By: Stacy Gile
As I sit here in the early days of September, under a sunny sky and warm temps, it seems funny to think about cozying up next to a fire with your favorite four-legged friend, on a weekend away at a cabin. But as Mainers, we know that cooler weather will be here all too soon. Why not look forward to retreating to the woods or the ocean, when the crowds are gone and the air is crisp?
While some folks are fortunate enough to have use of a family property, if that is not an option for you, there are many choices all across the state that will allow you and your canine partner in crime to recreate together. My personal favorite method of finding that great next spot to visit is to use a booking website such as VRBO and start by selecting the “pets welcome” category.
A recent search showed more than 2600 properties listed as being “pets welcome”. That generated a listing of all types of properties, all across the state. Now the fun begins. Do you want to stay in a cabin or a castle? Yes, there’s actually an option for castles and apparently there is one in the state that’s pet-friendly!
So, let’s narrow it down a bit. Here’s a description of one that sounded pretty appealing: “Our cabin in the woods is on a gorgeous salt water tidal cove, about a 30 minute drive from Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. It is also about a 15 minute drive from the Schoodic Peninsula. The cabin is wonderfully secluded–many locals don’t know it is here, with no neighbors but deer and the occasional eagle flying overhead.” Photos show a gorgeous loft style log cabin with a woodstove and a big porch facing the water. What dog wouldn’t love that setting? What human wouldn’t, for that matter?
Close to a ski resort more in line with what you’re looking for? How about this? “Five acres of pure privacy with almost 1,000 feet of private shore front. Ice fishing and cross country skiing, with access to the trails of Saddleback Mountain.”
Maybe a standalone property isn’t exactly what you are looking for? Perhaps your dog more prefers the ambiance of an inn or hotel, with a lobby fireplace presenting the opportunity to make new friends and possibly score some treats during yappy, I mean happy hour. How about the Harraseekett Inn in pet-friendly Freeport? This places gives pet-friendly a whole new meaning! Lots of grassy area in the back for walks, a dog bed in the guest rooms, bowls and even a special can of food, or what they call in the hotel business, an “amenity”, presented at check in.
And while Freeport doesn’t provide that rustic outdoor experience that a cabin on an isolated point in downeast Maine does, there’s always L.L. Bean, window-shopping on Maine Street and possibly a stop into the Pet Pantry for a souvenir of your trip.
Speaking of shopping, nothing’s funner than getting to buy new gear for your dog, right? Do they need a doggie backpack for their trip? What about a collapsible bowl or portable water dish? And hey, there’s always a travel-type dog bed. Let the spoiling begin!
As with any adventure that takes your dog out of their regular routine, it is critical to consider if this will truly be enjoyable for them or are you just doing it because it seems like a novel idea? I have spent several sleepless nights in unfamiliar surroundings listening to my dog do what we call the “stand and pant”, as he was so discombobulated by being in a different place.
Take your dog’s personality, age, training and adaptability into consideration; otherwise this will not be fun for either of you. Remember the basics – a familiar bed or blanket, their “usual” bowl and food, a favorite toy. Think about what you will do with your dog if you want to leave the place you are staying for dinner, etc. Do you trust them alone? Should you bring a crate? If you plan to leave them in the car, what are the weather conditions? Where can you exercise them? Is there a safe off-leash area? Planning as much in advance will ensure your time together will create good memories for both you and your four legged traveling companion.