Pet-friendly vacations

From dog-welcoming beaches to pet-friendly hotels to vacation adventures designed specifically for pet lovers, there are lots of options for you and your furry friend.

By Monika Rola

There's no time like the present to take that long-awaited vacation. But when the time comes to pack your bags, don't assume you have to leave your four-legged best bud behind. From dog-welcoming beaches to pet-friendly hotels to vacation adventures designed specifically for pet lovers, there are lots of options for you and your furry friend.

Beach Bum
There are few things more fun than a trip to the beach and many parks and beaches are making it easier for pet owners to bring their canines along. Some beaches even allow dogs to roam free, without the restriction of a leash. You can find these pooch-friendly havens by checking out one of the many pet travel Web sites like http://www.petswelcome.com. You can also contact Parks Canada for information on dog-friendly Canadian beaches.

Resorts like Alberta's Inverness Falls Resort and British Columbia's Crystal Cove Beach Resort will let guests bring their dogs, but ask that guests notify them when making reservations.

Packaged Deals
The newest trend is vacation packages designed especially for the dog and human duo. Doggie camps have been springing up south of the border and are fast becoming a favourite way for people to teach their pooches a trick or two. Vermont's Camp Gone to The Dogs Company offers canines a chance to brush up on obedience training, tracking and even freestyle doggie dancing, while their owners enjoy picturesque vacation spots like Marlboro and Stowe, Vermont.

Water lovers will enjoy Ontario's Dog Paddling Adventures. This is the first Canadian company specializing in adventure travel for canines and it offers canoeing and hiking trips for dogs of all sizes. Two- and three- day canoeing trips to Algonquin Provincial Park, Haliburton Highlands' cottage country and Lower Madawaska River's rapids fill up quickly, so book early. Dog Paddling Adventures also offers one-day hikes through Copeland Forest, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and Hockley Valley along the Niagara Escarpment.

Lap of Luxury
Adored pooches and kitties now have more destination choices than ever. Many hotels and resorts are more than happy to welcome pets and treat them to a plethora of treats. Depending on the level of pampering requested, these special treatments can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars.

Montreal's Hotel Vogue welcomes both dogs and cats on the go with a note from the manager outlining dog-walking routes, pet services in the area and pet-friendly restaurants. Four-legged guests are also treated to veterinarian- developed menus (including vegetarian ones), treats, toys and a "Did you forget?" closet where owners can find pet necessities from leashes and pet beds to toys and litter boxes.

Hotel Monaco in New Orleans welcomes both cats and dogs and offers a "Bone Appetite" package to their canine guests. The lucky dog will not only receive a toy upon arrival but also a luxurious pet bed, treats, Evian spring water and a map of pet-friendly parks. The hotel also has a staff veterinarian on call.

Pet lovers who want to pamper their pooches can check into Whistler BC's Summit Lodge. Not only will the pooch receive gourmet biscuits at breakfast, customized water bowls and be taken out for walks or hikes by the Summit Lodge staff if their owner is too busy, they'll also be helping the local W.A.G. animal shelter, which receives $5 of the $15 fee. Summit Lodge staff can also arrange a trip to the local dog-grooming spa. Now that's living.


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