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Pet Friendly Hotel

Pet Friendly Hotel
by Candyce H. Stapen

It’s true. Checking-in with a dog is even less complicated than registering with children. Unlike a toddler, a well-trained pup will sit and stay when told, and unlike a teenager who wants CDs and expensive souvenirs, your canine companion craves nothing more than an “atta-boy” and a bowl of cold water.

Such reasoning, coupled with new pet-friendly hotel policies sent my husband and I down the highway. We drove from our home in Washington, D.C. for a weekend in Philadelphia accompanied by Beau, our 140-pound Newfoundland, who has a big heart, a playful attitude, and, often, a mouth full of drool.

Saliva aside, big pets, unlike “pocketbook” pooches, get turned away at city hotels, the majority of which only let sleeping dogs lie if they weigh less than 15-25-pounds.

That’s why we overnighted at Loews Philadelphia. All of Loews’ properties welcome four paws of any size and their “people.” Pet owners pay a $25 fee for cleaning. As part of the Loews Loves Pets program, Beau, at check-in, retrieved a welcome bag with bowls, chew toys, and carob and peanut butter nibbles. I, alas, got nothing but the room key.

For dinner, we grabbed a sidewalk table at Rouge, across from grassy Rittenhouse Square. We chatted with passersby who liked Beau’s teddy bear looks so much they scratched his tummy. We also met the ‘regulars,” the bulldog, Labrador, boxer and Chihuahua who frequently waddle to Rouge with their humans for a warm hello and the biscuits the hostess keeps in a jar near the door.

But later that night, when Beau and I walked back alone on a quiet section of Walnut Street did I truly discover how dogs turn strangers into friends. Even with a big dog, I remained nervous along the several yet-to-be-gentrified blocks. Just when I wanted Beau to step lively, he spooked, backing up into traffic. Despite my death grip on the leash, I couldn’t pull Beau back on the sidewalk before the light changed causing cars to barrel towards us.

In seconds a group of men--the hangers-out and the homeless I worried about-- converged to help. Two stopped traffic, two monitored the periphery in case Beau took off, while the others assisted me in calming Beau, advising that I re-route him around the block. I thanked them, genuinely touched by their kindness and ashamed at my own city-bred assumptions.

The only real city problem for Beau: a bad case of the gotta-find-a-tree blues. It took long walks and a bladder fit to bursting –his--to get Beau acclimated to the virtues of trashcans and fire hydrants. That obstacle conquered, we look forward to more trips with Beau, an instant conversation starter.

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