THE ULTIMATE PET-FRIENDLY RV

How Ejay and Roger modified their fifth wheeler to create their doggie dream-home

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRINA MORRIS

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Ejay and Roger have really got it all figured out! Hailing from sunny Queensland, they had long dreamed of spending the rest of their lives on the road after retirement, and worked hard to achieve their goals. Now their dreams have come true – they roam Australia’s highways in complete contentment, with their gorgeous toy poodles, Cindy and Millie. And wow! They are certainly doing it in style.

Their travels have a fantastic focus. They visit their children in Perth annually, which means they know where they are headed, meaning the only decision they need to make is what route to take to get there. What an enviable dilemma.

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We first met Roger and Ejay in a rest area on the Silver City Highway in western NSW. We chatted over coffee and felt an instant rapport, so we planned to meet up the next day at one of our favourite caravan parks in Australia – Buronga, just over the Murray River from Mildura. Their fifth wheeler was impressive at first sight, but nothing could have prepared us for their spectacular set up when we saw it later in the caravan park.

Ejay and Roger’s story is wonderful! Once the difficult decision had been made to sell up, the process was easy – a flurry of activity ensued as they quickly reduced their possessions to a bare minimum, and prepared their beautiful family home in Brisbane for sale. Many hours were spent researching exactly what they wanted and needed in a mobile home which needed to be well-equipped, flexible and efficient. Costs needed to be balanced to ensure that their comfort and sanity were maintained for many, many years of touring ahead of them.

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They have now been on the road for eight years, exploring every nook and cranny of this amazing continent. The rig has been a fantastic success. It takes them into places they had once yearned to visit, and it cruises the big highways with aplomb. It tackles the best Australia has to offer with little fuss, yet offers every comfort they had grown accustomed to in their home back in Brisbane. From leather recliners to a washing machine, wine racks and a full four-seater dining table and chair setting – this rig has it all.

Over the years they have made some clever modifications to improve the fifth wheeler – mainly in relation to storage, and to create a wonderful living space for their cute toy poodles, Millie and Cindy. Passersby are absolutely gobsmacked when they see the dog-friendly setup.

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The first step was to add a pet flap so the dogs could come and go at their leisure. This makes leaving them home alone a breeze, and the two little pooches can suit themselves as to whether they want to bask in the sunshine outdoors, or pop inside and snuggle on the fleece-lined leather lounges. Roger is pretty handy, so he was able to install the doggie-door himself.

Whereas most of us would assume the obvious place to do this would be in the door of the 5th wheeler, Roger had a better idea: a flap in the side of the slide-out would neither obstruct nor be obstructed by furniture, fixtures and egress points. The result is impressive. Millie and Cindy are able to dash in and out through their very own access, tucked neatly away behind the dining chairs.

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There was one problem however: the height of the rig above the ground was considerable, especially for tiny Princesses Millie and Cindy, who are barely knee high to a grasshopper! Their fine-boned legs were definitely unable to cope with a big jump down to the ground from the doggie door, so Roger set about improvising a method to help them make it to the ground without expensive orthopaedic surgery.

Most of us would have just slapped a step on the side of the rig… but not Roger! He devised a truly magnificent setup, comprising a perspex-covered ‘pergola’ and a ramp which delivers the dainty little dogs all the way to the ground with no fear of heights, broken bones, slippages or falls.

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Everything in this ‘Princess Highway’ is super lightweight, collapsible, and thoroughly well thought out. The perspex keeps the elements out, preventing rain and wind from whistling through the doggie flap into the rig, and the imitation grass which lines the ramp provides comfort and grip. The edges are lined with cut-down crate mesh to prevent escapes or falls, and a mesh pet fence provides a fantastic little play area for the girls underneath the fifth wheeler’s front end.

Roger was incredible humble about his fantastic upgrade work, but Ejay was justifiably proud, and keen to show off Roger’s achievements. It is not hard to see how much these two travellers adore their dogs, and why their rig has been modified to ensure everyone, human and canine alike, has an absolutely fabulous time on the road.

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