Packing tips for the ‘pooch’

Like many traveling dog owners, we have over the years put together a list of pet-friendly travel items and tips, but occasionally we’ll come across a new idea. Here are some items we recommend:

Car Harness

Dogs should be restrained in the vehicles whether it is in a designated dog seat (for smaller dogs) or a dog seat harness.  It can be even something as simple as a regular chest harness with ring on the back with a short lead through the ring, then looped through a secured seat belt. Any way to secure the dog’s range of motion is recommended in case of sudden breaking or collision.

Molly is ready for a road trip, secured in her harness

Old Sheets

These come in handy for many situations. They can be draped over the car seat as added protection or even over the doggy car seat blanket.  Old sheets from home can be draped over the furniture at the pet-friendly hotel unit also, in case your dog is tempted jump on the sofa or chair.


Our dog, Molly is crate-trained, so our collapsible wire crate can be easily stowed on top of the suitcases in our trunk. Most hotels do not allow guests to leave their pets unattended, but an increasing number of resorts will allow crated dogs to be left alone. Pet stores also sell canvas or mesh foldable travel crates. If a crate isn’t an option, you may want to bring your pet’s own blanket, pillow or dog bed.

Washcloths and stain removers

Just in case there is an accident, it helps to have washcloths and cleaning products from home. After a resort tried to charge extra fees for “ruined washcloths” at check out, we carry our own. We pack a small container of a powdered cleaner such as Oxy-Clean or a travel-size spray bottle of liquid stain remover such as “Nature’s Miracle.”

Dog Park Locations

Check online to find the nearest dog parks in your destination city. Because your dog will be on the leash or in the room for the majority of the time, it’s a good idea to have access to the nearest fenced dog park where they can run around freely. Listings of dog parks in Arizona can be found in online directories or on your destination’s municipal website.

Other useful items to consider:

  • Spare copies of dog license, health and immunization certificates, microchip documents
  • Extra leash and collar
  • Homemade pet first aid kit including some items such as self-sticking adhesive wraps, bandages, Benadryl and puppy pads
  • Comb for removing cactus needles, burrs or thistles after hiking
  • Finally, remember to bring plenty of “chewies” and treats to reward your dog. They will enjoy vacations too!

Molly and I take a break from shopping at Sedona's Tlaquepaque



Sedona, Arizona – April 2011

Sedona is a popular getaway destination for many living in Arizona. Residents of Phoenix, Flagstaff and even Tucson are drawn to Sedona for its magnetizing beauty even if they don’t buy into the “harmonic convergence” vortex theories. (I’m not going to attempt to explain it. You have Google; look it up.)

We travel to Sedona for a number of more mundane reasons:

1) Close proximity to the Phoenix metro area (only takes about 2 hours)

2) Wide range of lodging and dining experiences because of the heavy volume of tourists

3) Extensive options for outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking

4) Numerous opportunities for art, music and film fairs and festivals

5) Historical sites

6) Wine tasting in the Verde Valley

Here are some photos of our last trip to Sedona in April. We spent a week there, hiking, shopping, wine tasting, dining, sightseeing and relaxing. This time was very much like previous trips, except we were traveling with Molly, our border collie. And from our point of view, she has lot more energy than those vortices.

Starting out on the Marg

View from Marg

Red rocks from Marg

When we visit Sedona, we always try to take a different trail, or explore a different area. Marg’s Draw Trail is easily reached from the “Y” — just a short 2.5 mile walk up Schnebly Road. It’s almost an urban trail running path — with plenty of neighborhood residents using this as their morning or evening workout. Don’t be discouraged; this is a wonderful trail with excellent views of many rock formations as it weaves beyond the reach of the subdivisions.

Fly fishing on Oak Creek

Spires of sandstone from the Marg

For seven nights, Los Abrigados Resort & Spa would be our lodging. We found it comfortable, but a little cramped. But we spent most of our time on the patio, watching the wind sculptures, soaking in the hot tub and snacking on Verde Valley wine and cheese.

Some Los Abrigados room patios include hot tubs

Our dog, Molly really enjoyed being next to Oak Creek, where she could watch the ducks and meet some of the other guests.

Creek frontage of Los Abrigados

Water feature along Oak Creek at Los Abrigados

No trip to Sedona should be without a side trip to some of the Verde Valley wineries and there are several, but we stopped at three — Page Springs, Javelina Leap and Oak Creek.

Oak Creek Vineyards

Large roses around the vines

Oak Creek, a bottle of Arizona wine and a bistro cheese and meat basket makes perfect lunch

One of the sights I would highly recommend is Montezuma Well. Everyone goes to “Montezuma’s Castle,” but few take the extra half hour to see his “Well.” Believe me, it’s worth the time. And it’s more than just a “hole in the ground.” It’s a set of cliff dwelling ruins and an easy and beautiful path to a natural irrigation system, still in use by local farmers. We just happened upon the back entrance to Montezuma Well when we were attempting a trip to the West Clear Creek trailhead. (Our low profile passenger car would not reach that destination without a severe beating.)

Ruins above the water at Montezuma Well

Students learn about the irrigation outlet of Montezuma Well

Path to the

Another trail we explored on this trip to Sedona was the Boynton Canyon Trail. We always felt slighted on each of weekends to Sedona, not having the time to fit this one into a short two-day trip, but we finally got our chance to walk the popular “vortex” trail in northwest Sedona.

We thought it was a good idea to get an early start on the trail, for reasons including afternoon temps in the upper 80s, parking availability and the chance of heavy hiker volumes. Boynton Canyon is a scenic mixture of red rocks, manzanita thickets, ponderosa pine stands and soaring cliffs housing ruins of prehistoric cultures. The approximate six-mile round trip is an easy, leisurely walk which will take about 3 hours.

Boynton Canyon Trail winds along parts of the Enchantment Resort

Along the Boynton Canyon Trail

View of Boynton Canyon from the end of trail

Every time we go back to Sedona, whether it’s for a weekend or a week, we never get bored with the views, trails, dining experiences or resort stays. We’ll always be back.

One of the few dining patios that allow dogs is Ken's Creekside


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