One of last week’s most disturbing headlines was that of a young dog that died in the overhead compartment of a United Airlines plane. I cannot imagine what the flight attendant could have been thinking, or if in fact, the airline had instructed and endorsed such a policy. I can certainly understand that the airlines are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of customers wanting to fly with their pets, but putting a living creature in a closed compartment is beyond comprehension. I’m afraid that had I been in the shoes of the dog’s owner, I would have been dragged off the plane and arrested before it took off, or at least have made a scene worthy of an internet sensation.
I am a very big advocate of traveling with dogs, and it is getting easier as it becomes more acceptable. But whether you’re flying or driving, it does require some planning and preparation. First and foremost of concerns is the safety of your pet and that of people or other animals with whom he may come in contact. That includes, of course, how he is being transported. I have never flown any of my pets, but personally, I would not transport my animals in any way that involved them being out of my immediate control. Unless your pet fits in a proper carrier that is stowed under the seat in front of you, I would have serious reservations about flying them on commercial airlines. There are small companies that specialize in transporting animals by air, which is probably a safer bet if the necessity arises.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip with your pups:
- There are many hotel chains that now allow pets, but most are limited to one pet and/or have weight limits. If you’re stuck, Motel 6, although not fancy by any stretch, is generally welcoming to you and your pets of all sizes.
- It also helps to plan your route around at least one good exercise stop. The rest areas on the interstates, like 95, are generally small and crowded. It’s also a good idea to leash your pets before you open your car doors when you’re in situations like that; an escapee at a highway rest stop is very dangerous.
- Generally there are state and community parks readily accessible if you take the time to look them up; remember those things called maps? You know, you get them from places like AAA; we used to use them before navigation systems and Siri guided us to our destinations.
- Aside from safety, make sure you have your pet’s vaccine records and a “go bag: with food, water and medications readily available.
- Beyond that, you simply have to give a little more thought to what your activities are going to be and how having the dog with you will affect them. If the weather is good, as soon as you get out of New Jersey there are many restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. You may need to make some kennel arrangements if you have any special non-pet-friendly events planned, but even Disney makes that available now.
It’s been a long winter but it’s time to start breaking out of that cabin fever. Don’t use the dog as an excuse to stay in that rut – pack your bags and take him with you!