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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Top Cities for Dogs
MSNBC publishes their list of pet-friendly destinations.

I’m always on the hunt for dog-friendly destinations. This week MSNBC published their Top 10 Pet Friendly Cities of 2009, giving me many new trip ideas. I was excited to see that my own hometown of New York made the list, mandating a staycation perhaps! New York was joined by San Diego, Chicago, Seattle, Alexandria, Portland, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles and Boston.

These cities were picked based on the variety of pet-friendly lodging, restaurants, tourist amenities and pet events. MSNBC’s list represents a variety of canine friendly activities, from San Diego’s three off-leash beaches to Alexandria’s Yappy Hours at Hotel Monaco.

I’m already scheming to take trips to kayak with my dogs in San Diego, enjoy the beachside view of the Golden Gate Bridge together in San Francisco, party with my pooches at SkyBark in Los Angeles and take the pet friendly ferry ride from Boston to Cape Cod.  

The author, Sandy Robins, is dead on when describing New York and our surprising number of dog parks among the sea of skyscrapers and high rise apartments. The Shake Shack stand she mentions is indeed delicious and the menu even features the Pooch-Ini, a doggie custard sundae. Madison Square Park is also the location of past American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Owners Day events.

What are your favorite pet friendly cities?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pet Airways Takes Flight
The pet-only airline began service this week.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my pet travel frustrations along with anticipation over the launch of Pet Airways, a canine and feline exclusive airline. This week, their first flight took off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y. The company has certainly struck a chord with pet lovers as their flights are already booked for the next two months.

Pet Airways, however, doesn’t come without its limitations. I’ve found that in order to use the airline, your timeline needs to be flexible. The company will operate out of regional airports near the five launch cities, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles.

This means an extra trip to drop off and pick up pets. In addition, you may arrive at your destination well before your dog or cat. Cross-country trips take about 24 hours, which includes an overnight stop in Chicago for bathroom breaks, dinners, and playtime. And, for now, flights leave on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.

One-way fees range from $149 to $399. The lower end is comparable to airline cargo fees which go up to $250 each way. The service, however, is unparalleled. Dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin refitted with about 50 crates. Pets will be escorted to the plane by attendants that will check on the animals every 15 minutes in flight. The pets are also given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks.

The limited flight schedule and out-of-the-way airports have made it difficult for me to take advantage of the airline so far. And I’m not crazy about having to take separate flights. Sending my dog on a 24-hour trip without me seems stressful (for me and the pup!), even if there will be pet loving attendants. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the alternative to cargo and I’m hoping that the demand for Pet Airways will encourage other airlines to expand their pet offerings. 

News: Guest Posts
Stephen King, Most Famous Victim
Horror stories come true when people don’t secure dogs in cars.

Last week in Verona, Wis., a Boy Scout troop leader and one young Scout were killed when a motorhome crossed the median and hit their SUV. The 62-year-old motorhome driver was distracted when his dog jumped into his lap.

Ten years ago, Stephen King was hit and severely injured by a minivan because driver Bryan E. Smith was distracted by his loose Rottweiler. Smith was charged with aggravated assault and driving to endanger. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was only sentenced to six months probation.

If these two scary incidents don’t inspire you to buckle up your pup, what about your dog’s safety? I belong to several dog-related and agility email lists and every year, there are horrific stories about people getting into accidents either on their way to or from a show or other dog activity. If the dogs are not secured, they are thrown out of the vehicle. If they survive the impact, they are traumatized and very difficult to catch. In some cases, the dog guards his owner, impeding help from passersby, police and medical personnel.

My minivan is outfitted with two large wire crates permanently placed in the back and a bench seat where I can harness my other dogs to seat belts. Do you secure your dog in your car? If yes, how? If not, why not?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Putting Unused Airline Miles to Good Use
Donate frequent flyer miles to Guide Dogs of America.

I’m by no means a frequent flyer. As I mentioned previously, in a post about Pet Airways, I avoid traveling by plane since my dog would have to fly in cargo. Needless to say, I never rack up enough miles to qualify for a free flight.

Rather than let my miles expire, I recently discovered a way to put these points to good use. Northwest and United Airlines let you donate unused miles to the Guide Dogs of America. The contributions are used to transport dogs, trainers, and recipients to GDA’s training headquarters in Sylmar, Calif. Other airlines have programs that allow you to donate miles to charity, but Northwest and United Airlines are the only two I've found that benefit a dog-related organization. 

In a time when non-profit groups are facing decreased donations, this is a great way to help out a worthy cause without dipping into your bank account.  Visit the Guide Dogs of America web site for more information on how to donate your miles.

News: Guest Posts
Wanted: Tips on Local Fun

UPDATE, 7/01: Our July/August issue is now on the newsstands, but there's plenty of summer left and we're still interested in hearing from you about your fave places for dog-friendly fun. Please add yours here. For those who so kindly sent in their tips in May, our most sincere thanks—alas, space was so tight that we weren't able to include them after all. But never fear: With this post, they're available to Barkers everywhere!

 

Summer’s on its way, and so is our summer travel feature. We’d like your help tracking down places around the country that offer big fun for dogs and their people, places you’d suggest to visiting friends and their dogs for a day trip, or perhaps a weekend outing. From a terrific dog park that’s especially welcoming to visitors or a local dog-friendly celebration to a mountain retreat and anything in between—if you and your dog think it’s a good place to have fun or just get away from it all, we want to hear about it.

 

What are you waiting for? Hit “Post a comment” and share your insider information!

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog-friendly Hotels?
Double-check the fine pawprint.

As the owner of two 60-pound-plus pups, I am all too familiar with the bait-and-switch described in yesterday’s New York Times: Hotels draw in dual-species families with “dog-friendly” policies and then turn away canines weighing more than a big bag of kibble. Cutoffs start as low as 15 pounds.

I really don’t understand why a hotel would exclude large dogs. The author of AAA’s Traveling With Your Pet told The Times reporter that weight limits are sometimes driven by concerns over cleaning up more fur. What about large dogs, such as big, shaggy Bouviers des Flandres and Komondors, who shed very little? The other concern appears to be big dogs having bigger accidents. Of course, most dogs won't have accidents at all. I don't think weight-limits make sense but they are probably here to stay for some unenlightened properties. That means, travel planners out there shouldn't just rely on the Internet to make reservations; follow up by phone to ask about weight limits. And don't give up hope, if you've got a largish co-pilot sometimes you can negotiate size-exceptions with a smart, dog-loving manager.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
First Class Flights for Pets
Pet Airways opens reservations for inaugural flights.

My idea of vacation is hanging out with my dogs, preferably on the beach. I once drove 20 hours to Florida to avoid putting my pets in airplane cargo. The horror stories of limited oxygen and careless handling have reduced the trips I choose to take. And the U.S. Department of Transportation’s required reporting on animal deaths hasn’t exactly allayed my fears.

Recently, my dogs qualified for USDAA agility nationals in Scottsdale, Ariz. I would love to participate, but it’s too far for me to drive and I’m not sure I want to take the risk of putting them in cargo. The travel industry leaves dog lovers with few alternatives.

So I was excited to hear about the launch of Pet Airways, an airline dedicated to safe travel for animals. Pets fly in the main cabin of their modified 19-passenger airplane. The seats have been replaced with space for secured crates. Worried owners can track their pets online and rest assured that flight attendants are checking on their furry family members every 15 minutes.

Pet Airways’ inaugural flights will be in July out of New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. For a limited time, introductory fares are only $149 each way.

I dream of the day when I can buy a ticket for my dog to sit beside me on a plane, but for now I’m glad to see safer transportation options.

What has been your experience traveling with pets?

News: Guest Posts
Man’s Best Muse
Don't miss Mascot Studio’s 10th Annual Dog Show

If your Big Apple pupster enjoys a little high culture, perambulate on down to New York City’s dog-friendly East Village. Through March 21, Mascot Studio (328 E. Ninth St.) celebrates man’s best muse with its 10th Annual Dog Show—featuring canine-themed oils, watercolors, illustrations, photography and collage by artists including studio owner Peter McCaffrey, Anne Watkins and Luba Jane Blatman (both of whom have graced Bark’s pages), Laura Sue Philips, June Moss, Anthony Freda, Jane O’Hara, Irit Cohen, Eric Ginsburg, Sebastian Piras, Aaron Meshon and selected vintage works. Look for the Cave Canem shingle with the mascot’s mug, inspired by Pete the Pup of Our Gang fame. Open Tues.-Sat., 1-7 p.m.

 

News: Guest Posts
How Does Your Dog Ride?
Canine car safety highlighted at the Chicago Auto Show.

I'm sure my 11-year-old Catahoula, Desoto, longs for the days when he could stick his head out the car window and feel the breeze on his face. But after hearing about traffic accidents in which the dog was seriously injured because he was not restrained, I feel better knowing that he is safe when traveling. For years now, my minivan has boasted doggie seatbelts for the middle bench seat and two large wire crates in the back. If necessary, I can crate two dogs in the back and harness the other three on the bench seat.

This past weekend, the Chicago Auto Show featured Kane County police dogs to emphasize canine safety in cars. Pet-focused consumer group Bark Buckle Up shared interesting stats and educational info. For example, an unsecured dog in the car could be thrown and be seriously hurt or cause injury to other occupants of the car. Also, a traumatized, protective dog could impede police or firemen from quickly responding to the human victims.

If you travel with your dog, how does he ride?

News: Guest Posts
Critter Graveyard on the Tourist Track
Pay your respects on your next tour of New York

Lonely Planet guidebooks have selected the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery as one of the Top Ten Places to Rest in the world. That’s big kudos for the 111-year-old multi-species graveyard north of New York City, especially when you consider that the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt, and the Taj Mahal in India are also on the list.

Thanks to Pet VR for the nose up.

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