Monday, May 27, 2013

Barbara Dewell & Katie

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Barbara Dewell, and Katie, my Chihuahua. I’m retired, a native Californian, and have been traveling and living in my 24 foot motor home for two years. I love to write, and I document our travels in my RV blog, Me and My Dog …and My RV.

Katie and I have traveled in the western part of the United States, and have lived in the forests and at the beaches, deserts, and lakes, as well as Wal-Mart parking lots along the way. Can you see the look on her face: “Mom – do you have to take my picture again?!” Sometimes she is so funny.

Katie is a rescue dog, and according to the vet, she is either a Deer Chihuahua or a Chihuahua cross of some kind. She’s about 12 pounds and six years old now, and the perfect traveling companion. When we are on the road, she travels in a car seat on the passenger side with a tether from her vest to the seat belt for safety.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I don’t really have Coffee with a Canine, she’s still in bed! Katie is a sleeper in the morning, and although she’s close by, I’ve usually finished my coffee and been on my computer for an hour before she is up and ready to go outside for a walk. Gotta love a dog that doesn’t get me up at oh-dark-thirty!

What's brewing?

Katie and I dry camp (no hook-ups), so the first thing I do in the morning is turn on the generator for power to my kitchen and load up my Keurig one-cup coffee maker with water and a K-Cup. I like strong coffee with sugar and vanilla creamer, and usually drink only one cup every day. I drink my coffee while reading blogs on my laptop. (My computer and TV – all the electrical outlets in my dinette area - are powered by solar panels, and my kitchen and bathroom need generator power.)

Any treats for you or Katie on this occasion?

I guess this could be considered a treat – I love Cheerios for breakfast with fresh, sweet strawberries on top, and milk. Katie gets a dog cookie every morning after her first walk. After our second walk she gets two baby carrots, in the afternoon she gets a small rawhide chew toy, and before bed, a teaspoon of peanut butter in her Kong toy. The peanut butter treat is her favorite.

How did Katie get her name? Any nicknames?

Katie came to me with a name that I didn’t like. My mom is named Kathleen, and I’ve always liked the name Katie, so that’s what I chose for her. No nicknames, but sometimes I call her “Monkey” when she does something funny.

How were you and Katie united?

Katie was owned by a military family in San Diego, CA. When they were deployed, they couldn’t take her with them. They brought her to a rescue center, and I saw Katie’s photo on their website. As soon as I saw her, I knew. Katie came with dresses, t-shirts, a book about Chihuahuas and all her medical records. She was a year and a half old, and was well loved and also trained to sit, stay and heel. I was asked to send an e-mail with a few photos of Katie a month or so after I got her; the center said they would forward it to the previous owners, who wanted to know she was with a good family.

This is her “closet door,” [photo left] with hooks to hold her summer dress, winter dress, warm jacket and rain coat. She only wears them when necessary, and is a good sport about it. (The summer Princess dress is used when visiting, she sheds a lot in the summer and the dress helps with that.) She has more clothes, but these are the ones most worn.

Who are Katie's best pet-pals?

Since we travel, she doesn’t have constant companions. Her most frequent pals are two Greyhounds, Fleur and Power. They travel with one of my friends, and we meet up on the road from time to time. I always ask Katie, “Do you want to see the Big Dogs?” At first she was afraid of them, but not anymore.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

I’ve gotten her a lot of toys, but the only thing she really likes are little tennis balls. She is a great ball player, but since we are usually at state parks or in areas I wouldn’t want her to run free due to coyotes or other wild animals, she is almost always on a leash, so ball playing is limited to the inside of our 24 foot motor home. Not such a good, long run, but she still happily fetches and returns the ball to me.

Cat, postman, squirrel, snake, roadrunner...?

Katie is pretty mellow when we are out for a walk, but when she sees a lizard she goes nuts. She’ll sniff all around the big rock or bush the lizard ran under and will wait. Unfortunately for her, I won’t, so we keep going after I give her a minute to feel like The Big Hunter, and she’s okay with that. We call them “critters.” If Katie gets to see a critter on our walk, she is a happy camper.

You and Katie travel a lot. What are a couple of her favorite recent destinations?

Katie loves anywhere that has good weather and lots of good walking trails – and she just plan loves to travel.

When we were at Imperial Dam in California, she had an encounter with the wild burros [photo left] that was really fun to watch. Of course there was a screen door or window separating them.

There’s always something out the window to keep her entertained.

Recently we were parked near a nest of breeding Mountain Bluebirds. They found my side mirror and apparently thought it was another bird invading their territory. Katie watched them from her car seat and I got some beautiful photos of the birds.

What is Katie's best quality?

Katie is really smart, very loving and completely loyal.

When I’m “birding,” and see a good bird I want to photograph, I start walking slower and whisper to her, she lags behind me, also walking slower, and when I lay her leash handle down, she will sit and wait quietly at that spot until I’m done taking photos of the bird [photo right]. The first time she did that, I was amazed. She seemed to instinctively know what to do, and she doesn’t move an inch until I come back to her. (She is always within eyesight of where I am.)

Another thing she does that I think is amazing is that she “guards” me. If I’m working in the kitchen, which is at the back of the motor home, she will get up and sit at the entrance of the kitchen, facing the front of the rig. She stays there until I leave the kitchen. She doesn’t beg for food, she is really standing guard.

If Katie could change one thing about the campers of the Southwest, what would it be?

Probably that they would all have small dogs, so she could play with them more comfortably. Big dogs still scare her sometimes.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Katie could speak, which actor should do her voice?

That’s a hard one, I don’t watch many movies and don’t know the actresses’ voices. Someone with a sweet but no nonsense voice? Kate Hudson maybe?

If Katie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

We do this all the time – she will jump up to sit right next to me, and she will just stare at me. I know she wants something, but have no idea what. She’s just been walked, had her treat, has food and water in the kitchen, etc. I’ll say to her, “What do you want, Katie?” It would be only that one question, but I would ask her often.

Visit Barbara Dewell's Me and My Dog …and My RV blog.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Great interview! I read "Me and My Dog" blog. We are also full-time RVers and it's fun to keep up with others who have chosen the same lifestyle.

  2. I follow her blog...luv it. I don't camp (yet) but follow and dream...

  3. I also follow her blog. Loved reading about how Barbara got Katie - sweet!

  4. Cute! I've been following Katie, I mean Barbara, for quite a while now. Mostly for Katie's fashion tips. Nice interview!

  5. I also follow Barbara's blog and think little Katie is precious.

  6. Great interview. We have met Katie and Barbara and think the world of them. Katie is a real sweetheart.

  7. Wow Katie is SO cute, you two sound like you have a great life together:)