Goodbye, Thumbelina

This is a guest blog by Michelle Barrera, Operations Manager at Pet Camp:

Today, we here at Pet Camp mourn the loss of one of our trusted foot soldiers. It’s a sad day for the counselors, but one that we all knew would come sooner or later: “Thumbelina,” our original Pet Camp Express van, used to pick up many a doggie day care customer, has expired. Well, to be more accurate, Thumbelina’s gas tanks have expired. “What are you talking about?” “How is this possible?”, you ask. Let me explain.

Our bright-yellow Dodge Ram van, or “Thumbelina” as we call her (yes folks, we ARE that weird here), was originally a regular gasoline vehicle that was retrofitted to a CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicle before we purchased it. As many of you know, Pet Camp has always been a friend of the environment and makes every effort to uphold our green reputation. When we rolled out our Pet Camp Express pick-up and delivery service, buying a green vehicle made perfect sense. Sure, driving a CNG vehicle can get a bit tricky since you can’t go to any old gas station to fill up (CNG filling stations are somewhat few and far-between), but with some careful route planning and knowledge of where the nearest CNG pumps are, it’s not a problem. What IS a problem is getting said vehicles repaired. It turns out that you really can’t take them to your friendly neighborhood mechanic when certain issues arise. In Thumbelina’s case, her filler neck (i.e. the place where you stick the gas/CNG nozzle) wore out, which compromised the vacuum seal between it and CNG nozzles, thereby preventing us from filling her tanks (yes, tanks plural: she has 3). While we were fortunate enough to find a very helpful, friendly, family-owned repair shop in South San Francisco that specializes in CNG repairs (Thank you Traps Tire and Auto Center!), the guys there broke the bad news. CNG gas tanks have expiration dates, and when they expire, no actual repairs can be done to them or any part of them. As (bad) luck would have it, Thumbelina’s tanks just expired- no joke. After weighing the pros and cons of completely overhauling the CNG tank system on that over-15 year-old vehicle, we decide to bring her home, say our goodbyes, and send her out like a champ. Heck, if Mark has his way, it will be Viking-style, with the biggest funeral pyre this town has ever seen!

“Wait! This is terrible news! How will our pets get to Pet Camp for all that doggie day care and overnight lodging fun?” Fear not, dear pet parents; just like a good scout, Pet Camp is always prepared! In addition to Thumbelina, we also have our trusty, bright-yellow Tahoe, otherwise known as “Lord Tahoe” (NOW do you believe how weird we truly are?!?). Often used as our reliable back-up vehicle, Lord Tahoe has now been called to primary active duty, and will enjoy his moment in the sun at last!

But there’s even more!  We’re currently on the hunt for a retired school bus (you heard Pet Express Sprinter right- a school bus!), and we’re thiiis close to getting one, finally making Mark’s bizarre long-time dream come true!  But we know we couldn’t have just one Pet Camp Express available and we didn’t know when the Magic Bus would come a callin’ so we’ve added to the fleet with a Mercedes Sprinter!  Check out those campers riding in style!

So when you’re out and about on the streets of San Francisco, keep your eyes peeled for our brightly-colored Pet Camp Express with Campy’s face on the back, a pack of happy dogs inside, and our faithful driver Ted at the wheel! Oh, and feel free to submit your suggestions of names for our new addition; c’mon, be weird with us, it’s fun!

Thanks for reading.