Doggie Vacations

We buy them toys, take them to the vet, bring home 15 different brands of dog food trying to find one they like. Why not? After all, they're our best friends. So what do we do when we go on vacation? We ask someone to look in on our dogs for a few minutes a day or board them in a kennel. And when we come back? Not even a new squeaky toy. One look into their sad, puppy dog eyes, and it's hard not to wonder what kind of best friends we are when we leave our dogs behind. But it doesn't have to be that way. More dog owners are starting to look to another option -- taking their dogs on vacation with them. Obviously, taking your dog on a trip opens a whole new can of worms. Only the most well-behaved dogs are going to make your trip enjoyable. But still, how are you going to travel with him? Where can you stay? What activities can you and your dog participate in together?A new book, Great Vacations for You and Your Dog, USA (Martin Management Books, $20), gives advice on how and where to travel with your dog. In addition to giving tips on how to make vacationing with your dog less stressful, the book lists resorts, ranches, hotels, cabins and bed and breakfasts -- state by state -- that accept dogs (don't plan on going to Hawaii, though, because there is a one-month quarantine)."Most dog owners would agree that when they want to go on vacation, they have trouble finding up-to-date information on where you can take dogs," says Doris Martin, editor and publisher of Great Vacations. "This book is not only for summer vacations, but all year round. Off season is a good time to go with dogs; usually you have more freedom when there are fewer people around."There are quite a few accommodations that accept dogs, even in large cities. Most of the locations, however, tend to be more rural in nature -- places where dogs can run free, swim and have other kinds of doggie fun.The Circle H Ranch in Thorp, Wash., is just such a place. "Guests dogs are welcome to come to the ranch as long as they don't eat all of my ducks, chickens, peacocks and rabbits," says Betsy Ogden, ranch owner. "I have tons of acres outside the main compound where the dogs can run free and be dogs."Ogden owns two dogs herself and says they love to act as hosts to the ranch's doggie guests. "It's like a dog party," she says. "They have a great time together." Dorothy Copp, manager of the Mt. Baker Chalet rental agency, in Washington's North Cascade Mountains, says that many of the vacation properties she leases out accept dogs, adding that Mt. Baker is a great place for dogs and owners to vacation together. "A lot of people bring dogs, especially in the summer," she says. "The dog is part of the family."The nice thing at Mt. Baker is that people can bring their dogs hiking with them," she continues. "They aren't allowed in the national park, but they are allowed in the national forest. There are rivers and creeks where dogs can swim and fetch sticks and things like that."Among other vacation spots listed in Great Vacations are Holland Lake Lodge in Condon, Mont., and the Mountain Village Resort in Stanley, Idaho.Once a doggie destination has been arranged, the next step is how to get from here to there with the least amount of stress to you and your pet. Martin recommends traveling by car. She says it is less stressful for dogs than traveling by plane. If you must travel by air, book a non-stop flight so your pet isn't sitting in the baggage area for a long time.Veterinarian Chris Schneider, says most pets do well on planes. "When going to Canada," he says, "proof of rabies vaccination and a health certificate are all that's needed." Schneider adds, however, that vacationing is not for all pets. He says that while social animals may enjoy the trip and suffer from more stress if away from their owners, high strung animals usually prefer to stay in their home environment.Robert Slack, a Spokane, Wash., veterinarian, agrees that some pets are not the best travel companions. He advises driving around with your pet when it is young, to get it used to traveling in the car.When traveling by car, Slack says that it is important to keep in mind the fact that vehicles heat up quickly in the summer. Obviously, dogs should not be left in cars unattended. He also advises keeping your dog on a lead at all stops, especially since many rest stops are near high traffic routes.Vacationing with your dog can be a very rewarding experience - a chance to have fun and bond with your pet. Just remember to treat any place you stay with your dog the same way you treat your own home. That way, if you want to come back, the management will welcome you and your dog back. And just think, you won't have to clean up after a mad pet when you get home.To order Great Vacations for You and Your Dog, USA, call 808-244-4187.Sidebar: Doggie trip tips1. Make advance reservations.2. Bring all supplies: food, bowls, brush, leash and pooper scooper.3. Make sure your dog is wearing tags with your address and phone number.4. Carry proof of vaccinations with you.5. Travel at night, when it is the coolest.6. Make potty and exercise stops every two hours.7. Find out who the closest vet is to where you are staying.8. Take a pet first aid class 9. Keep your dog on a lead to prevent him from going into dangerous areas.

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