One December day I was strolling the streets of Pasadena with my then one-year-old daughter. On a typical outing, at least two or three strangers would stop to coochie-coo my curly-haired cutie, but on this particular afternoon there were no admirers. Not even a sideways glance. It was like we were invisible, and my new mom ego was a little taken aback.
When I rounded the corner, all became clear. Santa Claws was hosting Pet Picture Day in the courtyard and so the streets were filled with “dog people”. Dog people are a different breed than “baby people”. The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but the kind of dog people who take their pooch to pose for pictures with Santa are on the extreme end of the spectrum. I watched as these fidophiles went gaga over each other’s pets, chatting about doggie treats and poop scooping like parents at the playground dish about finger foods and diaper rash. It was a private club (cult?) and my two-legged human daughter and I were clearly outsiders.
Flash forward a few years, and I am now a card-carrying member of the canine club myself. A scrappy stray with soulful eyes leached onto us about a year ago and has somehow indelibly infused itself into our family. I get it now – although, for the record, no professional portraits with Santa have been taken. I wouldn’t say pet adoption produces a bond as profound as that between parent and child, but it definitely ranks up there.
One complication we didn’t think through when we took in this pup was our frequent family travels. What to do with the lovable mutt when you and the kids head on holiday? You have to arrange for a sitter or kennel, which adds to the expense of the excursion. Alternatively, as more of us dog people are discovering, you can choose to bring your furry four legged friend along on your trip.
Obviously some destinations and modes of transportation lend itself better to pet travel than others. You probably wouldn’t want to, for example, cart your canine on a slow boat to China. However, an increasing number of establishments across North America are becoming pet accessible, making family road trips with the dog more doable.
In fact, DogFriendly.com has just released its 2009 online travel guide for dogs. They’ve compiled a comprehensive list of pet welcoming lodging, restaurants and attractions across Canada and the US. Who knew such an array of businesses was open to pooch patrons? It seems pet-friendly travel is a growing niche market and the struggling travel industry would be wise to tap into it.
On the website you can search your hometown for nearby doggie day trips and weekend getaway ideas, or use it to plan longer road trips with Fluffy or Fido. They include a range from low-cost motels to luxury resorts that accommodate pets, with campgrounds, bed & breakfasts and vacation rental options too. Beaches, parks and off-leash dog areas across the continent are highlighted, plus they also list tours, activities, outdoor restaurants and shopping centers that don’t bark if you bring your dog. It’s also a very practical resource for things like day kennels, pet sitting services and emergency veterinarians.
So the next time you’re planning a family trip, consider letting your dog tag along too. Traveling with pets presents some unique challenges but, much like traveling with children, you can go a long way with the right mindset, a little forethought and a bag of treats.
Good article, but the headline is a little misleading. Dogfriendly.com is not a new service. It has been around for years.