Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
October  2006

The Straight Poop on Pet-Friendly Hotels


 
It has long been a tradition in the hospitality business that we accommodate everybody, of any race, creed, sex or disability.  Whoever you are, if you have a valid credit card and can make it to the front door, you’re welcome to stay.  But we have always tended to discriminate by species.  If you’re human, come on in.  If you’re a huge, shaggy bison, well, that might be a problem.

There has always been a certain percentage of the traveling public bringing pets on trips – for companionship, for protection, or to save on those outrageous boarding-kennel fees.  Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie, and any number of other works, have romanticized the idea of bringing a faithful companion on one’s journey.  What people tend to forget, is that Steinbeck slept in his pickup truck and not in a suite at the Hilton.

Increasingly hotels are being forced to declare, or decline, “pet-friendliness.”  As our baby-boomer population greys into late middle age, and increasing numbers of younger people forego the pleasures of child-rearing, dogs and cats have become the new “children,” pampered in ways unimaginable just a generation ago.  At home, there are air-conditioned doghouses, foods made with prime rib and wheat germ, chew bones engineered by dental experts, and even pet psychiatrists.  Why would Fido accept anything less than first-class accommodations on the road?  

Well, I can think of a few good reasons.  One is that most pets’ toilet habits are sort of free-form and casual.  They must be taken outside frequently, or they will think nothing of soiling the carpet, and their owners are not always careful to inform the hotel that Foo-Foo “had an accident” behind the lounge chair.  We ban smoking on an adjacent floor lest some sensitive guest catch a random whiff of secondhand smoke, but well-seasoned animal urine in the carpet is OK?  Sometimes I think the “pet-friendly” hotel movement is being engineered behind the scenes by the companies that make steam carpet extractors.  And even if the owner is careful to take the pet outside to do its business, what’s the nearest bit of friendly turf?  That’s right, the strip of grass at your entryway.  Nothing makes a more lasting impression on an arriving guest quicker than a neatly manicured green-space dotted with fresh, fragrant feces.

Since they lack the opposable thumbs necessary to operate a toothbrush, many pets clean their teeth by chewing on things – like pillows, drapes, wooden furniture, the expensive stuff you just installed during last winter’s renovation.  Left alone for a sufficient time, a teething puppy can turn an entire loveseat into a stack of sticks and bits of foam, with no remorse whatsoever.

Most animals are also territorial by nature, and establish their dominance over other creatures the old-fashioned way – by biting and ripping and slashing until the foe either escapes or expires.  If Fido decides the housekeeper entering the room is an intruder, he will protect his space, and you will have sizeable hospital bills from an ex-employee.  Most hotels deal with this by requiring that an animal be caged, or its owner present, when the housekeeper enters.  Whatever your job might be, try doing it with two people staring at you and an angry Rottweiler crashing against the door of a flimsy travel cage.  It’s unnerving.

“Pet guests” tend to have more parasites, and bathe less often, than human guests – most of them, anyway.  They leave clouds of dander and bits of hair on everything.  How often do you actually launder your bedspreads?  How often would you launder them if you knew flea-infested Lhasa Apsos were sleeping on them, during shedding season?  Do you want your guests to see the large economy size of flea and tick spray on the maid’s cart, next to the Windex?

And finally, there are the animal noises.  Pets bark, meow, whine, growl, and screech, and if left alone in a room, they will do this for hours on end.  If you think this is not a problem, go try to take a restful nap at your local humane society.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of nature’s creatures, especially when gently braised in a ginger-mushroom sauce.  And I have pets at home that chew, shed, bark and track mud all over the carpet, and I love them anyway.  But I wouldn’t think for a minute of taking them with me on a trip.  Part of my idea of a vacation is not being licked awake at 5:30 A.M., and not having to leave an enjoyable social evening early because I have to dispense Kibbles and Bits to the starving creatures that just destroyed my last piece of Tupperware.  

Do kittens appreciate the wonders of the Grand Canyon?  Does Rover dream of visiting Boise in the spring?  Does a day at the beach in a high-zoot resort produce a more relaxed and well-rounded iguana?  I submit that the joys of travel mean nothing to domestic pets other than strange smells, bursting bladders, tiny cages and freezing airliner cargo holds.  I hope the profusion of pet-friendly hotels doesn’t induce more people to travel with their pets, or come vacation time, I may just send my big, dumb Labrador retriever Max to experience the pleasures of your hotel.  While I stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet.  



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

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Also See: Hotel Energy Management Systems 101/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
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Your Hotel Laundry Room / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Your Hotel Parking Lot / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Room Service / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Redecorate Your Elevator Cabs, Every Fall / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
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The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
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The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
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“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



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