Would you travel with your pet?

What you need to know before you travel with your pet
Waterton Lakes National Park is like a postcard come to life.

I used to think travelling with kids was hard. Then we took our dog, Buddy on vacation. If I had to choose between a tantrum prone toddler and Buddy for a travel companion, I would chose the toddler hands down. Here’s a look at our recent pet-cation through B.C.

After dropping Eve off at her camp in Waterton, The Huz and I made a bee-line for his brother’s cabin in the Crowsnest Pass. We had a little nest set up in the back our vehicle, but Buddy wasn’t having any of it.

He wanted to either sit in his seat or snuggle with one of us. It became clear quite early on that this pet-friendly road trip wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought. 

Would you travel with your pet?
Can you see the smoke drifting off Uncle Al’s tongs?

That first night was probably Buddy’s most comfortable. He knows his aunt and uncle, and loved roaming the property. (Buddy likes to think he’s a wild dog.) He’d wander off to mark his territory, then come sprinting back whenever he smelt sausage.

dog co pilot
Buddy sat the whole time in the car like this

The next day we drove the three-hours to Invermere. This is when the honeymoon period was officially over. Travel with pets is just as challenging as travel with kids. Because when Buddy doesn’t know where he’s going, he gets nervous. Really nervous. Think shaking, obsessive drooling and the occasional throw up.

The Huz drove and Buddy sat on my lap the entire ride. It was either that or risk him getting sick. I’ve cleaned up too much dog vomit in the past few years, so sitting on my lap it was.

dog standing in car
And this

Copper Point Resort in Invermere

Fortunately the drive wasn’t too long and we had most of the afternoon to explore Invermere. Apparently the dog beach is at the boat launch at the north end of lake. We didn’t know that at the time.

Instead, we brought Buddy to James Chabot Provincial Park, where there are several signs informing you dogs aren’t allowed on the beach. That was fine. None of us ended up getting in the water.

Copper Point Resort Pool
I so wish more hotels had outdoor pools! The one at Copper Point Resort was pretty sweet.

We checked into a pet-friendly room at Copper Point Resort. I don’t know what I was expecting, but our room looked like any other hotel room. It was a standard room and little on the small side, but you’d never guess pets had stayed previously.

Pets aren’t allowed at their (fantastic) outdoor pool, so Buddy got familiar with the walking trail around the property while we waited for our room.

Dinner was a bit problematic. The restaurant wasn’t picking up the phone. I walked down and while they wouldn’t deliver to the room, I could order and pick up. We ended up driving into to town and grabbing take-away.

In town, there were a lot of patios with pets leashed to them, but one dog we strolled passed bit Buddy in the bum. It was that kind of a day. We grabbed our food, plus an extra bottle of wine for good measure and hightailed it back to our room.

Pets at Predator Ridge Resort

It took us about five-hours the next day to get from Invermere to Vernon. Though we were driving mid-week, the single lane highway was busy with summer travellers and construction.

Buddy was as nervous as ever. Fortunately he laid down with The Huz for a nap in the back of the truck, while I drove for a spell.

dog on patio at golf course
Golfers beware: Buddy is onto you!

Friends had recommended Predator Ridge Resort to us and it proved to be an excellent suggestion. There’s loads of trails around the property, water dishes set out everywhere and even designated puppy parking spots. There are two 18-hole golf courses on the property and get this – dogs can golf with their owners on Sundays!

Besides golf, there’s several outdoor pools, tennis courts and a proper fitness centre (with spin classes!). Even if you’re not a guest you can take advantage of their Thursday night hike, yoga and wine for $5.

dog parking station
Predator Ridge has this great sundry shop, so you can pick up quick meals and drinks.

Guest rooms are like private condos and come with kitchen facilities. We lucked out with a one bedroom that had a jet tub, fireplace and large private balcony. Buddy loved chilling on that balcony and didn’t mind being left there while we went for dinner.

Wine Touring with a dog

The next day, I hit the wineries with Buddy. Yes, pets are welcome at most vineyards in the Okanagan. It was no trouble to take him into the tasting room at 50 Parallel, which I always hit up because the owner is a gal from my hometown.

Jody Robbins and dog
One of us enjoyed wine tasting

Then it was onto Ex Nihilo, where dogs aren’t allowed in their tasting room or outdoor bistro, but can hang out in the grassy area away from the outdoor restaurant. They were quite accommodating and set up a a table for us, so we could try the Courtyard Experience – two appie plates paired with wine for $15.

On the way back, we hit Arrowhead, where dogs can wander all around the patio and picnic area.

dog at winery
This was composed for artistic purposes only. Buddy’s a non drinker.

It was a hard pull driving back from Vernon to Calgary. Buddy didn’t sleep once. He drooled the entire 8-hour drive. Our pants were soaked even though he sat on top of his dog blanket on our laps.

On the plus side, there was no throwing up. Thank goodness for small miracles.

dog in hotel room
Our fail? Forgetting Buddy’s blanket. We gave him a bath before allowing him on the bed, though…

What to know before attempting pet travel

  • Go to vet prior. Do this months in advance as sometimes it takes that long to get proper protection.
  • If your pet is on the large side (many hotels have under 25 pound policy), arrange for FaceTime with the General Manager. Alternatively, you can send the hotel a YouTube video of your pet. The main issue is they want to see a well behaved pet. Exceptions can be made.
  • Think about what you might do with your pet during your travels and get them used to it. If your dog has never gone into a carrier, get them accustomed to it before going on a plane.
  • Bring supplies. Be sure to back your pet’s favourite blanket or sleeping mat. If your pet is prone to jumping up on the bed or couch, place it there so dirty paws don’t leave a stain. Their favourite toys will also help make them feel at home in the hotel room.
  • Practice no trace left behind. Take out everything you take in. This including dog hair off the couch (a lint roller does the trick).

Have you ever travelled with your pet? How was your experience?

P.S. You also might like:

A vacation 85 million years in the making: Dinosaur Provincial Park

What you need to know before attempting a multigenerational trip


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