My buddy, Katheryn, asked me to post about Staycations for the recession. Also inspired by many friends who have less portable pets, Raja and I put our heads together about our favorite summer fun activities. As you will note, all of Raja’s silly fun abroad involves the same things any pet could do at home- meeting new people, encountering strange animals, and running around in nature. Here are some fun suggestions for do-at-home pet Staycations.
Farm Stand Petting Zoo: A farm stand near out house has resident goats and sheep for children to pat. On dull afternoons, or when I get back from work, sometimes I take bored little Raja over to say “hi” to the goats (he prefers goats) and get patted by shoppers. We buy some tomatoes; he enjoys the interspecies communication and adulation from shoppers. Works for us and strokes his ego mightily. Similarly, sometimes after work I take him to Petsmart to see the birdies- like a visit to the rainforest canopy, minus the heat and bugs.
Pet Portraits: No need to go all the way to Montmartre to have an emerging artist do your pet portrait. Pick out a children’s starter set of pastels at Michaels Crafts and then loll about in the park or backyard. Wait for your pet to get comfortable and then draw away. Do you have to be Picasso? NO! But, wow, what if you discover you have a talent!? Go ahead and frame the good one.
Puptails and Kittytinis: Happy hour for all. Invite neighbors and friends over with their pets for cocktail hour. Water and snacks for pets. A sugar cube soaked in brandy and dropped into Yellow Tail Sparkling Rose (so not pricy) makes a fun, fizzy drink.
Overland Hike: Check out which parks with wild trails allow pets. Pack up the granola snacks, biscuits, bottled water and off you go. (On hot days also pack instant cold packs for overheated dogs and don’t forget the harness and leash. And make sure you know the local fauna… if you live in rattlesnake territory, keep your pet out of the brush. In bear country, make sure the leash stays no longer than 6 feet. In Canadian goose country (curse them) turn back at first sign of that horrid scat!)
Doga: Why not? Try a few asanas under a tree in the park. Downward facing dog is one both of you can get into. Then there’s the lie flat on your back asana. And the lie on your side asana. And the share an ice cream asana. You get the picture. Aum. Aum. Aum Dogsloveicecream Aum.
Can anybody think of other good Staycation ideas to post here? Use the comment box to share.
How many times have we read a column that says something like: “Having Pets Increases Life Expectancy” or “People Who Have Pets are Happier” or “Taking Care of Pets Cures Depression”? We read that babble all the time, right? Of course, it’s probably true.
Let’s turn the tables: Ask not what your pets can do for you, ask what you can do for your pets!
Some of us might be a little bit worried of late about the economy- national or personal-, the wars, and the national needs in the areas of environmentalism, jobs and unity. If we’re brooding, sullen, lethargic, and introverted, you can be sure our pets are feeling it and they don’t like it. Pets hate arguments and they feel sorrow deeply.
SO, pet owners, we have a mission to put on a happy face for our pets. The relationship goes both ways. Pets cure depression, but depression depresses pets
Let’s get up on our feet, throw that ball, shake that catnip mouse, leash up that bunny and take him out for a late winter hop in the grass. Fido’s gotta cheer up, so put on a happy face!
Let’s get one more snow story in before the big melt. Last time we recommended Mont Tremblant in Canada as a great ski spot for doggie fun. I want to tell you about the best doggy ski place we know- and honestly it’s not a quick or cheap trip- but Zermatt, Switzerland is IT for snow fun with dogs. It’s about the European attitude toward dog companions, which is basically that dogs are companions, so they go everywhere.
Nobody says anything when you and your dog ride the gondola. (“But of course the dog must ride the gondola, does anybody expect him to walk up the big hill?”) In fact, at the tops of the highest peaks, the St. Bernards are hanging out waiting for their pictures to be taken until they have to go save somebody.
Nobody says anything negative when you and your dog go out to dinner or want to stop in for a chocolate and brandy in a café. “Well naturally the dog can’t sit out in the cold and he may want a brandy too. These American dogs get cold easily. Here have a sausage, doggy."
Hard to get there, Yes! You fly to Geneva, take two trains (a regular and a mini) to Zermatt, and then you find an electric cart to get you and your luggage and skis (that you have dragged the whole way) and your puppy to the lodging. Has it been easy to drag the ski equipment along too? Oh, it’s been a killer. (You could send them ahead, but they might get lost. You could rent in Zermatt, but it slows you down and costs a lot.)
Expensive? Yes and yes. This is Switzerland and a primo resort. Expect to bleed money.
Can you save money doing this? Yes, perhaps, if you shop for flights, and take a zillion friends with whom to share the condo- and if you cook humble food for yourselves. Which would be cool.
Remember, economic downturn or not, life goes on, human striving goes on and you can save up for what you want. Don’t diminish your expectations because of scary news reportage.
Is it even worth it? Oh a million times over, it is. The doggy is a full citizen who is respected, appreciated and served in restaurants. The slopes are steep and powdery and the scenery is glorious. You are in the crystal snow fields of the Alps.
Do dogs like going on journeys like this. Hmm. Did Raja like leaping in Alpine snow fields, snacking on gorgeous fattening fondue, and running safely in the ultra-clean, soft packed snow of the car-less streets of the village. And did he enjoy being petted by Olympians of the world in the ice cave beneath the peak of the Gornergrat? Oh yes he did.
Courrage mes amis, life is for adventures!