Welcome waggin's: Dog-friendly vacation options grow
More and more Americans are bringing their dogs along on vacation. And savvy tourism-related businesses in New Hampshire are responding to this growing market with a variety of dog-friendly offerings.
Want to go canoeing with your corgi? Hiking with your hound? You can do that here.
But you also can opt for outlet shopping with your otterhound, glide on a gondola with your golden, or ride the rails with your Rottweiler.
And when you're done, you can relax at a variety of accommodations that cater to canine visitors, from luxurious country inns to rustic campgrounds.
Marti Mayne, spokesman for Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the region has long been pet-friendly, and travelers increasingly are taking notice.
In the past 12 months, about 11,000 people searched for "pet-friendly lodging" on the chamber's web site (mtwashingtonvalley.org), its most popular search term, Mayne said.
"More people will look for pet-friendly than they will for a B-and-B or resort," she said.
Mayne said some area attractions allow dogs, including the gondola at Wildcat Mountain. And those that don't often make accommodations for visitors traveling with dogs; Story Land in Glen and Santa's Village in Jefferson offer free kennels.
Dot Seybold is general manager at Settlers Green Outlet Village in North Conway, where dogs are welcome in more than half of the 65 shops.
"Many of the stores have a dog bowl that they keep outside, and a lot of stores have a bag of cookies behind the counter," she said.
Settlers Green (settlersgreen.com) also hosts a number of dog-centric events; last weekend, it was Dock Dogs, "an international dock jumping canine aquatics performance sport for dogs."
The competition was the full evolution of the "we like dogs" concept, Seybold said. "They're not only dogs, they're wet dogs," she said. "You really have to like dogs to like a wet dog."
Seybold really likes dogs; one of her Cardigan Welsh corgis, Grady, comes to work with her every day. She said for many people, dogs are like their children.
"We don't like to leave our children behind when we go places, so we don't like to leave our dogs behind," she said.
And in her experience, "99 percent" of dog owners are responsible about cleaning up after them and making sure they behave appropriately in public, she said.
Mutts on the move
Seybold's other corgi, Nora, goes to work with her husband, Russ Seybold, at the Conway Scenic Railroad, which the couple owns and operates. Of course the train is dog-friendly, too.
"Well-behaved dogs can ride anytime in coach, and service dogs are allowed anywhere on the train," said Susan Logan, manager of marketing and events.
In fact, each year the railroad hosts young trainees from Assistance Canine Training Services, a nonprofit organization in Center Tuftonboro that trains service dogs. "Some of them will probably end up in the cities or suburbs helping their owners with commuter trains, so they get them used to the shake, rattle and roll of being on a real train," Logan said.
Emma Burnell, office manager at Raft NH in Gorham, said she's seen an increase in the number of people renting canoes who want to bring their dogs along on flatwater trips.
The company's Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson (dogslednh.com) also offers private lessons for people who want to let their dogs try out such mushing-related activities as "diggler" scooters, bikejoring or cani-cross.During Laconia Motorcycle Week, Helen Bouchard of Shawangunk, N.Y., stayed at Beaver Hollow Campground in Ossipee with her husband, Norm, and their three dogs, Little Bit, Cricket and Fat Eddie.
"We brought our dogs with us because they're our family now," Bouchard said. "Our children are grown up and have their own families, and the dogs travel with us."
The Bouchards had stayed at the campground last year. When they returned this year, they were delighted to discover that owner Sandy Allen had put in a fenced dog park, complete with shade trees and picnic tables.
"Our dogs love it," Bouchard said.
Lapping up luxury
In New Hampshire, you don't have to give up luxury to travel with your dog. At Glynn House Inn in Ashland, dogs are welcome in any of five pet-friendly rooms and suites, with features such as fireplaces, double whirlpool baths and luxury linens.
"We have dog treats, we have dog toys, we do little cards with the dog's name on it," said Glenn Heidenreich, one of the innkeepers,
He said many guests tell them that "this is the first pet-friendly property we've ever been to where the standards for the pet-friendly rooms are the same as the regular rooms."
The inn's pet policies have evolved. At first, dogs could only be left in a room when their people were dining, a policy Heidenreich now calls "stupid."
Now the innkeepers trust owners to know whether their dogs can stay alone in rooms or need to be crated.
"Our experience is that pet owners are extremely responsible," he said.
Heidenreich said folks traveling with their dogs today are looking for activities they can do with their canine companions.
"They go kayaking; they go canoeing; they go hiking; they rent powerboats and take them out," he said. He even had one guest who took his dog along in a backpack when he went rock climbing.
Heidenreich has noticed something else: "We have a number of guests who bring the dog but they don't bring the children. The children are with the grandparents."
Jennifer Tower, innkeeper and director of sales at the Common Man Inn & Spa in Plymouth, said the inn has doubled the number of dog-friendly rooms since it opened 12 years ago.
"They're just very popular," she said. "We have a lot of regulars that come all the time with their pets and really enjoy knowing they have a nice place that they can bring them with them."
Canine guests will find beds, bowls and personalized dog biscuits waiting when they check in, Tower said. The inn also hosts weddings, and she finds more couples are including their pets in those special moments, as well.
Dot Seybold doesn't expect the dog-friendly market will diminish any time soon. "As long as people are going to invest in their dogs and want their dogs to be a big part of their lives, more and more people are going to try to find a way to incorporate their dogs into their world," she said.