Take Your Pets On A Fun Filled Vacation
There can be no doubt that India has a love affair with pets. The number of dogs has increased from 7 million in 2007 to 14 million in 2014. Adorable dogs are often seen in advertisements and movies winning of audiences. Anupama from Furryflyers, a leading pet relocation company says, “In earlier time’s people kept pets for the purpose of utility.
We had guard dogs and most pets were kept outdoors. Nowadays, people in urban regions live in apartments and smaller homes. Our pets are like children and we are very attached to them. They are stress busters and we love spending quality time with them. I believe the pet ownership trend has increased by 25-30 % in the last 5 years.” With our stressful urban lifestyles and the long hours at work, it is no surprise that pet ownership has become popular.
“I feel like pets give you the time to zone out. Be it a dog or a cat, a pet encourages you to get out there and meet other people. You can take a pet on a trip. The country has, in general, become more pet-friendly over time and it is a positive trend that many people are adopting more pets instead of buying them. A pet teaches you responsibilities and makes you more understanding. Sometimes, you need a pet to unwind. Whenever I meet my pet after a long day, I forget my worries.” says Rupal from Paws Pack.
Since pets today are very much a part of our family, there is no reason why they should not enjoy vacations like other family members. A host of companies are providing services to individuals who intend to take their pets on vacations with their families. Unsurprisingly, most of these companies have been started by pet lovers and pet owners who have hitherto been unable to vacation with their pets. With regards to vacations for pets, Anupama adds, “Most hotels and resorts which allow pets are a little run down and dilapidated. The pet owners themselves are not responsible and if the pet dirties the room or scratches it, the owner refuses to compensate. When we started Pet Vacations, I had started taking my Labrador out on vacations. I had to stay in a few strange hotels but it was worth it because it meant enjoyment for the pet. The point of a pet vacation is to go outside with your pet and enjoy with the pet. People should put their pet at the centre of any pet vacation plan.”
Hotels and resorts had initially opened their doors to pets but many changed their policies due to negligent pet owners. In this regards, Anupama says, “Irresponsible pet owners, began taking their pet to the swimming pool and the cafeteria. People should understand the mindset of others. In India, people see dogs and cats on the streets and think that pets are not clean and we should not touch them. Therefore, they may be uncomfortable with pets going around resorts. Letting your pet loose in a hotel will only cause unnecessary stress to everyone involved.”
Rupal adds, “Hotels will ask you to be responsible and clean up after your pets which is a legitimate concern. Some charge extra if a pet is accompanying you, so it really depends. I prefer travelling off the season with my dog, and they really enjoy it when it is not too crowded.
The pet-friendly hotels
However, there are some pet-friendly properties that aim to provide pet owners with a hassle-free experience. Mr Sumit Dutta, owner of Emerald, a genuinely pet-friendly hotel in Bhimtal says, “The thing is that many properties are touted to be pet-friendly but are not so in reality. They have rules about how to keep a pet and have certain restrictions over where one can take them. Our property is completely open and does not require people to put their pets on a leash. We have over four acres of space, which ensures that people can let their pets roam free.” Pet owners who truly want to enjoy a vacation with their pets should look into these establishments.
“We generally organise day trips on occasions when the weather is good so that the animal is happy. We go to forts around Pune which have good walking trails and good views. We have noticed that people don’t go out often with their pets and are trying to change that habit. All dog breeds do not have the same capabilities so we keep that in mind when we plan our trips. We organise our trips around lakes, farmhouses and other properties that are pet-friendly. We also arrange overnight camping with pets in the great outdoors. Bonfire, barbecue and music are some of the main activities that we arrange.” adds Rupal.
How to Travel
Logistical difficulties can pose significant challenges for those looking to travel with their pets. While car, train and flights are all viable options, most experts will insist that you take your pets by car. In this regard, Rupal says, “I think travelling by road is the best bet as it provides the necessary flexibility. Trains only allow pets in first A.C. coupe and so I find it best to take them by road.”
“I firmly believe that in case the distance is less than 600 km, then the best way is to drive. Air India and SpiceJet allow pets to fly in the aircraft but only as cargo. In the train, one can take a pet if they book the first AC coupe. I have personally gone by the first ac and it was a good experience.” says Anupama.
The growing community of pet lovers in India means that over time more hotels and resorts will become pet-friendly. Another aspect is that most pet owners are upper-middle class and do not mind spending money on a quality vacation with their pets.