I rarely go on vacation. We tend, instead, to take short weekend trips or visit friends and family, where we can bring along the dogs. But that isn’t always possible.  A few weeks ago we took a long-anticipated vacation to Walt Disney World.

What? A vacation photo without dogs in it?!

And because someone (who will remain nameless!) is afraid to fly, we took a 24 hour train ride.

Here’s the train pulling into the station in Florida.

And dogs aren’t allowed on Amtrak at this point. So we had to make arrangements for Kelly and Ike. Here’s what it took:

1. Our son moved back home for the week to be here for the dogs after work and overnight.
2. We hired a pet sitting service to walk the dogs once a day, while our son was at work.
3. Gramma came over once a day for another opportunity to let the dogs out and give them some attention.

We also had our new pet cam, which we’ve been testing for Samsung, and could check in on the dogs via our smartphones.

Hi Ike!

It wasn’t easy for me to feel comfortable leaving the dogs in other people’s care. I work from home so they are used to me being around all day. We have a routine. Would someone else let them outside as often as I do? Would they understand the dogs’ subtle signals? Would the dogs get sick while I was away? But I know they love my son and that he’d give them lots of attention. And I felt good that they’d be getting a nice mid-day walk. And Gramma would give lots of TLC (and a few doggie treats.) So we went off on our big trip, sans dogs.

The first day we checked in on our webcam quite a bit. Mainly because we were sitting on a train with nothing better to do. The dogs were lying around like usual, so all was good. The rest of the trip we checked in just once or twice a day. lol.  Our pet sitters were supposed to text us a message and a picture every day, but they only texted a picture the first day and a message twice the whole week. I was disappointed in that. But I trusted that the dogs were getting a nice walk and that was what was most important. Phone calls to our son told us that the dogs were eating well, and seemed happy and healthy. Kelly mostly curled up in her favorite spots, and Ike cuddled with our son and pretty much didn’t leave his side.

We were able to enjoy our vacation without worrying about the dogs, and when we returned they were excited to see us, and seemed to have done just fine. phew!

On a side note, I noticed several service dogs both on the train, and in Walt Disney World. I’ve read that there is some abuse of the “service dog” designation but I am not qualified to judge if these were real service dogs or someone bringing along their pet. I always thought it would be great to travel with my dogs on the train. We had a little sleeping compartment and, although it was tight, we could have added a dog or two! Of course, it’s a long trip and getting dogs out for a break when needed wouldn’t have been easy–except for the times when the train made a long station stop. Then it would have been possible to run them out for a quick walk. That is something that would have to be researched in advance, to know how long apart the stops were and how much time there would be to take a walk. I’d also want to be sure it was a situation that would be pleasant for the dogs, rather than stressful.

This is what our little train bedroom looked like. Can you imagine Kelly and Ike in here with us?

Some dogs might enjoy being in Walt Disney World, while others would find it overwhelming. Even in November when crowds were low, there were still lots of people. The weather was pretty good for dogs (and people), but in the summer I would think the dogs would need booties to protect their paws from the hot pavement. According to the website, “trained service animals are welcome in most areas of Walt Disney World.” Some of the attractions that service dogs are restricted from are:
Splash Mountain
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Test Track
Rock ‘n Roller Coaster
Tower of Terror

I’m trying to imagine a dog on a ride, such as It’s a Small World. I guess it could work.

Sing it with me! It’s a small, small world….

I’ve never actually seen a dog on any of the rides, although there are many attractions/shows/movies that would be fine–such as the Hall of Presidents. But I did see some dogs accompanying their handlers on the paths in the parks.

This service dog accompanied his family in the Magic Kingdom.

The Walt Disney World website also says that “service dogs are welcome to use any open outdoor area for relief.  There are also designated service dog relief areas in each park and in hotels.

So what do you think? What vacation arrangements work best for your dogs? Should dogs be allowed on trains? In Walt Disney World? Are people abusing the designation of “service” and “assistance” dog to bring their pets in public places? What places do you think dogs do not belong? 

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