ULTIMATE PET TRAVEL
Visit Your Dog's Ancestral Home
Travel to the birthplaces of golden retrievers, Boston terriers, and five other popular breeds. Here are seven vacation ideas you—and your pooch—can dig.
Origin: Tomich, Scotland.
Story: In 1865, the avid hunter Lord Tweedmouth plucked the sole yellow puppy from a litter of black retrievers in Brighton, England. He named him Nous, brought him to his home, and bred him with Belle, a Tweed water spaniel. The union led to the large, good-natured golden retriever. In present-day Scotland, retrievers are usually pets and farm animals.
The trip: Travel four hours north of Edinburgh to Tomich, a well preserved 19th-century hamlet built by Lord Tweedmouth. Stop in at the Tomich Hotel, where the owners can direct you to Tweedmouth's deserted and roofless former home, Guisachan (goosh-e-can) Manor, which is roughly three miles away. Park next to the manor for a stroll. Gorgeous waterfalls can be found in the neighboring Glen Affric Nature Reserve (glenaffric.org). Spend the night at the eight-bedroom Tomich Hotel, whose 2008 rates start at about $94 per person per night and about $14 per dog per night. For train trips between London and Edinburgh, tickets start at about $85 one way via Raileasy (raileasy.co.uk). Some train lines allow dogs the size of golden retrievers to travel for free as long as they are leashed. Call National Rail for rules on a specific train line (011-44/845-748-4950). In Edinburgh, car rental rates begin at about $44 a day. Check with individual companies about pet rules and fees.
Hot tip: U.S. dogs can enter the United Kingdom without quarantine as long as they're microchipped, vaccinated for rabies, and have had their blood tested. Owners must carry documents to prove all of the above, plus a bill of health from a vet that notes that your dog has been treated for ticks and tapeworms.
Origin: Northern England.
Story: In the mid-19th century, a few breeds of pint-size dog served as rat catchers in industrial northern England. The particular descendent we know today as the Yorkshire terrier—usually weighing four to seven pounds and typically having a straight, silky, tan coat—was officially recognized in 1874.
The trip: Many Yorkies, as they're affectionately known, will enjoy romping through the purple heather in the English county of Yorkshire. One of England's greenest parts, Yorkshire offers plentiful scenic trails distinguished by centuries-old limestone pavements and cave-dotted coastal crags. Find listings for pet-friendly accommodations in the region at yorkshiredales-stay.co.uk.
Hot tip: Opt for a car rental company that doesn't charge pet-related fees. Enterprise, for one, doesn't charge pet fees at most locations, but call to confirm the rules at your particular office (011-44/870-350-3000). To minimize shedding on car seats (Yorkshire terriers have amazingly long hair) buy a Furminator pet comb (about $25 on Amazon).
Story: While its exact origins in Germany are unknown, references to a long-bodied, short-legged, sausage-shaped dog with terrific persistence at tracking badgers can be found in art and literature throughout the centuries. For instance, a 1560 woodcut portrayed a dachshund-like dog. In modern Germany, the dachshund has been a star and even served a stint as the country's official mascot during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. (A side note: Though Dachshund means "badger dog," Germans more commonly call this breed Dackel.)
The trip: Perhaps no German city has celebrated the dachshund as much as Berlin, which ran an annual dachshund race until 2006. Stroll Potsdamer Platz, the city's central plaza, which is surrounded by many landmarks best viewed on foot, such as Renzo Piano's postmodern sculptural Arcades. A great off-leash park popular with young people is Eberswalderstrasse in the nearby Prenzlauer Berg district. Afterwards visit any of the many cafés across the park on Oderberger Strasse. From there, head to Pension ABC, a squeaky-clean, family-run inn that welcomes dogs at no charge (011-49/30-2694-9903, doubles from $89).
Hot tip: For your dog to visit Germany, all you need is proof that he or she has been vaccinated within the past 12 months (but also more than a month before departure) and an identifying tattoo or microchip.
Story: A half dozen Japanese dog breeds are believed to have existed around 10,000 B.C., and one of them was the bushy-tailed, compact watchdog Shiba Inu (roughly translated as "brushwood dog"). Shibas didn't snag official recognition until the early 20th century, though, and the bombs and epidemics of World War II all but wiped them out. Luckily, the number of Shibas has since rebounded.
The trip: We can safely assume that Shibas have long been present in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto. For a casual afternoon, strut your leashed bundle of fur through Kyoto's Maruyama Koen Park, known for its gorgeous, giant cherry trees. It's a short distance from the central train station. From Kyoto, hop on a superexpress train for two hours and 15 minutes to Tokyo, modern Japan's truest dog-meet-dog town. (Note, Japan Railways charges $134 one-way for the trip and about $2.75 to bring a small dog in a carrier.)
As the nation's birth rate has dropped, the love of pets has expanded—a trend that's most visible in the country's largest city. Here you'll find dog gyms, dog boutiques (hawking dog-size perambulators), and dog dancing studios (teaching owners and pets to trot in sync). It's rare, however, for downtown Tokyo hotels to accept dogs. The Hilton Narita at Tokyo's main airport has two rooms for guests traveling with dogs (011-81/476-331-121, hilton.com, $225 plus refundable deposit).
Hot tip: Taking your dog to Japan from the continental U.S. is such a grueling trip that few owners will contemplate it—especially once they factor in the 12-hour quarantine. Nonetheless, you'll find vaccination, notification, and microchipping procedures at the country's Animal Quarantine Service website.