It’s impossible to look at Alison Turner’s Instagram feed and not catch a major case of wanderlust. Six years ago Alison went to Farmer’s Market to pick up strawberries and came home with strawberries and a scrappy little rescue pup she named Max. A few weeks later, Alison hit the road with her new sidekick and the two never looked back. Now they travel the country in a camper van documenting the people they meet and places they see. Alison answered a few of our questions about life on the road with Max.
How has your life changed since you adopted Max?
I can’t imaging being on the road without Max. He keeps me company, makes me laugh, calms me down and overall, he makes me appreciate the simple things that can be overlooked sometimes. He teaches me to enjoy every moment, even if things don’t go your way. There is joy in the simple pleasures.
What are the challenges of living on the road with a dog in tow?
The biggest challenge is finding places where dogs are welcome. If the weather is in the low 70’s, its going to be hot in the van so I am very careful to make sure when I leave him in the van that he is safe. There have only been a handful of parks that wouldn’t even let us park with a dog in the car so that was a bit frustrating. The other challenge is wild animals. I have Max leashed most of the time and even when he’s off leash, I am very aware that a coyote can come out from anywhere and attack. We try to be as safe as we can when we are hiking in bear, mountain lion and coyote country.
Is there ever a time you were scared or nervous being alone on the road and Max made things better?
He’s helped me calm down in situations where we are all alone in the middle of nowhere. However, I could be calm and relaxed and he can get me riled up by growling in the middle of the night at what is most likely a rabbit or something small rustling in the bushes. One time, I was just waking up at camp in Montana and Max started growling. I usually just hush him and ignore it. He had a soft and constant growl which seemed odd so I looked out the window of the pop top (where we were sleeping) and there was a giant moose walking towards the van. I hushed Max and watched the moose walk right up to the van so I was face to face with it. That was one of the most thrilling moments I’ve ever had.
What’s a typical day like for you and Max?
We wake up, go for a short walk, I make coffee and eat breakfast, we go for a longer walk, Max has breakfast and then we decide where to go. From that moment, we make it up as we go along. I don’t like to plan since it’s the unplanned moments that are my favorite. Some of the best and most memorable times were because we just took an unknown road.
What are the most dog friendly places you’ve traveled?
The Oregon coast is pretty dog friendly. Our public lands is a good choice for taking your dog with you. Cape Cod is also very dog friendly We usually don’t venture into big cities so open lands tend to be dog friendly. If we’re in a city and don’t have a place to camp, Motel 6 will always allow pets so we stay there on occasion.
What are your and Max’s favorite places to go?
Max loves any place where there’s sand. His top picks are: White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, Pink Coral Sand Dunes in Utah, the beaches of Cape Cod, The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, Imperial Sand Dunes in California and anywhere he’s allowed off leash. My favorite place is where Max is happy.
What are Max’s travel essentials?
He loves his treats! He’s pretty simple and doesn’t need much but loves his Ruffwear gear! It’s easy for me to hike with him while he has his harness on and I can put the stretch leash around my waist. The water bowl they make is idea for hiking.
What advice do you have for any pup parents wanting to trade in city life for the open road?
The biggest thing to be careful of is the weather in the summer. If you have a trailer with an air conditioner, this may not be the case. Always remember to be flexible. You won’t get to do everything you want to do because you have your dog with you. However, you might do other things that you didn’t think about doing because you have a dog. I just can’t imagine traveling any other way.
What would you say to anyone thinking about bringing a shelter pup into their lives?
YES, do it! Your life will be so much better with a dog. Of course, that’s just my opinion and I am biased. I think that Max and I are lucky to have each other. He keeps a smile on my face.