Van’s Best Friend

Aaron Tucker holds his dog in front of his van

Aaron Tucker is just one of the two faces behind the @aaronandarcher account—the other being his five year old service dog, Archer. After retiring from law enforcement, Aaron used his past experience working with K9s to start his own dog training business. Hoping to grow his business and find an easy, convenient way to travel with two dogs, Aaron started looking at buying an RV. After much consideration, he ended up getting a Jayco Swift camper van. Now, Aaron travels all over the country meeting with clients, leading training events and being an advocate for mental health awareness.

How did you first get into RVing?

I did some tent camping as a kid but my family never had an RV and I didn’t grow up RVing. Prior to getting my Jayco Swift, I had never owned a van or an RV of any kind. I was tempted to build my own van but quickly realized how much work and expertise goes into a custom build, and so I decided to buy a pre-built one. Having dogs initially drew me to start looking at RVs. Even though I can travel anywhere with Archer as my service dog, it’s still stressful and there are a lot of factors to consider. Did I remember to pack their food? Will he have enough space on an airplane? When can I take him on a bathroom break? I wanted to be able to comfortably travel with both of my dogs, and a van felt like the perfect option. 

How does having an RV contribute to your life and your job?

Having my van has opened up the ability to connect with more people. Being so mobile really allows me to meet more people, and travel to events easily and more frequently. Truthfully, I don’t even feel like I have a real job. I get to travel and do what I love, and by sharing that with people, I hope I inspire others to get out there and live a better, more meaningful life. Another benefit to having my van is that I don’t have to worry about getting a dog sitter. When I’m out meeting with clients or attending events, I feel confident and comfortable being able to bring Falco and Archer with me. If I have to leave them alone for a while, I know I can run the generator and keep them cool or warm. I have heat sensors inside the van that will alert me if it’s getting too hot, and I can control the temperature remotely.

What do Falco and Archer think of the van?

My dogs absolutely love the van. If I have the sliding door open, they’re jumping inside. If I’m outside loading and packing up, they’re both at the window eagerly watching me and waiting to join. If, for some reason, I can’t take Falco with me, I have to secretly run back and forth between the van and the house so he won’t see me. To them, the van means we’re going on a hike, we’re going for a run in the woods or we’re going for a swim in a lake. They know it means adventure. 

What do you want people to know about training dogs?

Dog training is an ever-evolving thing, and there is no one way to do it. There are a lot of different trainers out there, and each one might have a different method, but if they have a dog that proves their method, then it works. One method may work for a certain dog but it may not work for another. If there’s proof that something is working, there’s no reason to discredit it just because you don’t agree with it. I think the most important thing is to look at dogs with an open mind, and be prepared to take on that specific dog’s abilities.

How do you view your relationship with Falco and Archer?

Falco was my first K9 partner when I was on the Florida FEMA task force, so we have a really special bond. Falco’s been on the cover of Men's Health magazine—he was awarded the 2017 Ultimate Dog. He’s also the only dog to complete the 31 Miles for 31 Heroes race. I’ve done a lot of things with him that I’ve never done with any dog. He’s 14 years old, so it’s tough for me to watch him age and not be able to do all of the things he used to, but he still loves to play fetch. We’ve been through a lot together, so it’s an honor to take care of him in his senior years.

Aaron Tucker walking with his dogs

Archer is my service dog. After retiring from law enforcement, I was struggling with PTSD and some side effects from a serious injury. I knew how beneficial a service dog could be, and after speaking with some therapists and doctors, I decided to get one. Not only has he helped me mentally and emotionally but also physically. One of the issues many people with PTSD face is sleep. I had essentially stopped sleeping. One of my doctors suggested that I let Archer sleep with me. So I did, and I went from sleeping two hours a night to sleeping a full eight hours—it was incredible. Archer is only five years old, so he’s still young and playful. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out when we’re training but he’s taught me immense patience. He also brings out the youthfulness in me—he helps me step out of my comfort zone and take on new adventures.

Explore Aaron's Class B Camper Van

Commonly known as camper vans, Class B motorhomes are compact, yet still feature a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Class B motorhomes are small, streamlined and ready to roll. Explore the ins-and-outs Aaron Tucker’s Jayco Swift Class B Campervan, including his favorite features and sleeping arrangements for himself and his two dogs—all comfortably compact within 20 feet, 11 inches.

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