July 18th, 2017
As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s blog post, we had just returned from an epic 6,000 km road trip. We covered a lot of ground in the course of 16 days which meant seeking out dog friendly hotels. Thankfully, the internet makes searching simple. I went with a certain pet friendly hotel chain and booked their properties in the places that we would be stopping overnight. The first two Comfort Inns in Quebec City and Cornwall were familiar to us from last year’s trip to Peterborough, Ontario. Bailey came with us to attend a beginner carting seminar given by the South Eastern Ontario Regional Newfoundland Dog Club. Both inns allowed us to access our room from the outside. They provided quiet, grassy areas for Bailey to explore and ultimately, to do her business on. They were good fits for our giant sweetness. The rooms were spacious enough that Bailey could stretch out on her special blankets next to the air conditioner. She was not thrilled with the hotter temperatures outside and sought refuge by the cooling unit as soon as she entered the room. With her water and food dishes nearby, Bailey saw no need to move off her blankets. For such a large dog, Bailey’s presence went unnoticed by staff and guests. I can’t say the same for the yappy pooch at the end of the hall.
By the time that we arrived in Peterborough, Bailey was embracing her new vagabond life. Things were somewhat different at this Comfort Hotel. Bailey had to go through three doors and across a slippery tiled floor before getting to the carpeted hallway leading to our room. She did not like it at first. But, none of the hotel’s rooms had their own exterior door. Our gal adapted quite quickly and was soon handling the tiles without any hesitation. The hotel staff gave a doggy welcoming kit and seemed unfazed with having such a big dog on the premises. We did have to pay an additional charge for bringing a pet at all of the places up to this point. We expected it. After 4 nights without any incidents, Bailey was back on the road with us on the way to Sault Saint Marie in Northern Ontario.
We pulled into the parking lot at the Comfort Inn late in the day. By now, my sons and Bailey knew the drill. They waited while I staggered tiredly into the hotel to fill out the paperwork. I returned to drive the gang to their new cave for the night. Usually, I would have the exterior sliding glass door already unlocked to aid in unloading our gear as fast as possible. This place was no different. However, I also wanted to get Bailey inside with no one getting a close glimpse of her. Why, the sudden covert action? It became apparent upon checking in that not all of these chain’s hotels share the same pet policy. This one accepted up to two pets that did not exceed 50 kg. As I stood at the front desk and read this part of the pet check-in contract, I wondered if one pet who was slightly over 50 kg would qualify. Would I consider a few pounds over my normal weight to be a big thing? No, unless it was bikini season. The only good thing was that Bailey had actually lost 10 pounds from having a bout of diarrhea two days before our trip and had yet to gain it back. Did the contract mean that one pet could not weigh more than 50 kg or both pets combined had to be less than 50 kg? I did not to ask for clarification. In my mind, Bailey was just the weight of two pets. I rationalized it to my tired self and decided that Bailey was legit. Since I had not confirmed Bailey’s status with the front desk clerk, I thought it best to minimize sightings of our big girl. Not an easy thing to do when your dog looks like a young adult black bear in hunting country. Bailey seemed a little bewildered with me. I herded her quickly past people standing outside in the parking lot on the way to finding a secluded place for Bailey to relieve herself. Bailey is social. Seeking out people is what she likes to do, not avoid them. It seemed to me that Bailey was determined to make me cool my heels for not allowing visits while she found her “spot”. I was relieved that the night went smoothly even if I hardly got much sleep. The van was repacked and loaded for the final leg of our trip to Thunder Bay.
I was really looking forward to getting more sleep and an opportunity to stay in one place for a few nights. It was not to be. Our reservation had three of us in a pet friendly room with only one bed. There was hardly any room for Bailey and me, never mind two teenage boys. It was a mistake but, one that could not be easily fixed. The Canada Day long weekend was coming and no other pet friendly rooms with two beds were available. The boys ended up with their own non-pet room on the second floor. When I made the original reservation, I was told that for an additional charge, Bailey’s size would not be a problem. The contract presented to me at check-in stated otherwise. We would be sneaking her in again through 4 heavy doors, past a washer and dryer that may be in use to the room that was located just around the corner from the front desk. It was going to be a very long night. Then, the skies opened up and the rain came down heavily. Bailey hates being out in heavy downpours – so much for hiking during the day. I shuddered to think of Bailey shaking her wet fur with enough force to coat the room in water droplets. As a result, I spent the night tossing and turning while Bailey panted heavily. The air conditioner had stopped working at 12 am. I knew that moving out was the only viable option. So, at 7:30 am, I began phoning around for another pet friendly motel. I scaled back my expectations of an on-site laundry facility, fridge, microwave and included breakfast. I found a couple of local motels who would accept our oversized gal. They just were full up for the long weekend. No room at the inn so to speak. Rats! I moved on to plan C – boarding kennels.
It is true that good things can come out of unpleasant situations. I contacted a kennel that specializes in large and giant breeds – Greer Newfoundland Dogs Kennels. I called and Fay Greer listened to my sad tale. She encouraged me to come out with Bailey and tour the facilities. You see, they had room at their inn. My son and I arrived with Bailey to find 192 acres of stunning beauty. Fay walked us around and introduced us to her own gang of Newfs. She had been a member of our Newfoundland dog club in South Eastern Ontario before moving north decades earlier. Now, Fay was a member of the Northwestern Ontario regional club in Thunder Bay. I learned that the world of Newfoundland dogs is indeed small. It was the perfect place for our gal. The kennels were roomy with access to a large outside pens. Bailey would also have supervised outings in the barn and large fenced area. I realized that Bailey was not going to your typical kennel operation. She was being left at a retreat for Newfoundland dogs. It was hard to leave her. I kept looking over my shoulder only to realize that Bailey’s spot on the van’s bench was empty. To ease my guilt, we returned each day to take her out for a daily walk followed by afternoon tea with Fay and her husband. Our family enjoyed getting to know this exceptional couple who shared a love for Newfoundland dogs with us. Travelling is complicated with a giant breed such as Bailey. Despite our accommodation difficulties, Bailey’s presence on vacations has cultivated new friendships with like-minded people who love their canines.