Dogs have their days during business trips
Pepper is pampered.
She eats before anyone else and her needs take precedence even over my own personal calls to nature.
With regard to work, Pepper is the most difficult member of the family to leave behind. When I travel on business, she sulks, sitting alone by the door when I depart and sitting in the same spot when I arrive back home.
Unrealistically, I once worried that our now 9-year-old never moved no matter how long I remained MIA.
Talk about guilt.
Luckily for me, my husband Paul quickly assuaged that notion the first time I showed concern back in 2000. He admitted that, although without much enthusiasm, Pepper does take part in daily life when I'm not there. She eats some, she sleeps some and she plays some. But, at the end of the day or when she's not being properly entertained, she sits at the door and waits for me.
Pepper might be just a pet to some friends and colleagues, but to me she is the core member of our family. So, when I can take her along on the road, we are both extremely happy.
I remember our first trip together to a California seaside retreat called Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The perfect guest, my dog was rewarded with her own silver food bowl, a couple of squeaky toys and a cozy little bed made of the finest materials, all courtesy of the management. Staying at this pet-friendly hotel also meant easy access to the local dog park, just a few feet behind the property and only a Frisbee's throw from the Pacific. Even though she never told me, I know Pepper was in dog nirvana during that brief trip.
Unfortunately, it is not often this pampered pooch gets the chance to join me on my business trips -- but the occasion does present itself. In fact, to date Pepper has reviewed some two dozen hotels with me in tow, most of them in the past few years thanks to an increasing number of hospitality companies that realize the value of inviting canine guests. In fact, tens of thousands of hotels, motels, guest lodges and bed-and-breakfasts &Bs around the world now welcome pets to their premises.
So, for other business travelers like me who like to have their dog at their side even when they take to the road, following are some conditions for making that practice prove practical:
• When you book your hotel, ask about specific rules involved with including your pet in your party. Realize that dogs of a certain breed and stature might not be welcomed even when others are. For instance, a miniature schnauzer could be perfectly suitable at an urban retreat whereas a Great Dane might not. An informal survey I conducted of a few dozen hotels showed me that dogs under or around 30 pounds and dogs who do not innately possess aggressive natures are the best hotel-bound candidates.
• Take your canine companion on a dry run to find out if your pet is travel material. Stay at a friend's house overnight and see if your dog can handle the changes he or she must face while living temporarily in a new environment. For instance, constant howling won't be tolerated in a public arena where other guests are rightfully seeking (and paying for) peace and quiet.
• Never leave home without proper identification. Even if your animal is micro-chipped, bring along his or her official papers proving shots and ownership. Also, always keep a current ID on his or her collar with pertinent information that should include yours as well as another responsible person's emergency phone number and address should something go awry and should you not immediately be available to handle the emergency.
• Make sure your itinerary allows you and your pet some alone time, especially before you must depart for a meeting or a dinner engagement. Make your pooch more secure by leaving a piece of your worn clothing within dog's reach and bring along a favorite toy or blanket for added security. Also, each time before leaving, take your dog for a walk to do his or her business.
• Finally, research the Internet for helpful hints and legitimate concerns about traveling with your pet. A good site is www.pettravel.com with its extensive material covering both domestic and international destinations, airline regulations and both short-term travel and long-term pet relocation information.