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Globetrotters take paws: bring your pooch in your carry-on

April 2012

What better friend to have than my sturdy, miniature, hairless Dachshund, Ollie? I’ve fantasized about sauntering with him along New York’s 5th Avenue. I observe his nose flouting those gorgeous long-haired little namesakes as they urinate, with attitude, over the most expensive pathway in North America.

A “petation” can be a rewarding and sharing experience, so Ollie and I have decided: New York will be our first destination together. I’ll plan an outing through Central Park, spending quality time celebrating, and possibly even participating, in one of the park’s memorable dog events.

And it seems we’re not the only ones planning a petation. A 2011 TripAdvisor survey of 1,100 U.S. animal-owners revealed: “Pets today are vacation veterans.” The report found that: “Among those whose pets have traveled, 74 per cent say their animals travel well … 36 per cent maintain that traveling with their four-legged friend is always enjoyable, and a further 41 per cent say it often is.”

Zoe Medicoff has flown the Toronto-Montreal corridor with her 6-year-old Marzipan countless times. She says Marz has never had ill effects; in fact, “she’s excited because she knows she’s going to Montreal.” One time Zoe arrived in Toronto to discover that the dog had continued on her way to Vancouver. “She was fine, I was the mess,” she said.

Most airlines allow dogs and cats onboard and if you’ve already flown with your pet, you know the protocols. If it’s your first time, survey the airline’s website and surf its multifarious details, many relating to the size and weight of your pet.

Basically, airlines limit the size of pet to one that fits into a “carry-on bag.” If your pet is small, but overweight at more than 22 lbs with carrier, your pet will be relegated to the cargo hold, a less desirable location.

Set up an appointment with your vet to discuss your pooch’s specific needs. And while you’re there, run through the required paperwork.

Getting to New York will not be as hard as I thought. But when I arrive there, I’d better have a place to stay … even if cute little Ollie could perform as a panhandler’s gimmick.

The Affinia Manhatten looks good—in the $220-to $320 range per night with a $25 charge per stay for a small animal along with a $250 pet deposit. For a more comprehensive price range, boasts 107 dog-friendly motels and hotels you can choose from in New York.

Most large American cities accommodate the pet trotter. But be warned, most establishments reserve the right to expel your pet for disturbances of the barking kind.

Where would I eat with Ollie? After all, I’m planning a petation, so why would I leave him alone in a lonely hotel room?

Hmm, I’m thinking, as I do an e-search: The Barking Dog Luncheonette on the Upper East Side. Perfect! But Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar in Chelsea also looks good, a place where we could imbibe and watch the world go by. The number of eateries in New York catering to pet trotters would take weeks to assess.

Today, to make traveling with Fido easy, there are even destination pet guidebooks, such as Maggie Espinosa’s The Privileged Pooch: Luxury Travel With Your Pet in Southern California. A neat Apple app called Paw Trotter provides comprehensive U.S. listings for you and your pet.

If you enjoy more strenuous vacation activities, but happen to own a wimp like I do, check out for dog packsacks.

And what about that three-month vacation to inaugurate your retirement in South America, but you’re reluctant to leave your pet in someone else’s expensive care? A good place to start is an excellent website established by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Search “dog export.”

Call your destination’s consulate to get regulations about importing a small animal. The English information provided online is often fuzzy.

Costa Rica says it takes 72 hours to issue a quarantine permit for which you apply on arrival, yet during that period, your dog can remain with you. Some quarantine!

Retirement havens don’t make it easy to import your pet, but neither do they make it impossible … and I intend to book a direct flight for Ollie.


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