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5:47 PM Tue, Sept. 25th

Pet-friendly hotels let you go on vacation with your best pal

Dawn Gonzales/Courtesy photo<p>
This is Sabre, a four-year-old spayed female Staffordshire terrier mix. Sabre was surrendered to the shelter when her owners moved. She is house-trained and a very sweet girl. If you would like to meet Sabre, please come by the shelter or one of our adoption locations. You can call 445-2666 for more information.

Dawn Gonzales/Courtesy photo<p> This is Sabre, a four-year-old spayed female Staffordshire terrier mix. Sabre was surrendered to the shelter when her owners moved. She is house-trained and a very sweet girl. If you would like to meet Sabre, please come by the shelter or one of our adoption locations. You can call 445-2666 for more information.

Recently, my wife Angela and I slipped away for a quick weekend in San Diego. I was wondering about a pet-sitter or boarding kennel when Squirt suddenly jumped up on the laptop. Coincidentally, as his little paws pressed the keys, up popped a whole variety of hotels and resorts that allowed pets! I'm starting to suspect he already had them bookmarked. While most of our family and friends are delighted to watch the rest of the pack, for some reason, no one wants to be responsible for Squirt. They say he whines and cries when we leave, but I think it's really because he's so adorable they can't stand it.

After consulting with Squirt, we chose the Loews on Coronado Bay. I figured even resorts that allowed pets wouldn't necessarily "welcome" them, but I was wrong. We walked right in the main entrance with Squirt nestled in Angela's arms. No one made a single sound of disapproval, but we did get several comments about what a cute puppy Squirt is (Squirt is trying to find a t-shirt that says, "I'm not a puppy; I'm just small-boned").

The resort was surrounded by lush green plants and lots of thick grass. Squirt was in heaven! Instead of the traditional "No Dogs Allowed" signs, every lawn had a station for poop bags. Water bowls dotted the grounds and, while they were too big for little Squirt to drink from, they were a nice touch.

At dinner the first night, we sat in the resort restaurant's balcony. Underneath the table next to us, a beautiful Bernese mountain dog was enjoying the evening with his owners. Another couple had their Labrador with them at another table. Angela and I felt right at home around all these dogs, although we felt a little guilty for leaving Squirt in the room. But who would have thought such a beautiful resort would allow patrons to dine with their pets? Even the room service menu had an entire page of meals just for our canine companions. I'm not making this up. You can actually order dinner for your best friend through room service. We were thankful Squirt didn't know what button to push, but I did catch him eyeballing the menu a couple of times.

I'm not a travel critic and I can't speak for other hotels and resorts that claim "Pets Allowed," but I can tell you that when it comes to Loews, their attitude toward pets goes far beyond "allowed." Their signs could read "Pets Preferred."

We had a wonderful time made even better by the fact that we got to share it with one of our furry children. (I wonder how accommodating they'll be next time when we bring the whole pack with us.) But this isn't just about our great trip with Squirt. It's about the fact that in our culture, views and values about companion animals are changing for the better.

Not too long ago, nobody took their pets on vacation with them. Today, so many people insist on bringing their pets on vacation that more and more venues are accommodating them. I for one am very grateful - if you really want to have a memorable vacation, consider taking your best friend along and search online for those properties, like Loews in Coronado, that seem most accommodating. But I do have to add one important fact: if you go to the beach, you might want to explain to your pooch that seagulls don't run away from five-pound Chihuahuas like the little birds at home do. Poor Squirt is feeling very intimidated after our weekend.

Duane Adams, executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society, can be reached at dadams@yavapaihumane.org or at the shelter at 445-2666.