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When "Dog Friendly" is Decidedly Not

Many of us travel with our dogs. I do. And as a good pup parent I check the hotel or the B&B's policy before pup and I arrive.

As a dog professional and blogger, I have written extensively about dog-friendly properties. Brooklyn Bark partners with, a travel site for dog friendly places to visit and stay so we have a pretty good handle on traveling with pup.

So, when my husband became chair of our Rotary District Conference, he checked and rechecked the Sheraton Valley Forge's dog policy, both by email and in person when he came for a site visit.

Being from Brooklyn, he was careful to get the fact that they would welcome us with our 72 lb. German Shepherd in writing. Yes, the general manager confirmed that we three would be welcome; the Sheraton Valley Forge is, indeed, pet friendly.

Well, I don't know how they define "friendly" but they definitely have a different definition than I do.

When we checked in, the Sheraton's definition of "friendly" was given to us in writing for the first time even thought we had been in email contact. Their highly unique definition of the words "pet friendly" is that the dog may be on the property but may not be left unattended at any time. In other words, we would have to be in the hotel ROOM at all times over the 4-day conference. The hotel was chosen in part due to being "dog friendly" so other people attending the conference would be able to bring their pets, too. We brought her and did our due diligence, confirming via email. The Sheraton Valley Forge is a member of SPG, the ubiquitous Starwood Group, hardly a fly-by-night hotel.

Yes, this is a rant against the Sheraton Valley Forge and their lack of truthfulness. But I share it with you, gentle reader, because there may be other properties out there whose definition of pet-friendly is decidedly not. We aren't asking "pet friendly" to be like this clip from HBO's Silicon Valley, but make sure you get in writing the hotel's policies and waivers (we have even been asked to show proof of rabies at some locations). Ask down to a granular level so your plans aren’t ruined like ours were.

We understand the hotel is a hotel and not a dog kennel. When we travel with our dogs we travel with everyone’s comfort and safety in mind – human and dog. We bring dog bed, crate (this would "protect" the staff if needed to come into the room for an emergency and protect the room), bowls, muzzle (again in case people are nervous about dogs), first aid kit and log of her shots.

No caveat emptor. When you see "pet friendly", make sure it really, really is.

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