Pet-Friendly Weekend

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3Over the Labor Day Weekend, my Yorkie, Catherine, my sister, Laura, and I went on a mini vacation. Nothing elaborate, just a night away from home, relaxing somewhere that didn’t have laundry to be folded or shelves that needed dusting. It’s amazing how energizing it can be just to take a step away from the daily routine and do something different.

I have never taken Catherine with me on a leisure trip. She has gone with me on trips before, but they were Yorkie-centered trips – a few dog shows and a Yorkie specialty show or two. Those have not been relaxing. Those trips were fast paced, and quite restrictive – needing to be somewhere at a specific time, with Catherine being perfectly groomed.

This trip was totally different. We planned nothing. We decided where to go, but that was it. No plans, no schedule, and no restrictions. Okay, yes, restrictions. We were restricted to places that allow pets. This leisure trip was really educational for me, so I’d like to share our experiences with you.

The Location

We chose Springfield, MO for our little vacation. Springfield is not too far from me, and is a bigger city with a small town feel. It’s the third largest city in Missouri and is home to my alma mater, Missouri State University. There are some great things to do in Springfield, but we weren’t really interested in any of that, just relaxing away from home for a night.

The Hotel

12Pet-friendly hotels are not as difficult to find as they used to be. There are many resources online for finding a pet-friendly hotel. As a priority club member of the InterContinental Hotels Group, I used their online tools to find a pet-friendly hotel. IHG brands include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge, and Candlewood Suites. I had enough points in my account for a free night, so I used their online search tool, filtered by pet friendly hotels, and found a Candlewood Suites in Springfield that looked perfect for us. The online policy says that there is a $75 non-refundable pet deposit. Sounded a little pricey, but since the room was free for me, $75 didn’t sound too bad.

On Saturday evening, we arrived at the hotel and the relaxation began.

The check-in process was really easy. The biggest shock was the pet deposit – it was only $25. I was very pleasantly surprised.

We used the elevator to head upstairs, and Catherine really loved that. It’d been years since she’d ridden an elevator, and the last time was at a dog show in Oklahoma City. In OKC, we actually got stuck in the elevator for about an hour in 110 degree heat right before our ring time. This time was much, much better.

We got up to the room and I was very excited. The room had a full kitchen with hardwood flooring, a carpeted living room / bedroom combo, a large bathroom, and some of the most comfortable beds I have slept in.

The beds were amazing and comfortable, but tall. I was amazed that Catherine was able to jump up onto the bed. We have a tall bed at home, but I have an ottoman at the foot of the bed so Catherine can jump up and down using the ottoman. At the hotel, we let her jump up, but not down. Jumping down can cause strain on the joints, so do your best to minimize the height your Yorkie has to jump down.

When I realized just how comfortable the beds were, I was really excited for an amazing night’s sleep. But Laura had other plans.

The Dinner

10620577_844426772234124_6846933823807236028_nLaura’s still in her 20’s, so a night in isn’t exactly her style. As soon as we got our stuff into the room, her immediate thought was, “Let’s go out.” I’ve never been “out” with Catherine. We live in the country and when I do take her places with me, a drive-through is where we eat. So, I was mainly concerned with where we could go to relax and have a great meal. The last thing I wanted was to be turned away from a restaurant because of Catherine, and there was no way I’d be leaving her in a hotel room alone.

1Laura’s favorite restaurant in Springfield is Touch. They have a patio, so she figured they’d allow pets. I made her call ahead anyway and ask, and they said we could absolutely bring Catherine to dinner there. I was really excited. I’d never eaten at Touch, but have heard great things.

We arrived around 8 PM. The summer heat was starting to turn into a comfortable night air. It was the perfect atmosphere for outdoor dining. The exterior of the restaurant is beautiful and I was really excited when I saw the patio. Touch has couches on the patio and the entire design was absolutely perfect for us. Catherine sat right beside me on the couch while we ate.

Our server asked if Catherine would like some water, so we requested it in a martini glass. It was really cute.

The service at Touch was amazing, the food was great, and if I ever bring Catherine to Springfield again, this is where we will be dining. It was the absolute perfect experience with a pet. I couldn’t have been more pleased. If you have the chance to go to Springfield, you have to try the bacon-wrapped dates at Touch Restaurant. I have a new addiction.
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The Night

After our amazing meal, we went back to the hotel to get settled in. I took Catherine for a short walk around the hotel before bed. This hotel has a lot of well-manicured grassy areas surrounding it. The room was quiet and comfortable and I slept like a baby.

The Brunch

Checkout time at this Candlewood Suites property is noon. Yes, noon. For someone like me, that was a great bonus. I love to take it slow in the morning – coffee, check my emails, and take my time getting around and ready.

We left the hotel around 11:30 and decided we’d better eat before heading home. This is where things got interesting. Where do we go? We got lucky with Touch, but now where do we eat? I’d never really thought about the limits that are placed on you the moment you bring your Yorkie with you. Like I said, I’m from the country and we don’t eat out much and when we do, Catherine doesn’t come along.

I always default to google whenever I need help with something like this. So, while I drove, Laura searched for pet friendly restaurants in Springfield. The top result was BringFido.com. Through a partnership with Travelocity, BringFido.com provides a pet travel directory, including hotels, restaurants, events, and more with unbiased reviews and detailed pet policy information. It’s a great resource, but it isn’t a comprehensive list. It appears to be a user-driven directory of pet-friendly destinations. At the time we searched, the only restaurants listed in Springfield were drive-throughs and 2 restaurants with patios. Those were both on the other side of town. As we started to head toward one, we saw a Panera Bread Co with a sidewalk patio and decided to stop and ask if they allowed pets.

10599482_844733015536833_2286759725760117249_nPanera was happy to let Catherine sit with us outside while we ate. We sat down to our brunch, and a couple arrived with a bulldog and ate at a table next to us. It was a pleasant meal and we were happy to know that there are places all over the city that allow pets to come along.

After the meal we headed back home. The weekend in Springfield was educational for me. Taking Catherine with me wasn’t as daunting as I had expected. It’s much easier to bring your Yorkie along with you when you know which places are pet friendly.

When I got home, the first thing I did was add Panera and Touch to the Springfield, MO restaurant page on BringFido.com. If you know of pet friendly restaurants in your area, I encourage you to add them to BringFido.com and help others in your area make a trip with their pet a little easier.


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