Recently we took a great dog-friendly trip that didn’t turn out to be as dog-friendly as we expected.
With much excitement and anticipation, our friends from Life with Doxies and I loaded up my car and drove 2.5 hours east of Seattle to the town of Zillah, WA for the Cherry Wood Canine Wine and Walk. It sounded like the perfect trip. I like hiking with Chester and Gretel and we would be hiking through some of the best vineyards that the Yakima Valley has to offer. My friend is in the know about wines and would get a chance to taste a lot of new ones. Both of us like the sun and doing something fun that also helps animals in need.
To prepare for the trip, I contacted the local dog-friendly-specific tourism group (How awesome is it that they have one of those??), Yakima Valley Wine Doggies. They recommended a great dog-friendly hotel and restaurant to eat at in Zillah. We checked the forecast before we went and saw it was going to be in the 90s so I contacted the sponsors of the walk and asked about any efforts they were making to ensure the dogs would stay safe in the high heat. I was told that there would be plenty of water stops, pools for the dogs to play in and a motorized wagon that would “rescue” any dogs and people who need it and take them back to the start.
The Comfort Inn we stayed at was very accommodating and a great dog-friendly experience. As for the walk, we only made it to the first winery about a half-mile away. It ended up being way too hot for the dogs so we walked back to the car and drive to two of the other wineries. The “dog-friendly” restaurant recommended to us refused to let us bring our dogs onto the patio. We eventually figured out how to get dinner but for a while we were stuck with 4 dogs that we couldn’t leave alone in the hotel or bring to a restaurant with us to eat.
Our experience drove two points home for me:
1) The event may be dog-friendly but the conditions surrounding the event might not be.
What we were told was true – there were water stops, doggie swimming pools and the emergency transport wagon. This event was not well suited for small dogs though (especially in this kind of heat…which the organizers could not control of course). Generally speaking, small dogs are close to the ground and in the “hot zone”, which is the zone where they can feel intense heat radiating off of the ground. More specifically, the walking path was a combination of dusty dirt roads and straight cuts across fields. Being close to the ground means that small dogs constantly inhale this dust and dogs can pick up Goat Heads and other thorns in their paws and fur when walking through fields. Because of the dusty dirt roads, the doggie pools weren’t much use to us either. If we had gotten the dogs wet they would have been covered by the dust they were walking in and turned into little mud balls. If possible, it is always a good idea to quickly visit the are before the event to make sure the environment is suited for your dog. If that is not possible, it is always good to have a plan B.
2) Even if you hear a place is dog-friendly from a trusted source, you should always do your own homework.
The truth is that some of these “authorities” get their information just like you and I would – from the internet or word or mouth. In an ideal world, they would verify this information before passing it on but that happens less often than you think. Hotel policies do not change often and rapidly but restaurant policies certainly do. Some restaurants might let dogs onto their patio for a while but discontinue the practice if they get a complaints from patrons or the health department. One manager on shift may allow dogs but another may not. If you hear a place is dog-friendly, you should always call ahead to confirm yourself.
The two most important things to remember when traveling and attending events with dogs is to be as prepared as you can and always be willing to change your plans if needed.
Do you have a story about a trip you have taken, or event you attended, with your dog that did not turn out the way you expected?