Don’t Do It! Costumes You Should NOT to Dress Your Pet In This Halloween

All of us at Petswelcome like costumes as much as the next guy. But there are limits. Really. Especially when it comes to pets. Unlike humans, animals have a certain dignity that should not be breached. They are noble and treat you better than you should be treated, so why dress them up like a roast turkey or a plate of spaghetti? Call us killjoys, but we think this year you should give your dog a break and  let him stay home and watch Lassie reruns while you dress yourself up and parade around as a Poop Factory.

With Halloween just around the corner, we scoured the web to find costumes you should NOT dress your pet in.

dog dressed as walrus1. Rule Number One is that your pet should be able to move. If you decide on a costume like this, then do the right thing and dress yourself up like a ship anchor and be prepared for long night of not being able to answer your door and pulling toilet paper from your prized Jacaranda the next morning.

2. What’s with the long face? You’re a Poop Factory. HaHa! LOL. LMAO. ROTFL. Don’t you get it??

3. If you’re going to dress up your dog like Betty from The Flintstones or Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, the year needs to be 1965. We’ve come a long way, baby. Don’t go there.

4. Hey, don’t get us wrong. Michael Jackson was truly awesome. However, if your dog is going to be the King of Pop, at least pick an earlier, happier period in his life. The bottom line is, despondency and acute benzodiazepine addiction does not a fun costume make.

dressed up lizard

5. This little critter just bit his owner and then justifiably hit him over the head with his metal mallet for dressing him up for Halloween. With his master gone, he is now contemplating the unthinkable: Spending the rest of his life in this stupid costume because there’s no one to take it off. Don’t put your pet in this situation.

dog in costume

6. A good costume is like a good joke: If you have to explain it–“It’s a porcupine and you’re on acid”–you should go with the clown costume.

dog in costume

7. A dog’s face is a good indicator of the choice you’ve made for a costume. Unable to decide whether he’s supposed to be a Christmas ornament, an Ebola virus, Cher, Sputnik, or a piece by Jeff Koons, this poor fella makes one last desperate plea not to go trick-or-treating.

 

Dogs dressed as piano movers

8. Be careful about the effect you’re trying to achieve. Cleverness can be a randy bedfellow. We see piano movers here, of course. Really. You see WHAT???

All of us at Petswelcome wish you and your pets a fun and wonderful Halloween!

 

 

How to Create the Perfect Pet Policy for Your Hotel or Vacation Rental

group of pets

Petswelcome has been in the pet friendly travel business for a long time. But what never ceases to amaze us is the variety of pet policies that can be found in different hotels, hotel chains and rental companies around the country. They run the gamut from those that charge no pet fee and allow all size pets, to those that allow only dogs up to 15 lbs. and charge a $250+ pet fee. Other restrictions might include breed type and the number of pets you are allowed to bring.

With all this unnecessary diversity in pet policies, we decided it was time for us to chime in and suggest the perfect pet policy, one that works equally well for the pet owner and the hotel or rental owner/manager. While it would be easy to create a perfect policy just for the pet owner—no pet fee, all types and sizes of domestic animals welcome, treats and other amenities provided, a staff that is knowledgeable about pets—it’s important to take into consideration the economic and legal realities of property owners as well.

Why be pet friendly in the first place?  There are a lot of reasons, the first being, of course, money. According the American Pet Products Association (APPA), overall spending in the pet industry in 2017 hit sixty-nine billion dollars, up nearly three billion from 2016, and nine billion more than 2015. In addition, sixty-eight percent of American households owned a pet in 2017 (totaling eighty million dogs and approximately eighty-six million cats) and thirty-seven percent of those households traveled with their pet. In short, the numbers are, to say the least, compelling.

Also, recent research sponsored by Merck (a veterinary drug manufacturer) found that millennials are now the largest demographic of pet owners and spend more money on pets than previous generations. They also found that pet ownership is now more balanced between men and women. All signs of an expanding market.

Beyond the hard statistics and demographics, there are other practical reasons for being pet friendly. With the expansion of the pet market, why make a decision to deny such a large and growing customer base? Being pet friendly also creates brand loyalty. If customers have a good experience with their pets at a hotel, there is a very good chance they will return.  In addition, it will inspire them to spread the word about your property with other pet owners, increasing the likelihood of referrals.

So, now that you’ve made the decision to be pet friendly, here’s Petswelcome’s suggestion for the perfect pet policy for your hotel or vacation rental:

1. Allow all size pets

One of the biggest mistakes we see regarding pet policies is limiting the size of the pets. Being pet owners, we understand that large dogs pose no more threat, are not louder or messier or smellier or more likely to break things than small pets. In addition, the Merck study concluded that, among millennials, there is a trend from small dogs toward larger sized dogs. Accept big dogs. There is really no downside.

Big dogs are awesome, too.

2. Allow cats

The other mistake we see is not allowing cats. We’re not sure why. Probably because management believes cats will turn all the furniture into their personal scratching post, or that they’ll urinate on it. Most people who travel with pets are extremely responsible. If they own a cat, most likely it is litter trained. Beyond that, have the guest sign a waiver stating that if there is any damage, the owner is responsible. We cannot stress this enough. Having a signed agreement is a great way to encourage responsibility and eliminate upfront restrictions by holding the pet owner liable only if there is an undue mess or damage.  While we recommend allowing other domestic animals, too, cats are a no brainer. They are small and quiet and usually well behaved. Definitely allow cats.

Accept cats in your pet policy
Accept cats.

3. Do not charge a pet fee

We understand why charging a pet fee seems to make perfect sense. The usual argument is that there are extra room cleaning expenses involved. However, our response is that some very successful hotel chains, like La Quinta or Red Roof or Kimpton Hotels do not charge a pet fee and they seem to be prospering. However, if that argument is not convincing, we again highly recommend a waiver or signed agreement holding the pet owner liable, thereby eliminating upfront fees.

Another thing to consider is the length of stay. If customers are staying for a longer time period, more than 3 days, for example, then a pet fee can kick in. While long stays are common with regard to vacation rentals, the average hotel stay is approximately 1.7 days (or two nights) so it’s not a lot of time for a room to get overly dirty or messed up by a dog or cat. Why start off on the wrong paw by immediately charging a pet fee?

Finally, if you absolutely do need to charge a fee, then tie it in with a good cause, perhaps having a percentage donated to a local rescue group. This approach will not only lessen resentment at paying the extra cost, it might even turn it into a positive. It will also show that you truly care about animals.

4. Provide information about other local pet friendly businesses

When people travel with a pet, they don’t leave their pet in the room or rental every time they go out. One of the big challenges of traveling with an animal is finding cafes and bars and dog parks and beaches and pet sitters and other places and services that allow and/or cater to pets. Pet policies should not only be restrictive and punitive, they should also be positive and proactive. Pet owners will greatly appreciate staff or management that is well informed and responsive to their pets’ needs both in and out of the immediate hotel/rental environment.

Dog at cafe
Promote nearby pet friendly businesses.

5. Set clear rules for housekeeping staff and guests

While most pet owners are extremely responsible, it’s important to set clear rules regarding what their pets can and cannot do. The rules should be commonsense and not draconian. For example, make it clear whether a pet can be left unattended in a room, whether it should be crated, and if housekeeping will be responsible for cleaning a room if the pet is unattended.  Contrary to what you may think, pet owners will greatly appreciate clear and reasonable rules regarding their pets.

dog with treats
Simple perks like treats make pets (and their owners) very happy.

6. Perks. Perks. Perks.

While not absolutely necessary, providing treats or water bowls or dog beds or walking areas or access to pet sitters or dog walkers is always a plus. The golden rule is pet travelers want to feel welcomed not tolerated. A simple treat at check-in will go a long way in achieving that goal. Perks of any kind take you to the next level of what it truly means to be pet friendly.

 

 

 

Does Your Dog Sleep Too Much?

Dog Sleeping

If you spend a lot of time with your dog(s), as we do at Petswelcome, one thing becomes very apparent: Dogs spend a ton of time sleeping. It made us wonder if that’s normal behavior or if it might indicate other issues such as boredom or depression, or even symptoms of possible ailments.

After doing some research, we found that dogs do indeed sleep a lot—anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day, depending on various factors, including age, breed and normal activity level. It turns out that older dogs and puppies sleep the most. With regard to breed, large dogs sleep more than smaller ones, while working dogs tend to stay awake for longer periods due their temperament and the jobs that they are assigned. And, just like humans, active dogs need more rest than those that are sedentary.

With regard to sleeping patterns, dogs are very similar to humans. They move through five different stages of sleep, ending in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep; during this stage their eyes are closed but roll rapidly from side to side as they experience deep dreaming activity.

Two dogs sleeping

The main difference between humans and canines is their sleep-wake cycles. People tend to sleep for a longer duration (7 to 9 hours), while dogs sleep in short intervals throughout the day for approximately sixteen minutes at a time. They also tend to wake easier because they are naturally more alert to the threat of potential predators.

So how do you know if your dog is getting the right amount of sleep? First, if you notice a change in sleep pattern, or your pooch seems very sluggish and apathetic, it might be a sign that there is a larger problem, and you should get them to the vet for a check-up. A change in sleep pattern might also be a reaction to a change in the environment, such as the death of another pet or a member of the family being away for longer than usual.

If your dog snores loudly, it could be that it’s just a loud snorer. However, it might also indicate that it is suffering from sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the sleep cycle, preventing a restful sleep. Sleep apnea is most often found in obese dogs or brachycephalic (or pug-nosed) dogs such as English bulldogs.

No matter what type of dog you have, exercise and play are critical to their getting enough sleep over the course of a day (and night). Some dogs, like sporting dogs or herding dogs, require more exercise, so if you have an area nearby where they can safely run off leash, make sure you get them there on a regular basis so you can be confident they’re getting the exercise they need. Also, playing with other dogs is a fantastic way to expend all that excess energy.

Other factors that contribute to your pup getting enough sleep are having a comfortable sleeping place and establishing a regular and reliable routine of feeding, human interaction, and outside activities. Dogs crave routine, so anything that upsets that routine will interfere with establishing good sleep habits, which are critical to your dog’s health, happiness and well-being.

 

Are Marriott Hotels Pet Friendly?

Marriott hotels, which is made up of more than 30 hotel brands, definitely has a lot of pet friendly hotels. Most of their pet policies within each brand vary from property to property. This means that a pet fee and size limit at a Courtyard in Denver, CO, will not necessarily be the same as a Courtyard in Gettysburg, PA. If you’re trying to find pet friendly Marriott hotels,  you need to do some research.

While some pet friendly Marriott properties charge very high pet fees (up to $250), we’ve found that if you shop around, you’ll discover that there is a wide range of fees and, if you love staying at Marriott properties, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one that fits your budget. To help you get a sense of the variety in pet policies, we did a brief survey of five Marriott brands—Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites—and compared their policies at properties in different locations–as we’ll as a few in the same city.

One of the surprising things we found is that sometimes there is a big difference between the pet fees of the same brand in the same city. For example, if you’re headed to Boise, ID, with your pet and want to stay a SpringHill Suites, you can go to one that charges $150 pet fee or you can go to one that charges $20. Seems like an easy choice, right? Definitely. All it requires is that you do your homework. Or, of course, use Petswelcome who has done the homework for you.

Here’s our brief survey of five pet friendly Marriott brands and their pet policies*:

 

Courtyard Marriott

Courtyard has 85 pet friendly properties. Some of their pet policies are as follows:

Courtyard by Marriott Denver Stapleton, Denver, CO: $100 pet fee, up to 2 pets.

Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center, Portland, OR: $50 pet fee, up to 2 pets, 80 lbs. max wieght limit.

Courtyard by Marriott Lansing, Lansing, MI: $75 pet fee, 1 pet allowed, $40 lbs. max weight limit.

Courtyard by Marriott Gettysburg, Gettysburg, PA: $30 pet fee, up to 2 pets, 50 lbs. max weight limit.

pet friendly Courtyard

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Fairfield Inns have 85 pet friendly properties:

Fairfield Inn & Suites Kansas City Words of Fun, Kansas City, MO: $50 pet fee, up to 3 pets.

Fairfield Inn Boston Dedham, Dedham, MA: $20 pet fee, up to 2 pets, 75 lbs. max weight limit.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Raleigh Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC: $50 pet fee, up to 2 pets, 50 lbs. weight limit.

pet friendly Fairfield suites

Residence Inn

Residence Inn is one of Marriott’s extended stay brand and has 775 pet friendly properties:

Residence Inn Long Beach, Long Beach, CA: $100 pet fee.

Residence Inn Bloomington by Mall of America, Bloomington, MN: $75 pet fee, up to 2 pets allowed.

Residence Inn New York Manhattan Midtown, New York, NY: $250 pet fee, 1 pet allowed, up to 30 lbs. weight limit.

Residence Inn New York Manhattan Midtown/Times Square, New York, NY: $100 pet fee, up to 1 pet.

pet friendly residence inn

 

SpringHill Suites

SpringHill Suites has 21 pet friendly properties:

SpringHill Suites Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel, NJ: $15 pet fee, 1 pet allowed,

up to 75 lbs. weight limit.

SpringHill Suites Boise, Boise, ID: $150 pet fee, up to 2 pets, 35 lbs. weight limit.

SpringHill Suites Boise Park Center, Boise, ID: $20 pet fee, 1 pet allowed.

pet friendly Springhill suites

TownePlace Suites

TownePlace Suites is another extended stay brand and currently has 340 pet friendly properties:

TownePlace Suites Birmingham Homewood Birmingham, AL: $100 pet fee, 1 pet allowed, up to 50 lbs. weight limit.

TownePlace Suites Jacksonville Butler Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL: $75 pet fee, 1 pet allowed, up to 30 lbs.

TownePlace Suites San Diego Downtown, San Diego, CA: $150 pet fee, 1 pet allowed, 50 lbs. limit.

pet friendly Towneplace suites

*please note that Marriott does not always state the number of pets or weight limit for some of their properties.

 

How I Became a Cat Lover: A Tribute

Cat looking friendly

Hey, I love cats as much as the next guy. But you have to admit that there’s an otherworldly, mysterious, and mischievous vibe about them that, if you were initially a dog person like I was, takes some adjusting to. I never grew up with cats (my parents were not feline enthusiasts) but when I bought my first house, a cat came with it. Her name was Jill. We had an uneasy relationship in the beginning, observing each other at a distance as you might a spaceship that ominously lands one night in your backyard. Eventually, though, we developed a mutual liking for each other which deepened to the point that I always spent at least a part of every evening with her ensconced on my lap, petting her and finding a deep contentment that only cats can offer.

As the years went by and my kids were growing up, they brought an alarming amount of rescued cats into the house. At first, it made me feel that we were being overrun or, worse, one of those crazy families that, as my father might have said, had more cats than brains. But no matter how many we had, they always seemed to fit in nicely and added a happy and cozy sense of domesticity to our everyday life.

So cute, right? Yes… and no.

Another thing I love about cats is that they are also great to travel with. That’s why we have a dedicated Cats page on Petswelcome. Because they are small and generally quieter than most dogs, there is less of a chance of a “bad” interaction or reaction from other travelers. And there are plenty of hotel chains that accept cats like La Quinta, Red Roof and Kimpton Hotels. Cats are also easy to take on planes so it’s not a hassle to go long distances with them. Most importantly for me, though, is they offer a little slice of home while I’m sitting in a hotel room in a distant city. All I have to do is turn on a movie and let Stripes hop into my lap and I’m good. Feeling far from home but not far from home at the same time is one of the true pleasures I experience when traveling with a cat.

But, of course, there is that other side to cats which many people find unappealing but is what I like about them most: They mess with our heads. They are independent and do not exhibit the sycophantic traits that dogs do to be accepted into our homes. To the contrary, cat behavior sometimes seems intended to be obnoxious.  Cats expect to be accepted and understand that our reward is to be graced with their presence. Who am I to argue?

So here’s my tribute to cats in all their self-absorbed glory. Long may they keep us in our place.

Cat Karma

My cat stares at me. Would not
be a good character witness
if I ever needed one.
I don’t know why.
I never did anything to it.

Its furry mind rubs against
my patience and its snake-
slit eyes spin daylight into
a spider’s nest of affection.

It strides between my wife and I
like a reason for me not to exist.
And goes next door and smiles
at the old lady who always
gives it sardines. It sharpens
its claws on her welcome mat.
Sleeps in her armchair and dreams
of larger fish in the world.

My cat stacks dead birds like Jenga
blocks and munches on mouse heads
and tiny toads between crisp
butterfly wings. My cat says things
about your mother. That’s right.

Your mother.

Climate Change and Pets

Dog sitting out storm

Now that we’re in the middle of hurricane season, it got us to thinking about climate change and pets and the reality that our weather patterns are drastically different now than in the past. Yes, we’ve always had hurricane threats toward end of summer and in the fall, but they seem to be getting worse: more powerful storms hitting with a frequency that departs from the norms of previous decades. Obviously, the number of high impact natural disasters is one of the results of climate change that affect people and their pets. That’s why Petswelcome created a Hurricane Emergency Preparedness section so that you can be ready when the storm hits. We cannot emphasize enough the need to prepare and have an emergency evacuation route ready ahead of time. As of this writing, Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Carolinas and, as we noted in an earlier article on Hurricane Preparedness, leaving your pet behind is not an option. Finding a pet friendly hotel that you can safely relocate to during the storm is a critical step in ensuring that your whole family will be safe. Shelters are only a last resort and may not be able to accept you once the hurricane is in full force.

Beyond, high impact natural disasters, there are other ramifications when it comes to climate change and pets. Disease is one of them. With the warming weather (we’ve just experienced the two warmest winters on record) comes a huge increase in the flea, tick and mosquito populations which elevate the likelihood of certain diseases such as Lyme disease (which is carried by ticks) in both people and pets. Recently, in the Hudson Valley, where Petswelcome is located, an exotic tick, the longhorned tick, was discovered, one that previously was only found in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  According to the New York Department of Health, it has been associated with various forms of hemorrhagic fever in Southeast Asia, though more research is needed to see if it transmits the same, or any, disease in the US. Other illnesses that are spreading beyond their prior geographic and climatic boundaries are heartworm—which was primarily a problem in the southern US but is now in all fifty states— and West Nile, both transmitted by mosquitos.

Cat and girl watching approaching storm

Another climate change factor that may impact your pet is a longer reproduction season which especially effects cats, potentially leading to an explosion in feline populations. Heat is another issue. Dogs, in particular, are vulnerable to rising temperatures and are more likely to suffer heatstroke unless preventative measures are taken. Also, as climate change affects sea levels and precipitation intensity (causing draughts and/or flooding), people will be displaced, which is never a good situation for animals, potentially leading to large-scale abandonment and/or an inability to properly care for household pets. While these scenarios may seem like science fiction, many of them are already occurring and should be faced with a vigilant attitude and adaptive measures. For example, instead of treating your pet with flea and tick medicine during the “high” season, adopt an annual strategy that covers them throughout the year. Also, be more alert to your animal’s behavior and look for signs of physical impairment that may be caused by climate change and its many consequences.

Finally, as with most subjects, there are two sides to the issue. Did you know your pet might actually be contributing to climate change? Sounds crazy but, according to a paper  by geography  professor Gregory Okin published in the journal PLOS One, dogs and cats are indirectly responsible for nearly 64 million tons of carbon dioxide that is emitted during the production of their food. Because the production of meat—especially processed meat—is a significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, a dog’s carbon footprint is substantial due to the way their food is manufactured and transported. On the other hand, scientist say the evidence is not conclusive that pets do contribute to climate change when compared to other lifestyles. That’s because they foster low-carbon activities like walking versus high carbon activities such a flying on an airplane. We say Amen! to that and suggest that before you trade in your pooch for Chip the Robotic dog, maybe you should sell your 2004 Jeep junker and think about a Kia Soul EV.

I know that, to Jeep owners, it may a seem sacrilege. I own a Jeep and am having trouble wrapping my head around making real sacrifices when it comes to climate change. However, the very hard reality is that times are changing and meaningful action is called for, a reality that we all need to heed for our own–and our pet’s–well-being and security.

 

Five Great Things to do with Your Pet in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Basilica in Santa Fe

Since it’s been a while since Petswelcome last reviewed it, we thought we’d take a fresh look and see if we could come up with five great things to do with your pet in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Known as the “City Different” in the Land of Enchantment, Santa Fe has a unique vibe that offers visitors and their pets lots of great places to visit and things to do.

Of course, there are plenty of pet friendly hotels in Santa Fe, including great chains like La Quinta , Quality Inn and Motel 6, as well as wonderful inns like Alexander’s Inn and the Santa Fe Sage Inn. If pet friendly vacation rentals  are what you’re looking for, then check out Two Casitas Vacation Rentals which offers a great selection of beautiful properties that welcome you and your pet.

View from Sun Mountain Trail
View from Sun Mountain Trail.

1. Head for the Outdoors

As far as things to do, you will probably want to hit the great outdoors, so we suggest hitting the Arroyo Hondo Open Space Trail  which offers 86 acres of beautiful rugged terrain with views of the Jemez and Sandia and which is bordered by a seasonal stream, the Arroyo Hondo, along its southern boundary. Also, the Sun Mountain Trail which starts at the base of Sun Mountain and leads to the summit, offering amazing views of Santa Fe and providing access to 249 acres of open space on Sun and Moon Mountains. If you’d like meet some other dogs and their owners, you can also check out the Frank Ortiz Dog Park which has an off-leash area.

The Nedra Matteuci Sculpture Garden.
The Nedra Matteuci Sculpture Garden.

2. Hit the Galleries

Santa Fe is an artist community, so be sure to check out some galleries. Walk along Canyon Road where you’ll find more than 75 galleries, some with outside exhibitions. And don’t miss the Nedra Matteucci Sculpture Gardens where you can wander around and see 19th and 20th century works, many featuring artists of the American West.

Loretto Line Tours

3. Take a Tour

You and your pet can hop in an open air tram and take in the sites with Lorretto Line Tour Company. They cover an 8-mile loop that includes Canyon Road, the Museum Hill area, the Palace of the Governors among many other locations. Another tour guide is Custom Tours by Clarice, that takes you on a 90-minute romp around town, also in an open-air tram, covering important historic sites as well as shops and restaurants.

4. Eat Eat Eat

After a busy day taking in the sights, you and your pooch will be hungry. If you want to eat like a local, head to Casa Chimayo Restaurante, where you can enjoy New Mexican cuisine on the patio, featuring red and green chile, pozole, flour tortillas, tamales and much more. Also Vinaigrette, a salad bistro, where most of the produce they serve is grown on the owner’s 10-acre farm. Soups, sandwiches and homemade desserts are also part of their healthy offerings. Sage Bakehouse also has a pet friendly patio and serves up tartines (toasted open-faced sandwiches), panini, cold sandwiches and pastries.

Vineyard at Black Mesa Winery
Vineyard at Black Mesa Winery.

5. Imbibe

Santa Fe has many nearby wineries such as the Black Mesa Winery which is 45 minutes from Santa Fe in Velarde. You can hang out on their pet friendly patio and taste their award winning wines while listening to local musicians on Friday and Saturday nights. They even have a feline CEO named Sola. If you’d like to sip wines right in town, there are a number of wine bars including the 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar which allows leashed pets in their outdoor dining area. Also the TerraCotta Wine Bistro located in the historic district near the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, serving great wines at moderate prices, including a Happy Hour that runs all day until 6 pm, offering wines at $6 a glass.

 

 

 

 

Top 12 Weird and Wacky Things People Do with Dogs

Dog and man in sky

I know there are a lot of weird and wacky things people do with dogs. But I keep it on the straight and narrow with mine and, in general, do normal things: go for walks, do road trips, play fetch, roll around on the grass and howl, try to catch birds in our mouths, urinate on my neighbors’ flower gardens, dry hump the living room furniture, etc.  Actually, now that I’m writing this, it doesn’t sound all that normal (and I really apologize to my neighbors…), but that’s my point. The great thing about dogs is that they take you places you wouldn’t normally go, make you do things you wouldn’t normally do without even realizing that it’s very weird behavior. These things include not only organized activities but also daily interactions, things that, while you’re doing them, feel normal but, seen from the outside, look like you’ve been sucking on the insane root. Of course, it’s a two-way street. More often than not, we’re making dogs do things that we like to do—or not do—ourselves and they put up with it because, well, we feed them.

So here, in no particular order, is Petswelcome’s top 12 weird and wacky things people do with dogs.

dogs waiting for dressage
Some dressage fans waiting for the show to begin.

1. Canine Dressage

If you’ve ever watched the Olympics, you’re probably familiar with Dressage, which is a French word that means “two otherwise intelligent and dignified mammals going out of their way to look silly.” Usually it’s done with horses, getting them to do very fancy unnatural steps, prancing as if on tiptoes, going sideward and backwards, or basically making them move like my Uncle Frank trying to find his car in the parking lot after a long night at the Alibi Bar & Grill. But some people do it with their dogs, too. And, as seen in this video it’s positively riveting. Or not.

dancing dogs
Who’s better?

2. Freestyle Dancing

Okay, now that you’ve gotten your breath back, let’s take it one step further and look at Freestyle Dancing.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I judge good dancing, it always comes down to one question: is the dog as good as John Travolta?

Headed for the green room, Dude!

3-6.  Boarding

Turns out dogs are good on boards of all kinds: skateboardssurfboards, and snowboards are three that they seem to have a natural feel for. But I like a dog that takes it a step further and manages the impossible: hopping on a hoverboard without immediately looking like a dorky nerd.

dog and skis
I’d rather ride on your shoulders.

7. Skiing

There are some activities that are really not enhanced when you do them with your dog. Synchronized swimming and Jenga are two that come to mind. And I thought skiing was another. But this dog seems like he’s really enjoying it and has the serene look of an animal that just got to spend a day on the slopes while using his owner as a sofa and making him spring for an absurdly expensive lift ticket. Turns out humans are really gullible. Hot toddies for everyone back at the lodge!

dog doing squats with owner.
This isn’t so hard.

8. Exercising

There are some things dogs are better at than humans. That’s because they’re smarter. Beyond getting your owner to pay for everything, it also includes pretending you’re into working out with him while you’re actually leaning against the wall and getting a good back scratch.

talking dog
Why don’t you go fetch the damn stick?

9. Talent Shows

Talking dogs scare me almost as much as drunk clowns so when I see one at a talent show, I get the creeps. Maybe it’s because we’re putting words in their mouth which, well, is just wrong. What I want to see is a dog that really talks and speaks her own mind. In this case, I get the feeling Miss Wendy would tell Simon Cowell to cut with the fawning, gee-whiz-ain’t-I-cute looks and stick his mic where the sun don’t shine.

dog doing laundry

10. Helping Out Around the House

I’ve taught my dogs to sit, lie down, shake hands, rollover and not to jump on people. Of course, they don’t do any of those things and, on top of that,  I was wasting my time. I could have had them doing the laundry and generally cleaning the house  while I was out on the slopes skiing without them.

dog feeling guilty
I didn’t do it. Really.

11. Feeling Guilty
Feeling Guilty is less an activity than a way of life. An art form. But we’ve included it on this list because people and dogs spend a lot of time engaged in it. In many ways, it’s the glue that binds us. For example, I feel guilty when I have to go out for the day leaving my dogs alone for many hours. They feel guilty when they snarf the Oreos I left on the counter and then regurgitate them on my bedroom pillow. The only difference between human and canine guilt is, since dogs are much more honest and upstanding than people are, they feel more guilty.

dog and man
You will be leaving again soon, won’t you?

12. Reuniting
Next to feeling guilty, one of most common things humans and dogs do together is jump up and down, fall on the floor, howl and drool on each other when, after a long time away, they finally get back together. In my case, because my dogs seem to have no sense of time, it could just be a 30-second absence: walking out the door to my car, realizing I’ve forgotten the keys, and then walking back into the house and being greeted again in a 30-minute love frenzy as though I’ve just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.

We really hope and encourage that you do totally ridiculous things with your dog(s) and would love to hear about them for our next Top 12 list.

Why Dogs Howl

howling dogs

Well, Labor Day is behind us, which means summer is almost over, which makes us sad here at Petswelcome. And when we’re sad, we feel like howling. Actually, when it comes to the doggoes here, Rusty and Hobbes, they actually do howl. Though we’ve got to say that Hobbes howls more than Rusty; Rusty is more of a barker. Hobbes can’t stand it when someone leaves the office, and expresses that with very forlorn and persistent howling.

So back to the passing of Labor Day and feeling like we want to howl–it got us to thinking about why dogs howl. A bit a quick research unearthed the main instigators of howling–loneliness, separation anxiety, communication. It also led us to something more fun and intriguing, research that indicates when canines howl in groups, it’s for enjoyment, kind of a form of musical expression. In fact, researchers posit that canines have a sense of pitch, and when they howl with others (check out this video of a wolf joining in a chorus), they purposely change their pitch so that they are not howling in the same register–apparently everybody wants to be a soloist!

And we know from our own pup pack at Petswelcome that everyone has their own particular sound. Here are some of our favorite howling dogs from youtube: basset hound; vizsla; corgi; doberman; and bracco Italiano.

This also led us to discover that various composers have written pieces that include dog howls and barks in them, including “Sonata with Piano and Dog,” by Kirk Nurock, who performed it on The David Letterman Show.

So if you’re also sad that Labor Day has come and gone, why not make some music with your best buddy? Just get down on the floor with him and howl at the soon-to-be autumn moon!

Pet Friendly Mystic, CT

As the summer winds down to a close, there’s always the desire to get in one more trip, to find a pet-friendly town that offers a variety of activities that will allow you to take advantage of the last bit of warm weather before the cooler days of fall arrive. At Petswelcome, that means heading to the coast, the New England coast, specifically the coastal towns in Connecticut, which are just a couple of hours drive from our office. And one of our favorites is pet friendly Mystic, CT.

pet friendly mystic seaport village
The Mystic Seaport Village.

Mystic, whose name derives from the Pequot term “missi-tuk,” which means a large river that is driven by tides and wind, has a long history as a leading seaport, and was first colonized by Europeans in the 1630s. The story of Mystic’s maritime heritage is preserved and brought to life at the Mystic Seaport Museum, which is situated on the Mystic River and is the largest maritime museum in the United States. The museum is comprised of a shipyard, historic vessels, museums, shops and, best of all for pet owners, a recreated 19thcentury seafaring village made up of actual buildings that were transported to the Seaport from all around New England. We can think of no better way to spend a late summer day than by strolling through the village with your dog while taking in the historic sites and beautiful water vistas that the museum has to offer. Leashed pets are welcome, though they are not allowed in the restaurants, exhibit buildings or on vessels.

There are many pet friendly hotels in Mystic to choose from, including the Harbour Inne & Cottage. Dogs and cats are welcome and there is no pet fee or weight limit. Other pet friendly hotels include the Quality Inn Mystic-Groton  (which accepts dogs up 50 lbs. with a pet fee of $25 per night), the Econo Lodge Mystic-Groton (accepting dogs up to 50 lbs. with a $20 pet fee per night), and the Hampton Inn & Suites  (dogs welcome with no weight limit or pet fee), among many others.

pet friendly snack bar in Mystic, CT
The Sea View Snack Bar.

When it comes to pet friendly dining, Mystic has many options, including the Sea View Snack Bar, which offers delicious fresh seafood, soups and sandwiches with outdoor seating and views of Mystic Harbor. And, if you can’t get enough seafood, you can also head for Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, which is located in New London, about a 20-minute drive from Mystic. For those looking for something other than fish, we recommend Pizzetta Pizza, where you can enjoy soups, salad, pizza and paninis on their dog-friendly patio.

Pet friendly Bluff Point State Park
Bluff Point State Park.

Of course, we’re talking about enjoying the last warm days of summer, so getting some fresh air and exercise should be a priority. To that end you can visit Pequot Woods Park, which is a 140-acre park with hiking trails, a pond and picnic grounds. Bluff Point State Park in nearby Groton is a beautiful 800-acre coastal reserve that has been designated as the last remaining significant tract of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline. It offers incredible views of the Long Island Sound and is a great place to while away the last few days of summer with your best buddy in tow. The Copp Family Park is also pet friendly and is a former family farm with 240 acres of fields surrounded by wetlands and forest. It’s a great place to meet other pet owners as it has its own dog park with chairs, tables and shade trees where you can rest while your dog mixes it up with the locals.

If you’re thinking of a last-minute summer jaunt with your pet, we think pet friendly Mystic, CT, is a fantastic choice that will reward you and your favorite animal with great places to stay, visit and enjoy.