Hit the Road Jack... Russell
By Brian Fischler
A relative of mine recently asked where they could get a dog harness like the one I use with my guide dog Nash. I chuckled and told them -- Sorry, pal -- but these harnesses are only for service dogs.
Hey, being blind has to have a few advantages! The biggest is having Nash, my yellow Lab, go everywhere with me including planes, public transportation, hotels, even cruise ships. That’s right -- he gets to go everywhere with me!
Automobile of America Association (AAA) and Best Western recently conducted a study about pet owners, their travel habits with their pets and favorite destinations.
Fully one half of all pet owners would take their pets with them on all vacations and trips if they could. No surprise here, as we all know that pets need vacations too.
One quarter of all pet owners admitted sneaking their pets in to a motel or hotel. Again, this number is not very surprising as how many people sneak a car in to a hotel or motel parking lot, and I hate to think of all the other things people are sneaking in.
According to AAA and Best Western, the favorite destinations of people traveling with their pets are:
- Visiting Families and Friends 78%
- Road Trips 50%
- Visiting the Beach 33%
- Camping 27%
- Visiting a City 23%
- Hiking 17%
- Other Activities 9%
Let’s take a closer look. Since pets are a part of our families, it makes sense that the most popular answer is taking your pet with you when visiting families and friends. And what’s better than your breathing in the country air on a long road trip?
But taking your pet to the beach is more of a surprise. What’s the point unless you have a pet fish that you can take in the water. We all know how frustrating getting sand out of every crack can be; think about that for your pet the next time you take him or her to the beach.
Being a city dweller who is scared to death of being out in the woods, I couldn’t imagine taking my dog camping, although most dogs love nature and are hunters and gatherers, so camping is probably the most at home they will feel outside of being at home.
Then we get to my favorite destination to take Nash, visiting a city. I would be completely lost every time I go to an unfamiliar city if I didn’t have Nash to guide me.
I’m inclined to think hiking was so low on the list because they used the word “pets” in the survey. Outside of dogs, what pet would you take hiking? I can’t see people taking their cats, fish, or any other pet with them on a nice hike.
According to the study these were the top reasons people take their pets on vacation:
- Don’t Want to Leave Their Pet with Someone Else 61%
- The Cost of Traveling with Their Pet Is Cheaper than a Kennel or Pet Sitter 51%
- Pets Are Good Cuddle Buddies on the Road 27%
- Pets Always Let You Choose the Destination 18%
- They Don’t Talk Back 15%
- They Don’t Hog the Remote 12%
- They Snore Less than a Significant Other 7%
We’ve all seen how people treat their own family and possessions; do you really want to trust someone like that with your pet? Boarding a pet or hiring a pet sitter can be quite costly. Just look at what baby sitters are getting these days — why should pet sitters be any less compensated?
If you haven’t had the chance to cuddle with your dog in a king sized hotel bed, I highly recommend it.
Unless you have a highly trained monkey who is also very communicative, then your pet better not be choosing your vacation destination.
The reason a lot of people think pets are better than children is that they don’t talk back, your pets will not sit in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet” or wanting to listen to Justin Bieber on the radio. So why not take your pet on vacation with you?
Then we come to least popular answer: That their pet doesn’t snore as much as their significant other. My guy Nash actually snores all the time, and if I had a significant other, I am sure I would have to answer that my dog snores more than them.
According to the study the biggest pet peeves reported by travelers are:
- Others not Cleaning Up after Their Pets 77%
- Dogs that Bark Constantly 57%
- Not Keeping a Dog on a Leash 49%
- Not Having an Obedient or Trained Pet 43%
- Aggressive Pets 41%
- Not Having a House Broken Pet 29%
One of the most common questions I get about my guide dog is: Do you really have to pick up after him? Yes, I do. So why should we expect anything less? It is common courtesy, avoids a health hazard, and is also the best way to know about the health of your pet. So bring those poop bags with you on vacation.
I think the reason so many people love my guide dog Nash is he’s really really cute, very friendly and helpful, and unbelievably quiet — he never barks. Is there anything worse than when you’re on vacation and there are screaming kids next door to you? It’s a safe bet that a barking dog would be a close second.
There are a lot of people out there who are afraid of dogs, for whatever reason. Maybe they were traumatized by one as a little kid, but I imagine that, for these people, the sight of a dog not on a leash can be pretty scary to them. So people, please keep your dogs on a leash when you are on vacation. Who knows if someone else's dog is aggressive and your pup is out of reach?
Which brings us to the last point... It’s amazing to me how many similarities there are between pets and children. I think disobedient pets and kids fall into the same category, and that category is annoyance.
An aggressive pet is just another version of a disobedient/untrained pet. Let’s be honest, an aggressive pet is just a bully, and no one likes a bully — especially on a vacation.