Petswelcome’s Choice Hotels Challenge

Did you know that Choice Hotels has eleven different pet-friendly brands? To celebrate so many great places to take your pet, we’re challenging you to name them all!  Beginning on Monday the 21st, every other day, we’ll post a crossword-style clue about the name of that day’s brand on our twitter. If you know the answer, tweet  us with the hashtag #ChoiceHotelsChallenge. We’ll tweet the name of brand the next day. The participants with the most correct answers at the end of the challenge will be entered into a drawing to win a $200 gift certificate to stay free at your favorite Choice Hotel.

Win a Free Night at Motel 6!

There’s only one thing better than hitting the road with your pet–and that’s not paying for it! The nice people at Motel 6 know this and have offered Petswelcome travelers a free night at one of their motels.

All you have to do to be eligible is create a Petswelcome Passport account. There’s no cost and you will be able to enjoy the benefits membership has to offer, including planning a trip with driving directions and pet-friendly hotels along the way and then being able to save it for access anytime.

You’ll then be entered in a drawing to win one free night at a Motel 6 of your choice (we have 12 nights available!). We like to think of it as the ideal break from a busy life. The perfect respite. Or, as our copywriter, a poodle name Hemingway, calls it, The Paws that Refreshes. Whatever you want to call it, we know you (and your pet) will surely have a wonderful time.

Click here for more details

Top 10 Stupid Holiday Gifts for Pets

It’s that joyous time of the year again. The time when you REALLY get to humiliate your dog, cat, bird, ferret, fish or hamster (hey, humans are Equal Opportunity Embarrassers). Isn’t it enough that you dress your pet up like a sugarplum and take a picture and send it out as a holiday card to everyone you know in the world? No wonder he spends most of the time under the couch during the holidays. However, it’s not only the fear that you’ll dress him up like Councilor Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker, or that Aunt Nadine will drunkenly force-feed him one of her half-eaten rum balls again, but it’s also the dreaded gifts our pets know are coming their way. Not common sense gifts like a good old-fashioned bone or chew toy or cat nip — but strange, frankly scary, objects that could only be dreamed up by the potpourri-addled mind of someone who spends 365 days a year in a Christmas Store. What follows is Petswelcome’s round-up of the Top 10 Stupidest Holiday Gifts for Pets. Just click on the gift name to order!:

1. Twinkling Christmas Tree Sweater: Not only will your pooch get snow kicked in his face by other dogs in the neighborhood for wearing this, there’s also the added bonus of possibly being electrocuted when the temperature hovers over 32 degrees–or by a tippy punch bowl.

2. Yule Doo: Alright. You can’t give dogs stupid presents without some kind of excrement involved. It’s just common sense, right? So why not give him Yule Doo? In case you were wondering, it’s a tree ornament with glittering Doo hung on a satin ribbon. For what? you might ask. Why would I give my dog an ornament? For his tree, of course. Duh??!!??

3. Dog Stars – Astrology for Dog Lovers: This is the special time of year when we can joyfully take the half-baked pseudo-sciences and superstitions that don’t work for us and foist them off on man’s best friend. “Using time-tested astrology principles, this book will help dog owners better understand their pets. Readers will discover what star sign their dog embodies and what breeds are best for their astrological sign.” Uh-huh. Right. Look also for The Wiccan Guide to Dog Training and Your Dog’s Got Aura: A Canine Crystal Companion.

A Dog's Aura: 1.I'm Hungry Aura 2.Table Scraps Craving Aura 3.Dog Treat Craving Aura 4.You Gonna Finish That? Aura 5.Stomach Aura
A Dog's Aura: 1.I'm Hungry Aura 2.Table Scraps Craving Aura 3.Dog Treat Craving Aura 4.You Gonna Finish That? Aura 5.Stomach Aura

4. Santa’s Little Helper Fun Dog Toy: Now, it’s common knowledge that dogs love chew toys. But give them a rubber amputee chicken wearing a Santa hat, a red bra and army boots and, well, there just won’t be a couch big enough for them to hide under.

5. Vibrating Massage Mitt – Kitty Sajer: Cat’s just love being massaged by a faux representation of a dead, and very closely related, feline species. But what about Fido? Is it just coal in the stocking for him? No Sirree: Mitts are also available in Dachshund, Dandie Dinmont, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!

6. Chewgars Dog Rawhides: Holidays are the joyous time of year when vices are enjoyed and shared (and sometimes transmitted), not only between friends and family but also between species! There’s nothing like a big cigar after dinner to bring out that yuletide comradery with a close relative whose name you could never remember until you started Repressed Memory Therapy after the last holiday season. While dogs don’t necessarily join in with the socializing (they sensibly run into the next room with their treat), they’ll thoroughly appreciate you for the time you give them that they don’t have to spend with your family.

7. Johnny Barker Black Lab Canine Beverage: Speaking of vices, why should humans be the only ones allowed to projectile vomit into the Yorkshire Pudding? Dogs are family, too, you know. That’s where this gift comes in. Of course, there’s no alcohol in it (dogs really are smarter than us…). It contains only water, liver powder (donated by your various relatives) and lactic acid. Skoal!

8. Dog, Cat & Owner Christmas Gift Basket:   Nothing says, “I don’t understand you,” better than a gift basket. Hey, we give and receive them from people close to us, so why not to our Best Friend? It perfectly captures the puzzlement you feel when he shoulder rolls into that mysterious feces in the corner of the backyard. Similarly, for him, it captures his own helpless befuddlement when he sits at the bottom of the bed while you’re doing the Rin Tin Tin beneath the sheets. So may the species come together! Give the gift that says, “Huh?” to your pet this holiday season.

9. Doo Lites: Have we mentioned that doo-doo is hilarious.  You GOTTA get one of these.

10. Silly Squeaker-Mr. Poops: Oh, man, we can’t help it. Forget about #9. This is the one. Really.

Kimpton Hotels: A Pet-friendly Profile

(This is the first in a continuing series of articles that will highlight particularly pet-friendly hotels and lodgings, offering an in-depth look at their accommodations, amenities and corporate philosophy with regard to accepting animals.)

When you think “pet-friendly hotels,” do middle-of-the-road lodgings come to mind—accommodations
that are decent and comfortable but never luxurious? Are you resigned to the fact that you have to
forgo high-end ambiance if you’re going to travel with your pet? Well, if so, think again. San Francisco-based
Kimpton Hotels is a collection of boutique properties that will truly welcome you and your favorite animal
without the restrictive policies or additional fees you might expect from such an exclusive brand.


Offering a unique combination of innovative programs and pet-friendly amenities, Kimpton gives new meaning to the phrase “creature comforts.” As soon as you step into one of their beautiful hotels, you’ll realize that they didn’t just jump on the pet-friendly bandwagon—reluctantly accepting cats and dogs to increase their market share. On the contrary, Kimpton takes their pets very seriously (as well as with a creative sense of humor) and they play an important role in their progressive and humanitarian approach to guest care.

“We have always respected the emotional connection between pets and their human companions and know that taking your pet with you on the road can create a more memorable travel experience,” said Steve Pinetti, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “Our creative packages and complimentary amenities add value to each guest’s hotel stay and ultimately set the stage for stress-free pet travel.”


Since the company’s inception in 1981, Kimpton has been host to many unique pet guests from a pet Iguana named “Slim,” at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, to contestants for the Westminster Kennel Club competition at 70 park avenue hotel in New York. Other unusual pet guests have included an aardvark, an albino kangaroo, an anteater, an armadillo, a bear, a condor, a baby cougar, a flamingo, an ibises, a lemur, penguins, a sloth, and a warthog.


All of Kimpton’s 50 unique hotels offer a host of various pet packages and freebies. Their knowledgeable staff
can also provide guests with the inside scoop about nearby parks, dog sitting, walking and grooming, as well as other pet-friendly services and venues. Some of the hotels even employ four-legged “Directors of Pet Relations” who welcome guests with an enthusiastic wag, leaving no doubt about Kimpton’s respect for and dedication to animals.


Over this holiday season, many of the hotels will be offering a Santa Paws Furry Photo Op where your pet can be snapped up-close and personal with the jolly fat man himself. Some of the other inspired pet packages at Kimpton Hotels include:

  • Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge offers a package including a doggie bed or scratching post for cats. Both cats and dogs receive a basket of gourmet treats and cozy fleece blanket. Animals celebrating a birthday will also receive a cake from Polka Dog Bakery.
  • Four-legged guests at Hotel Allegro in Chicago receive star treatment with a bed, food and water bowls, plus a “sWAG bag” including water, snacks, and a keepsake leash. Human companions receive a copy of Dog Massage: A Whiskers-to-Tail Guide to Your Dog’s Ultimate Petting Experience. $5 per reservation is also donated to the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago.
  • New York bound dogs can take Manhattan in style at 70 park avenue hotel by booking the pet package including a stylish doggie bed, basket with treats and toys, dog umbrella, logo dog bone, and for ultimate pampering – a doggie manicure and pedicure.
  • At the EPIC Hotel in Miami, beyond the necessities like a pet bed, bowls and chew toys, dogs and their human companions also receive a stuffed toy welcome gift, plus a choice of two of the following services: “Pawdicure & Shampoo” treatment, one hour of daily play time, one hour of dog walking at Flamingo Bark Park, or massage for two humans. Companions also receive continental breakfast for two in the restaurant daily.

And if you ever have to travel without your pet, Kimpton still has you covered with its Guppy Love program.thu_petvideo_110x1441
Guests staying at any one of the 22 participating hotels can request a live goldfish to stay overnight in their
room. While it might not replace the companionship of your own animal, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Kimpton has done their research and found that watching colorful fish swim gracefully to-and-fro actually calms nerves, reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure, making our fine-finned friends ideal in-room companions. And you never have to worry about caring for your goldfish because the hotel staff is on-hand for daily feedings and care, allowing travelers the opportunity to enjoy stress-free bonding throughout their stay.

With luxurious accommodations, unparalleled openness and fun and unique animal amenities, Kimpton is an inspired choice for a fantastic, upscale lodging experience for your extended human—and non-human–family. Be sure to check our dedicated database of Kimpton Hotels to find one at your next destination.

Off the Beaten Path: Pet-Friendly Rhode Island

When most people consider Rhode Island vacations, they usually think Newport or Block Island. And while they are great destinations, there are a lot of other extremely beautiful and pet-friendly places to visit in the Ocean State.

Our CEO, Smudge Kingsley, recently packed us up and took us on a road trip to visit some of those places, including South Kingstown (in an area known overall as South County) and Jamestown. We stayed at a fantastic bed and breakfast called the Kings’ Rose in South Kingstown. It’s right down the road from the University of Rhode Island and is run by Barbara Larsen-Viles and her numerous Corgis. It’s a beautiful Williamsburg Colonial-revival home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With 16 rooms, three fireplaces and over two acres of fantastic gardens (where you can roam with your favorite animal), it is a great place for both people and pets. Barbara is extremely knowledgeable about dogs and encouraged Smudge and Rilee, a friendly and playful Wheaten Terrier, to hang out at the table while breakfast was being served. The Kings’ Rose is all about old-world charm and extreme pet-friendliness. It gets a serious A+ from our CEO, who does not grade lightly.

Formal dress not required at Rhode Island restaurants.
Formal dress tolerated but not encouraged at Rhode Island restaurants.

Emboldened that Smudge didn’t knock the breakfast table over or try to eat other guests’ scrambled eggs, we headed out to Jamestown, which Barbara claimed had two very pet-friendly restaurants. Jamestown is on Conanicut Island which is connected by a bridge over Narragansett Bay to Newport. Its center is a small town right on the water with an incredible view of the the bridge. Even on a Tuesday night, the place was hopping. We tenuously approached Trattoria Simpatico, a very elegant but casual restaurant with a huge patio bar and tented courtyard. There was a jazz band playing and we thought, no way are they going take a 90-pound dog. How wrong we were! It turns out they love dogs and ushered us to a table right next to a water fountain which Smudge, for the next fifteen minutes, kept sticking his head into. Only once did Smudge try to do what we call a smooge (in which he shakes his head lets copious amounts of drool fly). No one screamed so we assumed it didn’t land in anybody’s clam chowder. Our waiter Kevin was great and kept the food and drinks coming. So there we were, listening to jazz, eating great food, while Smudge remained extremely calm and happy, even barking out approval for the guitar player’s excellent licks. Very cool. A+.

The next night we ate across the street at Tricia’s Tropi-Grille (401-423-1490). Tricia, the owner, is such a dog lover that she came out to greet Smudge while we were waiting to get in. And, once we got to our table, she brought over water and dog biscuits. Together with Bridgette, our waitress, they both took fantastic care of Smudge, who seemed to be getting used to being treated like royalty. Just like at Simpatico, the food was great, although instead of Italian cuisine, Tricia’s leans toward Caribbean and Cuban fare. Can you guess the grade? A+.

Back on the mainland, we headed for historic Wickford and had lunch at the Tavern By the Sea. By this time, Smudge was such a restaurant veteran, we were tempted to hand him the wine list to pick out a nice dry Pouilly Fuisse to go with our clam cakes. As usual, the waiters were extremely kind and attentive to Smudge. Chashtin, who wasn’t even waiting our table, immediately brought over some cool water for him and Drew, the bartender, stopped by to tell us about his big white 100-pound Akita. The food was good and the service was even better. Smudge gave them an A. Even though he was in love with Chashtin, he doesn’t want to seem like a total pushover.

Overall, this part of Rhode Island is one of the most pet-friendly areas we’ve ever visited. With thousands of miles of beaches, harbors, lighthouses, state parks, and historic landmarks, it’s an incredible place for a vacation for you and your pet. Also, we were amazed how every road seemed to lead to Gilbert Stuart’s birthplace. We’re going to make some inquiries because Petswelcome would like to learn that trick on Google.

By the way, we can’t leave out the Cove Fish Market in Mystic, CT, where we stopped on our way home. If your dog loves fried oysters or lobster rolls, he can hang out at one of the 40 picnic tables at their outdoor dining area.

Other places to see and visit in this part of Rhode Island:

Beavertail State Park: A beautiful 170-acre state park in Jamestown. It has a lighthouse, an aquarium, rocky cliffs and an expansive view of the New England coastline. Great hiking and picnicking. It’s free and only requires that you keep your dog on a leash.

Fort Wetherill State Park: Also in Jamestown, Fort Wetherill affords spectacular views of Newport Harbor and the east passage of Narragansett Bay. It’s also free and requires your dog to be on a leash.

Kingston Hill Book Store: This is THE best used and antiquarian book store we’ve been to in a long, long time. Smudge browsed the food books with his beloved mistress, Pam, but luckily found none to eat.

Jamestown and Newport Ferry: Stops at Newport, Rose Island, Fort Adams and Goat Island. A $15 all-day pass allows you to get on and off as desired. Great way to see the lighthouses and the bay. Small dogs on leashes allowed, though the harbor master said the captain could be talked into larger dogs….

How To: Exercise Your Dog IN the Hotel Room

Sometimes it just isn’t feasible to take your dog with you everywhere outside your hotel room when you travel.

Gasp! I know… sacrilege! But think about it. Maybe you’re traveling for a big business meeting, or to check in with your parole officer for that one “what happens in Vegas” moment you’re still paying for. Or maybe it’s just the first date with the out-of-town girl you met online with a super cute photo yet an oddly deep voice.

In any case, these scenarios might be awkward if you have your dog tagging along. Probably not if you show up with your rats though.

So back to the dogs. If you don’t exercise them, they’ll just end up eating the legs off the nightstand at the hotel, and you’re going to have to pay for it.

We have a solution for you, train your dog to exercise in it’s sleep. Not possible, you say? Watch the video below. Now all you have to explain to the hotel front desk are those odd circular-shaped scratch marks in the wood floors.

Do Dogs Get Poison Ivy? & Other Outdoor Concerns

With the onset of nice weather, taking your dog into the wilderness can be extremely rewarding. With all the sensory stimulation the outdoors provides, you’ll see a side of your pet that you might not have witnessed before. Watching him fully engaged, tail wagging, nose to the ground and in the air, prancing back and forth with his tongue lolling is an experience we recommend to every dog owner.

However, you definitely need to be prepared. There are obviously more dangers in the woods and fields than there are just walking him around the neighborhood. For example, what about hazardous plants? Can dogs get poison ivy? Well, the basic consensus is that they are pretty much protected by their coat. The toxic substance in poison ivy and poison oak is urushiol, which is an oil resin. Since dogs mostly come in contact with it by rubbing against it while walking, it will adhere to their coat but won’t touch their skin. It can then however be transmitted to humans if they touch or pet the dog. If you’re in an area and you see poison ivy, it’s best to rub the dog thoroughly with a towel and, if possible, shampoo him with an oatmeal based shampoo. If you do see that your dog has a rash in an area with no fur, you should have him examined by a vet.

Don’t Try This at Home: Our brave CEO Smudge Kingsley doing the “Poison Ivy Test”. Or maybe he’s just happy. Or nuts.

Other things to think about when going into the wilderness with your pet:

  • DO NOT take your dog off the leash. Even if she is well-trained and obedient, she might fly off at the sight of another animal and get lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • If you’re camping, most campgrounds that accept pets require them to be on a 6-foot leash. Many will not allow them to sleep outside and require them to be in a crate or in the tent.
  • Even when leashed, never leave your dog unattended. There’s always the possibility of an unpleasant encounter with other animals or travelers.
  • As discussed, find out about hazardous plant life in the area–not only poisonous but other plants–like cactus–can physically hurt your pet.
  • Be vigilant in checking your pet for ticks, foot injuries and dehydration. Give her fresh drinking water and don’t let her drink from questionable sources found in the wilderness.

Above all, have fun! Though there are dangers, if you’re properly prepared. the rewards outweigh the hazards.