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October 2005

Our Members Speak Out

Fox Hill B&B, Fairfield, VA

We asked: Please share your thoughts on hosting guests with pets—what works and what doesn’t.

Question for November: We’ve received more great stories about innkeepers’ experiences hosting our brave troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and will publish them next month. More comments always welcome.

 Email your responses to If we publish your comments, we’ll thank you with a $25 credit in our Featured Properties Auction program!

“We are pet-loving innkeepers who decided to go pet friendly after traveling from the Midwest to Maine and discovering how difficult it can be to find accommodations where pets are welcome.  We offer one pet-friendly room, and we’ve not regretted it.  Meeting someone’s pet can be as delightful as meeting the human being at the other end of the leash!  Here’s why being pet friendly has worked out for us:

·          For the most part, the pets are well behaved, social and adaptable.  It has been our experience to ask up front if the pet is an experienced traveler.  Pets that are used to traveling are delightfully inquisitive and behave better than most children we’ve had as guests!  Pets that are not used to travel can be overwhelmed by the experience, and they can be a nuisance with barking, crying and scratching.  We only accept travel-experienced pets; we owe it to the animal, to our other guests, to our own pets and to ourselves to have travel-wise animals only!  We reserve the right to ask the guests to leave if the pet turns out to be something other than what was described. 

·          Not unlike traveling with an infant, pet owners usually arrive with their “pet gear” in tow, which helps to make the animal comfortable.  We charge a $25 fee for deep cleaning of the carpet, furniture and linens, but we’ve had no problems with a pet damaging or soiling the room.  We have pet linens available if requested.

·          Our pet-friendly room has a private entrance, so pets go directly from the outside to their room.  With the private deck, the guests and pet can sit outside without imposing on other guests.  We’ve found that pet owners are fastidious about picking up after their pets; we make plastic bags available and have a clearly marked depository.

·          We hold fast to our rule that the pet is welcome only in that one guest room and cannot be left unattended except during breakfast.  We offer an option for the pet owners to eat on their private deck if they are uncomfortable leaving the pet alone during breakfast.  Research pet daycare facilities in your area for occasions when the owners don’t want to take their pet along with them for the day’s activities.”  Susan Pluff, Inn Britannia, Searsport, ME

“We welcome traveling canines and their companions. Our property lends itself very well to this, as all but one of our rooms has a direct outside entrance, making it easy for pets to come and go.  We maintain one pet-free room and ask that pets not be brought into our main living room/dining room area in deference to those who may not care for dogs. We ask that pets not be brought into our main living room/dining room area in deference to those who may not care for dogs.  We have 38 acres with a number of walking trails and a spring-fed stream. Dogs love it here – we have many who have never been off leash, and they are ecstatic with the freedom to run and play.  We love dogs, so it is easy to extend a warm, heartfelt welcome to all.  Our resident canine, Ellie, is very well behaved and loves her doggy visitors.

“Our written policy states that dogs must be crated if left alone in the guest’s room, and that a cell phone number be provided in case there are any problems.  We have had to call only a few times when unhappy dogs make their sentiments known, but all in all, we have fewer problems or damages from our canine visitors than some of the two-legged ones.  Our fee of $10 per dog per night helps compensate for the extra cleaning costs (rug shampooing, cleaning furniture and floors, cleaning of our glass atrium doors).  We put doggie treats and a welcome note in the room and offer plenty of dog towels for muddy feet, plus an outdoor washing station (with hose and dog shampoo).  We also provide a list of places to go and things to do in the area with dogs (hikes, tourist attractions that are dog-friendly, and a drive-in theater).

“As far as the numbers go, about 30 percent to 40 percent of our guests have visited with canines.  Guests are especially pleased that our high-end rooms are available for travelers with dogs – we don’t relegate them to small, out-of-the way rooms.  Admittedly, this is easier for us, as this property is very new; and our rooms are well soundproofed and carpeted with Berber, which shampoos easily and is very forgiving of the occasional muddy paws and accidents.

“What do we think is the key to success in accepting canines?  First, a property that is suitable (privacy of other guests protected); second, innkeepers who genuinely love dogs and make them and their owners feel welcome; and third, policies in place to make the visit go smoothly.” Sue and Mark Erwin, Fox Hill: A Virginia Bed & Breakfast, Fairfield, VA 

“Our B&B is fortunate to have a main building as well as a separate bunkhouse that houses two rooms, so we are able to offer our guests an animal-free environment in the main house.  We process our B&B laundry in a way that helps eliminate any potential animal hair from the bunkhouse laundry migrating to the main house laundry.  As a result, we have had a number of guests tell us after the fact that they are allergic to animals and yet had a super stay without any allergic reaction. 

“To date, we have hosted all dogs plus one pet rat (who arrived in a cage along with his family and their dog).  We only take dogs by reservation and have learned that four guest dogs at one time is our maximum.  The folks who bring dogs are very responsible, and the dogs have been delightful and well behaved.  Every dog owner has stated they chose us because we take dogs, which is a rarity in our county.  We charge a nominal fee ($10 per night per dog) and provide ceramic dog bowls for water and food; dog treats; towels for wet feet; dog bags and a disposal bucket for cleanup; and protective blankets for the bed.  Our rules are part of our reservation checklist.  Simply:

·          Dogs are expected to remain on leash when outside for safety.  We bend this rule when guests have a well-trained and responsive dog.

·          Dogs are crated if they have a tendency to be undisciplined when not supervised; we have a large crate should folks need to borrow it.

·          Dogs are not to be left alone in rooms except during breakfast.

·          Dogs barking too much will be asked to leave due to impact on other guests.

·          Owners must clean up after dogs; bags are provided.

·          Any aggressive or out-of-control dog and his owners may be asked to leave immediately.

·          Repair/cleaning costs due to guest dog damage will be fully reimbursed by owners.


“Only one guest violated the ‘do not leave your dog alone’ rule; they were asked to return immediately for their animal, and they did.” Robin Miller, Fleming Jones Homestead B&B Inn, Placerville, CA 

I have a four-month-old Labrador puppy named Leo.  He’s a big hit with most of the guests. One couple fell in love with Leo.  When they checked out, I found a cute card that was made out to Leo and a $25 gift card from PETCO.  I occasionally receive tips, but this was the first time any of my pets received one!” Roger Schmitz, Henry Mischler House, Springfield, IL

“I have taken pets since I opened in 1986.  You have a few mishaps once in a while, as you do with people. We have three dogs of our own, and lots of guests come just to play with our dogs and leave theirs at home.  Others have just lost their dog and want to come some place that has pets.  It has been a win-win for our B&B.” Paulette J. Clouse, J. Paules Fenn Inn, Fennville, MI     

“We accept dogs under 25 pounds or so.  Yes, we’ve had problems such as peeing on the carpet, and we once had the paint scratched off the back of a bedroom door by a Boston terrier desperate to see its owner again.  Over time we developed ‘House Rules for Canine Guests.’   Our own dogs enjoy the canine guests very much, as do we, so we will continue to take them, but now we charge the owners for any damage, no matter how slight, if it costs us money to correct the problem. Guests are very understanding.” Kate & Karen, Riverbend Retreat Bed & Breakfast, St. Joseph, MI

“We have our own dog and won’t go anywhere without him, so we allowed our guests to bring dogs 20 pounds or less and charged an additional $20 for extra cleaning required.  However, one dog ‘tinkled’ on the wall-to-wall carpeting, and the owner didn’t even tell us; we found out the hard way when the housekeeper went in to clean the room after their three-day (‘we don’t need housekeeping’) stay.  We had to rent a carpet-cleaning machine and special pet odor-removal solutions to get the smell out, and yet, the next time we rented to someone with a dog, the dog did the same thing in the same spot. Our vet explained that many dogs (mostly males) need to ‘mark’ their territory and that it is almost impossible to remove smells completely.   We also had problems with guests allowing their pets to sleep in bed with them and found we had to wash all the blankets and quilts and dry clean the comforters to eliminate dog hair and dog smells.  After several bouts of this, we finally decided not to take pets anymore.

"We now recommend a nearby doggy daycare, where the guest can drop off their pet and allow the daycare folks to pamper the pet while we spoil the guest. Even though all our literature explains that we no longer take pets, we have found on several occasions that guests have snuck their pets in anyway.  For this we have, unfortunately, no solution.” Sandra Smith, Cliff Cottage Inn, Eureka Springs, AR

“We have consistently found people who travel with their pets to be very conscientious and respectful of the opportunity to have a nice place to stay.  Just last weekend we had the perfect example. The reservation indicated the couple had five dogs. The guests arrived and unloaded their Old English Sheepdogs, and I was speechless.  I’m pleased to report their four-night visit was a success. Each dog had its own bed, and they knew their place.  The guests brought a set of fence panels, so they had a yard for them.  The pet owners also kept the dogs under close supervision.  When they left, they made an extra effort to make sure everything was in order.” Stephanie Sprague, Long Valley Resort, Cromberg, CA

“One question we get periodically is, ‘Who was your most famous guest?’ The fascinating answer is: our most famous guest came with a limo, two traveling companions and a handler. Her name was Marilyn, and she appeared on the Today show while here. She’s featured on Hallmark greeting cards and is adorable. Our most famous guest was a dog!” Chuck Hale, The Pillars Bed & Breakfast, Plainfield, NJ


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