News: Guest Posts
Should dogs get their own seats on airplanes?
Reader comments to TheBark.com are almost always onpoint, insightful, informative and polite--even about issues that makes us want to tear our hair out. We saw a pretty heated but information-loaded string of feedback to a post by JoAnna Lou last fall. She wrote about people who falsely claim their dog is a service animal in order to qualify for privileges not ordinary extended to companion dogs. There was a lot of passion in the reader replies--but also some solid education, perspective and attempts at consensus building. Take this comment from Carolyn:
I think it is great that service dogs are allowed with their person on flights. I think that others wishing to pay for a seat for their dog should be able to. People traveling with cellos or other large, fragile and valuable instruments can buy a seat for it. “Large, fragile and valuable” can pertain to dogs too (and I mean valuable in the sense of having worth beyond monetary). I sympathize with people who need to travel and would like to bring their dog but understandably balk at relegating [the dog] to freight.
What do you think? Will big dogs ever get a seat on regular flights? Should they?
News: Karen B. London
Who cares for them in your absence?
I recently returned from nearly two weeks in Nicaragua. The trip was the field component of Northern Arizona University’s course “Tropical Forest Insect Ecology” for which I am one of the instructors. With a thousand things to do before departure--including taking exams, writing papers, packing, arranging for mail to be held and newspapers to be stopped, attending to vaccinations and anti-malarial medications, and all the other tasks required before a trip out of the country--I was sure that the students would be pretty overwhelmed by the time we began our 30-hour journey to the remote field station on an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
As we talked about what the final 24 hours before departure had been like for each of us, a single theme of angst came up: The most stressful thing for many in the group was having to leave their dogs behind. Nearly half of them have dogs. I was very impressed with the lengths that the students went in arranging the best care for their dogs while they were gone. All had friends or family who were stepping up to care for the dogs during the students’ absence. In one case, a student’s long distance boyfriend had flown in from the East Coast to watch her dog while she was away. That is clearly responsible dedication from all parties, since the time he spent away from home was not time that this couple could be together. I hear a lot about how college students are not responsible with their pets, and I found that at least with this group, that is not true at all. Most of these students travel with their pets most of the time, but that is not possible (nor would it be safe for the dogs) when traveling to Nicaragua.
Like the very best dog guardians, students or not, these people made sure that their dogs were well cared for during their absence. If you must travel without your pets, what do you do to arrange for their care?
News: Guest Posts
Hotel horror stories from dog-friendly hotels
If you enjoy road-trippin’ with your dog and hope the universe of hotels opening their doors to pooches will continue to expand, you don’t want a high profile travel writer to nearly step in a pile of poop in a dog-friendly hotel. It’s not good for the cause. Unfortunately, that’s what happened. MSNBC.com travel maven Harriet Baskas, who recently updated Bark readers about pet relief stations at airports, discovered an odiferous surprise just outside the elevator of a Portland hotel. After her trip, she emailed me and asked if I’d heard about this dark side of doggie guests. I haven’t but honestly this is not the sort of thing violators are going to admit to me. Meanwhile, Harriet uncovered plenty of examples of owners behaving badly. Like so many aspects of living with dogs, a few bad apples can quickly spoil the general good will and tolerance out there.
News: Karen B. London
Tips from American Humane
Every year, millions of people travel with their dogs over the holidays. And every year, many of those people vow not to do it again next year. Long car rides and airplane rides can be extremely stressful for our dogs and for us as well.
Considering safety issues such as crates for car travel and whether a pet is healthy enough (physically and emotionally) to travel by air is important. If the dog is too big to fly in the cabin, going by car or briefly boarding your dog may have enough advantages to outweigh the disadvantages. It is essential to teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate before driving over the river and through the woods for hours with your dog in that crate.
Pre-trip planning such as making advance reservations at pet friendly hotels, bringing along copies of medical records in case you need to see a veterinarian while you are away, and ordering up-to-date ID tags with the contact information of your destination are all ways to make your trip smoother.
American Humane offers a more thorough list of holiday travel tips for pets. Bon voyage!
News: JoAnna Lou
Playing service dog to travel first class.
The legitimacy and training of service dogs has come up a lot recently, and many of the cases do not have clear solutions. But what about when someone is consciously taking advantage of the privileges granted to service dogs?
With the USDAA Cynosport World Games coming up in Scottsdale, Ariz., I’ve been talking to many of the local competitors about how they’re traveling with their dogs. Some are caravanning in their RVs and others are reluctantly putting their pups in cargo.
One of the more seasoned competitors mentioned that while she dutifully puts her dogs in cargo, she always sees fellow competitors passing their pups off as service dogs on the plane.
I understand the appeal of having your dog fly with you, safe and sound. It’s certainly a tempting option, and probably in your pet's best interest, but it seems to me like an abuse of the system.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with service dogs, which the federal government defines as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. They don’t need to be licensed or certified by the government, nor are they required to show any identification to prove a medical condition or the dog’s capabilities (although many companies sell authentic looking certificates for a hefty fee).
The flexibility designed to help the disabled also allows the law to be easily abused. These well-meaning people have their pup's best interest in mind, but are also unknowingly undermining legitimate service dogs.
What’s your take? Is playing service dog unethical or responsible pet care?
News: Karen B. London
Many wineries welcome dogs
Hotels have become more dog friendly, and so have many businesses. Years ago it was rare to walk into a store to be greeted by a dog, but now it’s unremarkable. More and more people are bringing their dogs to work, and they are more common visitors at hospitals, schools, and rehab centers.
Still, it represents a big advance that so many wineries have resident dogs or welcome visitors with their own dogs in tow. In the October 2009 issue of Diablo Magazine, wineries in Northern California that welcome dogs are highlighted. How much nicer is it to take your dog with you for a relaxing weekend in the wine country than to go alone. When you can bring your dog and drink wine, you have found a place where life is good!
News: JoAnna Lou
Searching for dog friendly restaurants is becoming easier for pet lovers.
I’ve always envied Parisian restaurants where you can dine with your furry companions, a practice banned stateside by our health codes. Eating with my pups is one of my favorite warm weather activities, although I’ve braved the cold many times to enjoy a meal with the whole family!
I’m always on the lookout for good restaurants with decks or sidewalk spaces, although not even all places with outdoor seating allow pets. Once I was even asked to tie my pups to a tree across the sidewalk. Needless to say, I didn’t eat there!
Online reservation website, Open Table, recently published a list of the best pet-friendly restaurants, compiled from user reviews. They included several in New York City, but left out two of my favorites -- Fred’s, named after a Labrador and whose customers’ dog photos adorn every free space on the walls, and Fetch, host of weekend adoption events and whose walls feature homeless canines.
I’ve also been able to find restaurants by searching “pet friendly” on Yelp’s message boards and by looking through Citysearch’s reviews. DogFriendly.com and PetFriendlyTravel.com also maintain databases of eateries that welcome pups.
Do you have favorite restaurants that welcome your four legged crew?
News: JoAnna Lou
Labor Day ushers in dog friendly beaches across the Northeast.
I spent last weekend vacationing in the seaside communities of Southern Maine. While the towns I visited were dog friendly, the beaches were not. As I was walking around, I noticed that many of Maine’s sandy shores welcome canines after Labor Day--just days after my trip.
This trend can be seen down the Northeast coast from Cape Cod to the Jersey Shore. September can still be quite warm, and the passing of Labor Day brings cheaper hotel rates and thinning crowds. What’s better than an affordable vacation with the pups by your side?
Once October comes, even more beaches welcome dogs. The cooler weather adds New England’s changing foliage to the already beautiful seascape. The first of the month opens up the shores of Delaware’s Bethany Beach, Maryland’s Ocean City, Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard, and New Jersey’s Cape May, just to name a few.
The Northeast isn’t the only place where restrictions ease after the summer rush. Even San Diego’s Del Mar North “Dog Beach” expands after Labor Day, allowing pups access to the Main Beach in addition to other year round areas.
Come next summer, I might just plan my vacation for the cooler months.
For a comprehensive list of dog friendly beaches, visit PetFriendlyTravel.com’s web page.
Be sure to check out DogFriendly.com’s beach etiquette page before your trip to ensure we continue to have beaches to take our furry friends.
News: JoAnna Lou
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?
News: JoAnna Lou
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.
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