Friday, January 26, 2018

Motels and pets

Pet friendly motels, now there is a subject I know a lot about. Fifteen years of traveling with animals, I know about every pet friendly hotel in the country.

Since we transport pets around the country via ground, our larger vans are ideal for travel. Their are outfitted like a motor home with perks for ourselves as well as the pets. It's equipped with extra generator, ac/heat, electricity, bed, like a mini hotel room with lots of kennels.
Good thing about trips with the big van is all my own personal stuff stays put. No need to drag my bags, kennels and pets into a hotel after a log day of driving.

There are times when the large van is not the right fit for the job. So we utilize mini vans to keep expenses down. Of course by keeping expenses lower we can keep the price of our service down. Problem with using a mini van is we loose the comfort and ease of traveling.
Yes, we transport peoples pets but we also have to remember its a round the clock kind of job. Which means at the end of the driving day, after the dogs have been walked and fed, cats have their little boxes, we still have to finish with taking care of our own personal needs. Mini vans just don't give any kind of amenities needed for personal care. So off to the motels we go.

Everyone knows there's a fat line between pet friendly hotels and "pet friendly hotels"
Anyone ever make a reservation at a motel that listed themselves as "pet friendly", is told at check in by the front desk about your pet. "Oh, there's a $50 pet fee non-refundable fee". LOL!!! That is NOT pet friendly. That is buying a room at a hotel for your dog.

Kiki, my dog and I were heading up I 95 one night after finishing a job. It was late, and I had enough of pounding up the race track trying not to play bumper cars. Pulled off to a hotel that offered rooms for $59 dollars a night. Not bad, was only spending six to seven hours there. I walked into the front lobby asked if they allowed pets. Yep! Room was $59, pet fee was $100. That was not a deposit, that was the actual charge for Kiki that night. So for me to sleep its sixty bucks, my dog to sleep a hundred. I think that fool behind the desk thought he was either funny or thought I was an easy mark. I would sleep on the ground before I would put up with that kind of scam.

I'm not exactly the smooth talking kind of person. I tend to call a fool a fool when I see one. They say if you hold in your anger it will give you heart problems. Well no heart problems that night.

Typically we have more than one pet when we are going into a hotel, some of the chains will say oh yes, we will accept your reservation, but its $10 for each pet. Well again for us that racks up to almost as much as the room cost. Kind of defeats the low cost expenses. Its usually when we end up on a one horse town, where there are little to no major chain hotels where we run into the take out a second mortgage to pay for the hotel room for the night to accommodate the pets.

These are my favorite. The hotel was built when I was born. The furniture in it looks like something that came out of my parents home. The carpet is so thread bare you can see the flooring underneath. The comforter on the bed is orange. Seriously who using orange, my great grandmother.  They charge me more than the value of the entire building, then on top of that give me attitude about "having pets with me" Like the pets are going to destroy their chic retro dump.

After fifteen years we've been able to find the various chains that are true pet friendly hotels. They set aside rooms specifically for families that are traveling with their furry family members. They don't charge a pet fee. Its one price for the whole family. That is a true "PET FRIENDLY HOTEL".

All chain hotels have a pet policy. Most are pretty standard. Don't leave your pet in the room by itself it the biggest one. Which unless you bring your meals with you or you can cook in your room pretty much means you starve because you have a pet with you. Feel like your chained to your room might as well stay home.
I've been to a few that ask that you crate your pet if  your going to be out of your room. This hotel is a true pet friendly hotel. They understand if your in a motel, you have to go out for food, some times you have to go to the store, and sometime you are going to a local attraction. They are asking you keep your pet secured, while keeping the hotel safe also.

In my eyes this is a proper deal. I have the means to go out and get done what I need to without the worry of my pet sitting in the vehicle. The hotel staff can do what they need to do without worrying about my pets running out the door. As much as you want to believe that when you tell hotel staff not to go into your room the language doesn't always transcend.

On one particular trip, we had put the no service sign on the door. We came back to find our hotel room door hanging wide open. We had let our cat Zoe out in the room believing no one would be entering the room.
When you spend you life traveling you begin to run you life around the idea people and companies will pretty much ignore anything you say or ask.

There is one other major thing pet friendly hotels do that trips my trigger. The thought process that goes behind this, well there is no though process. These are the hotels that insist on booking all their pets onto the 4th floor or top floor in general.

I was moving a few senior dogs across the country. One was being delivered into Roswell, NM. The other older dog going to CA. The dog was so incontinent, as soon as he stood up the dribble started. Getting him out of the mini van was simple enough. I just put potty pads on the floor and he dribbled going out the door. Changed the pads every day. The issue was getting him out of the motel in time.
I delivered in Roswell after dark. This was my stopping point. The main office booked me into the local Motel 6. Not my favorite hotels but cheap. At check-in I'm informed we are on the 4th floor. Now, I've been driving all day, dealing with a dog that needs to stop every two hours, its cold, late, windy enough to keep the flags straight. Just a long miserable day, I was finished, then I find out I have to cart two #500 kennels, compute pack, luggage, and pet bags to the 4th floor. That would be the easy part, in the morning I would need to get this incontinent dog from the far reaches of the hotel, down the hall, into the elevator, down to the first floor and out the back door. And he is suppose to hold it.

I have trouble holding it in the morning and the bathroom is less than ten steps away. I'm going to ask this senior dog to hold it while we walk for 15 minutes to get him outside. NOT! I think its the first time I was so upset I walked out. Reservation or not, I was not dealing with the stupidity of the hotel policy and trying to get this poor dog outside in time.
That night I ended up down the road at a LaQuinta. My first question was, "Do you have a downstairs room?" I explained the situation with the dog I was moving and needed to be as close to a door as possible. That beautiful woman put us right beside the back door. Stated she understood that putting a senior dog upstairs didn't make any sense at all.

For some reason beyond explanation the new trend is to put the dogs up on the highest floor, and charge a major deposit. I walked into a room the other night with at least a dozen pee spots. Like I'm suppose to prove one of those pee spots wasn't caused by my pet. The hotel decides to keep that $100 deposit. Good thing I take pictures on every room I enter and leave.

Point of this blog, if your traveling with your own pets ask questions when you make that reservation. Is there pet charge? How much? Is that charge a deposit or is it non-refundable? Listen carefully, as some will say, " its a $50 non-refundable deposit."  Ask what floor will you be on. If you have a senior dog that requires help getting out of the hotel in the morning you don't want to be anywhere but on the ground floor.
Also remember to take pictures upon entering your room. If there are stains on the carpet, chew marks on the furniture then go immediately downstairs and report the issue. Tell them you will not be held responsible for the conditions already existing. TAKE PICTURES, TAKE PICTURES, TAKE PICTURES, make the front desk aware you have pictures of the conditions.
Protect your pet, protect yourself. Safe Travels!!!
#movingwithpets, #petsinhotels, #travelingsafelywithpets, #travelingpets

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Labels, they define, confine and bind.

This country is all about giving things a label. Everything has to have a label. We don't know how to understand something unless it has a label.
The late 70's early 80's seem to be the start of really putting a label on things. It gave purpose and reason to things that otherwise would have no logic.
Over the years the labeling has taken on new meaning. We go so far as to give it a hash tag. In the "old days" that hash tag was a pound sign. Now labels are used to create worldwide movements, and the labels give meaning and purpose. A chance to give us understanding.

Truth is that is not always the case. Labels can be used to define a situation, confine a person to perception, and bind a person to society's beliefs.

My formative years were through the 7'0's-80's. I ended up with the dreaded "f" word label. Yep, I was a foster child. People during that time period seemed to feel everyone had to be exactly the same. Cookie cutter families, in perfect homes, with perfect parents. Anything outside that garnered you a label. That meant there was something seriously wrong with you.

At that time being a foster kid was an anomaly. Very few had ever heard of it, let alone understood why a child didn't live with their parents, which left the meaning open to imagination. People can be so cruel when they don't understand a label, most have the fortitude to restrain their mouth from their thoughts. Kids on the other hand tend to blurt what their head is thinking.

 Many kids had no problem telling me on a regular basis I was a foster kid, so there was something wrong with me. One girl even went so far as to taunt me in front of an entire class how my parents didn't love me, that was why I had to live with another family.
Feeling like someone had just shoved me into a box and nailed the lid shut, I exploded. Yep, went ballistic in front of the entire eighth grade class. I felt such shame that day, like a stain had been etched into my soul. Her words did exactly what she meant for them to do. She labeled me, explained the reason for the label and the consequences of why I was such an unfit person in society.

Very few understood that living with my family was a life threatening situation.  It was easier to live with perception of what people thought of me being a foster kid then explain what really caused the strange family dynamics. I eventually graduated high school and left that dreadful past behind.

Years later I was once more reminded of the label that was bestowed upon me years earlier. Only this time that label held a different meaning and outcome.
I had spent a great deal of time remaking myself after school. I became a normal person, with a husband, kids, business, business owner, a person about town I was. Gone was the stigma of being a foster kid. I could make things happen. I was a productive person, with ambition. Someone that was going places.

Then out of nowhere poof, someone decided to remind me of my roots. My stepfather had died and I was expected to attend the funeral. Doing the proper thing I attended. I walked in as a business professionals and saw the other business owners who I knew from working with them in a business setting. The looks on their faces was priceless. All wondering why I was standing there. Complete shock set in when they realized "I was the little girl the family had that had disappeared more than ten years ago". Some told me they thought I had died.

Nope I'm right here. Not dead. Well where have I been and why didn't I tell them who I was. Again, here came the cuss word again, I was a foster kid. Didn't live with them. Didn't want to be associated with them. None of their business.

What brought the whole situation home was the day the bank president walked into my office and proceeded to grill me on who I was. Like I had lied to him or something. Nope never lied, never changed my name, just didn't want to deal with the labels or what they meant. I didn't want special treatment, pity, or anything else. I just wanted fair treatment, equal footing, a level start just like everyone else.

That day changed everything, once again the battle was on. Those that realized who I was and what had happened to me as a child either ignored me, or gave me that pity stare. All of a sudden the one that was ambitious was not quite good enough. I wasn't entitled to the same chances. I didn't have what it took to be a leader. Again someone actually had the balls to come into my office and tell me that.

Something very painful occurred to me that day. I was never going to out run, work hard enough, do enough of the right things to shed this coat of a label. That label society had given me, defined me as a person, and were intent on keeping me where they thought all foster children should conduct their lives. Really who was I to decide I was better than my background. The only why to shed the label was to leave and start over. That is exactly what I did. No labels, I was just some poor slub making my way in the world just like everyone else.

I despise labels. I get angry every time I hear someone feel then need to describe something with a label, giving an action a purpose or meaning as if it can never be changed.

We've heard a lot over the years when people describe their pets to us. Some are just so funny. We can see the pet's personality in what people describe to us. Like our own pets we see the funny in how pet's live their lives mixed in our own family. How pets ingrain themselves into our family fabric.

Sometimes we hear the label. One person described their dog to us as 'used pet' that needed moved.
Like they were telling us that pet wasn't worth as much as a pure breed. So that dog wasn't entitled to the same care, love and comfort as a new dog.

Maybe the inclination was the cost of transport should be less because it was a used dog. Not that the dog required the same space, care, walks, and feeding as the regular dogs. Still others will describe their dog to us a rescued pet. Yes, most people have the absolute best interest of the pet at heart. What many don't realized by using the label "rescued" every time they describe their pet, a certain mental thought process goes with that label. It may be unconscious but most of the time its still there.

 I understand the fear, anger and uncertainty that rescued pets have and yes there are things you have to keep your pet from doing or going while they are acclimating itself to your family.
 Animals don't go around thinking oh I'm a rescue. So I'm entitled to potty in the house, bark excessively, bite, have more treats., jump on people. because I'm special. What they want is to feel safe, secure and know their needs will be met. Everything else we give them is gravy in their eyes
Look at your pet just as you do any other family member you love. Not where it came from or what it went through, no labels. Yes, keep it in the back of your head why a pet may react a certain way. Training and reprogramming a rescued pet is a topic for another day :)

A pet that has been labeled doesn't have the ability to get up and walk away to get a fresh start. They are depending on you to give them that fresh start.

When you introduce your pet as a rescue what you are saying is he's different, damaged, please be gentle. What its interpreted as by others is, what's wrong with that pet. Is the pet going to hurt others. Should I be worried?  Because there is a stigma in society that says a rescued pet is a damaged pet, unwanted animal, not worthy of main stream wants and desires.  All the pet feels is the unexplained anxiety from the new person.

The word rescued is a verb not a noun. Someone rescued the pet, vetted it, gave it shots. You adopted the pet. The pet is now a member of your family, who just wants the same love, attention and care as everyone else with no labels.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pet Parent Jealousy or Hurt Feelings

We all like to believe our pets have eyes only for us. Its a hit to the ego when we first witness our pet's first fling and that fling is not with us.
Transporting pets we witness pet parent jealousy first hand. The first time I can remember witnessing a pet parent nose become skewed we were relocating an Akita named Rex. As we were going over our usual paperwork we notice the dog was missing. Since we typically get ambushed at the front door by the dogs. It was noticeable the dog was missing. 
The client proceeds to tell us Rex doesn't like anyone else. "We were going to have issues with Rex doing what we wanted. Probably will have trouble getting him onto the van." 
Jill and I exchange glances. I'm thinking oh great we have a mean dog getting on. Humm, I'll let Jill handle Rex. Jill in her normal casual nonchalant manner turns around, "So, where is Rex." 
"Oh, he is in the bedroom upstairs." I'll have to go get him for you". The client says.
I continue with the paperwork, load the other pets and their belongings. Jill in the meantime grabs a leash and heads up to the bedroom. Three minutes later she come strolling out the door with this beautiful bounding Akita, who appears to be wearing of all things a smile. Rex is just bouncing beside Jill out the door, down the driveway and poof into the van. I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I was expecting a growly, snarly, skittish hulk of a dog trying to back out of his collar. Nope, bouncy boy leaped into the van and right into the kennel, with this dorky grin on his face. 
Kind of like. Wahooo! Where we going? He kept that same attitude the entire trip. He was on some great adventure, and we were his tour guides. 
Right about then the pet parent  walks out and says, "I'll go get Rex, are you ready for him. This will take some time." Urrr, well he is already in the van, Jill says. For a split second absolute shock crossed the pet parents face, also what appeared to be jealousy.
To our client's mixture of utter dismay and elation Rex had a blast on his trip. Arriving happy in AZ a few days later.
Its hard to remember every pet that rides with us. But some really stand out. On another trip, I was picking up seven pets out of West Virginia and taking them to southern California, the desert. As usual we get the cats loaded first, and work our way onto the dogs that think that bus outside is for them. Oh that's right it is for them.
 Last but not least is one shepherd mix, Shelby, giving me the stink eye. Not a chance in hell she was getting on that vehicle. If those others want to go for a ride, well bully for them. More half an hour later, daylight burning, I still have to get out of these mountains before dark, the owner and I finally get her into the van and settled into her crate. Off we go, into the winding, bending, hills of West Virginia, Even I wanted to puke after getting off those mountains.
As with any trip we have this twenty four hour window of flight time with any dog, especially one that is pissed we took them away from their known digs. When its time for potty breaks I like to start with the dog that has been on the longest and rotate from there. Since they all got on at the same time on this trip, well I started with the dog that was the happiest to see me.
Rotation almost complete I get around to Shelby, its time for her potty walk. Nope, not going anywhere near me or out that van door. Not wanting to stress Shelby out I gently closed the door and off we continued. Over the first twenty four hour period Ms. Shelby decided a potty break might be in order, as long as I didn't expect anything else from her. Fair enough, taking our time and giving her space she warmed up to us. Treats helped thaw that edge. Four days into our journey we had reach the outskirts of CA where there is only scrub brush and thorns.
Potty breaks here are always a challenge. Knowing where to walk the dogs and where to avoid because of prickly burrs.  It was a learning process those first few years. We would walk dogs and all of a sudden they would start limping. We had to stop and feel around their paws to get the burrs out. After which we would pick the dog up and carry them back to the van. Not too bad if the dog weights twenty five pounds. Its the fifty and above dogs that about broke our backs.
By this point of the trip even though Shelby was not impressed with the scenery she still allowed me to check her over and carry her to the van.
Over the years we have found small oasis on the west coast to walk dogs.
This was going to be Shelby's new back yard, and front yard, don't forget the side yard. Yep, all desert. Arriving mid afternoon to a small ranch, unloading was quick and easy, as usual. Having had the pet parent sign off and a few quick tails of our adventure we made our way back around to the van to go. I opened the side door to secure loose crate, up jumps Shelby. Well that was a change from our first experience. The pet parent looks please her dog has come around in such a short period of time and is showing such loyalty to us.
A few minute of laughing and joking about her wanting to stay on the van we all start to shoo Shelby out of the van, its time to go. Shelby on the other hand reverts back to her previously life and growls. Not a chance in hell is she getting out of the van. What started out as cute and charming quickly becomes awkward for both us and the pet parent. By this point in time Shelby has ensconced herself into the front seat. Both of the front doors are open and she Shelby is bearing all teeth. Nope not moving. Took us almost twenty minutes trying to get Shelby out of the van. It was clear the pet parent was a bit mussed over her dog dissing her so openly.
Now it was time for my nose to get twisted out of joint. You all know my dog Kiki. If you don't know here look around on our website or facebook, you will meet her. Kiki has been my side kick since we got her, about six years ago.
She will go bounding up and say hi to anyone. But she only has eyes for me. Should I say had eyes for me.
A yearly tradition has been for us to take a van load of pets to Florida. Our snowbird pets, that leave right after Christmas. We have spent the last few years in Florida for New Years. Nothing more awesome then spending the New Year in eighty degree weather instead of being up to our nose in freezing temps.
We hired a new pet sitter recently, after some serious issues with the last sitter. The new sitter came the day before we are set to pull out to get the general rundown.
"Well, isn't she getting a bit porky." The pet sitter says. "We will have to run some of that fat off of her, won't we."
The angels came down from heaven and sang in Kiki's ears, "WE ARE GOING TO PLAY ALL WEEK." NO ONE TO STOP ME. WEEE"  This is a dog that makes it her lifes mission to play. Life is grand if one can play.
 Never mind the "fat" comment. Kiki needed to drop a few pounds to keep her hips in shape.
The evening we pull out the pet sitter shows up to spend the night. Poof, off Kiki goes into another's arms. Kiki was sitting on the pet sitters lap looking at me like "Its ok with you, isn't it mom?"
Not that I think she really cared.
We walked out the door and there she was sitting beside the sitter, looking at me with a look that said,  See yah mom, I"m gonna play all week." Not bothering her I was heading out without her.
As we are heading down the road Jill says to me. "Whats wrong with you? You got your nose out of joint, the way Kiki tossed you over."
I was absolutely devastated she preferred the sitter over me. She was having a fling with another person. That chewed in my craw all week. It finally dawned on me how people feel when their pets go off with someone else. Its even worse when they go off with their tails wagging and they forget to look back.
One thing is for sure. Dogs will gladly have their fling. But their true love is always their pet parent.