As I’ve often mentioned, Frankie has transportation problems. He doesn’t like car rides. Taking him on a plane — as yet untried — is pricey and a hassle. Besides, Frankie is offended at the idea of himself as “carry on luggage,” especially now that he’s a famous spokesdog for my new book, AM I BORING MY DOG (from which the following is adapted).
That said, once we actually get to our destination, hotel check-in is no problem. At a svelte 10 pounds, Frankie is guaranteed a welcome everywhere.
But for owners of large dogs who want to take them on vacation, nothing is so annoying as a hotel that bills itself as pet-friendly — but not to your pet. So before you go, it’s essential to check specific policies.
Many standard motel chains — among them, Best Western, Comfort Inn, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Motel 6, Quality Inn, Residence Inn, Red Roof Inn –– allow guests to bring at least one “well-behaved family pet” (as opposed to one circus lion?). Charges vary from the vague “liable for any damages” to nonrefundable fees that run as high as $100 per stay.
Some motels put a limit on the size and number of dogs you can bring in; many do not. Among the odder formulations I came across is one that states, “Dogs up to 75 pounds are allowed for an additional one time pet fee of $75 per room. There may be one dog up to 75 pounds or 2 dogs that total 75 pounds per room.” Anyone who thinks that one laid back English Mastiff will cause more ruckus than two Jack Russell Terriers doesn’t know, well, jack about dogs.
As you might imagine, no special amenities are offered in dog-friendly motel chains. If you’re lucky, you won’t get stuck in a smoking room. I understand that cleaning and allergies are an issue, but (most) dogs don’t stink nearly as much as stale cigarettes.
You’re required to note the presence of your dogs on the online reservation forms. However, I suspect that some motel desk clerks wouldn’t know or care if you brought in a menagerie, including that circus lion, if you turn up off-season and lots of rooms are available. One summer Clare and I and Frankie and Archie needed a place to stay in Palm Springs. The clerk at the Motel 6 we found seemed bored when I mentioned that we had two small dogs with us — and probably would have been equally uninterested if I had said “two small male hookers.”
The pricier hotels tend to be pickier, often setting a size limit at 20 or 25 pounds. However, a number of upscale chains, including Loews, Kimpton, and Sofitel, are not sizeist (if your dog weighs less than 80 pounds you’re okay at Sheratons, too). Most require nonrefundable deposits or daily “cleaning” fees, some quite hefty. You will also have to sign a liability form, promising — well, lots of things, such as never to leave your dog alone in the room and never to let him use the hotel pool (even though dogs are far less likely than children to pee in the water).
Note: The James Hotel-Chicago offers an indoor saltwater lap pool built especially for dogs, with skinny-dipping permitted (perhaps even required).
Don’t worry if you’re in the general ballpark, size-wise; no one will humiliate you by weighing your dog. 28-pound Archie — all muscle, but a bit taller than Frankie — had no problem passing muster when Clare and I checked him into an Arizona resort that had a 25-pound limit.