68% of Americans own pets according to a 2016 report from the American Pet Products Association. (1) 48% own dogs, 38% own cats, in case you wondered. If you fit into this category, you likely miss your pet when you are on vacation. Here are some places you might find some to cheer you up.
- TSA Security. It’s a look, but don’t touch environment. Those uniformed beagles sniffing your luggage – you just want to pet them. You think they are saying: “Officer, I think there’s fine Italian salami in here.” They are likely looking for something far more sinister. They are a cheery sight, though.
- British pubs. It’s standard practice for dogs to be included in many of the same activities as their owners. We were in The Lamb, a tiny British pub on Sheep Street (of course) in the Cotswold town of Burford. Seated on a small bench across from the bar counter were three men in country garb each with his dog sitting patiently. Someone at another table remarked: “Looks like a vet’s waiting room, doesn’t it?”
- Continental European restaurants. It’s accepted in many places to bring your dog along on your fine dining experience. We were in Restaurant Joel Schaeffer, our favorite in Mertert in Luxembourg. During our meal, my wife drew my attention to a table across the room. An elegantly dressed couple has their dog quietly sleeping at their feet while they enjoyed dinner. Our beagle Bertie would be visiting tables (asking), “You aren’t going to finish that steak, are you?”
- My Hamburg Favorite. When we flew to Hamburg prior to boarding our ship, we had time to explore the city. Alsterhaus is a famous local department store. I saw an elegant German woman, wearing an elegant fur coat. She was accompanied by a tiny elegant, well behaved dog on a leash. But what would you expect in a store where the food themed floor has a caviar shop and a truffle store? FYI, these truffles are not the chocolate kind.
- Cat Cafes. I saw my first in Charleston, South Carolina. They are popping up all over. Often run by an animal adoption agency, you enter, pay up front for drinks or coffee, then enter a secure area. They hand you a cat to purr on your lap while others lounge in baskets. Expect to pay an entrance fee, plus the cost of your beverages.
- The kennels aboard Queen Mary 2. Yes, you can sail transatlantic with your dog or cat. They have 24 kennel compartments adjacent to a room with sofas and dedicated deck space, complete with a lamp post and fire hydrant! You can spend time with your pet within the restricted area. People like us can watch the pets from a distance.
- Dog trials in the UK. We were in the Cotswolds and stumbled across one of these dog shows. There are multiple events. You stand and watch. There are usually snacks, lunch food and beer for sale.
- Dogs going for walks. You see this at home, why should it be any different overseas? If you walk or drive around town in the early morning, you will see owners taking their dogs for their morning walks. People everywhere tend to be good about cleaning up after their pets.
- The peering cats. We have two cats in our family. We credit them with extraordinary abilities. We think they have a network of overseas agents. When traveling, we keep an eye open in shops and rows of bushes. We often see a little cat face or two peering out. We like to think the guys at home are keeping an eye on us.
- Foreign TV ads. Europeans love their pets. You will see plenty of ads for pet food featuring dogs and cats. That’s pretty obvious. You will also see ads for other products where they manage to include a feline or canine costar.
If you are missing your pets while on vacation, take comfort from our experience. We say, “I wonder if they know how much we talk about them?” When we return home, they pick up their heads as if waking from a long nap and saying, “Were you gone?”
Cover photo: Large dogs make their home at the Acropolis and help protect it at night. Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch, All Things Cruise Journalist