As soon as it sees the bags being brought out to the car, the average golden retriever or Irish setter can pull a face to bring a lump to the throat of the most seasoned traveller.
Many properties have seen the need to cater for those who know what good travelling companions pets can be.
Like their owners, all pets have their own personality and temperament, and there is a great range of accommodation available for them. Many caravan parks and camping grounds accept pets, but there are also motels, holiday houses, and five-star bed-and-breakfast cottages that pamper pets as much as people.
In selecting a property to visit with your pet, it is really worthwhile checking the property's website, and speaking with the owner. Many properties promote themselves as 'pet friendly', but a quick conversation with the staff may reveal that they would perhaps be more accurately described as 'pet tolerant'. Asking the owners about their own pets can give you a great insight into their attitudes (listen for terms like 'our feline guests' or 'our four-legged visitors' that suggest a particular willingness to please!).
Further, some properties have the view that 'pets and children don't mix', so check that the children are welcome, too!
Some excellent resources for pet travel are available through 'Life. Be in it', with suggestions for accommodation and check-lists to prepare your trip. Their Holidaying with Dogs guide is superb, with many properties in both Australia and New Zealand recommended with 'five paws' for pet-friendliness. Holidaying with Cats is a useful directory of properties that accept cats, but you will need to research them a little more yourself. There is also Walkies, a guide to dog-friendly beaches and bushwalks (only available at present for Victoria and South Australia).
These guides are available in major bookshops, Big W, automobile clubs, pet shops, vets and the RSPCA (RRP $16.95). See giveaway offer below.
Have a look at the accommodation section on the Dogz Online website www.dogzonline.com.au/accommodation for some other property descriptions.
The Petcare Information and Advisory Service has some handy hints for going on holidays:
Plan well in advance. If you don't want to take your pet with you, arranging alternative accommodation can be very difficult at short notice. If no boarding kennels are available, ask a local vet if they'd be happy to recommend a home feeder.
If you've decided to take your pet, make sure it has an identification tag with a number where you can be contacted while you're on holiday.
Take what you need to make your pet secure, both in the car and at your destination (car restraint; leash; cage if necessary).
Always telephone ahead to where you are staying to be thoroughly sure of the conditions under which pets are allowed (if they are allowed inside; what kinds of pets are welcome, at what time of year...). Some regulations vary from State to State.
Your pet's vaccinations, worm and flea treatments must be up-to-date.
Don't forget your pet comforts (food, dishes, bedding, brushes et cetera). Some properties may supply these, but many don't.
by Stuart Heath