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Traveling by public transit (and train) in and around Madrid with a pet dog

This post was triggered by an article I ran across applauding the Madrid subway system’s recent decision to eliminate fees for pets. (Buen trabajo, Madrid!) I’ve since learned that Madrid’s public transit system, including metro trains, buses, and cercanías local rail, is vast. High time, therefore, to include it in Dog Jaunt’s list of public transit pet policies. Here’s what I’ve found:

Madrid’s metro system (as always, I give you the general link first, and then follow up with the pet policy — which gets its own link, so you can access it rapidly if you need to show it to another passenger or to an official) allows small pets in carriers onboard if they are not obnoxious in some way to other passengers: “Acceso con pequeños animales domésticos en receptáculos se permitirá el acceso con pequeños animales domésticos, siempre que vayan transportados en receptáculos idóneos y no resulten peligrosos ni molestos por su forma, volumen, ruido y olor para el resto de viajeros.” No details are provided about carrier size or type of pet.

It says something that all the photos that come up when you search for "dog," "Madrid" and "metro" don't include carriers. Perhaps dogs in carriers don't photograph well; perhaps no one obeys the carrier part of the rules. While I wait for someone to report, I'll play it safe and stick with this neutral photo….

It says something that the images resulting from a search for “dog,” “Madrid,” and “metro” don’t include carriers. Perhaps dogs in carriers don’t photograph well; perhaps no one obeys the carrier part of the rules. While I wait for someone to report, I’ll play it safe and stick with this neutral photo….

The bus system, operated by Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid (“EMT”), also allows small pets in carriers onboard [PDF] if they’re not obnoxious to other passengers (scroll down to Artículo 11).

The cercanías local rail system, operated by RENFE, also allows pets onboard, and by “pets” they mean dogs, cats, and birds. Dogs must be leashed and muzzled (other pets need only be leashed). There is no pet fee. However, there are some limitations on when pets may  travel: On weekdays, rush hours (6:00 to 9:00, then 13:30 to 16:30, and then 18:00 to 21:00) are pet-free. Weekends and holidays have no limitations.

Please note that RENFE operates trains throughout Spain, including Spain’s high-speed AVE trains. RENFE’s overall pet policy repeats the rules I’ve just summarized for traveling en cercanías with a pet, but it also provides the rules for mid-distance and long-distance trains. On mid-distance and Avant trains, pets (including dogs, cats, ferrets, birds) weighing no more than 10 kg may travel in a carrier (maximum size 35x 60x 35 cm) for a fee (“25% del billete a Tarifa General del tren correspondiente en el que se efectúe el viaje”). On long-distance and AVE trains, the rules are the same, with some additional provisos: You’ll need to engage the entire compartment if you want to travel in a sleeper car; and there’s no extra fee if you’re traveling with a ticket for “Preferente sentada, Club, cama Preferente, cama Gran Clase y Butaca Gran Confort.” Please note, however, that there’s some possibility that your pet may not be allowed on a long-distance or AVE train if another passenger objects (a phrase I didn’t see in the other transit systems’ pet policies): “Se permite su transporte siempre que no se opongan el resto de los clientes.”

As I mentioned above, I’m adding this post to Dog Jaunt’s handy collection of blog posts about pet friendly public transit!

Portland, Oregon’s Mark Spencer Hotel: Pet-friendly in the Pearl

I had previously stayed at Kimpton hotels in Portland — the Hotel Monaco, which I’ve reviewed, and the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel, which I haven’t — but my uncle is a devoted fan of the Mark Spencer Hotel, and finally persuaded me to give it a try. Now I’m a fan too. The Mark Spencer is comfortable and stylish, the front desk staff could not have been kinder to Chloe or to us, and the hotel’s location (“where the West End meets the Pearl District”) is perfect.

The front desk sign, welcoming visiting pets

The front desk sign, welcoming visiting pets

This is the same trip to Portland that we — including Chloe! — took via Amtrak, and the Mark Spencer is a do-able walk from Portland’s train station. It’s also just a couple of blocks from Powell’s, Portland’s divine bookstore (which is not, alas, pet-friendly), and from a Whole Foods Market.

While the “Deluxe Queen” and “Deluxe King” rooms have mini-fridges, the other rooms have very serviceable small kitchens; with such easy access to good groceries, cooking would be easy. That said, Portland is a city of superb restaurants, and several favorites (including Grassa/Lardo, Kenny & Zuke’s, and Blue Star Donuts) and soon-to-be favorites (Clyde Common, SuperBite) are also within a couple of blocks. The hotel provides a list of downtown Portland restaurants that welcome pet dogs to their outdoor seating areas, including Bluehour and Caffè Umbria.

Rummaging through my phone, I find that I only took pictures of the dog information packet  (including a particularly crinkly packet of dog treats) that was waiting for us:

I do love good graphic design.

I don’t completely understand this door tag…

And this just charms me.

…but it charms me.

Poop bag, crinkly bag of treats, useful info; but also a nice note from management, and truly, the folks at the Mark Spencer (all of whom seemed to be pet owners themselves) came to pieces over Chloe

Poop bag, crinkly bag of treats, useful info; but also a nice note from management, and truly, the folks at the Mark Spencer (all of whom seemed to be pet owners themselves) came to pieces over Chloe

The photos on the hotel’s website, however, accurately reflect what the rooms look like (my mother-in-law moved partway through our visit, so between us, I got to see three different rooms). There is a pleasant complementary breakfast, served in an atrium off the lobby; the lobby area also includes the most elaborate coffee machine I have ever seen, and I have fond memories of curling myself around cups of coffee in a quiet, library-like room just opposite the front desk. While we repeatedly missed it, there is also a daily wine & cheese event, and I suspect that it too is in that library room.

We paid our own way at the Mark Spencer Hotel. It’s no longer the bargain my uncle raved about years ago, but I found the price reasonable, given the hotel’s location and the pleasantness of our stay. There is a $25 per pet, per night fee, and according to the hotel’s website, only certain floors are pet-friendly. However, by the act of some good fairy, we ended up being given a “Master Executive Suite” instead of the “Deluxe King” I’d reserved, and it was pet-friendly, so the floor limitations don’t affect the quality of the available pet-friendly rooms.

Traveling by public transit (and train) in and around Rome with a pet dog

Put briefly, your pet dog need only be leashed and muzzled to travel on Rome’s public transit, but there is a fee. Broadening the focus beyond Rome, small pets in carriers travel for free on Trenitalia regional and long-distance trains, while there is a fee for larger dogs. We haven’t been back to Rome since Chloe walked (or, rather, wiggled — she was very small) into our lives. I suspect that, as in Paris, the rules provide a general framework for pets on public transport, but that actual practice looks a little different — I’d love to hear in the comments from folks who routinely travel with their pets in Rome!

Metro and regional train map

Rome: Metro, tram, and regional train map

Buses, metro, and tram within Rome

The web of responsibility for public transit in Rome is complicated, but the main website to consult for information about the city’s buses, metro, tram, and commuter rail is ATAC (short for something like “Agenzia del Trasporto Autoferrotranviario del Comune di Roma”).

The ATAC website directly addresses pets on buses and metro trains, saying that small and mid-sized dogs are allowed onboard if they are leashed and muzzled (cats and birds may also travel by bus and metro, but they must be in carriers). There must be no more than two pet dogs per bus; on the metro, pet dogs are allowed in only the first and last cars. There is a fee for pet dogs (service dogs travel for free).

Here’s the quote (to find it, click on the link I provide, then, under the FAQ list, click on “guida al trasporto publicco,” then on the question “Sulle vetture si possono trasportare animali?”): “E´consentito portare cani di piccola e media taglia al guinzaglio e muniti di museruola a paniere. Sugli autobus non sono ammessi più di due cani per vettura; in metropolitana l´accesso è consentito sul primo e sull´ultimo vagone dei treni. Il trasporto dei cani è gratuito soltanto in caso di cane guida per non vedente, tutti gli altri sono soggetti al pagamento della tariffa ordinaria. Anche i gatti e gli uccelli possono essere trasportati a pagamento in gabbie o ceste.”

This does not address pets on trams or commuter lines, which are also operated by ATAC. I assume that leashed and muzzled dogs are also allowed onboard, but haven’t been able to find supporting language.

Regional and long distance trains

Trenitalia operates both regional train lines (useful for commuters but also for visitors trying to get to the Fiumicino airport, to Civitavecchia, or Ostia Antica) and long distance trains. Pet dogs are allowed on all Trenitalia trains (including, I can’t help noting, sleeper cars — for a fee, of course, and in some instances you’ll be required to reserve the entire cabin). You’ll want to read the details carefully, but, broadly speaking, small pets in carriers (maximum size 70x30x50 cm) travel for free, while larger pet dogs must be leashed and muzzled and paid for.

One way to get to the Fiumicino airport is to take the regional FL-1 train. At €8.00, it’s cheaper (by 6 euros) than the direct Leonardo Express train, also run by Trenitalia, but it makes many more stops. Here too, small pets in carriers travel for free. It appears that larger pets (leashed and muzzled) also travel for free on the FL-1 trains, but please note that they are restricted to the first car.

A few alternatives

A third way to get to Fiumicino is to take a Terravision bus, but the company’s Conditions of Carriage cagily avoid a definitive pet policy: “Terravision is not required to carry animals on its vehicles except for guide dogs for blind or deaf passengers.”

Speaking of alternatives, Megabus has a countrywide network of bus routes that competes to some extent with Trenitalia trains. For pet owners, however, the choice is easy: Megabus does not allow pet dogs on board. “Sui servizi megabus.com non sono ammessi cani o altri animali fatta eccezione per i cani addestrati che assistono i clienti disabili nello svolgimento delle attività basilari.”

For details about pet policies for other cities’ public transit systems, please check out Dog Jaunt’s handy collection of blog posts about pet friendly public transit!

Scoop Law Saturday: Vashon Island Sheepdog Trials

What was I thinking with all those Photo Friday posts of yore? “Scoop Law Saturday” has a much sweeter sound. To get you oriented: The last scoop law sign I posted was from Gearhart, OR and featured two eerie souls staring off into a mist. This week, I bring you a lot of color, from this year’s Vashon Sheepdog Classic.

Here we have a plywood sheepdog penning a collection of trash barrels, none of which welcomes dog poop. Elsewhere with your dog poop!

Here we have a plywood sheepdog penning a collection of trash receptacles, none of which welcomes dog poop. Elsewhere with your dog poop!

And here we have some really serious eye directed at this large wooly sheep.

And here we have some really serious eye directed at this large wooly sheep.

More woolen sheep magnificence, more sheepdog eye.

A better view of that knitted sheep magnificence

Many thanks to Chandler, who was up and out and taking pictures early on this June morning! To see other scoop law signs in Dog Jaunt’s collection, click on the “scoop law” tag below this post, or type “scoop law” in the search bone.

Reader’s report: Traveling to Peru with a small dog

I’ll just admit up front that this is a low point in my life as a blogger: Reader Stefanie sent me two fantastic messages about this trip a year ago — yes, in June 2015 — and I am only now posting them on the blog. I have apologized to her, of course, and now we will all take a deep, cleansing breath together, swig from a mug of green tea, and stride mindfully into a future of timeliness.

How great is this?! After this post was published, Stefanie sent another photo of Papaya, on another Peru trip, but this time visiting the captain in the cockpit.

How great is this?! After this post was published, Stefanie sent another photo of Papaya, on another Peru trip, but this time visiting the captain in the cockpit.

Stefanie is originally from Peru, and now lives in Southern California with her husband and Papaya, her young male Pug (Papaya weighs about 19 lbs.). A year later, Stefanie reports that they have added a second Pug to the family. They travel between Southern California and Peru at least once a year. That’s not your run-of-the-mill pet travel, and I’m thrilled to have her guidance. Here’s her report (links to the products she mentions are provided at the end of the post):

“Papaya and I booked our trip to Peru with American Airlines a couple months in advance. Reservations was very nice about adding a pet to my reservation ( I called them after I booked my flights online); they didn’t charge me any fee for adding him to the reservation over the phone.”

Preparing for travel

“I planned on taking a dog stroller with me and asked about it, since on their website you’ll only find information regarding baby strollers. The representative said I should have no issues, so I went ahead and bought a Pet Gear Happy Trails Stroller. We practiced going on walks around the neighborhood, and took Papaya to the veterinarian and many other places with it, so he would get used to being inside. I also bought a Gate Check Stroller Bag to protect the stroller [while it was stowed on the plane]. [Editor’s note: Stefanie used the tips in this post and its comments to get started with using a pet stroller for plane travel, but she gave me more useful tips in her messages, which I’m adding as a comment to that stroller post. Yet again, thank you, Stefanie!]

Papaya in his stroller

Papaya in his Pet Gear Happy Trails stroller

For this trip we also bought a Large Sturdibag. We have the Medium Sherpa with wheels (we traveled with it the year before), but Papaya is now too big for it; also, the wheels take extra room and Papaya hates being dragged so I had to carry it on my shoulder anyway. He loved his Sturdibag from day 1 —  I left it in the living room and he would take his naps in it, I would take him on car rides and to go pick up his food, he got used to it very fast. I should mention he is a big little dog, he weighed 19.17 lbs the morning we left.

Our trip begun at LAX, which is 1 1/2 hours from home. I took him on a long walk, fed him his regular breakfast and took his water bowl away an hour before departing to the airport.
Check-in had to be at the counter because I was traveling with a pet. I knew this already so I was ready with all my papers at hand.”

At the airport

“We had a little issue here: The AA counter lady couldn’t find a way to add the charge of $125.00 so I could pay. The supervisor couldn’t either. The issue was that we were going to Peru and they weren’t sure dogs were allowed to travel there in the cabin or as a checked pet. So I showed them the “Traveling with pets” information I had printed (I had one I printed on the day I made my reservation and one I printed that morning). It mentioned the countries in South America where pets are not allowed, and Peru is not on that list. BUT it doesn’t mention the countries where dogs ARE allowed, so that was the issue. We were there longer than normal —  the supervisor had to call Dallas Int. Airport and talk to someone from the crew of the flight going to Peru to ask if they allowed dogs. Luckily, there was someone there who said: “Yeah, I’ve traveled with a dog to Peru.” So the $125.00 was charged as a MISCELLANEOUS (she had to add “Cabin Pet Fee” manually). So my advice is: Know the rules. Print the airline pet policy. Be friendly but firm [emphasis added by Dog Jaunt, who applauds Stefanie for her preparedness and tenacity].

They didn’t weigh Papaya (the AA web site doesn’t mention a weight limit anyway) but the counter lady did look at him in his carrier to make sure he was comfortable. Both the counter lady and her supervisor were very very nice.

After that I transferred Papaya to his stroller, went through security (it was very easy, I followed the instructions another reader of your blog gave me about traveling with a stroller). Oh, I got him a TSA Fast Pass harness (size XL). It was a little tight but it gave me peace of mind that if he happened to escape while going through security he had all my contact info with him (he only wore it to go through security). Then we found our gate, transferred Papaya to his Sturdibag, got a Gate Check tag for his stroller from a gate agent, and to the airplane we went.”

During flight

“Our first flight was a 3-hour one from LAX (Los Angeles) to DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth). We had seat 9F (window) in Main Cabin Extra. The middle seat was empty, so I had a little extra room for my backpack with all of Papaya’s needs. We had extra leg room just in case; I’m only 5’4 but I wanted the extra room for Papaya’s carrier. The airplane was a 737. I noticed that the middle and window seats had more room; I don’t think a Large Sturdibag would have fit under an aisle seat.

Here’s Papaya napping:

Papaya snoozing in his large SturdiBag on an American 737 (Main Cabin Extra seat).

Papaya snoozing in his large SturdiBag on an American 737 (Main Cabin Extra window seat).

We stopped at the pet relief area [on the air, or “sterile” side of security] in Terminal D at DFW. Our next plane left from Gate 20 and the pet relief area is next to Gate 19 [Editor’s note: There are now two additional air-side pet relief areas at DFW, near Gates B28 and E31]. To get there, we took the Skylink from Terminal C to Terminal D.

The next flight was 7 hours from DFW to LIM (Lima), also in a Main Cabin Extra window seat (14A). The airplane was an old 757-200. Very uncomfortable for me. Papaya slept most of the flight, I put his carrier on my lap. The people sitting next to me loved Papaya, they even let me put my backpack in their under-the-seat space.

During both flights, I fed him his little freeze dried treats, gave him a few ice cubes and had a little fan by my feet so he didn’t overheat. I didn’t sedate him, he slept most of the time, he did whine a couple times but a treat or my hand inside his carrier would calm him.”

Arriving in Peru

“Both outbound flights were very easy and our stroller was waiting for us outside the gates. Once in Peru we had to go through Immigrations (I must add that they told me me to use the Preferred Line — I replied that I didn’t have a baby, since I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable), then we had to stop by the SENASA office [Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria del Peru], where I had to pay S/.98 ( around $30) for his entrance to Peru. They asked for all the papers (vaccinations, health certificate, USDA endorsement), gave me a receipt and off we went to get our suitcases.” [Editor’s note: Here’s a link to the current USDA page for Peru, providing a form of the paperwork needed; please note that Peru is a country that requires tapeworm treatment shortly before arrival.]

Returning to the U.S. from Peru

“We spent almost a month in Peru ( yeah, 1 1/2 suitcases were just supplies for Papaya). On the way back, again we paid the $125 fee at the counter (Lima’s airport is very hectic so I recommend arriving with a lot of extra time if traveling with a pet). He wasn’t weighed.

Our first flight from LIM to DFW was delayed more than 2 hours, it was again an old 757. I sat in a middle seat in the Economy section. I didn’t take a picture this time, but Papaya’s carrier fit just fine. He was on my lap the whole flight anyway (except take off and landing).

We missed our second flight, DFW to LAX (our first flight arrived late; we had a delay at Customs; and also Grandma can’t walk that fast anymore). My mom took Papaya outside Terminal D to potty while I rechecked our luggage and got new boarding passes for the next flight to LAX. We took the Skylink again to our next terminal, and waited at the gate.

[Stefanie had some vexing issues with her pet stroller in DFW:] Papaya’s stroller, which I checked at the gate in Lima, was not at the gate in DFW when we landed. Instead, we had to pick it up with the luggage. Again, when checking the stroller they said I had to pick it with my luggage in LAX — this time they said it was because I didn’t have a baby. So I (106 lbs tiny lady) carried his 19 lb. body all the way back home, which gave me bad bad bruises 🙁 I was really unhappy with AA.

The second plane was a new plane, an A321. I sat in a middle seat in the Economy section, between Mom and Grandma. Under all the seats were these entertainment boxes. They took SO much room, Papaya’s carrier barely fit.

That is a snug fit (though it is, in fact, fitting). Since Stefanie was in Economy, there wasn't a lot of pitch available for her to pull the carrier out into, too.

That is a snug fit (though it is, in fact, fitting) — this is Papaya’s large SturdiBag under a middle Economy seat on an American A321(S) plane.

He wasn’t comfy at all and scratched at his carrier, especially during the delays, which scared me — I started to notice the mesh screen breaking. I was so scared he would make a big hole and then I’d have a loose dog in the airplane. I again put his carrier in my lap as soon as we took off.

We landed in LAX and came home safe and sound. Papaya was obviously tired and slept in the car all the way home.”

Stefanie concludes with kind praise of Dog Jaunt, and also mulls over her future plans: She bought the pet stroller to help negotiate airports (I’m taller and larger than Stefanie, and carrying Chloe — who’s significantly lighter than Papaya — on long travel days takes a toll on my back, so I understand her motivation), but because the AA staff had different understandings of the rules, Stefanie didn’t have access to the stroller in DFW and in LAX on her return trip (even though it was delivered to her DFW and LIM gates on her outbound trip). She’s considering doing without it, especially when she’s traveling with her husband. She has, too, since contacted SturdiBag and paid to have her carrier’s mesh replaced with the sturdier mesh they provide on request. Bottom line, though, is that “Papaya and I had a wonderful time in Peru,” and Stefanie was already planning their next trip. Thank you so much, Stefanie, for the great information and pictures, and for your patience in waiting so long to see them shared with your fellow travelers!

Amazon links:

Pet Gear Happy Trails stroller

Gate Check Stroller Bag

Large SturdiBag pet carrier

Medium Sherpa pet carrier (with wheels)

TSA Fast Pass harness (large size; other sizes available)

 

In the belly of the beast: The World’s Biggest Beagle is a delightful (and dog-friendly) B&B

Cottonwood, Idaho is a very small town in a very beautiful part of the U.S. It’s located on Highway 95, a humdinger of a road stretching the length of Idaho’s Panhandle. Thankfully for my nerves, the part we drove was not a twisty, plunge-y part of the highway, but if you like twists and plunges, U.S. Route 95 has plenty of them along its 538 miles.

More or less on a dare, I did drive us down to Lewiston from the cliff above on this old part of U.S. 95, now understandably bypassed. Chandler has pictures, no doubt, but I focused very intently on the tarmac.

More or less on a dare, I did drive us down a cliff, to Lewiston, on this old part of U.S. 95 — now, understandably, bypassed. Chandler has pictures, no doubt, but I focused very intently on the tarmac.

Cottonwood is about an hour southeast of Lewiston, and for most of the trip we were in the Nez Perce reservation. It’s gorgeous country. What lured us both in this direction, however, was a view of a different kind:

"Whaaaat?," I can hear you ask.

“Whaaaat?,” I can hear you ask.

Chandler features roadside attractions on her travel blog "Drawn the Road Again," and I focus on pet-friendly stuff — the World's Largest Beagle is where the Ven diagrams of our blogs overlap….

My road trip buddy Chandler features roadside attractions on her travel blog “Drawn the Road Again,” and I focus on pet-friendly stuff — the World’s Largest Beagle is where the Venn diagrams of our blogs overlap.

The Dog Bark Park Inn is the creation of owners Dennis Sullivan & Frances Conklin, a couple of endless ingenuity and charm. The biggest feature is the World’s Largest Beagle, a bed-and-breakfast in the shape of a giant Beagle dog. Next to it is a smaller, but still giant, Beagle:

Even the smaller Beagle is still massive (please note Chloe, for scale, down in front), but I believe his main purpose is to gaze off at another Beagle...

Even the smaller Beagle is massive (please note Chloe, for scale, down in front), but I believe his only purpose is to gaze off at another Beagle, containing a retreat for the owners…

…and also a fire hydrant, which is slated to shelter a porta-potty for summer visitors.

…and also a fire hydrant, which is slated to shelter a porta-potty for summer visitors.

You’re starting to get the idea — this is indeed “a noble and absurd undertaking.”

Behind the Beagle's hock are the steps leading upwards to the entrance; this also gives you a taste of the view from the upper deck, which is soothingly endless.

As you can tell from the pictures, there are two decks, one below the Beagle and the other off the Beagle’s left flank, up a short flight of stairs. Both are comfortable places to sit, either to seek shade, or to enjoy the soothingly endless view to the north (at night, turn out the porch light and enjoy the stars). Behind the Beagle’s hock are the steps leading upwards to the entrance; this also gives you a taste of the view from the upper deck.

It’s also a remarkably pleasant bed-and-breakfast. There’s only one suite, and it’s inside the largest of the Beagles. It contains a very comfortable queen-sized bed, in the Beagle’s belly, along with a petite but useful kitchenette, a dining table, and a good-sized bathroom. A ladder leads up the neck of the Beagle to a tiny room with two windows (the Beagle’s eyes) and a chair that folds out into a single-bed-sized foam mat (if you’re traveling with a young ‘un, they’d likely fit on the shelf that is, from the outside, the Beagle’s nose, but Chandler opted for leaving the mat on what is, essentially, the Beagle’s chin).

The queen-sized bed, featuring Dennis's excellent chainsaw-art dogs (I bought an English Bulldog for friends who yearn, but live in NYC).

The queen-sized bed, featuring Dennis’s excellent chainsaw art. Those (human) treats on the bed are shaped like dogs, and, like everything else provided by Frances, delicious.

Here's a close-up of the treats; you can also see some of the other goodies she provided, including homemade muffins, with berries she and Dennis gathered, and homemade granola, specially nut-free for my sake.

Here’s a close-up of the treats; you can also see some of the other goodies Frances provided, including homemade muffins, with berries she and Dennis gathered, and homemade granola, specially nut-free for my sake.

Not shown is the small fridge full of thoughtful and tasty items, like a cheese and fruit plate, yogurt and milk for breakfast, and many beverages. There is more than one restaurant in Cottonwood, we discovered, but between the picnic we’d packed at Frances’ suggestion, and the generous nibbles she provided, we were perfectly content.

Speaking of contentment, I’ve mentioned that the bed was comfortable. The shower was just what you’d want in a shower, temperature- and water-pressure-wise. There is wifi, but it’s iffy, and there’s no TV — but this is a place that cries out for you to put down your electronic devices and work on a puzzle or read a book (many of both are provided), and listen for the first coyote yelps. They’re out there, and it’s a remarkable experience to listen to them from the middle of a large Beagle.

I took literally dozens of pictures at the Dog Bark Park, but it would be unfair to deprive you of the fun of discovering its other delightfully goofy bits.

Okay, just one more:

We were getting ready to leave, the next morning, when I noticed yet another Beagle dog at the Dog Bark Park Inn….

We were getting ready to leave, the next morning, when I noticed yet another Beagle dog….

We paid our own way at the Dog Bark Park Inn. I will always let you know when someone else foots (paws!) the bill. At just under $100/night, plus a one-time $15 pet fee, the Big Dog is less expensive than the various La Quinta inns we stayed in elsewhere on this particular road trip, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun. 

Traveling by public transit in Montréal and Québec City with a small dog

At the top of my list of two-week vacation ideas is a road trip down the Hudson River, starting much farther north, in Québec City and Montréal, then dawdling from Saratoga Springs to New York City. The foreseeable future doesn’t include two free weeks, however, so I’m channeling my energies into planning and researching. I’m delighted to report that travelers with small pets have a wealth of public transit options in both Montréal and Québec City — how nice to be able to put off renting a car until we’re ready to head south!

A postcard view of Québec's Château Frontenac dated 1958, the year my parents honeymooned there.

A postcard view of Québec’s Château Frontenac dated 1958, the year my parents honeymooned there. It’s a Fairmont hotel now, and it’s pet-friendly (well, pet-friendly-ish — there’s a fairly stiff daily fee, and only certain floors of the hotel are open to travelers with pets).

Montréal public transit options

The details are below, but put briefly, small pets in carriers, carried on their owners’ laps, are allowed on all of Montréal’s public transit options. The commuter train also allows small pets on leashes to travel in their owners’ arms.

Within the city, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) operates a network of buses and also the Métro (I’ll start by providing you with links to the transit systems’ home pages, then provide links to the specific pet policy pages). On both STM buses and STM metro trains, small pets in carriers are allowed on board: “Pets must at all times remain inside a cage or other closed carrier designed for that purpose.”

Snuggled up next to Montréal is the city of Laval, served by the buses of the Société de transport de Laval (STL), some of which will connect you with STM metro stations, and at least one AMT commuter train station. Small pets in carriers are also allowed on board STL buses: “Les petits animaux domestiques doivent être transportés dans une cage, une boîte ou un sac prévu à cet effet afin de protéger la clientèle de la STL des risques de morsure et de griffure et de tout autre danger.”

Longueuil, in the other direction, has a bus system of its own (the Réseau de transport de Longueuil, or RTL), which similarly connects with STM metro stations and AMT train stations. Here too, small pets are allowed on board, in carriers on their owners’ laps: “Les animaux de compagnie voyagent obligatoirement dans des cages fermées et sur les genoux du client. Cette restriction ne s’applique pas aux chiens-guides ou d’accompagnement.”

The commuter train lines (run by the Agence métropolitaine de transport, or AMT) have some good sightseeing potential for visitors — and AMT has the most generous pet policy in the Montréal area transit web. Pets are allowed on board both in carriers and, leashed, on their owners’ laps: “As for pets, in general, those under 10 kg (cats, dogs or birds) can be brought on trains as long as they are kept in a cage or in your arms and on a leash at all times.”

Québec City public transit options

Again, to sum up, the Québec City and Lévis city bus systems both allow small pets in carriers on board; your pet need only be leashed on the ferry service between the two cities.

The Réseau de transport de la capitale (RTC) operates a variety of buses all over the region, particularly including regular buses and Metrobus rapid transit lines. Per Rule No. 231, Section III, Subsection 4 [PDF], pets are allowed on board if they are in carriers: “Dans ou sur un immeuble ou du matériel roulant, il est interdit à toute personne de se trouver avec un animal ou permettre qu’un animal y soit présent, sauf…si cet animal est transporté en tout temps dans une cage ou une boîte dûment conçue à cette fin.”

Lévis is a city just to the south of Québec City, and connected to it by a couple of bridges and a ferry (see below). The Société de transport de Lévis  (STL) operates a bus system covering the city and extending into Québec City. Per Rule No. 135, Section III, Subsection 4 [PDF], which is surely related in some way to the nearly identical RTC language above, pets are allowed on board if they are in carriers: “Dans ou sur un immeuble ou du matériel roulant, il est interdit à toute personne de se trouver avec un animal ou permettre qu’un animal y soit présent, sauf…si cet animal est transporté en tout temps dans une cage ou un récipient dûment conçu à cet effet.”

There is also a ferry between Québec City and St. Levis, operated by the Société des Traversiers du Québec (STQ). The crossing takes about 12 minutes, and leashed pet dogs are allowed on board: “Si vous voyagez avec un animal de compagnie, vous devez obligatoirement le tenir en laisse.”

Montréal to Québec City — any pet friendly options?

The pet-friendly options for traveling between Montréal and Québec City are flying or driving. Flights are under an hour, but they’re pricey — we’ll likely drive instead, since it’s only a three-hour trip, and it sounds pleasant. Via Rail, Canada’s national train line, connects the cities, but its pet policy is so unpleasant that it’s off my list of options. There is a bus, the Orléans Express, but — surprise! — it’s not pet-friendly.

For details about pet policies for other cities’ public transit systems, please check out Dog Jaunt’s handy collection of blog posts about pet friendly public transit!

Bringing a small dog on Amtrak: Or, Chloe takes the train to Portland!

About a month ago, Chloe and I traveled from Seattle to Portland (and back) via Amtrak. I look at that sentence and I marvel: For the past seven years, I’ve been wistfully comparing Amtrak’s draconian pet policy to European trains’ typically generous policies, and praising the rare U.S. train systems (hello, Metro-North!) that are pet-friendly. Back in 2014, Amtrak cracked open the door with a pilot program allowing pet cats and dogs in carriers on certain Chicago-area trains, and they later gently expanded the program.

There are signs for pet travel in Amtrak stations! Hallelujah!

Now there are signs for pet travel in Amtrak stations! Hallelujah!

At the moment, “cats and dogs 20 pounds or less” are allowed on board many train routes covering all regions of the country, and helpfully listed on Amtrak’s pet policy page. As you’ll see, there is a $25 pet fee per trip “segment,” and you need to reserve a spot for your pet in advance — plan ahead, because there are only five pets allowed on a train (only one pet per passenger, is the current rule). Read Amtrak’s pet policy page carefully, since there are many details to absorb, and some important route-specific rules. The features that most affected my plans were the requirement that travelers with pets travel only in Coach seats, and that pets are only allowed on trips scheduled to last seven hours or less.

My romantic plans to cross the country in a sleeper car with Chloe will have to wait, obviously, but in the meantime, I’m happy to make shorter trips. Going to Portland, for example, was easy and delightful — words I never use to describe driving to Portland from Seattle, because, as I’ve mentioned in the past, that particular road trip is like Gilligan’s 3-hour tour. It seems endless, and strangely spooky, and also (forgive me, but I just punched one of my own buttons) there are stretches of I-5 where the lane markings just completely disappear in the rain (it rains quite a lot in the PNW) and all you can do is prepare yourself mentally for fiery death. On the train, by contrast, you reach another tasty snack out of your carry-on, snuggle deeper into your throw, and check Google Maps for the name of that cute little island out there.

Here’s how it works. I called Amtrak to make my own reservation and I told the reservation agent I’d be traveling with my small dog. It is my experience that there is not a penalty for making train reservations over the phone, rather than online (compare and contrast making plane reservations). I received via email an “eTicket” listing both me and “Dog, Chloe” as passengers:

Chloe and I are both listed as "Adult," and indeed, I've just realized that she and I are about the same age right now. My puppy has grown up!

Chloe and I are both listed as “Adult,” and indeed, I’ve just realized that she and I are about the same age right now. My puppy has grown up!

When I arrived at Seattle’s Amtrak station, I lined up to see a ticketing agent, not only because I had a suitcase to check but also because I needed to collect and complete a pet waiver form and give the agent the opportunity to eyeball Chloe in her carrier. We used Chloe’s usual large SturdiBag, and that worked fine.

Chloe waiting for the train in Seattle's newly-restored Amtrak station. Her carrier should be on my lap or on the floor — and it was, except for this picture.

Chloe waiting for the train in Seattle’s newly-restored Amtrak station. Her carrier should be on my lap or on the floor — and it was, except for this picture.

Here’s where I first realized how new this policy still is. I had to tell the ticketing agent that I needed a waiver, and she had to consult her colleague to locate the stack of forms. Speak up if your agent misses that step, and make sure you walk away with a form filled out by him or her (the “PNR” box in the lower right corner is the agent’s responsibility) and signed and dated by you. You’ll need one for each trip segment; I got one, therefore, in Seattle and another, a couple of days later, in Portland.

Please note that while Amtrak does not require that you show up with proof of vaccinations, in this waiver you are attesting that your pet is, among other things, "up-to-date on all vaccinations."

Please note that while Amtrak does not require that you show up with proof of vaccinations, in this waiver you are attesting that your pet is, among other things, “up-to-date on all vaccinations.”

The reason I have a pet waiver to show you is because the system is still really new. The conductor in Seattle collected my pet waiver in the station, when I arrived at the head of the seat assignment line; on the return trip, in Portland, a different kind of official gave me a seat assignment, and the actual conductor (who I encountered later without recognizing him) didn’t ask for the form. This is the kind of thing that will, I trust, regularize over time. (In the meantime, it made me chuckle when one of the onboard staff stopped next to me, looked at the tab tucked into the rail over my seat, and asked “what does P-E-T mean?”)

So blurry! But I thought the "Pet" note would make you smile too.

So blurry! But I thought the “Pet” note would make you smile too.

Anyway, since I was traveling on the Coast Starlight, a long-haul train, the Coach seats were very comfortable. There was no room at all under the seat in front of me, and I don’t recall whether there was a space that I could access under my own seat. I put Chloe’s carrier on the ground in front of me, with my purse, which was comfortable for us and apparently acceptable to Amtrak.

As I was writing this post, reader Cassidy wrote to me about her recent experience traveling via Amtrak with Azuki, her 23-lb. Shiba Inu. Cassidy, thank goodness, fills in the missing info: “Their website also says she had to stay under my seat the whole trip, but there was a huge metal bar in the middle of all of the seats such that not even my backpack would fit under. So I put her in my lap (which she prefers) and the conductor didn’t mind at all, nor did the person sitting next to me.”

My legs, propped up on the nifty bar Amtrak provides for propping purposes, with Chloe's carrier closest to me and my purse under my ankles.

My legs, propped up on the nifty bar Amtrak provides for propping purposes, with Chloe’s carrier closest to me and my purse under my ankles.

Halfway through the trip I moved Chloe's carrier to my lap in a desperate search for warmth. It was blazingly hot in Portland, so I'd worn a summer dress, but the train was COLD. Thank goodness for Chloe, radiating warmth even through the bottom of her carrier.

Halfway through the trip I moved Chloe’s carrier to my lap in a desperate search for warmth. It was blazingly hot in Portland, so I’d worn a summer dress, but the train was COLD. Thank goodness for Chloe, radiating heat even through the bottom of her carrier.

Chloe under my legs on our return trip, now sharing the space with my purse and two sacks of books from Portland's phenomenal bookstore Powell's (alas, not pet-friendly).

Chloe under my legs on our return trip, now sharing the space with my purse and two sacks of books from Portland’s phenomenal bookstore Powell’s (alas, not pet-friendly).

Learn from my errors and pack a light throw (I did bring a travel pillow, and that was a good call); also, since your pup is not allowed in the food service cars, pack a picnic for yourself. Please note that while one of the enjoyable features of riding a train is having a beer, that’s a pleasure you’ll have to forego when you travel with your dog: Since you have the dog, you can’t get to the Lounge car to consume beer there (and you’re not allowed to bring beer purchased there back to your seat); and because you’re in Coach (rather than a private Sleeping Car), you cannot drink beer that you’ve brought with you. Them’s the rules, alas.

Our trip was three hours long, and Chloe slept the whole way there and back. On a longer trip, she might have liked a leg stretch and a bathroom break, but neither is guaranteed, so plan ahead. I was advised to speak with the conductor after boarding and ask if s/he planned a longer stop at one of the stations (periodic longer station breaks are not required, but if the schedule permits, they may happen — especially, I think, for the benefit of smokers, but now travelers with pets can benefit too).

Last but not least, I’m happy to report that the folks at Amtrak reacted to Chloe’s presence with good cheer — most didn’t bat an eyelash, and some reacted with positive enthusiasm. Cassidy, traveling from New York City to Washington, D.C., had the same experience. In fact, she reports, “The conductor actually came by and sat next to me when my seatmate got off the train and petted my dog, telling me that she has dogs of her own and she was so happy they decided to let them on.”

Pet taxi for travel between the U.K. and France

I made a note of this on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page, but posts there soon scroll out of view, and it would be a shame to lose track of such a useful tidbit of info: One of Dog Jaunt’s Facebook followers turns out to be a taxi service based in Folkestone, a city which is, among other things, at the U.K. end of the Channel tunnel. The Folkestone Taxi Company is ready and willing to drive you and your dog from France to the U.K., or vice versa, either via the Eurotunnel le Shuttle or via ferry.

This is useful, you’ll remember, because the U.K. does not allow pet dogs to arrive in-cabin on inbound flights. If you prefer that your pet not travel in a plane’s belly, the best option is to fly into Paris (or some other destination on the Continent within a reasonable distance of the English Channel) and make your way together to the U.K. either via ferry (which you can walk and/or drive on, depending on the line you choose — the link is to the U.K.’s list of approved ferries for incoming pets) or via the Eurotunnel.

In either case, a car is necessary, either to get you to or onto the ferry (again, depending on your choice), or through the Chunnel (since pet dogs are not allowed on the Eurostar train). That’s not quite right, because you could take a train — French trains are pet-friendly — to the city where one of the ferry lines that allows walk-on travelers with pets is located, and then make your way from the train station to the ferry dock. We considered this option, but then looked at our collection of suitcases and decided to go a different route.

A one-way car rental from France, we found, is prohibitively expensive. We opted instead for a round-trip car rental, which was fine for us (we were just as happy to fly home from Paris as from London), but might not suit your overall plan. Give the Folkestone Taxi Co. a call and see if their rates and schedule fit your budget and plan — and then please let us know how it all worked out for you!

“Air”-side pet relief areas in the works for all larger U.S. airports

A little note at the end of a Harriet Baskas article electrified me. “The list,” she wrote, referring to pet relief areas on the air (or “sterile”) side of security, “should get much longer soon: There’s a U.S. Department of Transportation ruling mandating that all air terminals that serve more than 10,000 daily passengers have a post-security pet relief area by August 2016.” That’s thrilling news, because — as I’ve said here any number of times — pet relief areas on the land side of security are useful for folks ending their travels at that airport, but create serious timing issues for folks who are connecting to another flight. Having pet relief areas on the air side of security is a huge, well, relief.

I dug a bit deeper, and here’s what I’ve learned. Last August, the Department of Transportation issued a “Final Rule” amending its rules implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Among its provisions, per the Federal Register (the language I quote is on page 46510, but the whole entry is worth a read), is a requirement that “airports not only have at least one relief area per terminal but also that this service animal relief area, with limited exceptions, be located in the sterile area of each airport terminal to ensure that individuals with service animals are able to access service animal relief areas when traveling, particularly during layovers” (emphasis added). The rule applies to airports “located in the United States with 10,000 or more annual enplanements that receive Federal financial assistance” (so not all U.S. airports, but really, all of the ones you and I are likely to encounter — and the ones it doesn’t apply to are likely so small that you could easily pop out and back in with your pup).

And the deadline for this plan? Indeed, it’s officially August 2016: “Finally, the Department is providing U.S. airports one year to comply with the requirement to establish at least one service animal relief areas per airport terminal.” That’s right around the corner — I suspect that many airports will heave a Porch Potty or two into a former storage room and call it good, but we can hope that at least some of them take a page from the book of JFK’s Terminal 5, and provide an air side pet relief area that is large, equipped with a water source and a bench, and is positively pleasant to be in.