Travel is said to broaden the mind, but for pet owners it can also induce headaches — not least if you attempt to travel with your faithful hound. Enter Attlee Common, your new vacation guide savior who pens dog-centric reviews of holiday destinations and travel options via the Phileas Dogg website.
The brainchild of Attlee’s owner, Jane Common, the venture came about when she realized that many existing holiday listing outlets weren’t letting her know if a destination was both dog friendly and something actually worth visiting. “It’s all very well to know if a certain pub is dog friendly, but it’s also important to know if it’s a decent boozer as well,” she explains. So she trained Attlee to make use of his “repawter’s” notebook and begin compiling his recommendations around the United Kingdom.
With a first Phileas Dogg book scheduled for publication in May, I checked in with Jane to talk about the dynamics of a dog-friendly vacation, Attlee’s pet peeves when traveling and his feline nemesis Dodger.
Dogster: As a dog owner, what makes for a dog-friendly holiday?
Jane Common: I think it makes a big difference if the owners of a business are dog-lovers themselves — it doesn’t matter whether they have dogs but just staying in an establishment run by people who understand and appreciate man’s best friend makes for a much more relaxing holiday.
Public areas where dogs are allowed to sit with their owners during dinner and breakfast are important, too. I hate leaving Attlee in the hotel bedroom when I’m on holiday — after all, it’s his holiday, too. Lots of hotels don’t allow dogs in the restaurants but do allow them in the bars, where food is served, and that makes perfect sense to me.
An enclosed outside space where dogs can run is also useful — and a garbage can! There’s nothing worse than walking unknown streets in the dark clutching a poo bag and desperately seeking somewhere to deposit it after your dog’s late-night toilette.
When traveling around, what’s Attlee’s preferred form of public transport?
Train, without a doubt. We’ve traveled as far afield as the Highlands of Scotland and the southwest of England by train, and everywhere we go our fellow passengers make a huge fuss of Attlee, stepping politely over him when he chooses to sprawl across the aisle, sharing sandwiches, and engaging him in polite conversation. People seem to really appreciate having canine company on a train journey in the UK.
Have you experienced any strange looks or reactions while traveling with Attlee?
Yes, whenever I check in somewhere with Attlee I always refer to “our journey” or “our room,” and as I’ve used the plural, receptionists glance around to see where my partner or friend is, and I have to explain that the “our” I’m using refers to me and my little dog rather than me and another human being!
So what does Attlee look for in a good hotel?
Attlee appreciates a hotel where he can accompany me to breakfast so he doesn’t miss out on any sausages. He also likes it when hotel owners have thoughtfully provided him with a water bowl and some treats for him in the room.
What are some of Attlee’s pet peeves when traveling?
Hotels that claim to be dog friendly but only allow dogs in the bedrooms — so not in the public areas — and then don’t allow them in bedrooms unattended. This is a real problem when traveling by public transport as I have nowhere to leave Attlee when I go for breakfast of a morning. We’ve discovered there’s a big difference between “dogs allowed” and “dogs welcome” so we try to seek out the places where dogs are actively welcomed rather than just tolerated.
Attlee’s other peeve is when there’s a puppy staying in the hotel and, because the puppy is little and cute, the puppy receives more attention from other guests than him!
What three items does Attlee never leave home without?
He always packs his collapsible canvas water bowl, an assortment of treats, and the name tag on his collar with my mobile phone number on it. A towel’s important, too.
What would Attlee’s dream vacation involve?
Attlee’s dream holiday would combine a destination with beaches — he loves charging along the sand — and woodland with squirrels available to chase. His dream place to stay would be in a room above a pub, with a full menu of pub grub in the bar and large portions of it, too — meaning the friendly locals would supply him with a handsome haul of chips.
How do you think Phileas Fogg and Attlee would get along if they went on a journey together?
Ha, I’m not sure how much Attlee would appreciate being up in the air in a balloon, but if Phileas Fogg had a supply of the crisps of the same name then Attlee might be bold enough to brave it!
The site also mentions Attlee’s foe, a cat called Dodger. Is there any chance of the two of them taking a trip together in the future?
Dodger is king of cats in our little area of South London and has the battle scars to prove it — he can’t leave his dominion in case some other fierce feline steals his crown! So, no, he won’t be accompanying Attlee on his travels any time soon.
Read more on dog-friendly hotels:
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.