Before we get into the Missoula portion of Day 16, I wanted to address a few things about traveling with Tako. I was asked by a fellow road-tripper (who doesn’t have a dog) if I’ve had trouble finding dog-friendly places to stay or eat anywhere I’ve been.
The short answer: no, not so far.
The long answer: I have a feeling it’s going to be harder here on out, and if I didn’t have the option of camping, some places might be impossible.
I aim for AirBnBs in the places that I’m not camping. Coeur d’Alene was an exception because the few AirBnBs left when I booked were outside of my budget. In most places, though, the hotels that allow dogs (within my price range) are almost never as clean or nice as an AirBnB, even if it’s a room in someone’s home. So that’s my advice to you.
I’m aware that Tako is small and a very well-behaved dog. I give him a lot of crap for his few foibles, but he really is super well-behaved, and that’s pure luck, nothing to do with me. And it’s my understanding that it’s a bit harder with bigger dogs — who experience a bit more prejudice — or dogs who are more anxious and might act out because of that.
I have noticed that there are a lot of size restrictions for traveling with dogs, or breed bias, which seems utterly unfair. (I’m lookin’ at you, Pittie friends.) But a lot of people who run AirBnBs will be understanding if you talk to them directly & a few have noted that they just ask to meet a big dog before they enter the house.
When traveling, I do have a few things that I rely on to make sure Tako is comfortable and therefore respectful in a new space.
Lambie is Tako’s favorite toy. (I refuse to take a picture of ours because she is beyond disgusting after all the camping we’ve done. So this pristine version is from the Amazon page.) When he’s upset or anxious, I can usually cuddle him better (pugs are so easy), but sometimes Lambie needs to step in and take over the soothing.
#2: My BFF Quilt
As soon as I lay the quilt on the bed, Tako jumps right up on it, immediately at home. I have had a couple of AirBnB owners request that T stays off the bed, and I’ve been up front with them about the fact that he always sleeps at the foot so fighting that is a lost cause, but that I’ve provided a blanket so he doesn’t get on their linens. Every single one of them so far has been okay with that arrangement.
History of the BFF Quilt
When I was 17, my best friend made me a quilt* as a high school graduation present. She pieced together swatches from pairs of jeans that women had given her; the women of her family, the women in our community of Mendocino, all the women in her life who held a special place in her heart.
I took it to college with me, and it’s been on every single bed in every single apartment I’ve ever lived in since. She made it for a twin-sized dorm bed, and I moved on to a queen-sized bed years ago, but it lives on my bed anyway.
I’ve spent countless hours curled up under that blanket writing. If I’m sick, that’s the blanket I want tucked around me. The night of my break up, it was the only thing (aside from Tako and a few clothes) that I took with me when I left. It’s possibly the one inanimate object in my life that can make me feel at home wherever I am.
I brought it on this trip, partly to cover the AirBnB beds so Tako fur doesn’t run rampant in their homes, partly because I just like having it with me. But I didn’t realize that Tako feels the same way about that quilt as I do until we got to our first AirBnB.
My BFF quilt is starting to get a little threadbare, opening up in spots on the backing, fraying at the corners. It feels a little bit like this might the quilt’s last hurrah, and it can’t help but feel a little bit like a metaphor for life in general right now.
I’m beginning to understand that sometimes we come to a place in our life where we have to put away something or someone we love in order to make room for something or someone we haven’t met yet. It doesn’t mean we love it or them any less; it just means that life is evolving to a place where they don’t quite fit any more.
So many treats. All the treats you can think of. More treats than you could possibly believe you will ever need.
Honestly, though, I think as long as I’m around Tako will feel comfortable anywhere. He’s a very confident little guy. Some might say too confident.
This one is a bit trickier, and so far I’ve just gotten lucky.
Pretty much across the board for hotels and AirBnBs, guests are asked not to leave their dogs unattended in the space. So that means I have no choice but to bring Tako with me every single place I go, including any time I want something to eat.
I’m beginning to discover that, once you move away from the West Coast, where dogs are sometimes considered equal to children (which is a little weird to me, but I try not to judge), it’s much harder to find dog-friendly restaurants.
For example, Missoula is considered very dog-friendly, and a lot of their restaurants have outdoor dining. However, when I walked around town and asked a few places if they allowed dogs on their patios, they all said no. This was explained to me later by a resident, who told me that they recently cracked down on restaurants that were allowing dogs. It’s not up to code to have them near the food here, regardless of them being outside.
To be fair, if you asked me for dog-friendly San Francisco recommendations, I could probably only think of one or two. Tako stays home when I meet friends unless we’re doing something outdoorsy, or I’m going over to a friend’s apartment. I very rarely take him out with me in the city.
The only difference between home and the places I’ve visited is that I know we have a ton of dog-friendly options in San Francisco. I just don’t utilize that resource.
#2: Farmers/Produce Markets
Farmers and produce markets are a healthy & cheap way of feeding yourself on the road. You can get a whole bag’s worth of fruits and vegetables — several days’ worth of food for someone my size — for less than a dollar at most of these markets.
I can’t think of a single Farmers Market in California that allows any dogs other than service dogs. And I know that service dogs are sometimes turned away as well! Which is just so frustrating…and illegal.
My dog is not a service dog** and no one could pretend that he is. But every once in a while, you find a farmers/produce market or shop that doesn’t mind dogs coming and going. Portland and Seattle were both areas I found them.
And usually when Tako is in his backpack people are much more lenient because he can’t touch anything.
#3: Food Trucks
Basically always your best option and really common now. Also, trucks offer some of the best undiscovered food in a city! Though they used to be pretty cheap ways of feeding yourself, they’re usually pretty on-par with a brick & mortar café price-wise these days. And a lot of them either park near places to sit or offer their own little bistro tables.
And people are usually pretty friendly about sharing their tables if you just ask before sitting down.
#4: Grocery Stores
I’ve only been desperate enough to leave Tako in the car once. This is a terrible thing to do to your dog, and most people don’t realize that. Also, it’s illegal to leave your dog locked in your car in 16 states for very good reasons. The linked article goes in-depth, but here’s the basic breakdown:
I wasn’t in a state where it’s illegal, and I waited until almost midnight and left all the windows and the sunroof cracked for fresh air. I still almost had a panic attack waiting in line to pay. When I got back to the car, Tako was really uncomfortable, panting like he’d been running for 10 minutes.
I’m never going to get that desperate again.
In short: It’s not worth the risk. Keep looking for a taco truck or resort to fast food if you have to.
*Max is still super crafty. She’s a graduate student at CCA right now, and she has an IG full of art inspo and glimpses of her projects.
**Technically, he is registered as a service dog. This was the first step towards getting him certified to go into hospital wards to visit patients. I’ve been trying to get into the class that finalizes that certification for over a year. It’s way too popular in SF!