Advice for a Oaxacan Vacation with a Pet
As the proprietor of a bed & breakfast in Oaxaca, Mexico, I frequently field inquiries from travelers with plans to visit the city who are intent upon bringing the family dog or cat along for the vacation. They initially ask if pets are permitted in our guest level, and then after receiving a reply in the negative, in a second email ask for names of alternate hotels or other accommodations which do accept pets. The advice is always the same, but the inquiries keep coming.
This pet lover and owner of a brindle boxer is not a pet psychologist, nor professes to intimately know what’s right or wrong when it comes to decisions about the family dog or cat (or one’s children for that matter – lord knows we’ve made and will continue to make mistakes raising our daughter), nor the impact that leaving a pet behind could have on the mutt or his “parents” or “siblings.” However, there are certain factors which ought to at least be considered prior to deciding definitively to take Fido or Tabby along for the trip.
Yes, Some Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in Oaxaca Do Accept Pets, Including Dogs and Cats
Of course virtually every major tourist city in the civilized world includes the odd hotel, guest house or bed & breakfast which accepts pets, at minimum dogs and cats. Oaxaca is no exception. For example, a couple of members of the Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast Association are happy to extend invitations to the four legged. But most shun the thought of even the possibility of a cat meowing or dog barking, and therefore having to contend with complaints from pet-less guests. Certainly there are exceptions; but what might it reveal about the quality of lodging if the owner is struggling to rent out rooms to the extent that he feels compelled to accept dogs, cats, rats, parrots, snakes and lizards?
Your choice of lodging is dramatically reduced by restricting the selection to accommodations in Oaxaca which accept pets. Is the vacation for the Homo sapiens in the family, or for the canines and felines?
But Think of the Poor Pet, No Matter How Attached You Insist He is To the Family
Believe it or not, family pets are in fact different from the human members of the family, no matter how much we might treat them the same as we treat ourselves, no matter that they sleep with us in our beds, no matter they might pick up on our emotions and even thoughts. After the first couple of hours of the road trip to Oaxaca, will the pet not be less patient than the children? Is he capable of playing board games in the car? Would he be happier being cared for in a quality facility back home where he can frolic with his own kind?
When we vacation we board Tito with a dog trainer. Now, seven years later, whenever we begin to gather up his food and water bowls, and leash and choke chain for the ride, he becomes unimaginably excited, sensing that he’s off once again to the country club.
Pet Owners with a Dog or Cat Accompaniment in Oaxaca are Otherwise Restricted
Many ruins and cultural sights do not permit pets, leashed or otherwise. Yes, the dog or cat can be left in the car, windows left slightly ajar. But do you want to run the risk of returning to the parking lot and finding Fido has fled the coup with the help of a Oaxacan anxious to turn the catch into coin? Do you want to constantly be obsessing about that possibility rather than expending all of your energies enjoying Monte Albán, Mitla or a marketplace? Bringing the pet will on balance dramatically restrict your ability to enjoy a number of priority tourist sights.
If Still Not Convinced, Consider Boarding the Pet in Oaxaca, and Compare Costs
True enough, boarding costs in the US and Canada are prohibitive for most of us.
Accordingly, as a last ditch effort to convert the otherwise committed, consider boarding the beast here in Oaxaca. The advantages of doing so include:
• The cost is about a quarter of what it costs back home.
• Your vacation will have no restrictions in terms of the sights which you can see.
• You hopefully will not be constantly obsessing about how your dog or cat is doing; and you won’t have to incur long distance calls to assure yourself.
• Your pet can still enjoy spending quality time with the rest of the family driving through the American mid-West.
• You can drop by to see him daily and exchange stories about how the day went. Most boarding facilities have posted visiting hours.
• He’ll be having the vacation of a lifetime, and perhaps even pick up a bit of Pet-Spanish.
• You won’t have any such restrictions on selecting a hotel or B & B, and accordingly your vacation in Oaxaca will be that much more relaxing and enjoyable.
Since pet boarding facilities in Mexico invariably have dog psychologists on staff, you can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone – use the first half hour for the dog to deal with his stress, and the other half hour for yourself.
Together with his wife Arlene, Alvin Starkman operates Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast (http://www.oaxacadream.com). Alvin has written over 200 articles about life and culture in Oaxaca, assists tourists in planning their visit to Oaxaca and tour of its central valleys, and with Chef Pilar Cabrera arranges culinary tours of Oaxaca (http://www.oaxacaculinarytours.com).