On the Road with Fido
Top tips for a happy and safe vacation with your dog
It’s that time of year when the song of the open road calls. Time to pack up and head out. And, of course, that includes your four-legged best buddy. No need to mention that the entire beautiful state of Colorado, and Colorado Springs especially, is a pet paradise. But having a travel plan is essential when a pup is involved.
Pet owners often fail to consider what’s involved when making the decision to take their beloved companion on a trip. It may not always be a vacation for the dog. Where to go, how to get there, and where to stay are major decisions affecting your pet.
Most important is whether the dog travels well and adjusts easily to strange or radically different environments. Will it be safe for him? Will it be fun for you if all you do is stress? Is the destination appropriate for your critter? For example, most national parks don’t allow dogs on the trails, limiting them to on-leash activities in campgrounds, picnic spots, and parking areas.
First and foremost is to know what’s best for your pet. All dogs are not created equal when it comes to travel. “I believe in treating every pet as an individual,” says Dr. Katherine Wiedmann of Aspen View Veterinary Hospital. “What’s best for your pet may not be what’s best for mine. While some dogs live for car rides and hiking 14ers, others can be quite reserved, and these experiences can induce unwanted stress and anxiety.”
If your dog is not a seasoned roadie, whines constantly in the car even on short trips to the grocery store, is nervous or fearful, Dr. Wiedmann suggests leaving him in a trusted boarding kennel or with a familiar caregiver. Sometimes you just have to love your homebody pup enough to leave her home.
It goes without saying to never, ever travel with your dog in the back of a pickup truck or leave her unattended in the car.
Our pets are precious cargo, and safety comes first. When all of your pup’s ducks are in a row, you’re good to go.
Doggie Rules of the Road; Your traveling puppy dog should…
…love riding in the car.
…be microchipped and have ID tags.
…sit in the back seat wearing a harness that’s locked into the seatbelt or be in a crate or behind a barrier in the car.
…have up-to-date immunizations.
…have plenty of water, food, and a bowl.
It used to be that finding lodging that accepted animals was nearly impossible. But today, with pets emerging as a huge customer demographic and owners who suffer separation anxiety without them, taking them along is part of the fun.
Finding Room at the Inn
With pet travel on the rise, the hotel industry is rolling out the welcome mat. Hotels, from luxury to budget, want this business and are luring furry travelers with luxury perks. As you travel throughout Colorado, here are some very doggie-friendly hotels to consider, where nothing is spared to pamper your pet.
• Aspen: The Little Nell, named after a miner’s paramour in the 1890s, isn’t so little. But it’s a five-star, five-diamond hotel, and pets get five-star treatment. The hotel provides doggie guests with personalized brass ID tags, epicurean treats, special in-room dining selections, and food and water bowls. Plus pet beds, dog walking and sitting service, and even a puppy jet lag kit to help them adjust to the altitude. Pet fees include an initial $125 cleaning fee plus $25 per night. www.thelittlenell.com
• Colorado Springs: The Broadmoor needs no introduction but its elegant pet program may. Animals have always been a part of the hotel’s history, dating back to its founders, Julie and Spencer Penrose. Today, in the spirit of Julie’s beloved poodle, Pitty Pat, the hotel provides its four-legged guests with such amenities as ID tags, beds, food and water bowls, and special gourmet, in-room dining choices from the Pitty Pat Menu. Pet fees are $50 per pet per night, two dogs maximum. www.broadmoor.com
• Estes Park: The Stanley Hotel, just minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park, welcomes guests with dogs in The Lodge adjacent to the main hotel. Pet beds, bowls, and treats are provided. Fees are $75–$125 per night, two dogs maximum, plus $100 cleaning charge. www.stanleyhotel.com
• Beaver Creek / Vail: The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch loves to pamper its four-legged guests. The doggy VIP pack includes overstuffed beds, dog bowls, and special treats. You can also opt for an in-room, 25-minute dog massage and light bath. A special pet-approved menu includes gourmet meals hand-prepared in the resort’s kitchen, such as top sirloin, scrambled eggs, and jasmine rice. Fees: $125 for the first three nights, and $25 per night thereafter. www.ritzcarlton.com
Gear Up: Be sure to bring along some of your pet’s favorite toys, and a few of these helpful items.
1. Orvis Dog Weekender Travel Kit: Yes, dogs have baggage, too. This lightweight, airtight, nylon canvas bag can hold enough dog food for a weekend adventure and comes with two collapsible bowls for food and water plus extra pockets for other necessities. $79, orvis.com
2. Sleepypod: Mobile Pet Bed: The Sleepypod does triple duty: It’s a comfy pet bed that can be your little doggie’s main nap spot. With the zip-on dome cover, it’s an easy carrier, and the seatbelt straps make this a safe and cozy car seat. Accessories include a mesh hammock attachment for the summer months and an in-bed warmer for winter. Sleepypod (up to 12.5 lbs.), $190; Sleepypod Mini (5 lbs or less), $170, sleepypod.com
3. Never Travel Alone: Show off your pride of pup with car magnets and trailer hitch covers that proclaim your devotion to touring the countryside with your best furry friend. There’s an option for every activity: hike, camp, run, RV, and many more. Magnets $6, hitch covers $18, dogisgood.com
4. Clickit Dog Harness: Attached to a seatbelt, this harness is designed with three points of contact to distribute any force created by sudden stops. Outside of the car, it’s a comfortable walking harness and features reflective strips for nighttime visibility. $70–$90, depending on size, sleepypod.com
5. BarkbathPortable Dog Grooming & Bathing System: Nobody wants muddy paws (or worse) in the truck, tent, or trailer, so a portable way to bathe your baby is key. This personal dog spa works like Bissell’s carpet-cleaning products, with nozzles that get down to the skin and a tank to collect the dirty water. And it saves water; one 40-oz. tank can wash an 80-lb. dog. $130, amazon.com