BY JANET McAFEE
Dogs love to travel! Chances are your dog races to go with you when you gather up your car keys. 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 has become easier with more businesses happily accommodating them.
Some restaurants even have “doggie” menus with special cooked items for canines. Your well behaved leashed dog is welcome at many local retailers including Home Depot, Lowes, Apple, The Pottery Barn, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Many major hotel chains including Marriott’s Residence Inn, The Fairmont, Motel 6 and Best Western allow pets. The Red Roof Inn hotel chain is among the many that don’t charge a nightly fee or deposit for pets. Campgrounds are full of family pets. Doggie day care programs can provide coverage if you visit tourist sites where dogs are not allowed.
A host of new products ensure the comfort and safety of your dog during car trips. Cool pads inside his carrier cool down his temperature during hot weather. Socks or little shoes keep his feet from burning on hot pavement. Tiny sunglasses with UV protection guard against sun damage to the eyes and block dust and debris. “Cool down” harnesses and vests containing cooling crystals help on hot days. Car harnesses protect your dog if you have to stop suddenly.
Pictured here is Lilly, an adorable rescue Bichon mix, who recently traveled by car from her home in Alameda, California, to her vacation home in La Quinta. On the trip Lilly enjoyed a lunch stop at the Harris Ranch outdoor snack shop and a trip to Nordstrom, another dog friendly business. Of course, unlike Lilly in this fun photograph, dogs should not be left alone in cars.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CLOSED VEHICLE ON A HOT DAY, even with the windows cracked. The temperature inside can soar in a matter of minutes. Unattended animals inside cars are also at risk of being stolen. It takes less than a minute for someone to break a window and steal your pet. If you are traveling alone with your dog and can’t find a responsible person to watch him, no one will object if you take a calm dog into a public restroom. Drive through restaurants or outdoor cafes with dog friendly seating are perfect for meal stops.
A health certificate from your veterinarian is required for airline travel. Bring copies of shot records including rabies. 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 in a carrier in the passenger cabin where they travel under your seat. 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 his 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.
A wonderful resource, “U.S and Canada Dog Travel Guide”, can be ordered online at www.dogfriendly.com. Grab the car keys, hit the road, and double your fun with Fido onboard.