While traveling with my two daughters in Delaware, I decided to stay at a little B&B called the Lazy L at Willow Creek that was advertised as “dog-friendly.” I do not have a dog, but I have two girls who love dogs, so I thought this might be a great place to stay. Plus, the inn had a swimming pool, a game room and the option for kayaking in the adjacent tidal marsh.
Upon arrival, not a dog was to be spotted. As it turned out, all dogs and their owners were out at the beach or walking around the local seaside towns of Lewes, Rehoboth and Dewey enjoying the June sunshine. But by dinner time the canines started to appear with their people in tow. There was Maggie, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the two Corgis, Cornelia and Cork, and an upstate New York family of three who were outnumbered by their dogs two-to-one (Ping, Putt, Morgan, KC, Fritz and Peanuts). We were the only people at the inn without dogs — thus inciting a tongue-and-cheek comment from one dog owner that my kids were welcome as long as they were on leashes! The truth is dogs and kids are probably more alike than not alike and it takes a special hotel to truly accommodate either. And accommodate dogs, the Lazy L B&B does.
At the Lazy L, dogs are allowed nearly everywhere that people are — even on the beds. There is a note left for dog owners that if Fido likes to sleep in the bed to please use the dog sheet provided to protect the linens. There are also clearly marked dog towels in every room, as well as a special doggie shower outside (adjacent to the people shower) that has luxurious doggie shampoo and conditioner – and again special dog towels. Dogs are invited to breakfast (although they should have already eaten) and they are encouraged to use the fully fenced large grassy doggie run. Tasty dog treats are also available in little treat jars.
In the rooms is a guest handbook that offers guidelines for doggie etiquette while staying at the hotel. As a non-dog owner, I was very impressed with how well-behaved all of the canines were, so obviously there is such a thing as doggie etiquette – and it works. At breakfast this morning, we had eight dogs dining with us on the porch and all were very well-behaved. For the record, my children were well-behaved too.
Turns out being a doggie hotel is good for business. When the owners of Lazy L, Joanne and Debbie, bought the inn eleven years ago, they, as pet owners themselves, wanted to open the bottom floor to dogs, but then they decide to go full monty and open the entire inn to dogs and their owners. This was an excellent business decision as not only are they nearly always full, but they have many devoted customers (about 75 percent) who return year after year.
Many hotels, especially motels, will accept dogs, but opening up to canines is usually an afterthought. “What I like about the Lazy L B&B,” said Maggie’s owner, Warren Risk from Pennsylvania, “is that the Lazy L completely has dog owners and their needs in mind.” Another patron at the inn commented that unlike the Lazy L, many hotels that take dogs give you the ugliest and oldest room, which is usually not a pleasant experience.
During our visit, we also learned that the beach area of Delaware is extremely dog-friendly, by American standards. There are many restaurants that allow pet owners to bring dogs to dinner, and there are numerous pet-sitting services, groomers and even a do-it-yourself Wag and Wash (like a car wash, but for dogs with different stations, soaps, conditioners and grooming tools). New Jersey’s Ocean City, which is just across the border is conversely very pet unfriendly. So, it is no surprise that dog owners, like those we met at the Lazy L B&B, sing praise for this area’s dog-friendly policies as it is no fun to leave one of your family members behind when you go on vacation, just because s/he is is a four-legged, tail-waggin’ pooch.
So, if this article is inspiring you to travel with your dog, but Delaware is too far of a drive, consider visiting two great websites that list pet-friendly hotels around the world: BringFido.com and PetsWelcome.com. Both websites allow users to search for pet friendly hotels wherever they plan to visit. PetsWelcome has a great feature that allows you to search by “route” and find not only pet-friendly hotels but also other services such as emergency vets in the area you are visiting. BringFido has the additional feature of allowing you to search for local dog parks, hiking trails and beaches as well as dog-friendly campgrounds and vacation rentals.
Next page: Doggie Travel Tips