The Collinses rarely go on vacation without Augustus, their 30-pound, 7-year-old pug. They have the photo to prove it: A snapshot of Dianemarie and “Auggie Doggie” on vacation last year at Arches National Park in Utah has been printed in “Traveling With Your Pet, 12th Edition: The AAA Petbook,” which was released in May.
The Collinses, who live in south Reno, had their photo selected out of 50,000 entries to be one of 40 published. The book is one of many on the subject of taking a pet on vacation, but as the local celebrity spokesdog on the topic, it seemed appropriate to sit down with Augustus and his people to discuss their experiences on the road. Auggie spent most of the interview showing off toys or lounging in his bed, deferring to Doug and Dianemarie to do most of the talking.
“When you have a pug, they were born for one thing and one thing only and that’s companionship,” said Doug, 59, as he explained why he takes his dog sightseeing.
With that frame of mind, the Collinses said planning is the key to traveling with a pet. For them, that process starts with training. Augustus sleeps in a 4-foot by 2-foot gated crate at night, which has helped prepare him for the container he rides in while driving or while sleeping in hotel rooms. He is also trained to sleep only on his pillow, Doug said, so he does not climb on and shed all over hotel furniture.
With most of their vacationing done on the West Coast, the Collinses said they drive on most of their trips. They have a kennel for the car, a shoulder bag for carrying and a stroller for pushing their four-legged "grandchild."
Even restaurants that say they only allow service animals typically let Auggie in on account of his charm and cuteness, though cruises and international travel still have very strict rules on animals, Collinses said.
Taking along an animal requires stops every few hours, Doug said, which many people tell them can be cumbersome. But the Collinses find it makes them slow down and enjoy the journey more.
“It makes your pace of life so that you stop and smell the roses,” Dianemarie said.
When it comes to accommodations, Doug and Dianemarie said they search out hotels and motels that not only welcome pets but have surroundings that are pet-friendly. When they drive through southern Nevada to their second home in Arizona, the Collinses like to stay at a Best Western in Pahrump not just because Auggie is allowed but also because there is grass nearby and good lighting for taking him out at night.
More upscale hotels will offer services to walk a pet so it’s not stuck in a room all day when the owners can’t take it out with them. The Beazley House in Napa Valley, Calif. served Augustus a dog “beer” made with beef drippings and other nutrients (Beazley House co-owner Carol Beazley said the beverage is no longer being served there). In Beverly Hills, the Collinses said, the dog walkers are often budding movie star beauties.
“They’re guys or gals waiting to be stars and one of their jobs during the day is to walk dogs,” Doug said.
When it comes to cost, most places will charge an extra fee for bringing a pet to the room but the Collinses balance that with the financial cost of boarding and emotional gain of having their beloved pet with them. Hiltons charge varying amounts up to $100 for pets, the Beazley House charges $30 per day and the Best Western in Pahrump charges $6 per night for pets up to a 20-pound limit. Don’t tell Augustus he exceeds the weight limit — you’ll hurt his feelings.
“When we weigh the costs, we’d rather have him with us,” Doug said.
For information on or to buy copies of AAA’s pet book, visit www.aaa.com/petbook.
For a list of tips on traveling with an animal from the American Veterinary Medical Association, visit www.avma.org/animal_health/brochures/traveling/traveling_brochure.asp.