by Lauren, Web Designer
Dogs on vacation? Sure, images of basset hounds basking in the ocean sun and poodles primping themselves in salons come to mind – but vacationing with pets is an increasingly popular reality with today’s animal enthused families. According to a 2002 Travel Industry of America survey, 14% of all US adults have travelled with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more, and the numbers are only increasing. What does that mean for Fido? Pack your bag poochie, we’re hitting the trail!
Early this month, my boyfriend and I decided that our two dogs deserved a little R&R as well, so we gathered everyone up for our first pet-friendly vacation in the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania. No stranger to seeing me pack, my Springer Spaniel, Eliot, immediately started his usual routine of pouting around the house as soon as he saw my suitcase fill with clothes. However, those small cries soon turned to yelps of joy when he saw me grab his tote bag and fill it with PortionPaks for him and BT. It was official – Eliot and BT were going on vacation.
Finding a dog friendly hotel is relatively easy. Some Google searches for “Poconos dog friendly” brought us a myriad of choices for the area, and other sites like Pettravel.com and Petfriendlytravel.com listed smaller bed & breakfast type as well as larger chain hotels by area. We settled on a lodge-type small hotel in Starlight, Pennsylvania and had no trouble getting the dogs settled into their new home. After they had food & water, a few of their favorite toys, and crates in the room the dogs figured we had just moved to a tiny new apartment.
Eliot was ready to leave all our possessions behind and move to Starlight Lake, because – well, it had a lake! Every time I took him outside, he pulled and leapt towards the large body of water right outside our hotel room. Neither geese, gnats, nor families with small children trying to enjoy their paddleboats could deter him from his number 1 mission in life – to bring me the orange buoy from the water. BT, who has no real interest in needless fetching or any other real physical exercise, thought the hotel was pretty okay all in all – lots of pillows for her to fluff just right for naps, but an absolutely ridiculous “no dogs allowed” policy in the dining room. Apparently, she’s been yearning for French Toast for years.
When vacationing somewhere with a lot of open space and natural beauty, keeping the dogs active enough to be tired when the people wanted to go do something wasn’t hard. One day we took them to a nearby state park complete with hiking & waterfalls, so the dogs could immerse themselves in what they have entitled “The Nature”.
Eliot thinks “The Nature” is the most amazing place in the whole world. There’s a river running through it with pools for swimming, rocks for leaping, and waterfalls for showers. There are sticks to chew, dead things to smell, and mud everywhere. The dog was so thrilled with the entire outing, that all he could do was just run in big loopy circles around us panting and wagging his little nubby tail as fast as he could.
BT’s verdict on “The Nature”? The nature is hot. The nature is long and tiring. The nature has no fluffy pillows. She didn’t mind the water so much, and would willingly wade into the calmer parts of the river, but swimming was not acceptable (which is fine, because we’re not entirely sure she wouldn’t sink). We walk BT in a comfort harness, which turned out to be a big asset in “The Nature” since sometimes she just wouldn’t move and had to be hoisted up and carried for a few minutes. While Eliot could leap around the woods for about 12 hours, the BT says the nature is acceptable when casually strolling down a shady path.
The long car ride home was no problem for either of my two dogs, because after a little vacation with their parents they were more than ready for some slumber to recover from their adventures with “The Nature”. I experienced a lovely stress-free weekend, not having to wonder how my dogs were getting along at the kennel, and got to enjoy some quality outdoor time with my favorite two and four legged people.