By Janet McAfee

It may be only May, but the Coachella Valley weather already feels like summer.  Our remaining snow birds are heading home, and our locals planning overdue trips for summer 2021.  Dogs love to travel, and it adds to your experience when you see Fido’s joy at sharing a trip with his favorite humans.  Most dogs get excited when you grab the car keys, hoping to join you.  Dogs are natural nomads, traveling in packs in the wild.  They are curious creatures who love seeing new places and meeting new friends.  Traveling with pets is easier now that more hotels and restaurants with outdoor seating happily accommodate them.  Wise planning and safety precautions make the experience more enjoyable.

It is good business sense to cater to pet owners.  Some restaurants even have “doggie” menus with special cooked items for canines. An excursion to nearby Upland can include Molly’s Souper, a lovely cottage style restaurant with lots of outdoor seating and a delicious menu for Fido.  Recently opened restaurant Boozehounds in Palm Springs also caters to canine appetites, and was recently featured in this column. Well behaved leashed dogs are welcome at many retailers including Home Depot, Lowes, Apple, The Pottery Barn, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Most major hotel chains including Marriott’s Residence Inn, Motel 6, La Quinta Hotels, and Best Western allow pets.

The fabulous pet friendly Rowan Hotel in Palm Springs offers guest rooms that accommodate your pup at no extra charge.  As the pandemic comes to an end, they will soon resume their dog welcome Happy Hours from 4:00pm to 5:00pm daily in their lobby bar. This venue is also a favorite of locals wishing to include their dogs in a relaxing afternoon.  The Rowan is located at 100 Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs,, (760) 904-5015.


Campgrounds are full of family pets who are welcomed on leash.  Doggie day care programs abound should you want to visit places where dogs are not permitted during your trip. My favorite place for doggie day care is the spectacular Barkingham Pet Hotel in Palm Desert.  Canine visitors get to frolic in their doggie pool and enjoy the lovely outdoor park.  They also provide overnight boarding with staff on duty 24 hours. The Barkingham Pet Hotel is located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert,, (760) 699-8328.

You can purchase a Puppuccino for your canine sidekick when you drive through Starbucks.  One pet focused resort, Canine Camp Getaway in New York, offers scent-detection workshops for the dogs, decorating home-made dog biscuit classes for the humans, and sharing celebratory beverages at “Yappy Hour”. While many dogs swim and know how to get themselves out, other breeds with heavy coats are not able to sustain themselves in pool water. Life preservers for dogs are an extra precaution in pools and lakes.


A host of new products ensure the comfort and safety of your dog during car trips.  Cool pads inside his carrier cool down the temperature during hot weather.  Socks or little shoes keep his feet from burning on the hot pavement.  Tiny sunglasses with UV protection guard against sun damage to the eyes and block dust & debris.  “Cool down” harnesses and vests containing cooling crystals help on hot days.  Car harnesses protect your dog if you have to stop suddenly. A collar with your phone number and a recent photograph of your dog are essential in case he gets lost.

Keep your pet in the back seat, whether he is harnessed or kept in a carrier.  They can be injured by front seat airbags. An active pup romping through a moving vehicle can cause dangerous distractions.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN A CAR EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED.  It is illegal to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle under California Penal Code 597.7.  There has been an epidemic of stolen vehicles with pets inside in recent months.  It takes less than a minute for someone to break a window and steal your vehicle with your pet inside while you dodge into a mini-mart for a quick cup of coffee.  If you are traveling alone and can’t find a responsible person to watch your dog, no one will object if you take him into a public restroom. Drive through restaurants, outdoor dining, and picnics can replace indoor restaurant meal stops. Pets can perish quickly in vehicles from heat stroke and hypothermia during excessive hot or cold temperatures.


A health certificate from your veterinarian is required prior to airline travel.  Bring copies of shot records including rabies.  You must have a reservation for your pet, as there is a set number of dogs permitted on each flight.  Check in advance with your airline as pet requirements can differ. If you have a small dog under your airline’s weight limit, it is recommended you take them with you in a carrier in the passenger cabin.  Some groups advise against shipping your pet in the cargo area due to instances of loss, injury and even death.  If you must ship an animal below cabin, book a direct flight. Your trusted veterinarian can decide if sedation will make the flight easier.


Amtrak does not allow pets other than service animals.  Smaller regional rail companies are more hospitable, but call first to find out about crating and other restrictions.  Some transit companies don’t allow animals during crowded rush hours.  Short leashes are recommended.

Seeing the joy your pup experiences on a day or overnight trip makes you appreciate travel even more.  Dogs with their friendly optimism help us meet new people and frame the way we look at the wonders of the world around us.  A helpful resource, “U.S and Canada Dog Travel Guide,” can be obtained by going online to  Grab the car keys, hit the road, and double your fun with Fido onboard.

Still looking for a new best “furfriend” and travel buddy?  You are sure to find one from the list below.

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