PAWS ON THE ROAD by Greta Gardner
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Ahh…summer has arrived. And with it, the family’s road trip vacation. The suitcases are packed and the car is loaded with snacks, DVDs to keep the kids occupied and every road map imaginable. You probably forgot someone very important, and I bet you don’t even realize it - the family dog or cat.
Now, not every dog or cat is well-suited for vacation trips. Some would prefer to stay home in their quiet, familiar surroundings. Most dogs, however, enjoy spending time with you and love new sights and smells. Start by asking yourself a few questions. Does your family’s dog or cat ride well in the car? Do your animals handle new situations with ease? Are they friendly around other people? If so, consider bringing them along for the ride. In this day and age, there’s no reason why your beloved companions can’t tag along on your next vacation.
Once you’ve determined that Rover or Tinkerbell would enjoy accompanying your family on a road trip, the next stage is to plan your vacation. The first time I ever went on a road trip with my two dogs, I wondered, “Where do I start and how do I put this trip together?” If you, too, feel overwhelmed by the prospect of planning such a trip or if, like me, you lead such a busy life that you don’t have time to figure out the logistics, then never fear help is on the way. For my first trip with the dogs, I turned to an expert Barbara DeBry of the Puppy Travel Agency. Barbara runs the only travel agency in the world that provides a full line of pet travel services.
The Puppy Travel Agency was born in 2002 when Barbara, after years in the travel industry, went to a pet store on a trip to New York City. She discovered how much people spent on their pets and realized that people might want to travel with their animal companions as well. She returned home to put her idea into action.
In four years of business, the Puppy Travel Agency has arranged over 700 trips that involved dog travel. California and Florida (especially their beaches) are the most popular destinations. But they also send pets to foreign locales. Barbara has transported a dog to Oman, aided a woman in traveling with her dog to Armenia, helped a family import seven pets into Ireland and made arrangements to move 12 dogs into their new home in Normandy, France.
Some things, however, are beyond even Barbara’s talents. “I had a woman call who needed to move 25 cats from Florida to California. I was 99% certain that finding hotels and motels in route would be next to impossible with that many cats,” she said.
You also need to keep in mind that there are simply places you can’t go with your pets. Most national parks do not allow dogs. Neither do Amtrak trains nor Greyhound buses. But the list of “can do” places is much larger. Barbara can locate hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, townhomes and condominiums that accept animals and find you beaches that allow dogs to romp on their shores even if it’s only in the off season or restaurants with outdoor dining that allow pets.
Depending on your needs, the Puppy Travel Agency can arrange a simple road trip itinerary or, if you prefer to fly, they are experts at coordinating flights for people and their pets. And, although, I needed their help for my doggy road trip, the Puppy Travel Agency has arranged travel services for dogs, cats, turtles, birds, chinchillas, ferrets, rabbits and even a rat!
For my first road trip with the dogs, I wanted an outdoor adventure in beautiful southern Utah. Barbara arranged accommodations for me and my two dogs in some unique locations and provided us with a map outlining our driving route and our stopovers for each evening. We hiked during the days (including on the only trail in Zion National Park that allows dogs) and relaxed in our cabin at night. One of our stops was on a working horse ranch in Moab, Utah.
Traveling with your animal companions can provide you with bonding experiences and precious memories. Our Utah trip was full of them. One evening I heard a noise and opened the curtains of our cabin to see the face of a deer staring back at me! Bella, my guard dog, had the appropriate reaction to the situation with fur raised and loud barking, but the deer didn’t seem to care. Upon further inspection, I realized the cabin was surrounded by a small group of deer. Apparently, they were quite used to doggy visitors.
What’s next for me? This year, Barbara is arranging a trip to New York for me and my dogs with a few days’ stopover in New York City. She has found us an amazing place to stay near Central Park. We can hardly wait. The hotel caters to pet owners and they offer doggie daycare, dog walking and room service for your dog!
With the assistance of a puppy travel expert you, too, can have the summer vacation of your dreams. Rover or Tinkerbell will love you for it and develop an even more special bond with you. Now don’t you think that’s a better proposition than a sad face at the kennel and an expensive boarding bill? “Ruff, ruff! ” (Me, too.)
You can contact Barbara DeBry at the Puppy Travel Agency in Salta Lake City, Utah to arrange your very own puppy road trip at: www.puppytravel.com or call toll free: 1 (877)261-3555
TRAVEL TIPS & HINTS
Always plan your trip, both the route you will take and the supplies you need to pack.
Some animals are sensitive to changes in diet and water. Pack their normal pet food from home and either bottled water or water from your residence in jugs.
Don’t leave home without a first aid kit. Comprehensive pet first aid kits can be purchased at your local PetSmart or PETCO.
For pets traveling in crates, make sure they are already familiar with the crate before you go on your trip.
Microchip your pets and keep ID tags on them at all times.
Keep current on all vaccinations for your pets especially rabies. You may be required to show your animals’ medical history if a trip to a veterinarian is necessary.
Never, ever leave your pets in a car on a sunny, warm day for any length of time.
Be courteous to hotel and motel hosts. Do not allow your dogs on the furniture and clean up any messes your pets may make.
Bring along plenty of towels and shampoo. You never know when your dog may find a mud puddle or encounter a skunk.
Don’t leave your dogs unattended in a hotel or motel room unless they are crated. They may bark incessantly or tear up the accommodations if they think you are abandoning them.
Spend your vacation time similar to your home life. Don’t expect a dog that sleeps all day to suddenly go on 10-mile hikes. Work up to your anticipated activity level weeks before your trip.
Never allow your dog to ride in the back of an open pickup. While riding inside your vehicle, your dog should be properly restrained in either a crate or a safety harness. This is for their safety and yours.
Lastly don’t forget the creature comforts of home. Include your pet’s favorite blankets and toys.
If you’d like to plan your own pet vacation, here are some additional resources to help you:
AAA publishes a book entitled “Traveling with Your Pet AAA PetBook,” that provides listings for more than 12,000 pet-friendly lodgings in the US and Canada.
“Have Dog, Will Travel” by Barbara Whitaker. (See “Reviews” section of the PETroglyphs website, www.petroglyphsnm.org/reviews.html for a review.)
Fido Friendly magazine is published quarterly and provides travel information on different locales around the world to which your dog can accompany you. For more information, go to their website: www.fidofriendly.com
The following websites offer pet-friendly accommodations and other advice on traveling with your pets:
Tripbuzz Pet Friendly Travel Guide
Greta Gardner, a former New Mexico resident, currently shares her home with two dogs and two cats in North Carolina.
The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it. - Doug Larson
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