When Erin Calabrese and Stella Sensel married at Cape Cod, Massachusetts on a beautiful July afternoon, accompanying them down the aisle were friends Rufus and Pepper. But these two differed from the couple’s other attendants: Rufus and Pepper are Boston Terriers. They and Jack Russell Terrier, Kahlua also honeymooned at Provincetown’s dog-friendly Captain Jack’s Wharf with Erin, a journalist, and Stella, Manager for Halloween Adventures.
According to recent statistics from the U.S. Travel Association (travelhorizonsTM), nearly 50% of national adult leisure travelers view pets as “family.” Almost 20% include pets in travel plans, a fact not un-noticed by the travel industry across America, including Kimpton hotels.
“We know pets are a part of the family,” says General Manager Ericka Nelson of Manhattan’s Muse, near the theater district. “Whether it’s arranging for organic treat delivery, mapping out walking routes or recommending pet-friendly restaurants in the area, we do everything we can to make our guests, regardless of size or species, feel right at home.”
The Muse’s Director of Pet Relations, tea-cup Pomeranian Ginger, assures that visiting pets receive treats, water bowls, and toys. The Muse also recently offered a "Free to Be Just You and Me" honeymoon package in honor of New York’s same-sex marriage legislation; numerous canine guests joined the festivities along with their newly-wed humans.
Like Erin and Stella, Steven Lindsey and partner Rod, of Dallas, Texas, travel with a terrier, Kendall. “Of our four dogs,” says Steven, business owner, editor, and freelance writer, “Kendall’s the most social. She loves everybody and everything. She’s also a really good traveler.” The couple only takes Kendall when they travel by car, and she burrows under blankets in her crate on the back seat.
Kendall’s travels have not included a honeymoon, yet. “We've been together 18 years,” Steven explains regarding his and Rod’s relationship, “but we're not having a ceremony until it's (same-sex marriage) legal everywhere.”
In, Goshen, Virginia, dogs such as Kendall would be welcome too, at Patty and Dan Harrison’s Hummingbird Inn. A special first-floor accommodation has direct access to extensive lawns were dogs can run, and pets receive a treat basket, bowl, special towel, and rug. Dan and Patty go even further. “Recently,” Dan says, “we walked a dog for guests while they were out to dinner.”
For those preferring rustic locations, the historic C.O.D. Ranch in Oracle Arizona is ideal. It is believed that C.O.D. initially stood for “Come On Down,” and that invitation includes dogs accompanying their couples in the Round House, the Ranch’s dog-friendly accommodation overlooking the Santa Catalina Mountains. “There are no extra fees for dogs, and no limit on breed or size,” event coordinator Stacy Raneri explains.
In the southwest, Santa Barbara’s island-reminiscent Canary Hotel has history behind its dogs-welcome policy too. The hotel’s website explains that the name “Canary Islands” probably stems from Insula Canaria meaning “Island of Dogs." Accordingly, Canary Hotel’s canine service is called “Club Canario,” and four-legged visitors’ packets include a limited edition Canary Hotel collar tag.
Partners Louis and Alan of Northern California say they don’t vacation anywhere unless five-year-old Carin Terrier Hairy Putter goes too. But usually, Hairy takes them, through his job as Director of Barketing with promotional firm Visit Mendocino County, Inc. “If we start to pack to go someplace,” Louis says, “he starts looking for his suitcase to be sure he is going.”
Because of Hairy’s work, that suitcase is huge, with contents including his sunglasses, five or six collars with matching leashes, hair brush, his black bowtie, and white bowtie, once worn by Cher, Louis says.
With the increasing advent of states passing same-gender marriage legislation, weddings and honeymoons are being planned, and venues are preparing for these couples and even their dogs. Included is Kathleen Mandevelle, owner of Kathleen’s Barn in Tivoli, New York. “Dogs are no issue,” she says. She once hosted a couple with seven greyhounds.
The rustic fully-equipped barn retreat is surrounded by acres of roaming space, a pond, and stream, making it an ideal setting for a rural honeymoon. A wedding too, as Kathleen is a wedding officiate, with a 25 year-background as an Episcopal priest. And, she says she’s thrilled to have couples’ dogs in their weddings.
Canine Travel Tips
There are tricks to traveling with dogs, and Steven Lindsey advises, “If the dog is riding loose, I recommend a doggie seat belt. I think the biggest thing when thinking about traveling with a dog is to consider the dog’s comfort and safety first.”
Louis recommends a product Hairy Putter uses, a dog water bowl, with wide rim to prevent spilling, designed for a cup holder. “Now when we travel, Hairy has his own water at his level in the car.”
In any area of the United States same-gender couples might choose for weddings, honeymoons, or vacations, venues are increasingly opening doors and hearts to those couples and their pets.