attacked, a sound I will never forget. The best preventative measures I have found for both of us is to rise and shine with the cycle of the sun. When it gets dark, we pretty much are in for the evening, and that’s alright with us. We also take our dog/human training very seriously.
We have also learned how to use pepper spray. However, I have a cautionary note on pepper spray. Always when storing leave the safety on, and I would suggest bag it in case it accidentally goes off inside like it did on me. Mine rolled out of the cabinet above and landed in my dishwater, discharging it and burning my eyes and skin for a couple of weeks. Luckily my dog was not nearby. Talk about feeling dumb.
Most importantly, we try to keep an attitude of awe and gratitude remembering we share the planet with others. After all the cool thing about critters is that we get to see them! Living tiny, we are not so loaded down by stuff that we walk from inside of our cars, to inside of our garages, and then into our houses missing the rest of life on our planet. We see and get to know our neighbors. We learn that even though we as critters can pose grave danger to each other, learning to live in co-existence, respect each other and appreciate each others beauty brings happiness and peace. We find this true for the humans as well as our other animal friends. When we park in locations further out from the cities we look forward to what we will encounter. We continue to be amazed at the small things in life, and all of the beauty that we missed when living in our stick and brick homes, where the focus was typically on having more material things to feel happy.