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Dear RV manufacturer …

As our layover continues in Baltimore, we’re plotting the next leg of our journey, in which Ace and I plan to go to the tippy top of Maine, then proceed westwardly once again.

A review of last month’s budget shows — gasp! — we way overspent; so we need to avoid motels as much as possible in the months ahead.

The hope is to somehow secure, for the next several months, something like this:

More likely, if we succeed at all, it will be something like this:

Nevertheless, in pursuit of a motorhome — more specifically, the free use of one for a month or two or three — we are headed up to Hershey, Pennsylvania next week for what’s billed as the country’s largest RV show.

If nothing else, we will at least become a little more familiar with the RV world — just how much, when it comes to traveling America’s roads, things have changed since the days John Steinbeck, and countless others, threw custom made, and later factory made, camper shells atop their pickups and hit the road.

Today’s motorhomes come equipped with GPS, flat screen TVs, DVD players. They can Tweet, text and drive themselves at the same time (OK, I made the last three up, I think). I — being one who am still dazzled by the cupholder — will surely swoon over the technology of today’s modern RV’s, or at least get confused by it.

Despite all the high tech improvements, though, what RV manufacturers are missing out on is the dog-friendly craze. Not a single one, as far as I could find, has designed and marketed a motorhome as dog-friendly, much like Subaru does with its Forester, and Honda does with its Element. That’s odd because many of those tooling around the nation in RVs today, I’d bet, opted for them to end the ongoing headache of finding dog friendly and affordable lodging.

So I — assuming the RV show itself lets dogs in — will explain to them that 14 million of the 75 million dogs in America today regularly with their owners, and I’ll point out how, if I may mix my metaphors, their industry seems to be missing the boat. Then I will explain how, by loaning me an RV — but not a huge one — to serve as temporary ohmidog! headquarters for the next three months, a savvy manufacturer could heighten their dog-friendly profile.

My hope is that if I describe what I’m doing, and offer some advertising on the website, an RV manufacturer will take pity on me and my poor, cramped dog and offer up a state of the art motorhome for a three month test spin.

Speaking of websites, we’re building a new one — one designed specifically for our posts about our continuing trip. It will focus specifically on my travels with my dog, and your travel with your’s. TravelsWithAce.com is coming soon. You’ll still be able to read about our trip here on ohmidog!, but our travel posts will be carried in their entirety, along with other features, on our new site.

Two other websites are in my future as well, in connection with my new book — dogincthebook.com and johnwoestendiek.com (my requisite author page) are coming soon. The book, “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” is being released in late December.

In connection with all that, our stay in Baltimore will probably last another week as I go about more housekeeping — housekeeping being all the more difficult when you don’t have a house.

At the outset of our journey, we set a goal of spending about what we normally spent a month  for rent and utilities. The first two months, we met or at least came close to that goal. This past month, we went way over the limit.

While we spent nearly half the month in various Motel 6’s, and finagled eight days staying in the homes of friends, we also ended up paying some heftier room rates in August. Though we try to stay under $40 a night, we ended up paying $60, $70, even $80 a night for dog-friendly lodging. August saw us go over the $1,000 mark for motels alone, while spending $430 for food and $530 for gas.

Three months and 10,000 miles ago, we started out under the theory that one (and one’s dog)  can explore America as cheaply as one can settle down and live in it.

Now we need to put our lack of money where our mouth is, to start cutting back, tighten the belt and — assuming no one comes through with a loaner RV — begin using that tent that’s been riding atop my Jeep Liberty, unused, for three months.

Addendum: Pets are not allowed at the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show.  That deals a severe blow to my plan to charm an RV manufacturer out of an RV, because, of the two of us, Ace is the one with the charm. And while my lack of charm is a handicap, that doesn’t make him a service dog. Those, of course, are allowed at the show.

(Show officials say they have made special arrangements with Hersheypark and Dad’s Pet Care Barking Lot, a kennel located just outside the park. Pet owners can drop their dogs there for a daily fee of $10.)

AT&T unveils collar that will track your dog


A dog collar that will allow pet owners to map their pets’ location on their computer or other wireless devices will soon be hitting the market, Apisphere, Inc.  and AT&T announced.

“The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s award winning geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer,” according to an AT&T press release

In other words, what the communications company is saying, I think, is that the new gizmo will tell you where your dog is.

Apisphere is a provider of “location-smart technologies” for mobile applications and devices.

Pet owners who use the technology will be instructed to register their pets and important contacts as soon as they attach the collar. Owners may establish a “geo-fence” around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can locate their dog if he strays outside of his established parameters.

Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.

“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”

Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.

(Art: From Peterclarkcollage.com)

There’s an app for that?

If you’ve got an iPhone, you can now download an application that allows you to call up the image of a virtual puppy, scratch his belly until his leg shakes, play tug of war with him, or pet him until he licks the screen.

Joseph Dolan, a recent graduate of Texas State Technical College, created the interactive program — Pocket Puppy Raiser — for Apple Inc., and a portion of proceeds from its sale will go to Guide Dogs of Texas, which raises and trains guide dogs to visually impaired Texans.

The application costs $2.99 per download and proceeds will be split among the iPhone App Store, Dolan and Guide Dogs of Texas, according to an article from the San Antonio Business Journal.

Dolan’s mother works for Guide Dogs of Texas as a puppy raising program manager. Dolan says he plans to upgrade the Pocket Puppy Raiser to reflect the different tasks guide dogs perform as they grow older.

To download the app, go to iTunes and search “Pocket Puppy Raiser.”