Woof! GoLife Goes to the Dogs.

Welcome to our latest contributor: GoPetFriendly.com

Amy & Rod Burkert Amy & Rod Burkert  |  09.13.2016

Getting to Know the GoPetFriendly.com Team

Gone are the days of leaving your pets behind with friends or at the local kennel while you travel! People have discovered that vacations are more fun when the entire family is along for the ride – including the furry members. In fact, one of the reasons many people buy RVs is to make traveling with their pets easier.

Today we’re chatting with Amy and Rod Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com  – a free-to-use website that makes it easy for people to plan trips with their pets.

photo-02-ty-and-buster-in-coeur-dalene-waGoLife: What made you decide to start GoPetFriendly.com?

Amy: We found a stray German Shepherd in May of 2008, and ended up adopting him when we couldn’t find his people. It didn’t take long for us to realize that traveling with him and our other dog, Ty, was quite a challenge! Information on places that would accept pets was spread all over the Internet, and tracking it all down was so time consuming that we worried people might choose to board their pets or leave them with a sitter rather than take the time to do the research. We wanted to create a website that would make it easy for people to find pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and activities and plan fun trips with their pets. 

GoLife: And now you travel full-time in an RV – how did that happen?!

Rod: Just before we launched the site in 2009, it occurred to me that if we wanted people to believe that they could travel with their pets, we needed to lead by example. We’re two CPAs by background, so we’re not exactly “wild and crazy” personalities – it took some soul-searching, but we decided to sell our home and buy a Winnebago. We got our View in 2010, packed it up, and have never looked back.

photo-03-gpf-winnebago-viewAmy: For us, the mobile lifestyle was addictive and once we realized we could make a living and travel full-time we were completely hooked. At the end of 2014 we knew we had no interest in “settling down” anytime soon, so we traded in the View for an Itasca Meridian. The extra space and amenities have been great for us and the dogs.

photo-04-little-big-biggestGoLife: Did either of you grow up RVing?

Amy: When I was a kid our family vacations always involved camping. We started with a slide-in, pop-up camper on the back of my dad’s pick-up, and eventually graduated to a pull-behind, pop-up trailer our family of six – plus our beagle!

Rod: I was an Eagle Scout and did a lot of tent camping there, but my parents opted to “rough it” in inexpensive hotels for our family vacations. 

GoLife: What makes RVing so convenient for traveling with pets?

Amy: The biggest thing is that the RV becomes familiar and feels like “home” to the pet. Occasionally, we stay in hotels, and it always takes a day or two for Ty and Buster to get comfortable in the room. Until then, they don’t sleep as well, get anxious if we need to step out for a minute, and are confounded trying to figure out which rules apply – are they allowed bark? lay on the furniture? share whatever they find on the coffee table? 

But with the motorhome, it’s a completely different story. They know what’s allowed and what’s not and that we’ll be back if we need to leave them for a bit. Those simple things can relieve a lot of stress for pets.

photo-05-buster-and-ty-in-rvGoLife: You’re traveling with two dogs that are pretty big – how do they like living in the RV and what impact does having them along make on your travel plans?

Rod: Ty and Buster love living in the motorhome! It’s true that they’re not really “RV-sized” at 85 and 35 pounds, but dogs are so adaptable. What matters to them most is that we’re all together. Truthfully, if we stay in one place long enough, the boys get bored. When we open the door they like to see that the scenery has changed – it means there are all kinds of new things to smell.

But yes, having our dogs along does influence our plans to some degree. Buster is afraid of other dogs and Ty is afraid of dogs and strangers, so they’re not the easiest pets to travel with. To help make the boys comfortable we do most of our exploring during the week when other people are at work and the crowds are less. Still, we wouldn’t trade having them with us for anything.

GoLife: How do you decide where to go next?

Amy:  Mostly we follow the weather. We head north in the summer and keep to the southern states in the winter. We’ve been in all of the lower 48 states over the past six years, and visited several of the Canadian provinces – yet somehow we never seem to make a dent in our list of places we want to see. As soon as we cross one off, we learn about somewhere else we want to go.

That being said, we’re embarking (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) on a huge road trip next year, and we’ll be sharing more on that soon.

GoLife: Have you found some areas to be more pet friendly than others?

Rod: Absolutely. Some places we visit are fantastic – we can take the dogs along to most everything we’d like to see. The Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, and cities like Austin, San Diego, and Washington, DC are some our favorites. That’s why we write the pet friendly destination guides  on the blog – we want people to know what to expect if they’re considering a place for their next pet friendly vacation.

photo-06-buster-and-ty-at-grand-canyonGoLife: You’ve really dedicated yourselves to helping people travel with their pets – what keeps you motivated?

Amy: I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how long it is, the time we have with our pets is always too short – but the memories we make together last forever. Knowing that we’re helping other pet lovers take their pet on a road trip, or play with their dog on a beach, or go for an ice cream cone around the corner and create those memories … that’s priceless.

GoLife:  Welcome aboard.  We look forward to upcoming advice and adventures!


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5 Comments

  1. TERRY KERN Posted on 09.15.2016

    Congratulations on the new venture. We love your dogs and Winnabegos,so it is a win win for us.Love all the pictures,articles and posts and great info on traveling with dogs. Even though we have Motor Homed with out two dogs and a cat, for ten years, we learn something new and exciting for our pets to be more included on our trips. Thanks and Happy Trails …..Terry Kern

  2. ian and elaine mcneil Posted on 09.24.2016

    We travel in a 2014 -331 Minnie Winnie
    Last yr we left home (south river, on) and lived for 3 1/2 mos in Rv. Most of the time in Alberta one week with 4 grandchildren (ages10,8,6,4) that summer we put on abt +12000km. This year we were in Iowa and back to Alberta for mountain experience and to Quebec City. Always with our 95lb black lab and 18 lb min poodle and for at least 2 weeks with either 4 or 2 grandchildren in 2014 we went PEI with 4 adults, 4 grandchildren and an exa German short hair pointer + our 2. These are always amazing trips and the 331 handled us all quite well. Travelling with our dogs is always a no stress situation as they are very people friendly and very well socialized with other dogs and very well obedience trained ( by my wife) even while at Winnebago this June for a few days of service and in their lounge it was as if they were not there. Travel on folks and enjoy GOD,s great outdoors and handiwork

  3. Sheila Dumlao Posted on 09.24.2016

    We are at the beginning of our RV journey, but one we made pretty much because of our pets. We want to travel, and we want them with us in a safe environment. Thank you for showing us it’s possible. We have a 62lb Std Poodle and a 16 lb Teddy Bear. I tease people that the little one needs more space than the big one. Im glad you talked about their personalities and how you have adapted.

  4. Tev Brannan Posted on 09.24.2016

    Would love to know how you handle any pet emergencies while on the road. We have two shelties and moved up from a class C Aspect to an A Itasca Ellipse. Go to agility shows with our fur kids and always wonder what we’d do if an emergency arose while traveling. I do carry a prescription for special food for one of them and their records as well. We all love the moho and they adapt wherever as long as we are all together.

  5. Michael Posted on 09.27.2016

    We love traveling with our Siberian Husky… almost as much as he enjoying being on the road with us! Our only real worry is the “do-gooders” who assume any pet in an unoccupied vehicle must be suffocating from the heat and/or lack of air – the Russos video illustrates this quite well:
    https://youtu.be/bEKcvVEW0DU

    And now California recently joined a handful of other States passing AB 797 “Good Samaritan” law.
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB797
    This allows observers to break window vehicles (after police phone notification) when they feel a pet’s life may be in danger. While the spirit of the law is wonderful, many of us pet owners have dealt with overzealous, judgmental passers-by who are eager to erroneously call authorities despite the realities that our pets are comfortable, safe and happy to be in our vehicles. I would recommend that when in doubt, obscure your windows from outsiders looking in, to avoid getting unwarranted broken windows – something like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Shade-Mesh-Tarp-10/dp/B009LL62H4
    And of course, always keep your vehicle temperature moderate and comfortable for your beloved pet, in addition to providing accessible water.