Spike goes West!

Hi everybody!

Sorry I haven’t updated here in a while.  Frankly, I have been somewhat uninspired to write anything of substance even though there’s plenty I have wanted to say.

BUT!  Today, I have a very exciting announcement!  My boyfriend and I decided to take a two week vacation up the West Coast.  Initially, I was just going to have friends look after Spike, but when I started stressing about having all the days covered, I just said, “What the heck?” and decided to book him along with us.  I know some of you might be thinking that we’re crazy, and I certainly did at first!  But once we started doing some research, we found that it is actually very doable.  I mean, some parts of California have more dogs than children – I think we’d be welcome there, don’t you?

The main issue for us was that, if we plan a day out a particular way, we might run the risk of getting turned down at an establishment or park because we have a dog.  That would really be the pits, don’t you think?  So after doing a (literally) 5 minute Google search, we found that California, Oregon, and Washington are particularly dog friendly – seemingly more so than Boston!

So, rather than stress out and make a big deal out of it, we (the ever considerate, level-headed boyfriend and I) talked about it and decided it’s going to be fun no matter what we do!  There are dozens of dog parks, beaches, boutiques (like, seriously, I thought Newbury Street had a lot…), and even some events that come around once a year celebrating dogs!

Our philosophy going into this is to plan as much as we can, and just wing the rest.  There are so many things to do on the West Coast, we’ll be able to find something that’s dog-friendly.  But mostly this will be a great experience for us.  Whether it turns out well or not, we’ll learn a lot about traveling with a dog, and a lot about each other.  And I won’t have to stress about who’s taking care of Spike on what day.

If you’re thinking about traveling with your dog, there are plenty of things to keep in mind before you go.  If you make sure you’ve got them covered, you should have a good time!  Here are some of them:

1)      Make sure your dog is properly vaccinated for the region you’re visiting.  Even if it’s inside the United States, there are some places that are more stringent on their vaccination rules than others.  It’s essential to have Rabies, Bordetella, and DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) if you’re planning on boarding, but some regions have additional requirements.

2)      Know how you’re going to get to where you’re going.  Is your dog small enough to travel in the airplane with you?  I don’t recommend sending pets as cargo – it is extremely stressful, and I’ve heard too many stories of negligent air staff and sky high temperatures that don’t turn out well for the traveling pet.

Even if your pet is small enough to go as a carry on, are there limitations associated with the airline you’re flying?  Does your pet bark or freak out uncontrollably when confined to a small carrying case?  If so, you might want to check out some other options including driving, taking a train or boat, or even Pet Airways, a private airline service that has individual crates right in the cabin JUST for pets.  It’s a pretty cool service, and I would definitely use it if I had a bigger dog or multiple pooches!  Check it out!

Traveling in comfort and style for Pet Airways’ “paw-ssengers”!

3)      What are YOUR pet’s needs in relation to your trip plans?  Do you have a ten year old mastiff who tires easily and are planning a trip filled with hiking and extreme sports?  Or a six month old rat terrier who’s almost-but-not-quite potty trained and are booked at an 1800s B&B with expensive antique furniture and ten o’clock tea and quiet time?  Try to have realistic expectations when thinking about bringing your pet with you.  If you don’t think Henry will be totally comfortable in this brand new environment, it’s best to leave him home and have a sitter look after him until your return.  Don’t feel bad about it!  There are some doggie hotels and pet sitters that I’m almost jealous I can’t be at while my dog is there!  Where’s MY ten minute tummy rub and bedtime biscuit??

4)      DO THE RESEARCH.  I cannot stress this enough.  Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a place where you can bring your dog into a restaurant with you.  But keep in mind that there are many cities that are way behind the times when it comes to laws concerning dogs in public spaces.  Do a quick Google search titled “Bringing a dog to X” and you should get some good results with hotels, stores, and parks that are dog friendly in that area.  It will also tell you what to watch out for if you’re expecting everyone to be super friendly towards your pup: you may be disappointed.  Some places require certain breeds to be muzzled at all times in public, and some places do not allow certain breeds on the streets at all.  Be aware of this.  I don’t agree with breed-specific laws, but I would hate to see someone and her dog suffer because of a lack of information.

5)      Most importantly, don’t stress too much!  Your dog can read you like a book, and I would be lying if I said Spike hasn’t been feeling the effects of my attitude these last couple of days.  I’m trying to be as open minded as possible, and being prepared helps a lot!  I am armed with a multitude of pages and websites that offer information to people traveling with their dogs, and dog-friendly establishments in California, Oregon, and Washington.  The best thing that will come out of this is that I can say I traveled with my dog and it was fun!

Spike loves his little travel bag! This was at the Logan International Airport last May.

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