Traveling (or Not) with Your Beagle

Love Dog
In This Chapter
  • Hitting the road with your Beagle
  • Flying with your dog
  • Leaving your dog at home
  • Finding a boarding kennel

Into almost every person’s life comes some travel — but if you have a Beagle, travel leads to questions: What shall I do with my dog? Should I take him with me — and if so, how? Should I leave him home — and if so, with whom? Should I take him somewhere else — and if so, where?

This chapter answers those questions — or, more accurately, helps you find answers that are best for you, your Beagle, and the circumstances in which you find yourself traveling.

Taking Your Beagle with You

Does the thought of leaving your Snoopy-dog behind when you go away on vacation induce more than just a pang of sadness? Does the idea of traveling with your little hound elicit feelings of excitement? Perhaps, then, you should give in to your feelings and take your Beagle with you when you head out of town.
Notice, though, that I say perhaps. Not every trip you take is one that your Beagle should take as well. It’s crucial to consider whether the trip will be as much fun for your Beagle as it will be for you.

For example, if your planned sojourn involves tooling around all day while your dog cools his heels in a hotel room (even at a petfriendly hotel), you may want to reconsider. Even if you contain
your Beagle in a crate, and even if he doesn’t bark from sheer loneliness, he most certainly won’t be as happy as he would be if he were either in his own home or at a place where he can play and have a good time.
On the other hand, if you’re going someplace where you can hang around with your Beagle most of the time and can keep him safely crated during the few occasions when he can’t be with you, bringing your little hound along may be a good idea.

Remember

Your Beagle’s welfare must be your first consideration when you’re trying to decide whether to bring him with you when you travel. I guarantee that if he’s not happy on your trip, you won’t be happy either.

Riding in cars (and trucks) with Beagles

Your Beagle’s most frequent form of transportation is likely to be in a car — after all, that’s probably how you get around most often. But just as you need to take certain precautions to keep yourself safe while motoring down the highway, so must you protect your little hound while he’s along for the ride.
The most important step you can take to keep your dog safe in the car is to secure him in the back seat with either a doggy seat belt or in a crate that’s buckled into the back seat. A Beagle who’s allowed free rein of the back seat could be in serious trouble in the event of a sudden stop or an accident. He could fall off the seat and break a leg, or even become a projectile that lands in the front seat with you. Figure 13-1 shows a Beagle safely buckled into the back seat of a car using a doggy seat belt.
Doggy seat belts are available at just about any pet superstore, such as Petco or PetsMart. The devices come with detailed directions on how to use them, but they’re not that tough to work with after you and your dog become accustomed to them. Most doggy seat belts consist of a piece of nylon fabric that extends down the length of the dog’s chest, two nylon straps that surround the dog’s body, and a loop that extends from the back. First, you secure the straps around the dog, and then you run a seat belt through the loop. Voilà! Your dog is safe and secure.

Warning!

Do not place your Beagle in a seat that has an airbag. If the airbag deploys, your dog could be seriously injured or even killed. Keep your Beagle out of the front seat altogether — and if your car has side airbags in the back seat, place him in the center of the back seat.

 Figure 13-1: Buckle up your Beagle to keep him safe in your car.
If your vehicle of choice is an SUV or pickup truck, your Beagle still belongs in a seat away from the airbag. And under no circumstances should you let your dog ride in the truck bed or cargo area of your vehicle.
No matter where your Beagle sits, though, make sure that his entire body is in the car. That means keep the windows rolled up, or otherwise restrain him so his head’s not hanging out the window. He may like feeling the wind blowing through his ears, but the price for that enjoyment could be dust or other irritants getting into his eyes.
Of course, car safety consists of much more than securing your dog with a seat belt. Other considerations include weather and whether to leave your dog alone in the car.

Warning!

Don’t leave a dog in a car if the outdoor temperature is above 70 degrees. The temperature inside the car can climb to well over 100 degrees in a just a few minutes — even if you open the windows and park the car in the shade — resulting in heatstroke, which can be fatal. If you must go someplace where you can’t bring your Beagle and the weather is balmy, leave your dog at home! Frankly, leaving your dog alone in a car is never a good idea.

Helping the carsick canine

Although most dogs love to go for rides in cars, a few find the experience to be nauseating — literally. If your Beagle turns out to be one of these unhappy pooches, you may be able to help him. Here are some ideas:

Run him on empty. The dog who tosses his cookies when he’s in the car may do better if he’s got no cookies to toss. Try not to feed your Beagle for six hours or so before you hit the road.

Desensitize him. Try just sitting in the car with your dog and running the engine for a few minutes at a time over the course of a few days to get him used to being in the car. After he can handle that, graduate to short rides and work up to longer trips.

Freshen the air. Opening the windows a little bit can give your dog the fresh air he needs to quell his queasiness.

Give him some meds. For many pets, a little bit of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) given an hour or so before a trip can allay carsickness — although it may also make him drowsy. Consult your vet about the proper dosage.

Offer some flower power. Some Beagles benefit from being given a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy, a natural flower essence, several hours before a trip. These and other flower essences are available from health-food stores.

Leavin’ on a jet plane

So you want to go someplace far, far away — too far to drive. Hopping on a plane seems to be the best way to get there. And you’re wondering whether you can take your beloved Beagle with you.
Maybe you can — but that doesn’t mean that you should.
Air travel can be incredibly stressful for Beagles and other pets. For one thing, unless your pet is small enough to fit in a carrier that can be stowed under the seat in front of you, your four-legged friend has to ride with the rest of the baggage. The noise, the absence of familiar surroundings — not to mention the absence of familiar people — do not make for a relaxed traveling environment for your dog.

And that’s assuming that the airlines will even accept your Beagle. During the summer months, when temperatures are high, they won’t. Airlines have a good reason for that policy: Temperatures on the airport tarmac and in the baggage compartment get extremely hot — hot enough to cause heatstroke and even kill your dog.

For that reason, I recommend not traveling by air with your Beagle unless you absolutely have to. Either choose a vacation site that’s within easy driving distance, suck it up and drive the longer distance that you’d planned to fly, or leave your dog at home.
That said, however, a time may come when you have to ship your Beagle by air — for example, if you’re moving overseas and want to bring your little hound with you. If that’s your situation, keep the following suggestions in mind:

Start planning early. A prudent owner plans her Beagle’s trip well in advance — say, six months before departure. That’s because most countries require owners to show that pets are healthy enough to cross their borders. Some countries merely require current rabies’ vaccinations, while others demand that the owner complete numerous forms and ertifications before allowing a dog to enter. Still other countries require hat entering pets be quarantined in a commercial kennel for days, weeks, or even months before allowing them to join their owners. Find out, too, how long these certifications last. By starting the planning process early, you’ll have plenty of time to fulfill the requirements of your destination, and also get the flight and/or kennel space that you need.

Do your homework. As soon as possible, find out the animal transport regulations of the place you’re moving to. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains listings of U.S. and foreign countries’ animal transport regulations at www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/pettravel.html. The same site also includes some tips for traveling by air with pets. For information on airlines’ requirements — particularly with respect to crates and carriers — contact individual carriers.

Get help from your vet. Your veterinarian can help you obtain any health certificates you need for your Beagle and can also suggest ways to make him feel more comfortable while traveling.

Limit stops. Book the most direct flight possible, even if it costs more than a flight with one or more layovers. The fewer stops you make, the fewer chances you have that something will go wrong during the trip.

Call a pro. Professional animal transporters can maximize your Beagle’s chances of arriving safely at your destination, and minimize the hassles that arise when you try to arrange such transportation yourself. For a list of professional animal transporters, contact the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International Inc. The organization’s Web site, www.ipata.com, has a searchable database that enables you to locate an animal transporting company in your area.

Picking pet-friendly lodging

No matter how you and your Beagle travel, you need to a place to stay after you reach your destination. These days, though, finding Beagle-friendly accommodations isn’t all that difficult. That’s because the hospitality business has seen the light when it comes to welcoming man’s (and woman’s) best friend. Many establishments that once barred the door to canine guests now realize that putting up those dogs can lead to big bucks and return visits from the dogs’ grateful owners. As a result, more hotels, motels, and even bed-and-breakfasts are rolling out the red carpet for you and your Beagle than ever before.
So how do you find these pet-friendly lodgings? Start by picking up some guidebooks and magazines aimed at the dog-owning traveler. Such publications abound in this era of bringing the canine member of the family along with everyone else. Among the magazines and Web sites available are Fido Friendly (a one-year subscription to the print magazine is $12; more info at www.fidofriendly.com); Pets on the Go ($15 per year for premium membership; more info at www.petsonthego.com); and Dog Friendly (a free e-mail newsletter you can order at www.dogfriendly.com).
Wanna go by the book? Check out these tomes: Traveling with Your Pet — The AAA PetBook: 8th Edition by the American Automobile Club (AAA); Pets on the Go: The Definitive Pet Accommodation and Vacation Guide by Dawn and Robert Habgood (Dawbert Press); and Fodor’s Road Guide USA: Where to Stay with Your Pet, 1st Edition by Andrea Arden (Fodor’s).

Warning!

After you identify a place to stay, however, don’t just breeze into the reception area with your Beagle in tow. Call first to make sure an establishment’s pet-friendly policy remains in effect; to learn the rules for staying with a pet at the facility; and to find out in advance whether the facility requires a pet deposit and/or an extra fee for nonhuman guests (many do).

Packing your Beagle’s suitcase

Just as you pack your own suitcase when you travel, so should you pack one for your Snoopy-dog. Of course, the suitcase need not literally be a suitcase; a tote bag or old backpack is just as good. Whatever you choose, though, plan on bringing the following:

Your Beagle’s crate: That way he’ll have a cozy, familiar place to stay when you’re not in the room — and you’ll prevent the room from being damaged. In fact, many hotels require that dogs be crated when owners aren’t in the room with them.

Dog food: A trip is no time to change your Beagle’s diet. Pack enough of his regular food to keep his tummy comfy for the duration of the trip — or know whether you can buy his food in the area where you’re traveling. And don’t forget his treats!

A couple of toys: Pack your dog’s two or three favorite toys along with all of his other gear. He’ll enjoy being able to play with familiar objects, especially when he’s in unfamiliar surroundings.

Collar and leash: Duh! Don’t leave home without these!

Immunization record: If your dog becomes sick on the road and needs a veterinarian’s care, you’ll need to furnish proof of immunizations. Your vet can provide this record easily.

Something with your scent: A T-shirt or other object with your scent on it can provide considerable comfort to your Beagle when he’s left alone.

Plastic bags: Be a good dog owner: Bring a bunch of plastic bags so you can clean up your Beagle’s bathroom deposits. 

Going visiting?

Just because you’re visiting your parents, your cousin Judy, or your best friend from high school, don’t assume that your Beagle is as welcome as you are. Not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of hosting a canine guest — and as the human guest, you need to respect this perspective, no matter how incomprehensible it is to you. Always, always ask your host or hostess whether your Beagle is welcome in his or her home. If the answer is yes, pack your Beagle’s bag just as you would if you were staying in a hotel — and show the same consideration for a host’s property that you would at a five-star commercial establishment. And if the answer is no — well, make other arrangements for your dog, or stay home with him.

Leaving Your Beagle Home

Sometimes bringing your Beagle with you isn’t a good idea. Maybe you’re flying, or maybe you won’t be able to spend much time with your Snoopy-dog while you’re on the road, or perhaps your little hound isn’t welcome at your destination. Whatever the reason, you need to find someplace else for your four-legged friend to stay while you’re away. One option may be your home.

The friend option

If you have a dog-loving friend, consider asking her to stay in your home as a housesitter/Beagle companion while you’re gone. That way, you know that your home won’t be left vacant while you’re gone, and you can relax knowing that your Beagle has some company. This is a great option to consider if you’re going to be away for more than a couple of days. Make sure, though, that your friend has the info she needs to take proper care of your Beagle; the section “What your pet sitter needs to know” suggests what to tell your friend.

Picking a pet sitter

If you’ll only be away for two or three days, a professional pet sitter who visits your home two or three times a day may be just who you need to keep your Beagle happy and set your mind at rest while you’re away.
How do you find this lifesaver? Start by asking your veterinarian. He may be able to refer you to a trustworthy individual or company. Failing that, you can consult one or both of the following pet-sitting organizations: the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (www.petsitters.org) or Pet Sitters International (www.petsit.com). Both organizations’ Web sites allow you to search by zipcode for a pet-sitting company or individual who’s located near you. When you contact a person or company, find out the following:

Has the person who will come to your home had a criminal background check? You want to be sure that whoever comes into your home to take care of your beloved Beagle has no criminal history, particularly of animal abuse. If the company or person can’t or won’t provide this information, walk away.

Do you have references? Get at least three, and call them. Make sure, too, that these references are clients, not personal friends of the pet sitter. Ask the client how long the pet sitter cared for the pet and how he or she views the experience.

Do you offer a service contract? A savvy sitter will specify in writing the services that he or she will perform while you’re away. Make sure you see a service contract and agree to the terms before you depart.

What’s your backup plan? If the sitter becomes ill or otherwise can’t visit your home, what will happen to your Beagle? This question is especially important if you’re interviewing an individual rather than a company — although in both instances, they should give you a detailed backup plan ensuring that your dog will be cared for no matter what happens.

Can you come for a visit? An understanding sitter will realize that your Beagle needs to meet his substitute caregiver before you employ her. That way, you can see how the sitter interacts with your dog, and the sitter can see the layout of your home and ask any specific questions she may have.

What your pet sitter needs to know

If you want your Beagle to have optimum care from a pet sitter or housesitter, you need to provide the sitter with detailed information about your trip and your dog’s needs. Here’s the written information you should provide when you give her your key:

Location of all supplies: Make sure your sitter knows where you keep your Beagle’s food, leash, collar, toys, medications, and anything else she’ll need to care for your four-legged friend.

Your itinerary: Give your sitter information on when you’re leaving, when you’ll return, and a phone number to reach you.

Contact information: Your sitter should have the telephone number of your regular veterinarian and, if available, an emergency veterinary clinic.

Boarding Your Beagle

If you plan to be away for more than a few days and you can’t take your Beagle along, consider taking him to a place where he’s welcome. By going to a boarding kennel or even to the home of a dog-loving friend, you can be sure that your pooch is getting the best of care at a home away from home.

A little help from a friend

My family and I recently took a Caribbean cruise — obviously, an excursion upon which our dog could not join us. But we had no worries. We took our beloved Allie to stay with someone who was thrilled to spend time with our girl: her breeder. If you bought your Beagle from a reputable breeder who lives near you, you may be able to do the same thing. In other instances, we’ve taken our dogs to stay with dog-loving friends of ours. Every time we’ve exercised these options, we’ve enjoyed our vacations more, knowing that our dogs were having nice vacations, too.

Tip

A friend is much more likely to agree to take care of your dog while you’re away if you make clear your eagerness to return the favor!

Make sure that anyone who cares for your Beagle is an experienced owner and is someone your dog knows and trusts. A few practice sessions — say, a few afternoons or even an overnight stay at your breeder’s or friend’s home — can help put your dog at ease and can help you and your friend deal with any questions that may arise.

Finding a boarding kennel

If you don’t have a friend who can care for your Beagle, you can pay to have experts take care of him. Plenty of places specialize in boarding dogs, and the offerings range from somewhat spartan to positively luxurious.
On the spartan-but-still-OK side may be your own vet. Many veterinary clinics offer boarding services for their clients. The staff will feed your dog, let him exercise in a kennel run, and check on him periodically. You may also be able to arrange to have him groomed during his stay. The big plus to this option is that it’s probably the cheapest; the possible minus is that your dog won’t be living in the lap of luxury.
At the other end of the spectrum are what can only be called dog resorts. If Zagat’s, Michelin, or the American Automobile Association (AAA) rated boarding kennels, these facilities would draw the maximum number of diamonds, stars, or other rating symbols available. One such resort in my area of northern Virginia offers swimming, spa services such as massage, agility training, and a cyber-cam so you can watch your dog if you have Internet access at your vacation destination. The huge plus to this alternative is that your Beagle will enjoy his vacation as much as you enjoy your trip, if not more. The equally big disadvantage is that you may pay more for your dog’s vacation than you will for your own.
In between these two extremes, of course, are facilities that contain some luxuries, but not a lot, and are moderate in price.
Depending on your budget and other preferences, you can start your search for a kennel by asking your vet whether his clinic boards dogs. Another option is to log onto the Web site of the American Boarding Kennels Association at www.abka.com. There you’ll find a searchable database that will locate kennels near you.
Be sure to pay a visit to the kennel — preferably unannounced — before you agree to board your Beagle there. Leave your Beagle home so you can concentrate on checking for the following:

Cleanliness: The facility should be clean, with little or no odor. Doggy accidents should not be in evidence.

Security: The facility should be escape-proof. Make sure that the outdoor areas have high fences around them and that the staff keeps the dogs on leash in any public areas, such as the reception area.

Attentiveness: Those who interact with your dog should love your dog, or show a liking for the canine species in general.

24/7 presence: If possible, board your dog at a facility that is staffed by people around the clock.

More information on finding and checking out a kennel is available from the American Boarding Kennel Association Web site.
by Susan McCullough

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