Today I am going to talk with a couple who jumped in to the RV lifestyle as a favor for their dog who lost a leg to cancer. They wanted to give him an adventure of his lifetime, but the experience changed them to the point they continue traveling in their RV to encourage others to “be more dog.”
Jim Nelson and Rene Agredano hit the road in 2007 with their furry friend, Jerry G. Dawg, a German Shepherd who they describe as the chief fun officer of their graphics design company.
When Jerry developed bone cancer and had to have his left front leg amputated, Jim and Rene felt bewildered, scared and alone. Jerry’s illness prompted the couple to sell everything and buy an RV so they could take a year off to travel with Jerry, who was only given a few months to live.
They wanted to travel as a way to pay Jerry back for all the fun he had given them during the course of his life.
About a year into their adventure, with Jerry still hopping strong on his three remaining legs, Jim and Rene started a blog called Tripawds to help families who have a three-legged cat or dog. It has grown into a community of 20,000 members.
They wrote a book about their experience and created an online resource to sell gear to help tripawds navigate through life. The primary reason for developing the group was to assist pet owners who often need more support than the animals themselves after an amputation.
Jim and Rene estimate they traveled at least 170,000 miles on their journey and are on their second Arctic Fox fifth wheel towed by the same Dodge Ram diesel pickup truck. There are still a few states in New England and the east coast they would like to visit someday.
Since the COVID restrictions went in place last year, Jim and Rene have hunkered down at an RV resort in southern California. They have used Workamping as a way to save on rent, but the couple also developed multiple income streams to support their travel lifestyle.
For example, Rene works as a freelance writer for a number of RV-related publications and sells handcrafted jewelry as well. Jim is a handyman who also performs graphics work and provides tech support online. They have several blogs and produce a number of educational videos.
They have had Workamping jobs at RV resorts, an animal rescue, on a farm and even at a dude ranch in Colorado. They describe some of their favorite memories from those experiences. Jim and Rene also share some important lessons they learned, such as the need for RV roadside assistance.
When humans get the news that their pet needs to have a leg amputated, they sort of freak out with worry and confusion. But the pets wake up from surgery the next day and simply realize they need to adjust their stance and gate so they can get on with loving life.
That’s why Jim and Rene want to encourage people to “be more dog.” Tripawds don’t feel sorry for themselves or their conditions, they simply adapt to their new normal and get on with living life to make the most out of every moment. I really love their tagline, “It’s better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.” That’s a great message of encouragement, resilience, perseverance and gratitude for all of us.
Jim and Rene had to make some small modifications to their RV by laying down non-slip rugs on the floors and get a special harness with a handle on top to help Jerry up and down the stairs.
Their book, titled Be More Dog, is available on Amazon or on their website at www.bemoredog.net.
You can tell that Jim and Rene are taking their own advice to heart in being more dog by enjoying life one day at a time. In fact, they love the flexibility and variety that comes from avoiding routine tasks to embrace whatever needs to be done.
I appreciated Jim’s observation that Workamping has changed over the past five years from a way to just save on rent to make RVing more affordable to the point people expect employers to provide paychecks and work-like benefits. He encourages people to develop separate income streams to support their nomadic lifestyle and then supplement that with Workamping as a way to save on rent and earn some extra cash to explore new places or pay for experiences.
Jim and Rene also have another blog devoted entirely to the RV lifestyle, which can be found at www.liveworkdream.com. Their Facebook group has nearly 50,000 members. I encourage everyone to check it out.
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