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(US MA) Animal Tails: Taking your pets on the road July 31, 2005 7:43 AM

http://www2.townonline.com/mansfield/opinion/view.bg?articleid=296392 By Dot and Bill Gerber Jr./ Animal Tails Friday, July 29, 2005 This past weekend Dot and I went to visit our son and daughter-in-law, and of course our two-year-old grandson in New Jersey. Now we have three options when we go away. The most desirable, and cheapest, is to have my folks dog and house sit for us, which is what we did this trip. Thanks again Mom and Dad! They feed the dogs, sleep over so we know they are OK, and Dad spoils them rotten with constant attention and treats. The second option is to have our friend Jennifer (if you want a sample of the excellent care and attention she give our dogs she is a waitress at LaDonna's Restaurant, she can feed you too) sleep over and care for the dogs and we use Jen for the same reason we use my folks. Jen is our number two choice only because we don't need to pay Mom and Dad, we just leave lots of food and treats for my folks. The third option is take the dogs with us but unfortunately the kids house is tiny with barely enough room for the three of them and the two cats. My cat allergy allows me to spend a couple of hours with them each day but sleeping with the cats would require too many antihistamines to allow me function driving home (especially in the traffic on Route 95 in Connecticut). As a result we stay at the Hampton Inn about five miles from the kids house. The Hampton Inn is "Pet Friendly" meaning they allow dogs and cats to stay with you in your room, however an additional housekeeping charge is added per animal for each night of your stay to cover the extra cleaning costs. This is only fair since the pet hair requires extra effort to vacuum up and the next person in the room doesn't want your dog hair on them when stay there. Thanks to "Pet Friendly" establishments it's possible for us to take our regular pet sitters, Mom and Dad and the three dogs with us to New Jersey for events like our son's wedding. After all the dogs think our son is their brother (OK that's my fault because I told them he is and they don't forget a thing). So how do we find "Pet Friendly" place to stay when we travel? There are a lot of sources, the first and foremost is the AAA books. I can't believe that anyone under 50 who travels isn't a member of the AAA. The discount from a one-night stay in a four-diamond hotel pays for the membership and the maps and guidebooks are worth their weight in gold, or is gas worth more than gold now (more on that later)? The guidebook lists the features a hotel has and one of the categories is "Pets Welcome" so you can scan hotels in the area your going to looking for the "Pet Symbol." For those of you don't belong to the AAA the Internet is the source you want to refer to. Many Web pages; www.travelpets.com, www.petswelcome.com, www.dmoz.org/Recreation/Pets/Travel, and www.solotravelportal.com/trtravelwithpets.html among them list hotels by state that allow pets to stay in their rooms. Now here is my list of tips for you to follow when traveling with your dog or cat. Call ahead to reconfirm the hotel is still pet friendly the hotel may have changed management or policies since the listing you found them on was prepared. Ask what restrictions or fees the hotel requires for your pet. Some limit dogs to a maximum weight, so your Bull Mastiff may not be welcome. Try to get a ground floor room so you can get outside quickly without having to navigate the elevator. Bring our dog's bed or some blankets from home for them to sleep on and cover any furniture the pet may lie on. We bring towels for the couch and chairs in the room and a blanket for the bed since our "babies" are use to lying on the furniture. Check with your vet before you travel to make sure all of the shots are up to date and bring copies of the vaccination papers with you (we keep a set in the glove box of the van at all times). Keep your pet on a leash in public areas since no matter how friendly your pet to people some people are not that friendly to pets. Some people are scared to death of dogs or very allergic to cats and you need to keep your pet away from them. Bring treats for rewards since the trip is going to be hard on your baby and they need to be rewarded for being a good little traveler. Now some "common sense" things that unfortunately we have seen some people do either do to a lack of common sense or just stupidity. Don't take your dog swimming in the pool. Even Dot would have a fit if she saw you do that. Don't leave the pet alone in the room. Someone needs to be with the pet at all times, so this means one goes to bring back carry out food or call room service or take the pet with you. Excessive barking or a startled housekeeper will send you and your pet packing earlier than expected. Don't let you pet use flowerbeds or manicured landscaping for the restroom even if you poop scoop. In closing, if you think a gallon of gas at $2.45 is expensive Whiteout is $25.42, Brake Scope is $84.48, Pepto Bismol is $123.20, Vick's Nyquil is $178.13, and the real kicker for me is Evian Water, who ever thought that we would be so gullible to buy water at $21.19 per gallon, and they tell us that they don't even know the source! So we've covered cars, next week we'll look at travel with pets on trains and planes. Dot and Bill Gerber have access to vets and animal experts and Bill is on the Mansfield Animal Welfare Committee. They welcome your questions to this column and you can e-mail them to W.GERBER@verizon.net or mail them to 362 Central Street, Mansfield, MA 02048.  [ send green star]
 
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