Not really. But dogs love ski resorts. The BEST ski resort of all for dogs is photographed on the contest page… you guess where Raja is and we will send you a small, useful prize.
For the first in our ski theme series, we’ll feature a chat about one of the more accessible ski resorts, if you’re in the US or Canada, where dogs can have a lot of fun. Here Raja emerges from the snow cave we dug for him in Mont Tremblant, Canada.
Mont Tremblant is only an hour and a half outside Montreal by car and it’s really beautiful. Both the south and north faces offer really long runs. The village is charming and less commercial than many (although that will change) and the ambiance (music, contests, people from all over the world) and restaurants are great. Because it’s so far north, the altitude is low (no headaches, no panting) and all faces of the slopes are forested. Lots of Canadians take their dogs on their ski trips so the doggie community is obvious, although the French Canadians aren’t quite French enough that dogs are welcome in restaurants & pubs and, when they ride the lifts, locals look shocked. (Why?) On the good side, traffic is not allowed in the village so walking about is safe and local traffic on the roads to the condos is light. And, best for doggie feet, the eco-friendly Canadians don’t use any salt, so paws don’t get hurt walking about. (I don’t think that’s the motivation though.) There is one dog boutique in town, which shows that some people’s hearts are in the right place.
If you go, Raja and I suggest you stop for food on the way from the airport (which is really rustic and gorgeous) to the condo because infrastructure on the mountain is still developing.
I’m still trying to get to skiing in Canada, but so many interesting dog-related events keep on happening in the news.
Hotel for Dogs is the new family movie out and it’s probably very cute. The interesting thing is that Swifter is the main sponsor for the movie (see this press release). You remember Swifter, right? Swifter makes those disposable flat or fluffy dust cloths that you attach to a special apparatus and swirl around the house and then discard. A few years back it came out that the sheets contain a chemical, similar to antifreeze, that attracts and poisons pets that lick their paws that have come in contact with the product. Lots of dialog ensued. And the box did always have that disclaimer on it about how you should keep it away from children and pets. Here’s what seems to be the take on this now: (see this article).
Swifter products are not dangerous to pets, even if the box says you should keep them away from pets.
Swifter, that has been losing market share of late, is spending big money to sponsor “Hotel for Dogs” hoping to ride the pet cult crest back into your house. It’s up to you. The home environment can be a very dangerous place if you buy every cleaning chemical you see and pour it about. It’s hard to resist; product marketers play up the battle to create order from disorder: the living room reflects the quality of the mind, clean and pretty house- clean and pretty people, my house is in control and so am I.
Dunno... I just dunno.
Something Serious: Airplane Safety
Accidents hardly ever happen. Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book The Black Swan, points out that terrible incidents (like planes being forced down because of flocks of birds getting caught in the engines) hardly ever happen, but he points out the discussion about such incidents raises the fear factor because we think only of the horrible accident and not of all the thousands and thousands safe incidents of plane travel.
Today a horrible thing happened when a US Airways Airbus crashed through the frigid sky into the nearly freezing Hudson River. All the people were saved. I don’t know if there were pets, but if there were pets in the hold, maybe they were in serious jeopardy. Would the flight attendants have rescued them? Would they? I’m skeptical. It would take a real hero to do that. Real heroes do emerge, like Black Swans, but they are, after all, Black Swans themselves.
This is why, when traveling with pets, it is really important to be realistic. Pets travel most safely in cabin. Is this unfair to large pets who are not allowed to travel in cabin? Yes, it certainly is. A small pet traveling in cabin can be whisked out of a plane, but one in the hold cannot.
I don’t have an answer to this or anything final to say, but I'm pensive right now about how blithely we hop on planes and how random things (birds who decide to fly east in a flock for some reason???) can cause near tragedies. If Raja couldn’t fly in cabin, I think I’d see much less of the world for sure.
Next post is going to be about our beloved Canada and the “Where’s Raja” contest will be about skiing, but today’s serious accident makes us think and hope that all planes land in safety every time.
Reverend, Thanks for your questions.
I think trying to get therapy and service animals declassified is rather like trying to get wheelchair access ramps taken out. It’s mean spirited and represents negative action. There are hardly any stories of service or therapy animals actually bothering people, but there are thousands of stories of people being enabled by therapy and service animals.
As for the UK- bless ‘em and God save the Queen- the UK has finally allowed dogs and cats (and some others) to enter the Kingdom, but they need a chip and some medical documentation in the form of a very, very clean bill of health and freedom from tick-born illness. Quarantine is over with, if you approach the border with all your papers. And mainland Europe… oh it’s gloriously sensible. Pets travel freely. The Italians say you need a chip, and Raja got a chip to go to Italy, but nobody wanted to see his documents or discuss the chip, although the customs lady did want to kiss him. That’s Amore!
Returning to our theme of increased doggy travel, let’s discuss hotels. Some US hotels have always been nice about pets… Marriott Residence Inns are a case in point. And La Quintas, and some fancy Lowes Hotels, and more, of course. Some fancy hotels offer dog beds and biscuits and meals and enormous in room water bowls and massages and customized walking services. The meals are OK, but the rest of it is basically a way to manage guests’ dogs while they are on the premises, and charge big time for it too. Which might work for some people. And some dogs.
I personally prefer to be left alone. Just let my doggy in and be nice about it and let me plan the activities. My dog would hate to have a stranger give him a body rub (creepy) and he would hate to be dragged outside by somebody he doesn’t know. He’d full out panic.
One of the most hospitable hotels for pets is the Lalla Hasna in Marrakech. (You may find it at 247 Bd. Mohammed V, tel. (04) 44 99 72/73/74.) What the Hasna does right is allow your pet in and then benevolently let you and your pet alone. If you need help, oh yes, the Hasna staff is right there. Like the time we were leaving for the south and Raja lost his toy somewhere and all the Berber maids snapped to and ran about looking for “le petit tigre.” (Le tigre was wedged between an ottoman and a tea table in the lounge. Raja is often irresponsible about his things.) The only “hassle” we got from the Hasna was from one of the waiters who really wanted to take Raja to the kitchen and cook for him. “He will love today’s kebab.” Not so shabby.
Flying fur! We have Gayle Martz to thank for creating a soft sided pet carrier and for persuading airlines to let dogs travel. Actually, we have her Lhasa Apso Sherpa to thank because Sherpa would sit quietly in the carrier while Gayle talked on and on and on to airline execs about how quiet and good and perfect pets would be in cabin.
But the new thing is Jet Blue starting an airline Miles-For-Pets-Program, and allowing more pets in cabin per flight than other airline previously and even selling a pet carrier and travel kit. Well, of course that’s just commerce isn’t it: sell product and aggrandize your own commercialism into altruism… but this brings me to the main point.
Dogs are big (we know, we know already) and dogs are evolving rapidly. One century they were snarling outside the campsite and, in only a few hundred years, here they are sitting patiently in a duffle 10,000 feet in the air. It’s the new nomadism. And people are evolving too. One century we couldn’t manage without sled dogs and watch dogs and hunting dogs, and next, just a few centuries later, we were all about compartmenlizing the dog into doghouses (for the unfortunate) and dog shows (for the slightly more fortunate.) And now, we can’t leave town without a dog, well behaved and sociable and patient. Especially patient.
On one of our flights to Puerto Rico, with particularly un-evolved flight attendants, we were sorely tried by those nervous ninnies telling us that if “that dog” barked while in flight, he would be carried to the” lockup” in the luggage hold. And meanwhile all “that dog” did was snore mildly and dream of Puerto Rico’s endless dog beach. (But more about that later.)
Point being… it’s getting easier and easier to put the pup on the plane which is just about the only good news I’ve read in months. Think about it and you’ll know I’m right. A small, small part of the world is getting better.
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