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I CALLED THE AUTO TRAIN FOR A FLORDIA TRIP WITH MY GERMAN SHEPARD SERVICE DOG. THEY SAID YOU MUST PROVE HE IS A SERVICE DOG. ALSO THERE ARE NO AREAS FOR HIM TO RELIEVE HIMSELF. THEY JUST ABOUT TOLD ME HE WAS NOT WELCOME. WHAT WOULD BE ANOTHER WAY TO TRANSPORT HIM OTHER THEN A CAR. I WOULD LIKE AN ANSWER FROM STEPHANIE IF POSSIBLE.
Well, Jerry, here are some possibilities:
1. If Fido is truly a service dog and not a pet parading as a service dog then you should have no problem with the paperwork aspects of presenting your dog’s certification and clean bill of health from your vet. As for “walking” you dog on board the train, that would be a challenge since the Auto Train makes no stops once it leave the station in Lorton, VA until it reaches Sanford, Florida as you probably know all too well. HOWEVER, just yesterday I was in Petco. . .where the pets go . . .and I saw product that looks like giant training pads for puppies but it was for big dogs in situations where the pet or the owner can’t take the pet outside. That would work on the train. You might want to start training your pet to use these pads now by putting them on your terrace or patio and putting some grass on it to look user-friendly. Day by day, reduce the amount of grass until it’s just the pad and your dog gets the idea.
2. Consider flying your dog . . .not you. . .just your dog with PET AIRWAYS. They wouldn’t fly you anyway! They only fly pets and they fly in the main cabin . . climate controlled and pressurized. The only people on board are crew to tend to them. As luck would have it, they fly from BWI (Baltimore Washington Airport) and they fly to FLL (Fort Lauderdale). They also will accept your pet up to 72 hours before the flight and hold the pet for the same time period at the other end so you can drop your pet the day before you take the train and have the pet fly the next day and you’ll both get to Florida at the same time or your pet will get there a day before you and have a swim and a pina colada waiting for you. . . not. But it’s almost that pampering!
3. If you live in Baltimore, my guess is that you’ve grown up around Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay and have some yacht club connections! Check around for someone planning to sail their yacht down the inter-coastal waterway and jump aboard with Fido for the trip to Florida. . . of course, you wouldn’t be able to take your car unless you can find a freighter to hop aboard!
Hope that was helpful! Let me know if the Stephanie Abrams Pet Travel Expert can be of further assistance to you. Would love to know your thoughts about Pet Airways and if you fly your pet with them do let me know so we can share your feedback on Fido’s experience.
(BTW: I've heard Standard Airedales make great service dogs. I always wanted one of those big curly things. I even picked out the name Baby Locks! Hope your dog enjoys the Florida vacation. Even dogs need a vacation . . .especially service dogs!.
Radio Show Host
Are you moving to Florida? You mention need for room of furniture. I can't imagine you could take a big dog plus furnishings in a car anyway. But if you're up for creative transportation, consider the following:
Check out cruising to Freeport in the Bahamas and then sailing from there to Port Canaveral or Port Everglades or Miami. If Werewolf is a service dog, he'll be welcomed aboard. Have one of those services or family member drive your car to Florida. Discovery Cruises (www.discoverycruises.com) sails everyday except Wednesday between Florida and Grand Bahama Island and you could reverse this process with round-trip tickets on this itinerary unless moving the furniture means you are becoming a permanent Florida resident.
Werewolf's suggestion was that you fly to Florida on one of the brooms your mother left you in her will. Having watched enough Harry Potter films, I've come to believe this is a viable alternative.
Let us know what you finally decided to do. With so many Pet Welcoming hotels (and if Werewolf s a service dog he's welcomed everywhere you are) on the route from Baltimore to Florida, I'd recommend you take it easy and take a week to get to Florida stopping in great places along the way Williamsburg, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Savannah, St. Augustine and so many more charming east coast cities.
You can visit the Traveling Pet pages of www.sAbrams.com for links to pet-friendly hotels if Werewolf is not truly a certified service dog. If he is a service dog, consider treating yourself to a stay at these wonderful places along the route:
The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA.
The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, Charlotte, NC.
The Marina Inn at Great Dunes, Myrtle Beach, SC.
The Mansion on Forsythe Park, Savannah, GA.
The Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine, FL.
In between, I love Hampton Inns. For 3-star properties, they present 5-star appeal with attention to the most important details of your travel including cleanliness, attractiveness, fabulous bedding, in-room mini-kitchen accessories such as a microwave, coffee-maker, mini-fridge, well-lighted bathrooms with ample shower/tub facilities and a full range of hot and cold buffet items at breakfast which is included in the room rate. I've never been disappointed at any of the Hampton Inns & Suites that I've stopped at.
Have a great trip and include this sage advice in your memoirs when you write again 23 years from now!
Radio Show Host
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