News: Guest Posts
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
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
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
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
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.
News: Guest Posts
Dogs have their own parking spaces in Rome
ChrismaChunnuKwanzaBoxingNewYear is wrapping up. For many of us, this means we are blissfully reunited with our dogs after visits to family, friends or, simply, dog-unfriendly holidays. If you’re like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time during a vacation seeking out other people’s dogs. Happily, Rome, where I spent Christmas, provides a wealth of canine delights. Sleek muzzles peer out of purses and well-heeled apartment-dwellers stroll in the passeggiata. Of course, these smallish, pampered pooches are a far cry from ancient Roman hunting and guard dogs. I was particularly delighted to see dogs in sweaters and blingy collars join the crowd in the piazza outside St. Peter’s Basillica for the Pope's Christmas benediction. Like any city anywhere, dogs also kept company with the homeless.
The most delightful surprise were the dogs at Pompeii, the ruins of an ancient Roman city, preserved for millennia under the pumice and ash of Vesuvius. Not only are teeth-baring dogs warning Cave Canem (Beware of dog in Latin) preserved in mosaics but there are actual dogs—38 of them, according to our guide Big Nicky. These aren’t skinny, flea-riddled strays, barely getting by on the kindness of tourists, but clean, healthy, sociable pups (at least the three I met). That’s because the staffers at Pompeii provide food and water for these furry residents. Each dog is also spayed or neutered--a custom less in evidence among the male dog population in Rome.
News: Guest Posts
Like to travel with your dog? Then you should check out Car Go Dogs. I drive all over the Midwest competing with my dogs in agility trials, so I'm always looking for dog-friendly vehicle info, accessories and travel tips. It's nice to find all these things in one spot!
Dog's Life: Travel
Getting from point A to point B sometimes requires thinking outside the airline cargo hold.
Dogs are part of the family, but are rarely treated as such by the travel industry. It’s easy to buy airline tickets for children, or make a hotel reservation that includes them. But as I discovered, dogs are another story. When I found out we were being transferred from the U.S. to Germany, one of my first thoughts was, “What about the dog?” The company transferring us was gracious about it; they agreed to cover travel costs for Captain, our eight-month-old, mixed-breed pup, but booking the travel was up to me.
I started by talking to airlines, and quickly found out that none would allow Captain—who weighed more than 20 pounds and wouldn’t fit under a seat—to fly in the cabin; he would have to ride in the cargo hold. Initially, I was told that for an extra $200, he could go as baggage on the flight on which we were ticketed. But when the airline found out that he was young and still growing, the terms changed: if he weighed more than 50 pounds on the day of the flight, he would be designated as cargo, and the cost could be as much as $2,500. And they couldn’t guarantee that he would be on the same flight as we were.
Since he was already 47 pounds, I figured chances were good he would fall into the cargo category. When I asked what would happen if he didn’t make our flight, the representative said that we could either change our flight (and pay the associated costs) or designate someone to pick up Captain, take him home and bring him back later to try again. Neither option sounded particularly appealing. And even though the cost wasn’t coming out of my pocket, it seemed excessive.
Persevering in my search, I called other cargo handlers. Lufthansa was the only airline that would transport dogs during the summer (which was when we were scheduled to move). Liability concerns have discouraged many airlines from transporting live animals at all; others will not fly them from May to September. Those I spoke with at Lufthansa were all very reassuring. They told me that dogs were held in air-conditioned areas and taken to the plane after all other baggage has been loaded, so they’re not left waiting on the tarmac. Food is not allowed in the crates, but they do allow water bottles, blankets or toys.
Even with the reassurances, I was still uneasy. I would need to have Captain in the crate and checked in three hours prior to flight time, and he would not be taken out of the crate until he had cleared customs at the end of the flight, which could easily be 14 to 16 hours later. In the meantime, he would be alone and buffeted by many unfamiliar noises and sensations. One airline representative told me that “to dogs, it is just like riding in a car,” but I didn’t quite believe that. I was worried, but didn’t see any options.
But were there other options? Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Cunard Line’s flagship ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, had kennel service on their monthly transatlantic cruise. I was further (and pleasantly) surprised to learn that fares for human passengers started at a level comparable to the cost of a round-trip transatlantic flight, and was considerably less than a one-way air ticket. While dogs (with the exception of service animals) were not allowed in the staterooms, the kennel area included a large playroom, and there was a deck galley for outside walks. Owners could visit several times a day, and a kennel master was on duty as well to care for the dogs at other times or if the owners were unavailable. Kennel fees started at $500. This sounded like it would be a much more pleasant experience for everyone, including Captain. After a short consideration, I booked our tickets.
Ready, Set, Go!
Fortunately, dogs traveling to EU countries, including Great Britain, no longer have to be quarantined. Owners need to make sure their animals have ISO chips for identification, a current rabies vaccination at time of sailing (at least 21 days prior), tapeworm treatment 120 to 24 hours prior to sailing, a thorough vet examination and a stamped sign-off by the USDA within 10 days of sailing. The paperwork, which sounds daunting, is required regardless of means of transport. Cunard made the process very easy, providing detailed checklists and pre-inspection of paperwork a few days prior to boarding so there was time to correct any missing information prior to our sail date.
I had been advised by our state USDA office to fax all paperwork from the vet’s office before coming into office for the stamps. The paperwork is complicated, and many vets do not do it frequently. In our case, some documentation needed to be corrected, and being on-site at the vet’s office made it easier to do. Since we’d cleared the paperwork in advance, obtaining the stamps was just a formality. Finally, papers in hand, we set out for New York City to board our ship.
After taking a few days to drive up the East Coast, visiting with friends and family along the way, we arrived in Brooklyn the day before sailing. We found a dog-friendly hotel close to the docks and spent the afternoon exploring the local city parks and sidewalks.
The next day, we arrived at the docks at the designated time. My husband saw us off, but he was not sailing with us, and I was concerned about handling both Captain and the baggage; since we were moving, I had 18 bags. Thankfully, curbside valets unloaded the car and whisked the bags away to be delivered to my stateroom, leaving me free to concentrate on getting Captain onboard and settled.
There were, of course, the lines and security that everyone has come to expect, but they moved quickly, and Captain took it all in stride. After the initial check in, I was sent to wait in a special area with the other dogs and their owners. There was a bit of barking as the 10 dogs who were making the crossing sized up one another, but no aggression, and the cruise line provided us with enough space to spread out.
After one of the pursers reviewed the EU paperwork and scanned the dogs to confirm microchip numbers, the kennel master, Oliver, boarded the dogs in groups of two. Quickly sizing up the group, he decided to take our 55-pound puppy on board first, along with two dogs I had named “the pretties”: sweet, docile Shih Tzus ensconced in their own carrier. Before he did anything, however, Oliver took a moment with each dog, introducing himself and letting them start to become familiar with him.
Guided by Oliver, Captain and I went up the gangplank and into the Art Deco opulence of the QM2’s Grand Lobby. Oliver kept us moving at a trot as we made our way through the ship and up to deck 12, where the kennels are located. Entering a side deck area through a gate labeled “owners only,” we came to the main kennel entrance.
There were two rows of kennel cages, six on the bottom and six on the top. The cages were separated by removable dividers, and Captain’s age and weight had earned him a double space on the bottom row. One would have given him plenty of room, but since he was still a growing puppy when I made the reservation, the staff erred on the side of caution (no one was sure how much he was going to grow before we sailed). Each cage was labeled with the dog’s name and outfitted with a thick blanket, dog bed, and food and water dishes.
We explored the room for a few minutes, then Oliver asked me to get Captain into his accommodations so he could continue the boarding process. I put a few toys in the cage and Captain hopped right in. When all the dogs were situated, we were given the visiting schedule, which allowed for about eight hours of interaction daily, and asked to come back later that afternoon, after the life-boat drills had been completed. As we sailed out of the harbor, the view from the top deck was magnificent, and everyone was excited. After months of planning and gathering paperwork, we were underway!
Life on Board
After a day or two on the ship, the dogs settled into a routine. They did their business on the deck, which was difficult for dogs who had been taught not to go on hard surfaces. There was a square of artificial turf, but initially, it confused them; they could tell it wasn’t grass. But eventually, need won out, and the dogs voided on the deck—a few rounds of treats and praise helped overcome their reluctance. Each established a favorite spot. Oliver, who was always there with a scooper, hose and squeegee, protested when the owners tried to help.
Cunard had stocked each dog’s favorite food, and many of us had brought along food and treats as well. Still, at first, some of the dogs weren’t interested in eating; Captain was one of them. Though he turned up his nose at his usual kibble, he was quickly won over when Oliver mixed it with some canned food he had on hand. For dogs who held out a bit longer than Captain, the kitchen sent up poached chicken, ground beef and rice. No dog refused that meal!
The dogs were a big attraction, and many passengers stopped at the fenced-off area to ask questions and watch the dogs. There were a few celebrities sailing with us, and they also found their way to the kennels; when he heard another Captain was on board, the QM2’s captain even stopped in to meet him. And of course, those of us whose dogs were the focus of so much attention spent many hours together each day, playing with our dogs and watching them play with each other. The dogs formed friendships, as did we. With the exception of one couple who traveled between homes in Great Britain and the U.S., everyone else was relocating, and like me, had not been comfortable transporting their dogs on airplanes.
We had all wondered how everyone would get along, but we were lucky—we were a group of down-to-earth, flexible, considerate people with reasonably well-behaved and friendly dogs. Oliver told us that most groups did get along well, but if there were problems, it was generally between the owners, not the dogs. He also said there was a conflict-resolution policy in place in the event things didn’t go quite so smoothly, which was reassuring.
We arrived in England at Southampton after a week at sea, which is where most of the dogs and owners left us. Only three dogs—Captain included—were continuing on to Hamburg. A vet boarded the ship to scan microchips and inspect the paperwork of the dogs disembarking. Captain stayed on board and played with Oliver while I took advantage of a shore excursion to Stonehenge.
With just three dogs in residence, the next few days were quiet, and after more than a week at sea, we were all anxious to get back on land. The dogs seemed to miss their friends, or perhaps were just exhausted after a week of playing, and spent most of the remaining time lazing in the sun.
The night before we reached Hamburg, we received word that the German vet had opted not to come on board, but rather, had reviewed and approved the immigration paperwork for the dogs via fax. In another nice surprise, we were told that the dogs entitled us to priority disembarkation status. We agreed to meet with Oliver as a group at 8:30 in the morning, and to leave the ship together.
The next morning, we took a few minutes to let the dogs romp and say goodbye to Oliver, since we knew it would be busy once we left the ship. Oliver was already making name tags for the next set of four-pawed passengers, who would be coming onboard later that day—the new group included two cats. Once we gave any treats that remained to Oliver (we couldn’t take them with us into Germany), we were ready to go. Oliver took Captain and I dealt with a couple of pieces of luggage; the rest of my bags had been collected the night before and would be waiting for me on the other side of customs. Cunard had processed passports while we were underway, so all I had to do was walk down the gangplank and show my passport to the agent on the dock. He nodded, and we were done.
Oliver walked with our group to collect our luggage, and handled all the dogs while we did so. It was now goodbye for real. With family members waiting to load us and our luggage into cars and take us to our new homes, we hugged, wished each other luck and told Oliver we hoped to see him on a future crossing. After this comfortable and well-orchestrated adventure, none of us could imagine a better way to cross the ocean with our dogs!
Dog's Life: Travel
This information has been adapted from Dan Nelson’s Best Hikes With Dogs: Western Washington, 2nd Ed.
Hiking is a great way to reconnect with both nature and your dog. On the hiking trail, away from cell phones and other distractions, you and your co-pilot can truly bond as you feel the terrain beneath your feet, take in the unfiltered beauty of nature and stop to smell the clover (or anything else that crosses your dog’s nose). But no hiker should venture far up a trail without being properly equipped. Outdoor experts Dan Nelson and The Mountaineers Books (publisher of the Best Hikes with Dogs series) offer their advice for safe and happy trails.
When heading out on a day (or multi-day) hike on a backcountry trail, the old tenet “be prepared” is to be taken seriously—starting with proper footwear, handy dog gear and basic safety measures. The items you pack will vary from trip to trip and dog to dog, but there are a few things each and every one of us should have in our packs. Each member of your hiking party—human or canine—should have a pack loaded with their Ten Essentials, including items you might need in an emergency.
Remember, the only way you can be sure your dog is safe on the trail, is if you stay safe, warm and well-fed. So let’s start with your essentials.
The Ten Essentials
2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen). In addition to sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or better), take along physical sun barriers, such as a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. 3. Insulation (extra clothing). This means more clothing than you would wear during the worst weather of the planned outing. If you get injured or lost, you won’t be moving around generating heat, so you’ll need to be able to bundle up.
4. Illumination (flashlight/headlamp). If caught after dark, you’ll need a headlamp or flashlight to be able to follow the trail. If forced to spend the night, you’ll need it to set up emergency camp, gather wood and so on. Carry extra batteries and bulbs, too.
5. First aid supplies. Nothing elaborate needed—especially if you’re unfamiliar with how to use less-familiar items. Make sure you have plastic bandages, gauze bandages, some aspirin and other supplies recommended by the Red Cross. At minimum a Red Cross first aid training course is recommended. Better still, sign up for a Mountaineering-Oriented First Aid (MOFA) course if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods.
6. Fire (fire starter and matches). Campfires should be avoided in most backcountry camps, but they can be lifesavers in an emergency. An emergency campfire provides warmth, but it also has a calming effect on most people. Without one, the night can be cold, dark and intimidating. With one, the night is held at arm’s length. A candle or tube of fire-starting ribbon is essential for starting a fire with wet wood. And, of course, matches are important. You can’t start a fire without them. Pack them in a waterproof container and/or buy the waterproof/windproof variety. Book matches are useless in wind or wet weather, and disposable lighters are unreliable. Be sure to build an emergency fire in a safe location where the fire can’t spread.
7. Repair kit and tools (including a knife). A pocket knife is helpful; a multi-tool is better. You never know when you might need a small pair of pliers or scissors, both of which are commonly found on compact multi-tools. A basic repair kit includes a 20-foot length of nylon cord, a small roll of duct tape, some 1-inch webbing and extra webbing buckles (to fix broken pack straps), and a small tube of Super Glue.
8. Nutrition (extra food). Pack enough food so that you’ll have some left over after an uneventful trip—the extra food will keep you fed and fueled during an emergency.
9. Hydration (extra water). Figure what you’ll drink between water sources, and then add an extra liter. If you plan to rely on wilderness water sources, be sure to include some method of purification, whether a chemical additive, such as iodine, or a filtration device.
10. Emergency shelter. This can be as simple as a few extra-large garbage bags, or something more efficient, such as a reflective space blanket or tube tent. In addition to these essentials, I add an emergency survival kit. This tiny package at the bottom of my pack holds a small metal mirror, an emergency Mylar blanket, a whistle and a tiny signal smoke canister—all useful for signaling to search parties whether they are on the ground or in the air.
Here is a list of equally important essentials for your dog.
The Ten Canine Essentials
2. Doggy backpack (for longer hikes). Let the dog carry his own gear. Dogs can be trained to carry gear in their backpacks, but, to avoid developmental problems, don’t put packs on dogs younger than a year old.
3. Basic first aid kit. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a checklist of items for your dog’s first aid kit. The Red Cross also offers classes in pet first aid.
4. Dog food and trail treats. You should pack more food than your dog normally consumes because he will be burning more calories than normal, and if you do end up having to spend an extra night out there, you need to keep the pup fed, too. Trail treats serve the same purpose for the dog as they do for you—quick energy and a pick-me-up during a strenuous day of hiking.
5. Water and water bowl. Don’t count on there being water along the trail for the dog. Pack enough extra water to meet all your dog’s drinking needs.
6. Leash and collar, or harness. Even if your dog is absolutely trained to voice command and stays at heel without a leash, sometimes leashes are required by law or just by common courtesy, so you should have one handy at all times.
7. Insect repellent. Be aware that some animals, and some people, have strong negative reactions to certain insect repellents. So, before leaving home, dab a little repellent on a patch of your dog’s fur to see your dog’s reaction to it. Look for signs of drowsiness, lethargy or nausea. Remember to restrict repellent applications to those places the dog can’t lick—the shoulders, the back of the neck, and around the ears (staying well clear of the ears and inner ears)—which are also near the most logical places mosquitoes will be looking for exposed skin (at the eyes, nose, and inner ears) to bite. And don’t forget to check your dog’s entire body for ticks, foxtails and other trail troublemakers after your hike.
8. ID tags and picture identification. Your dog should always wear ID tags, and since a dog lost in the woods can lose his or her collar, I’d heartily recommend microchipping her as well. Carry a photo of your dog in your pack. If your dog gets lost far from home, you can use the image to make flyers to post in the surrounding communities.
9. Dog booties. These help protect the dog’s feet from rough ground or harsh vegetation. They also keep bandages secure if the dog damages its pads.
10. Compact roll of plastic bags and trowel. You’ll need the bags to clean up after your dog on popular trails. When conditions warrant, you can use the trowel to take care of your dog’s waste. Just pretend you are a cat—dig a small hole six to eight inches deep in the forest duff, deposit the dog waste, and fill in the hole.
[The Mountaineers Books Best Hikes with Dogs series]
Dog's Life: Travel
Dozens of summer activities for you and your co-pilot
Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Laurie Anderson and Friends
August 10, 2011; New York, NY
Jam along the Creek
June 10-12, 2011; Millmont, PA
The Levitt Pavilion of Performing Arts-50 Nights of Free Entertainment Under the Stars
Ongoing throughout summer; Westport, CT
Pittsburgh Blues Festival
July 22-24, 2011; Pittsburgh, PA
Shannon Street Blues and Heritage Festival
June 3-4, 2011; Jackson, TN
Woofstock Dog Festival
June 4, 2011; Roanoke, VA
Twin Cities Jazz Festival
June 23-25, 2011; St. Paul, MN
Portland Parks & Recreation Summer Concerts in the Parks 2011
Ongoing July-August; Portland, OR
Coventry Street Arts Festival
June 26, 2011 and July 24, 2011; Cleveland Heights, OH
Burning Dog Festival
June 17th-19th; Big Sur, CA
June 05, 2011, July 17, 2011, and August 14, 2011; Huntington Beach, CA
6th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition
June 4, 2011; Imperial Beach, CA
2011 Teva Mountain Games
June 3-5, 2011; Vail, CO
MLB Dog Days:
Cleveland Indians - Puppypalooza: August 23rd vs. Seattle Mariners.
Florida Marlins - Bark at the Park: August 12th vs. San Francisco Giants.
Oakland A's - Dog Day at the Park: July 15th vs. Los Angeles Angels.
San Diego - Dog Days of Summer: July 16th vs. San Francisco Giants.
St. Louis Cardinals - Purina Pooches in the Ballpark: June 25th vs. Toronto Blue Jays.
SF Giants Dog Days of Summer at AT&T Park
Norman Rockwell Museum Presents “It’s a Dog’s Life: Norman Rockwell Paints Man’s Best Friend”
June 25th-Nov 11th;Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
DOGS! FESTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES
August 6, 2011; Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MACONFERENCES:
Taking Action for Animals
July 15-18, 2011; Washington, DC.
No Kill Conference
July 30-31, 2011; Washington, DC
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