Have dog, will travel

The road was our home for almost three weeks.

We embarked upon a journey to the east coast early in July. Initially, we had this crazy idea to camp along the way.

Then we came to our senses.

It would be tough enough managing sleep and meal needs for long drives. We sure didn’t need to complicate matters by throwing in tents, sleeping bags and other accoutrements that would cramp Shep’s space in the back of my Escape.

Telling Shep to prepare for our road trip

And thus we remembered a great hotel chain from a weekend in Kalispell, MT.

LaQuinta Inn & Suites have a pet policy which essentially states ‘all dogs allowed.’


Shep, as many of you know, is an extra-large breed. He doesn’t exactly fit in a purse and, if someone comes too close to his house or truck, his bark will scare the living bejeus out of you.

It makes me jump sometimes.

Holy crap, it just did.

We looked for LaQuinta locations along our journey and planned our stops according to cities where LQ has hotels. We drove for nine and 10 hours a day to reach our destination and stumbled wearily into LQ locations in Cleveland, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; and Auburn, Massachusetts.

We encountered two glitches.

In Cleveland, the Airport North location, our hallway smelled like weed. I mentioned it to the clerk who checked us out the next morning and she was horrified, asking if I had reported it.

I replied no, figuring it wouldn’t be an easy thing to figure out.

“What would you do,” I asked, smiling. “Crawl along the floor and sniff under each door crack?”

She laughed and I said “don’t worry about it.”

But she noted the location was going 100% smoke-free soon.

In Auburn, I looked through bleary eyes at the night clerk who told me I had no reservation.

Wait … you had one but it was for three nights ago.

Oh noes! I screwed up on the online reservation system.

No worries. He found us a room and, when Outback failed to include flatware with our takeout steaks, he cheerily brought us up plates, napkins and plastic knives and forks.

If I knew the young fella’s name, I would give him extra ups right here but, alas, I can’t recall if he ever gave it to me.

Even better, he encouraged me to contact LaQuinta and explain my situation, since I would also be charged for the night we didn’t show up.

I did. And Tammi, the location manager, ensured I was refunded.

Thus, we happily booked LaQuinta rooms on our return trip, although we were disappointed to learn the Fargo, N.D., location was fully booked on the night we’d be in town.

In some spots, like Fargo and Aberdeen, S.D., we stayed at alternate motel chains (also dog friendly).

But we had such great experiences at LQ that I wanted to shine a spotlight on it here. If you’re travelling the U.S. and some parts of Canada with a pet friend (or without even), I encourage you to find a LaQuinta location.

Especially the one in Madison, WI. It is easily one of the nicest places I’ve stayed, besting some of the four-star pads in Toronto last summer. The hotel had gorgeous, spacious rooms and some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered via customer service.

In Madison, WI.

You’d never figure, eh?

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