pet-friendly hotels

Stretching the limits of ‘pet-friendly’

If you’re one of those people whose dog tags along when you travel, then you’re well aware of the growing number of pet-friendly hotels, inns and resorts out there. These properties go way out of their way to welcome you and your pooch but, as I found out for my column this week, Stretching the limits of ‘pet-friendly,some pet owners abuse the privilege.

I started thinking about this topic when I found a pile of dog poop out by the elevators at an upscale, pet-friendly hotel in Portland, Oregon.  “It happens,” one hotel manager told me.  “More than you want to know,” said another.

A hotel owner in California dunned a guest $150 for letting their dog chew up a down comforter. And while their policy prohibits guests from leaving dogs alone in the rooms, it happens anyway at the Paw House Inns and Resorts in Vermont. “People say, ‘Oh, our dog is well-behaved and is fine being left alone,’ but we’ve had nervous dogs claw at the floors, chew the molding right off the door frames and tear apart the sheetrock on the walls in an effort to get out,” owner Mitch Frankenberg told me.

Bad dogs? “No, just bad owners,” says Frankenberg. And, it seems, good pet owners who, feel the need to chew up the rules.

Sherry Gavanditti smuggled her 15-year-old family dog, Benji, into a no-pets-allowed hotel by wrapping a scarf around his head and cradling him in a blanket like a baby.

Sheryl Matthys, the author of “Leashes and Lovers” — a new book about dogs and relationships — has brought her greyhound, Shiraz, “who is by no means a purse dog,” into nice hotels that either don’t allow pets or have size and weight limits that exclude medium to large dogs.

And for years Howard Lansky (an alias) and his wife have taken their Wheaten Terrier, Raleigh (also an alias), along when visiting a favorite historic hotel in New Hampshire. This year they may all have to return in disguise.  Lansky recalled a hot day last summer when he and his dog jumped into one of the hotel pools for a swim. “Some other guests thought it was cute and even took pictures.” The hotel staff, however, was not amused. Lansky later received a $100 “Dog in Pool” fine in the mail.

Some hotel owners told me that no matter how pet-friendly they make their properties, some guests will find an excuse to yap and whine.

“We allow dogs to sleep in the bed with their owners, to swim in the pool with their owners and to attend lectures with their owners,” said Janice Costa, owner of the Canine Club Getaway in Lake George, N.Y. “We even have an outdoor dining area where guests can dine with their dogs.”

But that just isn’t enough for some. “One woman refused to come here unless her dog got a seat at [not beside] the dinner table,” Costa recalled. “Another woman wanted us to provide a dog bed with linens that would match those on her own bed. And we’ve had several people who wanted us to make sure the dogs in the rooms on either side of them were of the same breed, because they believed their dogs prefer being with their own kind.”

To read the full column – and cast your vote in a survey about how you and your pet behave when on vacation – please see Stretching the limits of pet-friendly on