Have a 'paw-some' holiday with your pets. Experts tell you how
"Travelling is a great bonding activity for pets and pet parents, and it is therapeutic," says Pranita Balar, a canine trainer and behaviourist, and parent to Heidi, a labrador. Balar and Heidi regularly escape the city for short breaks, and have even taken a flight to Chennai. Heidi is her companion and assistant at work too. "I love to travel and explore new places and so does Heidi. We go swimming in lakes or beaches, for trekking or just strolling amidst nature," she says.
Many others like Balar would love to travel with their pet. But it comes with a fair bit of planning, the first of which involves looking for pet-friendly resorts or private villas. That's where CollarFolk steps in. The year-old Delhi-based discovery and booking platform helps organise pet-friendly holidays across the country.
Shanu John and Cookie
"We have a pet policy for each place, which mentions the pet fee, areas where pets are allowed, availability of pet food, vet on call, pet sitters and private open spaces," says founder Rukmini Vaish. Depending on whether or not your pet is social, they recommend independent cottages and villas with private open space versus resorts where the pet will be in the company of other guests.
There are some, like Shormistha Mukherjee, who wing it when making plans. Mukherjee adopted Milo, a stray, 11 years ago. She has taken him to Kihim and Koyna dam. "It was such fun. En route to Koyna, we stopped at a few dhabas. They fed him rice and chicken pieces, without masala. We stayed at a guesthouse and they were fine with him," says Mukherjee.
Shanu and Devina John have taken their pet, five-year old cocker spaniel Cookie, to Jodhpur. "We flew there and came back by train. For the flight, her vet gave her a sedative so she could sleep the whole way. On the return trip, we just booked the whole cabin," says Shanu. They've also driven to Goa, Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala, booking homes through Airbnb. "We have a hatchback so we empty out the back for her. We also ensure we do a general check up beforehand and stop every two hours for a break," he adds.
Here's our travel guide to for a woof-happy break.
An unusual animal farm
Picture this: a six-acre property with a garden, swimming pool, 60 dogs, a donkey, two cows, a turtle and a fish pond. It's a real place and it is called Phoebe's Farm and Canines Solutions Rehabilitation Centre in Mangaon Budruk, Raigad. "We initially started this as a rehabilitation centre but then, since we had the space, we turned it into weekend getaway last June," says founder and canine behaviourist, Manoor Sachdev. "It's a place where pet parents could spend quality time with their pets."
The farm has seven tented rooms with attached bathrooms, a river, a swimming pool for dogs, and a garden.
Log on to Pheobe's Farm on Facebook
Weekend camping trip
This weekend, BarknBond is organising a weekend pet camp. The resort is close to the city and surrounded by nature. Carry your swim wear because there will be lots of fun in the water with your pets. Expect to find an open green field, a swimming pool, a nature trail, interactive bonding games, canine behaviour and training tips, and freshly prepared meals of boiled rice, veggies and chicken (you can also carry your own food). For pet parents, this is the chance to make new friends, share pet stories and knowledge. Accommodation is in a resort with AC rooms.
On February 25 to 26, 9 am to 11 pm
At Shahpur Resort.
To register email email@example.com
Log on to BarknBond on Facebook
"A good spot to consider for pet families in Mumbai is Lonavala," says Vaish. "The cool weather is good for most pets. It's very easy to access even for first timers, has lots of pet-friendly resorts as well as stand alone cottages and beautiful day treks to go on with your pet. Two popular and easy treks to do in Lonavala would be Duke's Nose and Thakurwadi. They both take about five to six hours to complete, from start to finish. This includes snacking breaks and lots of water bodies to frolic in." Apart from Lonavala, CollarFolk has a good collection of pet-friendly hotels in Alibaug, Diveagar, Lavasa, Mahabaleshwar, Ganpatipule, Kolhapur, Matheran and Goa.
Log on to collarfolk.com
> Before any journey, your pet needs to be well exercised and hydrated. Do not feed them for two hours before the journey.
> Always carry your pet's health file and a first aid box. Before travelling, get a check-up done by your vet. Make a list of vets/hospital contacts of the place you are visiting.
> Crate-train them before air travel.
> Trip essentials include extra collar and leash, name tag, travel size water bowl, towel, pet wipes, poop bags, outdoor shoes, chewies, extra linen for the car and for the resort to ensure you leave it clean.
> Speak to the resort/cottage and tell them about your pet's dietary requirements.
Pranita Balar and Rukmini Vaish