CHENNAI: Zoya, her son Rocco and niece Sasha often vacation together. The thing is, none of them can book tickets by themselves. Why not? Simple. They're all members of a family of boxers, the four-legged kind, that is. So instead, they gleefully rely on the 'adult' members of the family, Sunil and Prerna Pradhan, to lead the way. "We always do our best to plan our holidays around the dogs," says Sunil, "especially when we find pet-friendly places with large running spaces." His wife Prerna adds, "We like to take off the leash where it’s safe and without traffic, and let them free to have a little fun time of their own." What's a summer vacation without fun, after all.
Earlier it used be considered queer to take your pets along on your vacation. But it seems, of late, an increasing number of pet owners are packing 'doggie bags,' quite literally, to step out of the heat for a holiday. "There is a certain section of people these days who consider their pets equal members of the family," says veterinarian Priyadarshini Govind. And it does seem like the norm of 'the animal has to stay out of the hotel' is changing ever so slowly. Non-pet owners and hospitality majors alike are starting to realise that a family pet is often equivalent to a family member. Says Vimla Dorairaju, business head, Mahindra Homestays, "We didn't realise how valued this option was until recently. With 300 homestay options across the country, 50 per cent of which are open to pets being brought along, the response has been tremendous.”
Vimla recalls an incident where a client who had just returned from a trip was raving about it. "I remember she said, ‘Oh both my daughters had a lovely time’." She adds with a touch of humour, "Only later did I realise that one of those daughters was a pet!"
One large detail to take into consideration while going out of town with your pet is the distance. "We always keep our travel time short," says Avinash Jaiganesh, who is planning a trip to Coonoor for the summer. Hill stations are usually more accepting of pets as a lot of people have dogs there. Taking your pet by road is always the preferred option as you don't have to adhere to an airline’s or railways' travel rules. But he cautions, "Beyond five or six hours on the road, dogs start to get restless and agitated." He goes on, "Also consider the fact that it takes them (dogs) at least two days to get used to a new place."
So you may want to consider asking your boss for an extended vacation this summer. And if gets approved – thank your pet.