Traveling with Max and Murphy
By Ann Nelson



Murphy and I glanced at each other with wide-eyed anticipation as we pulled out of the driveway at 3:30 on Friday afternoon. We were looking forward to spending our long awaited weekend together in the mountains outside San Diego. This will be a wonderful chance for just the two of us to take long leisurely walks, enjoy the mountains, and breathe in the scent of fresh spring flowers.

We were looking forward to spending “quality time” together. It was decided that our other dog Max would stay at home with my husband Gary. This would be a girls only weekend!

You may be asking why take Murphy instead of my husband, or why take Murphy at all? Some people may think it’s strange to plan a weekend getaway with my dog instead of my husband. To be honest, it didn’t start out that way. It just turned out that my husband couldn’t get away that weekend, and it was too late to cancel the reservation. Murphy and I were determined to have a good time on our own . . . and we did!

After an hour of maneuvering the winding mountain roads, we arrived at our quaint little mountain cabin, which was to be our weekend destination. The owners of Pine Haven (where we stayed) rent to pet owners only. The place is perfect, complete with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and wonderful views. All 1.25 acres are fully fenced and perfect for dogs! After a brisk walk, and a little bite to eat, I lit a fire, and we settled in comfortably for the evening. I felt perfectly safe with Murphy by my side. What a magical and relaxing night it turned out to be.

I realize how lucky I am to have Murphy in my life. Part coyote, part “wild child”, she came into my life six years ago when my good friend Sharon found her running the streets with no collar and no owner in sight. She has been an integral part of my life ever since. Max, our other dog, is a handsome and cherished Lab-Chow. When we searched the pound many years ago we were blessed to have found him.

We recently went on a trip with Max to The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The rooms were spacious and classy, and featured a private veranda where Max spent the better part of the afternoon lounging and soaking up the sun. Enough discussion about my dogs. Let’s get back to the topic of traveling with “man’s best friend.”

According to AAA, 14% of Americans planning a summer vacation this year will take their pets with them. The American Automobile Association reports that 78% of those travel with dogs, 15% take their cats, 2% take their birds. The other 5% take such other pets as rabbits, fish, turtles and ferrets.

Jerry Hatfield, who runs believes that since September 11th, people seem less willing to go off and leave an integral part of their family behind, either for security reasons or psychological reasons. In addition, separation from a family pet during vacations has been cited as the number one complaint of children.

The demand for dog-friendly establishments and inns is growing at a rapid pace. The pet business is doubling every year according to a recent article in USA Today. The American Hotel Motel Association estimates that more than 20,000 U.S. lodgings now accept pets. The high demand has created a wide range of destinations: from the Beverly Hills Hotel, hotel chains such as the Red Roof Inn, Comfort Inn and Suites, and registered historic B & B’s.

At Loews Hotels, V.I.P.’s (“Very Important Pets”) are welcomed with a letter from the general manager with a map of nearby scenic, dog-friendly walks. A room service menu features grilled lamb or chicken and rice for dogs. Grilled liver or salmon with rice is a recommended specialty for health-conscious cats. I’m beginning to hope there may be “leftovers” for me! At the Beverly Hills Hotel, guest dogs are escorted by clerks to their rooms and greeted by name by the hotel staff. It is important to note that many hotels, including Loews, charge nothing extra for pets. Check with specific lodgings regarding their policies.

Some pets, especially cats, are not good travelers, and can suffer from car sickness. Cats will probably feel most comfortable when traveling in a secured pet carrier. It’s a good idea to “test drive” your pet first.

Don’t leave home without a health certificate from your vet, proof of rabies vaccination and a list and supply of medications and food. Bring temporary ID tags which can be attached to your pet’s collar and changed to reflect your itinerary. The American Kennel Club recommends carrying a recent photo of your pet. The photos can help to track down Rover if he runs far away from home.

Remember never to leave your pet unattended in the car. Dogs and cats have an inefficient cooling system and sweat only through their tongues and pads. Even in 80 (degrees) weather with all the windows open, the temperature in a parked car can reach 120 (degrees) in minutes. When driving, if you’re not using the air conditioning, leave the windows open enough for air to circulate while maintaining a safe margin so your dog won’t jump out. If your dog suffers from car sickness, a piece of hard candy or packet of honey can help offset the queasiness. Don’t forget to bring water. When you’re traveling with dogs, remember they’ll need a break every few hours. When planning your trip, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make reservations. Some hotels have a weight limit, and other restrictions. You don’t want to be surprised at the last minute.

Following is a list of resources I found to be helpful:

Puppy Travel, a travel agency “for pets and the people who love them.” (877) 261-3555, see website:

See ,  and  who provide directories of pet-friendly lodging and services, plus extensive travel tips.

The Humane Society of the United States offers tips on traveling with pets and other vacation-related subjects at its website,

The American Animal Hospital Association offers fact sheets on flying and driving with pets at its online Pet Care Library, please see

“Traveling With Your Pet - The AAA Pet Book,” is available at AAA club offices and retail bookstores or can be ordered online at  for $15.95.

The pet-friendly destinations I visited with my dogs included Pine Haven Cabin (760) 726-9888, , and the Loews Hotel, see website: , and The Inn at Ranch Santa Fe, (800) 843-4661,

Ann Nelson is a freelance writer, presently residing in San Diego, CA. In addition to travel writing, she has published interviews of business leaders, including Dr. Ken Blanchard of the best-selling “One Minute Manager” series, and astronaut and businessman, Captain Wally Schirra.

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