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[VIDEO] Just A Dog

We have precious few moments on this earth. Why do so many of us choose to spend so many of those moments with “just a dog?”

I suspect we share many of the same answers, while each having our own reasons.

This is my story. What’s yours?

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How to Book the Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Room

Increasingly, I see articles (like this one from The New York Times) discuss the rapid growth of pet-friendly hotels.

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As someone who travels extensively with their dogs, I’m happy to see hospitality groups realize us adventurers-with-dogs are a growing and loyal breed

But invariably, all the articles I read neglect the most important question. With the growing pet-friendly hotel options, how do you decide which hotel to pick?

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Trust us, this is not a decision you want to gamble on

All “pet-friendly” hotels are not created equal. “Pet-friendly” is a catch all phrase which can mean anything from “We will barely tolerate your pet while charging you a mortgage payment for staying here” to “OMG I love your dog…and I guess you can stay here too.”

How to sort the wheat from the chaff? Here’s what I’ve learned are the best steps to ensure you pick the right dog-friendly hotel for your trip.

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First, look yourself in the mirror and ask what your needs are for the trip

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If you want high-end, top of the line service, great. Most luxury hotels are happy to serve (and charge you for) extensive pet-friendly amenities

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Just need a place to crash? Many major motel/hotel chains offer pet-friendly rooms. Be sure to double-check what the pet-fees are. Avoid places that charge daily pet-fees. If possible, book at La Quinta or other chains which charge no pet fee

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Do the math! We loved staying at Kimpton brand hotels. No pet fee, no pet-size restriction and dogs were loved, rather than tolerated. The nightly room rate was slightly above other major chains, but since there were no pet fees we often came out ahead on the bill

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Look off the beaten path. Some of our best stays were at small B&B joints who welcomed both Eko and me like old friends. With the proliferation of smaller/independent operators, don’t forget to open your search up beyond the traditional options

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Trust no one! I’ve been burned by third-party/review sites on more than one occasion. Always call ahead to verify the hotel is everything it claims to be online. If you’re expecting bowls and a (properly sized) bed, you’ll want those details confirmed before you arrive

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Be the best guest! I really appreciate all the hotels along the way that have gone the extra mile to make me and the pups welcome. In return, I make sure we’re quiet and respectful during our stay. Every dog-guest is an ambassador, and hopefully by being great guests we can encourage more hotels to open their doors to pets

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Because travel adventures with your dog are awesome! 

For others who have traveled with pets, please chime in with any tips or guidelines you’ve found helpful along the way.

I know bringing your dog to a hotel may seem nerve-racking or expensive. But in truth traveling with your pets is often cheaper, and almost always more fun!

Home Is Where The Park Is

Eko is a seasoned road warrior and I am lucky how patient he is with long car rides. Especially considering we were on the road for twelve hours yesterday and this was the type of stuff he had to deal with:

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The pet “exercise” area was about the size of Eko’s old kennel, filled with sharp rocks and dogs aren’t allowed off leash.  Someone didn’t think this one through

Unfortunately for Eko, he slept Tuesday night, had to sleep in the car all day Wednesday and then listen to me snore all last night after I crashed into bed.  This morning we took a well earned trip to the beach for Eko to burn off all that stored up energy.

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I love unclipping Eko’s leash after he hasn’t been to the park in a few days.  The way he bounds into the water always makes me smile


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It was also nice to see our old friends.  I call this guy “U-Boat” because he is a German Shepard that always lays in the water like a submarine


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A couple people people also thanked me for bringing back “the dog that always makes my dog sleep longer.”  I particularly like “U-Boat” lurking in the background of this photo

 

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Happy to be home!

NJ was a blast, but it’s great to finally be back in Chicago.

 

Either My Dog Grew Or My House Shrunk

In elementary school I would have argued that my school had to be one of the biggest buildings on the planet.  It felt like there were miles of hallways and endless stairways that climbed to the heavens.  Of course when I returned to the school a few years ago I felt like a giant in a world that I only remembered from a very different perspective.  This week in NJ I have gotten a few good chuckles as adult-Eko tries to figure out what happened to the world puppy-Eko grew up in.


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One bed used to be plenty of room for Scout and Eko

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Things are a bit more crowded in the corner of the kitchen these days

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And one chair was more than enough space for Eko to stretch out and sunbathe

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“Hey Will, did you guys get a new, smaller chair?” – Nothing will stop Eko from sunbathing, but it’s certainly a bit more cozy out there these days

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As a puppy, the kitchen table was Eko’s version of a tree fort.  It was a place where he could go and no one else could fit.  Speaking of not fitting…

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Eko’s head can barely fit under the table now!

Home is always home, but whether you are a human or a pet there are no guarantees it will look like what you remember!

Hiking The Trails At Starved Rock State Park

I love Chicago in the summer time.  The beaches and parks come to life and there is always something fun to do.  However, every once in a while it’s nice to trade the big city for something a bit more serene, so yesterday Eko and I took a day trip down to Starved Rock state park.

 

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Starved Rock is Illinois most popular state park and it’s also dog-friendly!

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It was a beautiful day and Starved Rock was a welcome change of scenery. No cars, no trains, no loud city sounds – just miles of trails to explore and enjoy

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This dead tree was the perfect spot for Eko to hide and keep a lookout for deer

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It’s the height of the dry season so we didn’t get to see any of Starved Rock’s well-known waterfalls.  But we did get to explore the waterfall canyons which was a lot of fun – they definitely make you feel small

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We looped back along a rolling and quiet riverfront trail. Sometimes no sound is the best sound of all 

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Someone was pretty pleased with himself for making the climb up to the riverfront lookout


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After a long day of hiking, Eko happily relaxed in the shade with some well-earned water and treats

Starved Rock State Park is a bit of a haul from Chicago, but it was well worth the drive. It’s always fun to visit somewhere new and it’s even more fun when you have a four-legged adventurer with you!

 

[VIDEO] Pooches In The Ballpark – Our Pet-Friendly Adventure To St. Louis

Our trip to last Saturday’s Pooches In The Ballpark was an absolute blast and I had a lot of fun going through all the video footage we got.  Hope you enjoy it as well!

 

More Highlights From Pooches In The Ballpark

All the good stuff from our awesome trip to Pooches In The Ballpark just couldn’t fit in one post, so I wanted to share a few more highlights…like Eko and I getting on the jumbotron!

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The camera on Eko’s back attracted the attention of the host and we got our fifteen seconds of fame on the big screen.  However, Eko was nowhere near the most interestingly adorned pup at the park

Rhodesian Ridgeback, pet adventure, dog blog, pooches in the ballpark, st louis cardinals, petcentric, marking our territory Now that is a dedicated fan!  The costumes and get-ups at the parade were each more outrageous and fun than the next

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This fancy little lady stole a smooch from Eko before trotting away.  He didn’t even get her name…

Rhodesian Ridgeback, pet adventure, dog blog, pooches in the ballpark, st louis cardinals, petcentric, marking our territoryThe baseball players weren’t the only professionals at the stadium. This duo showed us how flying disc catching is really done.  We have a lot to practice!


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Eko taking in the sights, smells and sounds of one incredible event

That about covers it for photos, but I have started to go through the video and I was fortunate enough to record a lot of fun footage.  Time to get back to work so I can have the video ready for Friday, have a great day everyone.

Our Incredible Day At Pooches In The Ballpark

 Most Saturdays Eko and I hop in the car and head to the dog park, but this past Saturday we drove just a bit further than usual so we could attend Pooches in the Ballpark at the St. Louis Cardinals game.  It was a long ride and we had to dodge some flash floods, but the payoff was well worth it!

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Nearly four-hundred four-legged fans showed up to cheer on the Cardinals


Pooches in the Park, marking our territory, petcentric, purina, st. louis cardinals, dog adventure, dog blog This nice couple wanted a photo with Eko

Major League games are always fun but Saturday had a special atmosphere thanks to all the dogs.  Dogs have that uncanny ability to spread smiles so it was incredible to witness four-hundred happy hounds make an entire stadium smile!

The day kicked off with a pregame parade around the stadium where the dogs got to strut their stuff.

 
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I wanted a photo, Eko wanted to dig!

Pooches in the Park, marking our territory, petcentric, purina, st. louis cardinals, dog adventure, dog blog

I wanted a photo, Eko wanted to get back to the parade!

Pooches in the Park, marking our territory, petcentric, purina, st. louis cardinals, dog adventure, dog blog

It was a blast to see all the dogs parade across the jumbotron 

Pooches in the Park, marking our territory, petcentric, purina, st. louis cardinals, dog adventure, dog blogEko taking it all in

After the parade the dogs (and the humans lucky enough to be with them) took over center field where we had a perfect view of the action.  We even got to watch the K9 unit throw out the “First Fetch.”  The crowd loved it.

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“What do you mean I can’t go after the ball?”

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The entire night was dog-themed and the jumbotron had lots of fun stuff on screen.  Most notably, the kisscam gets a lot more “awww”‘s when dogs are involved

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One of my favorite parts of the night was the Cardinals players teaming up with the APA to help some awesome shelter dogs find a home

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I also loved watching all the people enjoy the night with their best friends.  Speaking of which, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the new friends I made on Saturday.  It’s another one of those dog powers – they make us more friendly.

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The simple things in life are the best and watching the game with Eko at my side is a memory I will always treasure.  Great dog, great game, great night!

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After a fun filled day, the pups were dog tired

Unfortunately the Cardinals did not win the game but they certainly won over some fans. We had such an incredible day and I hope other teams will be inspired to host their own pooches in the park events.

As you can see, Eko had the Ekocam going and I focused a lot more on taking video than photos in hopes that we could better capture the spirit of the event.  I have a lot of footage to sort through and hopefully Eko got some good stuff.  Check back later this week to see what we got – it’s sure to be a lot of fun.

Thanks to the Cardinals and Purina for putting together such a great event!

The Essential Pet Adventurer Packing List

It’s summertime and that means adventure season is in full bloom.  Trips to the park, the beach and the woods are just a few of the adventures I have planned for the next few months.  Anyone who has seen Indiana Jones knows that every adventurer needs a trusty adventure bag.  After many pet-friendly adventures, my motto when I pack my bag is to be as prepared as possible while carrying as little as possible.  With that in mind, here is what I carry whenever I head out for an adventure with Eko.


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You don’t think Eko would let me leave the house without treats do you?  They always come in handy to reward good behavior with some tasty encouragement. And of course, bags are a must.  The rule of thumb is that your dog will ALWAYS go to the bathroom the one time you don’t bring a bag

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A lightweight, collapsible bowl helps keep Eko hydrated on the go.  He is happy to drink out of my hands, but that wastes a lot of water.  The bowl makes it easy for us to share the water I bring

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This is my mini-first aid kit.  I have a full kit in the car, but when I’m on the go I just pack the bare essentials.  The spray cleans/protects Eko’s paws, the small towel is always useful and the benadryl (diphenhydramine) is in case of an allergic/inflammation emergency.  Luckily I have never needed to use the pills, but benadryl can be a life saver for dogs.  A couple precautions: first, make sure you buy plain benadryl, meaning the ONLY ingredient is diphenhydramine.  The recommended canine dosage is 10 mg per each 10 pounds of weight.  And of course, you should always talk with your vet to establish a course of action in case of emergency

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Last but certainly not least, you have to bring a camera to record all the action!  My GoPro and Canon are both light, compact and great on the go

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It may look like a lot of stuff, but I can throw it all in my little draw bag with room to spare and it only weighs in around five pounds

Now, this brings me to two questions.  First, maybe I’m missing something – does anyone have any must-carry items when they head out with their pup?  I’m always looking to improve my gear.  Second, why I am the one carrying all this stuff!?  Eko is a healthy young lad, I think it might be time to share the load.  Does anyone have any recommendations for dog backpacks?

[VIDEO] Eko Full Throttle

Last summer Eko and I spent a glorious week visiting a friend on his farm in Montana.  The weather was beautiful and there was not a neighbor in sight.  Eko didn’t have to put on a leash all week.  Life on the farm was good!

To get around the farm, us slow humans would hop in a four wheeler.  Not to be left out of the action, Eko would follow us wherever we went, running about ten feet off to the side.  On one trip I sat in the back seat and took footage of Eko going full speed.  The video is shaky, but it really gives you a sense of how fast he can go – he even passes the four wheeler at one point and has to slow down! Not sure how I missed posting this video before, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it earlier this week. Fasten your seatbelts.

 

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend!