Updated 10/12/09

New Look and Feel

Alright. We gone an’ done it. Changed our look. Took off the old dress and put on a new one. Why not? The season is changing so why can’t we? The idea struck us when we were visiting one of our past CEOs in a witness protection program. Why not take on a new persona, too? And so we did. Not only has traffic increased but our sex lives have improved dramatically! Well, not really, but we hope that the new look combined with wearing vintage High Karate cologne will help us in that department as well….

But more importantly, we wanted the new look to reflect the good time we have running petswelcome. And so we made it brighter and more fun, which also happens to match the demographics of our visitors–highly intelligent people who like to enjoy life and have a good time, people who take their favorite animal with them when they travel because they know it enhances the pleasure of the journey, which is everything.

We’ve also made the change because it will enable us to add a lot more new capabilities in the up-coming months–more detailed and customized searches, user ratings and feedback, and a wider net of pet travel services. So stay tuned…and PLEASE contact us with any information or functionality you’d like to see on the site to help you and your pet make the most of your travels together.

We’re excited about the future and look forward to hearing from you to help make it more lively, fun, and pet-friendly for all of us.

An Economy Gone to the Dogs…

You can’t avoid it. Every time you open the paper or turn on the TV or listen to the radio or go on the web, it’s the same dire news: The economy has gone to the dogs. The question that we keep asking is, why would anything bad be associated with dogs? It turns out that the expression comes from medieval times when scraps of waste food were thrown to canines from the tables of royalty. It then came to mean anything that has worsened in appearance, character or behavior.

But we think maybe there’s something more profound in the phrase. When things “go to the dogs” maybe the best response is literally to go to the dogs. For example, when you’re up in the middle of the night freaking out about how you’re going to pay the rent or mortgage or make the car payment, who else is going to lick your face and make you feel better? (BTW, if there is anybody else other than your dog, you should really have them institutionalized immediately….). When times get tough, dogs represent a good-hearted and gentle honesty that is a pure tonic to the anxiety around you. Just take him for a walk in the park or around the neighborhood. Or let her run freely in a field and you’ll automatically feel better. Or let them just sit on your lap. You don’t need to spend lots of money on a big fancy vacation. You probably can’t anyway. So just stay local. Maybe you can splurge small and go to a dog-friendly B&B nearby for a night with your pooch, or hit a clean, reasonably-priced hotel that accepts pets and spend some quality time with your “whole” family. We think you’ll find that your batteries will be instantly recharged.

In these tough times, it’s about rediscovering simplicity. So go find your dog who’s probably right now sleeping contentedly in a patch of sunlight. He’ll have a lot to teach you. That’s because every canine is a zen master, warrior king, high-priestess, wizard genius and Nobel laureate when it comes to indulging in simple pleasures. It just takes a bit of hardship for us to see the wisdom of their ways.

So from all of us at petswelcome.com, we say, hang in there. And whatever you can or can’t do, we recommend doing it with your pet. You’ll both feel better for it. So what if the economy is a dog? We think that can be a good thing….

New Mapping Capabilities from Petswelcome.com

Who says we don’t listen (besides our mothers, wives, board of directors, and our cats. Our cats. Can you believe the nerve…)? Anyway, over the past year we’ve been getting plenty of emails asking us for specific improvements in our Search by Route feature. For example, instead of listing every hotel on your route between your departure and destination, you asked for the ability to search for lodgings a specific number of miles or hours into your trip. Well, we’ve done it. Or you can find lodgings in specific areas along the route by clicking on the route. Then you can choose a radius of 1 to 20 miles which will show you all the pet-friendly lodgings in that vicinity. More impressively, in our US Lodgings section, we now offer the ability to turn every city into a map so you can see where each pet-friendly hotel is geographically within a given city. Even better, you can now also flip on pet sitters, emergency vets and kennels in the area so that you and your pet can have access to these important services. And then, in each city, we’re going to bury a hidden treasure worth millions of dollars which will be marked by an X on the map and which you can dig up and become RICH!!! Well, actually, that last part isn’t true, but we promise you’ll really appreciate our new mapping features anyway.

Breaking News: Petswelcome Employee on Probation….

On Saturday, November 22nd, Lola, the CFO of petswelcome.com, graduated as a Therapy dog and is now part of a Good Dog Team (which is comprised of Lola, and her people owners). After four weeks of training, she received her diploma (actually a scarf), and starting next month, will begin serving her “probationary” period, visiting with adolescents in a psychiatric facility in Westchester County, NY, and with senior citizens in Wilton, CT. The training was sponsored by The Good Dog Foundation www.thegooddogfoundation.org, and although they are located in the tri-state (NY, NJ, and CT), there are other organizations located throughout the US. The purpose of a therapy dog team (dog and handler) is to provide comfort to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions wherever they’re needed. Patients can pet or brush the dog, children read to them, and generally take comfort in relating to a loving pet. Dogs should be at least one year old (Lola is 9), and in another few months, if and when he matures a little more, we expect to start working with Charlie (petswelcome’s Director of Corporate Investment).

Google Widget for Petswelcome.com

Got your own iGoogle page? If not, you should look into it. Basically, it’s a personal way to use Google. You can put lots of widgets and things on it to customize your own search page. So every time you go to do a web search, you can also attend to your own needs, interests, and hobbies. And, if you want to find a hotel for your pet, you can put our handy-dandy little widget on your page and you can search from there. You don’t even have to come to petswelcome.com anymore. Think of it: no more suffering through our sophomoric humor. That’s reward enough. Of course, we’ll miss you terribly. But you could still visit to do more advanced searches. And to win free gear and cool prizes. And to click on our “I BELIEVE IN PETSWELCOME” widget which automatically sucks money out of your savings account and puts it into ours. Actually, we don’t have that type of widget, though there were whisperings about “local-level implementation” before our development team left for Tahiti…. TAHITI??!!!

Pet-Friendly Hotels on Your GPS

OK. We’ve done it. We saved our lunch money and bought a satellite and launched it from our parking lot. (The first one went through our neighbor’s bedroom window. The second one took out a water tower. But the third one must have made orbit because it seems to be working…..) Anyway, the whole idea is that now you can download pet-friendly hotels onto your GPS. Pretty clever, eh? We call it our Global Pooch System. Now you’ll be able to find all the pet-friendly lodgings on your GPS while you’re on the road. We give you hotel names, addresses, phone numbers and–most importantly–pet policies so you can find the perfect place for you and your pet. It’s all very Sputnik, don’t you think? Check it out on our GPS Download page.

International Listings

Like Pinky and the Brain, we have come up with a plan TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Not by digitally altering old Mr. Rogers shows and turning his eyes into spinning petswelcome logos. Instead, we have greatly expanded our International Listings section so that you can take your pet everywhere–and we can write off visits to countries like Fiji as business expenses. It’s our job to make sure it’s safe for you to take your pet there. We’re particulary interested in investigating Island Nations, not because of the Tiki Bars, babes, beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets, but because there’s a lot of water there and, if your dog is not a swimmer, we want to make sure he’ll be alright in such an alien environment. How do we do this? We ask the bartenders and waitresses, of course. It’s the working people who thoroughly know the surf and turf (medium rare, please, with an extra cup of butter) of their native country and who give us answers to the tough questions we’ll be asking. We plan on doing the hard advance footwork so you don’t have to. Hey. That’s just the kind of company we are.

WatchDog Club

To celebrate our upcoming 10th year anniversary in June, we are featuring our WatchDog Club section, which highlights Fun & Cool & Unusual Places (bars, restaurants, parks, beaches, bowling alleys, etc.) to take your pet while you’re on vacation. At petswelcome.com, it’s our philosophy that having a fun vacation with your pet entails much more than just finding a pet-friendly lodging, it also involves finding places to take your pet once you arrive. And then there is also the search to find places that serve good martinis. We believe that if you can kill two birds with one stone, even better! And that’s what the WatchDog Club is all about. (Our lawyer, a meticulous Doberman named Ch. Whats-In-It-For-Me, advises us to clarify that when we say, “Kill two birds” we don’t mean real birds, and that it’s a figure of speech and that we love all God’s creatures and don’t mean to offend bird owners or their attorneys who might sue us for slander, etc….).

And so to celebrate, we have updated all the listings and now have thousands of pet-friendly destinations that our visitors have submitted to us over the years. We have put in new software to make it easier to put your submissions up faster so we can keep this section growing and growing until we can realize our sicko ambition of having EVERY pet rest stop on EVERY highway and EVERY pet-friendly cafe, bar, museum and historic place in the country listed. To this end, we need your help. We are therefore giving away petswelcome T-shirts by randomly drawing 5 names each week from those who submit a Fun and Cool pet-friendly place to the WatchDog Club. Anyone who submits will be eligible for a grand prize in June which will be a weekend stay at one of our more luxurious pet-friendly lodgings. Details will be posted on our site next month–once we figure out how to include petswelcome.com employees and family members in on the contest. In the meantime, submit, submit, submit!

People & Pets

One of the best things about running petswelcome.com (besides all the groupies…) is that we’re always finding out about great programs and organizations that work to benefit both people and pets. While we highly respect organizations that help just pets, we’ve found that we’re really inspired by ones that utilize pets to help people. Maybe it’s because we’re selfish, but we’d like to believe that it’s because these programs highlight the bond between humans and animals and therefore capture the essence of our relationship. It’s important to us because that’s what traveling with your pet is about–confirming the mutual reliance between the species which reveals pets to as important to us as we are to them.

One of our favorite programs is Angels on a Leash, the Westminster Kennel Club’s therapy dog program benefiting the young patients at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. We recommend that you check out this fabulous program and also consider donating in the name of your favorite child and/or pet.

Another different, but novel, example we recently found is at the Native Languages of the Americas website. They are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the survival of Native American Languages. Now what’s that got to do with pets? you might ask. Well, they have a program in which, for a very small donation of money or time, they will help you pick out a Native American name for your new pet. How great it that? You get a wonderful and totally unique name for your pet and, at the same time, you’re helping preserve endangered Indian languages. We’re not sure if that’s pets helping people, or people helping pets, or people helping people through pets… But who cares. It all sounds good to us.

Check them out. Two different approaches. But both inspired examples that highlight the incredible bonds between animals and people.

Petswelcome.com Hits the Road

The reason we started petswelcome.com way-back-when was simply to be able to take our dogs and cats with us wherever we went. Then SUCCESS STRUCK! And the new priority became to get discounted rooms and FREE martinis wherever we went–whether we had our pets with us or not. Eventually, we demanded fresh melon balls and Malpeque oysters in every room of every suite and, well, you know, it went downhill from there. Luckily, we had the sense to commit ourselves into the Betty Ford Clinic for Celebrity Pet Site Owners and now we’re on the straight and narrow. No longer do we demand skeleton keys to the mini-bar and happy gas (or whatever it was our dentists used to give us), now we just require PURE pet-friendliness. And so, to celebrate our 1st anniversary free of pillow mints, we’re starting a new series that will report first-hand–beyond the listings on our site–on different lodgings, fancy and not so fancy, so you will get a real sense of where your pet will be truly appreciated. First, we’re heading to New York, and then will be visiting other popular destinations, to report on their real animal receptivity. Stay tuned…

PET SITTERS RULE!

At petswelcome.com, we TRULY appreciate pet sitters. Why? Because they allow us to take our pets on the road with us and not leave them at home. Wait, you’re thinking, that doesn’t make sense. The job of a pet sitter is to watch your pet at home while you’re away. Nope. Not in our book. We use them almost exclusively when we’re on the road. That’s because they are an essential part of the safety net you should have in place when you take your dog or cat on a trip. Let’s face it, you can’t take them everywhere–restaurants (except for cafes) are forbidden by law to allow animals, and most theaters and museums, etc., won’t allow them either. So the next best thing is the peace of mind you get knowing that you have a dedicated professional watching your favorite pooch or kitty.

To that end, we’re spending the month of February celebrating pet sitters. We now have a prominent place on our home page for them to sign up on our site to make it easier for you to find one while you’re away. So, please tell your pet sitter to stop by and sign up with petswelcome.com so we can make their services available to the millions of people who come to our site looking for the vital support necessary when traveling with a pet.

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