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Whether or not you are a pet owner/lover or not, you have to have noticed the growing partnership between the booming pet industry and the hospitality industry. Dog bakeries seem to be in every town, doggy day camps, dog boarding, dog grooming, pet portraits, and an unbelievable array of dog accessories that are available at high end boutiques to Target and Walmart. It is not surprising that more and more in our industry are jumping on board.
I was speaking with Len Kain, co-founder of DogFriendly.com regarding the growing pet trend. Every year Len sees an increase in businesses that wish to be listed as dog friendly. Why do they do this? Well, it depends on the business - the the business' owner(s).
The hotel industry made big strides about 10 years ago, when more and more hotels began to try to attract those traveling with pets. Suites hotels began to cater to those who were with them longer term, understanding that people can't or don't wish to board their pets for extended stays. The trend grew from "allowing pets" to "inviting pets" to "catering to pets." Len saw an large increase after 9/11, when more people began to take driving vacations, one of the advantages of which was that now the dogs. could go along. Now, with the slower economic times, this trend is in rapid growth mode again, increasing the need for more and more pet friendly accommodations. How far will they go? Loews Hotels has some interesting offers: Dogs can take singing lessons and cut a CD in Nashville, take a surfing lesson in Coronado or go on a hike in Denver. I hear that a New York hotel provides dog bathrobes, orthopedic beds and pet psychic services. Some hotels offer massage and other spa services.
While the hotel industry got into it as a business decision to attract more guests, wineries are typically dog friendly because they love dogs, and many have their own winery dog as 'mascot." To see how prevalent this is, check out WineDogs.com, producer of the "wine dogs" series of books. By the way, they are now calling for entries for Wine Dogs USA 3. St Supery in Napa Valley has an Dog Days event every Fall, you can sip wine and nosh on tidbits, while Rover cavorts with doggy friends. St Francis winery has an annual Fall event "Blessing of the Animals" which includes a "winery dog of the year" contest.
Restaurants many have jumped on this trend for both reasons. Perhaps the owner or manager is a dog fan, perhaps they are located next to a park where many people walk dogs, and it is a way to attract business. Some restaurants, such as The Park Bench Cafe in Huntington Beach, CA, even offer a menu just for the dogs. Of course, it should be noted that with both wineries and restaurants, dogs are kept to the outside areas only!
I asked Len if he had heard any horror stories around dogs being allowed in these venues, and he said he really couldn't think of any. Of course there are going to be occasional scrapes and complaints, but overall Len felt that the type of people who bring dogs are generally pretty conscientious and bring dogs who are well behaved. In fact, his comment was "Often, the dogs are better behaved than many of the people."
We wanted to ask you about your experiences. We have two surveys - one for visitors to a dog friendly establishment, the other for those working in or managing a dog friendly establishment. Take either (or both, if applicable!) and get the result immediately upon completion.
Links to dog friendly listing sites:
DogFriendly.com lists restaurants, hotels, parks, beaches, events & attractions that are searchable by state.
There is even a winery dedicated to this subject! Friendly Dog Winery in Kenwood, CA
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