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Category Archives: Pet Travel | Page 2

kinds of drugs and its side effects

Pet Travel Writing: Some Prime Examples

A Dog Jaunt cameo of one of my (dogless) childhood haunts

In the final sprint before launching the Pet Travel Book Club next Thursday (November 10), I started thinking about pet travel writing as a genre. Naturally, it’s as varied as any other type of travel writing — or writing, period —  and is designed to serve different purposes. But whether I’m looking for advice about where to stay with Frankie or for general ruminations about the interactions of pet, person, and environment,  I want a distinctive point of view and a liveliness of the mind, writing that tells you there’s an observing, thinking person behind it. And that’s what I found in these blogs, two of which give previews of books I plan to discuss in the future.

Dog Jaunt

I love Mary-Alice Pomputius’s detailed reviews of carriers, plane seats and pet relief areas for their extreme usefulness. But Mary-Alice often combines the practical with the lyrical, extolling the virtues of places she visits on their own merits as well as from the perspective of Chloe, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I admit to choosing this post, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, for sentimental reasons. As I commented on her blog:

I grew up 5 minutes from Prospect Park… The Grand Army Plaza library was my childhood library and to walk there I passed the zoo (eh) and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which are also lovely… Maybe you can go home — or at least back to the old neighborhood — again.

The Four-Legged Walden

John Zeaman, the author of Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey, doesn’t blog very often. I suspect his publisher and his friends told him that blogging was a good way to publicize his book, but he didn’t have the time or inclination to continue with it.  Nevertheless, his Dogging in Great Britain gives you the flavor of the book, quirky, inquisitive, philosophical — and often very funny. Read More »

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Travel Thursday: Tailing John Steinbeck

Ace hearts John Steinbeck

I love serendipity.*

I had made plans to interview John Woestendiek, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of Dog Inc., for Animal Cafe because I thought a top-rate writer who was on the road for a year with his dog might have interesting things to say about  pet travel. I didn’t know anything about the inspiration for his trip, however.

A few days after I contacted John, I got an invitation from my pal Vera Marie Badertscher to join a great group of bloggers with different specialties at A Traveler’s Library. My niche — no surprise — is pet travel, but of the literary rather than the how-to variety.  I decided that the first book I would write about had to be John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, a classic in this niche.

Imagine my delight, then, when I learned that John Woestendiek’s trip with Ace, a 130 pound mutt, was inspired by Steinbeck’s journey with his standard Poodle. Read More »

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Introducing: The Pet Travel Book Club

Last week I told you about my exciting new venture, blogging about pet travel books and movies on A Traveler’s Library. I semi-jokingly said, “Can a pet travel book club be far behind?” Several of you expressed enthusiasm.

We’re on.

Phase 1

Here’s the plan. I will tell you — at least a month in advance — which book I will be reviewing on A Traveler’s Library and on what date.

On that date, I will post two reviews. The one on A Traveler’s Library will be more, well, literary. I’ll discuss the work primarily on its merits as a book or film, one that creates a strong sense of place, character, etc. Animals will be important, of course, but in context.

The other, on this blog, will be more pet-geek oriented, catering to my typical readers. I’ll talk about how the animals were depicted, the human-animal interactions handled. You know, stuff that we pet obsessed folks tend to notice but can’t discuss in other circles without being thought slightly insane.

Those who read the book can — and I hope will — comment on both blogs.

Phase 2

It gets better.  As often as possible, I will choose books by living authors — or filmmakers, if I can find them — and invite them to participate in the conversation. If I can, I’ll record the interview and post the podcast on Animal Cafe. If that’s not feasible, I’ll send an email Q & A and post the answers here.

I’ll depend on you, dear book club members, to suggest questions you would like me to ask, whether literary, travel or pet oriented. Just try to keep it clean — though discussing poop is perfectly permissible.

The First Pet Travel Book Club Selection

There might be an earlier example of the genre but I don’t know of any pet travel book that has influenced more writers than Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I’m reading it for the first time and am delighted by both its literary and pet geek appeal. Charley the poodle is quite a personality.

Date of Discussion: Thursday, November 10. I’ll remind you as the deadline approaches.

There’ll be no follow-up interviews this time — unless I can find an animal communicator to channel Charley — but I hope a lot of people will participate anyway.

One more thing

In case you’re wondering how my life has come to this — i.e., the split-screen division of interests — be sure to go A Traveler’s Library and read the Q & A I did with the site creator and my longtime friend, the talented Vera Marie Badertscher.  She asked me great questions that really made me think. I hope that shows in my answers.

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , , | 25 Responses

Literary Pet Travel Thursday: Help Wanted

I’m excited to announce that I’m joining a terrific team of bloggers  over at A Traveler’s Library. I’ll be writing about pet travel in books and film the first Thursday of every month. Memoir or fiction, serious or light hearted…anything (except guidebooks) goes.

I have a few ideas, but need a lot more. I’d love your suggestions. Foreign books and films in translation or with subtitles are very welcome. So are tales of travel with cats and other creatures.

So far I’m planning to cover:

  • Dog Walks Man, by John Zeaman. More meanderings with a standard poodle, this time into the “suburban fringe” of the New Jersey Meadowlands. I’ve been planning to review it on this blog for ages.
  •  Following Atticus, by Tom Ryan. A miniature schnauzer named Atticus Finch is the muse of this book about climbing New Hampshire’s White Mountains, published on September 11, 2011. I’m reading it now and loving it.

As for films — I can’t think of any that focus on pet travel besides “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” tracing a diminutive dog’s journey back to her Mexican roots. I’m a big fan, but I don’t want to give pet bloggers a bad name as low brow in their movie tastes so if you have any other suggestions, do pass them along. For your sake as well as mine.

Can the Will My Dog Hate Me pet travel book club be far behind?

Update: If I get comments from outside this blog, I’ll add them here.

This from a friend answering on LinkedIn: The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. Her summary:  Gentle stories of a journalist who ditches his life to roam Finland with a rabbit he ran over. That sounds amazing!

And it sounds like we’re on for the book club! I’m not sure how to do this, but am open to suggestions. Anyone who’s interested, let’s start with Travels with Charley and go from there.

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , | 36 Responses

Pet Travel Overseas — & an International Contest

What dog does not love a gelateria?

I’m still a little crazed over the notion that a respected travel expert would dismiss an entire segment of travel, and a very popular one at that. Luckily, this month’s pet travel interview on Animal Cafe with Diane Silver, blogger at To Dog With Love and  caretaker of the charming Cosmo Havanese, provides an antidote to the notion that people shouldn’t travel with their pets.

Before they went

My post on Animal Cafe discusses some of the extensive preparations Diane made before taking her two trips to Italy with Cosmo; you’ll hear more details in the interview, below, and you can get additional information in such instructional posts on To Dog With Love as International Paperwork Preparation.

Diane also discusses traveling with a pet when you have a physical limitation, in her case not being able to carry Cosmo — or anything else — as a result of shoulder surgery. It’s not strictly related to Diane’s travels with Cosmo to Italy, but it’s very useful to know under any circumstances.

Why bother?

Travel expands the mind. To see how a different culture treats its pets and to experience Rome, Milan and Lake Como from a dog’s perspective — priceless. For more pictures and details of Cosmo and Diane’s excellent adventures, go to Travel to Italy with Your Dog: Seeing the Sights of Rome.

The contest

I know you’ll enjoy listening to this interview for its own sake but I was in the mood for a contest so I thought I’d add a bit of extra incentive.  The first person to answer the following question in this post’s comment section wins a copy of Am I Boring My Dog, signed and inscribed to you or to whomever you want me to inscribe it.

Cosmo was allowed indoors in plenty of places throughout Italy, but Diane and I discuss one major place where she went Cosmo-less. What was it?

Why do I call this an international contest? Because if someone from outside North America wins, I’m going to spring for the overseas postage. The book will probably arrive in time for you to give it as a Christmas present. I hope.

In bocca al lupo!

Update: And we have an early winner — the ambitious Erin of Buzz, the Diabetic Dog. Congratulations!

You should still listen to the interview, of course.

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Responses

Pet Travel Is Here To Stay, Chris Elliott. Live With It

Imagine that a travel expert, writing for a megatraffic online travel site, chose a large segment of travelers to dismiss — say, baby boomers. “Baby boomers are slow moving and crabby,” he’d write. “They’d be better off staying home to  care for their grandchildren, which most prefer to traveling anyway.” Then imagine if the evidence he presented for this blanket assertion consisted of three anecdotes that occurred over a span of 11 years, and if two of those three anecdotes confused boomers with Gen Xers.

This is pretty much what travel writer Christopher Elliott did with pet travel — twice.

Elliott has a Problem with Pet Travel

Elliott’s writings about pet travel first came to my attention back in April, when I read a story he wrote contending that our pets don’t really want to travel with us. My response to that piece — which is similarly based on unsupported and bizarre anecdotal evidence —  granted that our cats may not want to travel with us, but noted that our dogs generally do. This is not anthropomorphism; it’s based on scientific observation of canine behavior.

The latest piece came to my attention by blogger Akila McConnell of The Road Unleashed, who was so irritated by what Elliott had written on Frommers.com — a megatraffic online travel site — that she invited a group of pet travel bloggers/advocates to join her in responding to him.

Which is why I’m writing about him again today.

In his extremely snarky recent article, titled “That’s Ridiculous: Pet Travel and Owners’ Responsibilities,” Elliott takes a different tack. Rather than saying our pets don’t want to travel with us, he says our pets shouldn’t travel with us. Read More »

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Responses

Taking a Vacation from Caretaking

And I drank some harder stuff too...

It’s common knowledge that caretakers need to take care of themselves if they don’t want to get burned out. This includes taking a break from caretaking. But knowing and doing are two very different things.

Why Caretakers Have Such a Hard Time Taking a Vacation

I can’t speak for others, but here’s why I have a tough time taking a break from diabetic dog duty.

  • Guilt. I know that Frankie is sad when I go away — his petsitters always tell me so — and that makes me feel guilty. It’s hard to see the big picture, that having a grouchy, stressed out caretaker isn’t good for Frankie either.
  • Control freakishness or micromanagement tendencies.  I’m convinced that I am uniquely attuned to Frankie’s dietary and insulin needs. No one else can possibly take care of him as well as I can (this may or may not be true). Read More »
Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , | 28 Responses

Travelin’ Jack is Back — With Jill!

Manager Jill with client Jack -- resting on his laurels?

I have welcomed Travelin’ Jack, a peripatetic Olde English Bulldogge, to my site before. For one of my wordy Wordless Wednesdays, Jack brought pet travel news from New Mexico, where he has own blog and his own TV show.

But as Frankie can tell you, behind every successful male is a good woman. In Jack’s case, it’s Jill Lane.  Today I’m giving her a voice — literally. In my interview with Jill for Animal Cafe,  she reveals how she came to adopt Jack –kismet! — how she built his show biz and political career, and how together they helped change pet travel policies in New Mexico.

It’s a must-listen for anyone who shares a home with a freeloading pet who is not achieving his potential.


Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , | 7 Responses

Travels with Frankie: Our Life is a Trip

I missed Pet Travel Thursday last week so this is either a late entry or an early one — and it’s not even on this blog. I’m excited to have a story today on one of my favorite travel sites, YourLifeIsATrip.com. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say it involves dates and peeing.

Here’s how it opens:

Many years ago, I went to Spain with a man who turned out to be an Ugly American. The beer was never cold enough for him and he often mangled the language, but got annoyed at even my mildest attempts at correction.  So I kept my mouth shut when, in a bar in Barcelona, he loudly insisted on a “servicio frio, muy frio” rather than a chilled cerveza. The bartender, not comprehending why anyone would demand a very cold bathroom, nevertheless pointed him towards the men’s room.

These days, I mostly travel with my small terrier mix, Frankie. He rarely embarrasses me and never by being arrogant. But Frankie presents the opposite problem to my Spain experience: that of the very hot bathroom.

To read the rest, see TRAVELS WITH FRANKIE: Discovering Pet-Friendly Perks At Dateland, Arizona.

And if you like it, please comment over there so Frankie and I will get invited back.

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged | 6 Responses

A Better Way to Celebrate Owney, the Rail-Riding Dog

Hint: Let me ride the rails again!

Yesterday, to commemorate a pup who provided good luck to the Railway Mail Service, the United States Postal Service issued 60 million Owney the Postal Dog Forever stamps.

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is debuting a new exhibit that chronicles his adventures and  announcing an Owney photo look-alike contest.  In conjunction with the contest, the museum is also issuing an Owney iPhone application and an Owney iPad interactive e-book.

Who is Owney, Anyway?

According to the United States Postal Service press release:

In the 1880s, during the height of the Railway Mail Service, clerks in the Albany, NY, Post Office took a liking to a mixed terrier named Owney. Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains and soon was known as a good-luck charm to Railway Mail Service employees who made him their unofficial mascot. Working in the Railway Mail Service was highly dangerous…more than 80 mail clerks were killed in train wrecks and more than 2,000 were injured between 1890 and 1900. However, it was said that no train ever met with trouble while Owney was aboard. Read More »

Posted in Pet Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Responses