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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Published: 2/23/2003

Traveling with pets has gone to the dogs

An experience at a Georgia motel well illustrates the traveling with a pet question.

We pulled into the motel driveway and I walked up to the registration desk, where I was greeted by a woman so sour, she must have been sucking on a lemon in the back room.

I don't remember ever being as tired as I was that evening. Still, I mustered a smile and asked for the senior rate, which I knew because it was on the billboard. The clerk was courteous until I asked, “Do you take dogs?”

She gave an emphatic negative and then asked, “How much does it weigh?”

Fifty pounds, I lied, still smiling.

“Has to be 20 pounds or less before we will consider it,” she said.

My smile was erased and replaced with a puckered quivering lip. Where could we go, we are so tired, it's dark, and I don't like to drive after dark. Does she have any suggestions?

The clerk said we could stay, in a room on the back side. She also raised the rate.

I did have the courage to ask what difference the dog's weight makes. She explained that if a heavy dog got on the bed it might hurt the springs. Really! Besides, other guests might be afraid of big dogs.

Believing that Digby is handsome and wonderful, though overweight, I said to the woman who seemed to be mellowing, “Would you like to see my dog? He's right there in the back seat. Isn't he cute?”

“No. I hate dogs.”

That ended our conversation, and Digby and I slipped into our room at the back of the motel and were out of there at 5 a.m. the next day.

It is difficult to travel with a dog, but we love them, so we keep trying. We also understand that not all dogs are as wonderful as ours.

References in travel guides are not always accurate. I bought a book that lists only lodging that accepts pets. I made reservations at two of the listings, and by the time I got to both of them the policy had changed. After one of those refusals, when I was wandering around that city looking for a place, a desk clerk said if she didn't see me take the dog in it was OK, but otherwise it was against the rules.

In Alabama, Digby and I stopped at a large motel chain. On the registration desk, a large sign read “No Pets, $50 fine.”

I drove another 100 miles that night in driving rain and finally found a motel that would take us, for a $25 nonrefundable surcharge.

A happy note in the travel journal is about an inn at Jackson, Tenn., where we stopped mid-day to rest when I thought a case of shingles was returning. Lo and behold, they loved dogs, and invited Digby into the lobby for a drink of water. We stayed two nights. He is also welcome at a motel in Toledo where we often meet other dogs on evening and morning walks.

Making arrangements to take the dog with you by plane is difficult. Again, small dogs can fit under the seat in a container, but larger dogs must go in cargo. Some airlines have an embargo on shipping animals at this time of year because of the temperature in the cargo compartment. In addition to the fare for the animal, there is the cost of the container and veterinarian health records.

Traveling with a pet is definitely a problem. I have considered buying a motor home. The solution could be, if you travel, don't own a dog, or if you do have a dog, and travel, leave the dog at home, but you know what dog lovers say; “They're like family.” We believe it, and so does the dog.



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