Why Toby Won’t Be at BlogPaws

There is going to be one less dog at BlogPaws tomorrow, and it will be Toby.

I was hesitant to take him in the first place, because he tends to act up around other dogs lately. (Ironically, this new habit started after I took him to a Camp Bow Wow in New Jersey and one of the keynotes at BlogPaws is the founder of the company) But, I decided to take him anyway.

All along I planned to drive to D.C. It’s about a four hour trip, which is what I do every weekend because I work in Manhattan and live in the Adirondacks. It was no big deal.

Toby sleeps while I book my train ticket to BlogPaws.

Then my car broke down. Twice. So, I arranged to borrow a car from a relative so we could go. Then Hurricane Irene decided it was going to slam right into D.C. the weekend of BlogPaws. The news stations are of course freaking everyone out — including, and especially, my family.

For the past 24 hours all I’ve done is argue with members of my family that I still need to be at BlogPaws, especially since I’m speaking!

Not good enough. Instead, I was irresponsible, putting both me and Toby at risk, blah blah blah blah blah, especially if I drove. So, fine, the train it is.

Let me preface this with I love Amtrak. If I could take them everywhere I would, especially over NJ Transit. But, unlike NJ Transit, Amtrak doesn’t allow pets.

Here is their policy:

Amtrak does not permit pets on trains or Thruway services, in passenger areas of train stations, nor in checked baggage.

Service animals, however, are not considered pets, and are permitted in all areas where passengers are allowed. Service animals are animals that are trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with a disability.

The following are examples of types of animals that are not permitted:

  • Comfort animals – animals not trained to perform a specific task, but which are said to provide emotional support or to relieve anxiety simply by their presence (for example, by the passenger holding or stroking the animal)
  • Pets – animals for which no claim of any service is made
  • Search and rescue dogs* – they are trained generally, but not to assist a particular passenger
  • Police dogs* (other than dogs brought on trains by the Amtrak Police Department)

Totally stinks, right?

It’s actually the same thing for most rental car companies. When I broke down the first time two months ago, the woman at Enterprise had me sign something saying I wouldn’t have a dog in the car. I completely almost flipped, explaining how I was stranded and someone should have told me this before they handed me the keys on a Saturday 20 minutes before they closed. They ended up “making an exception.”

[By the way, this is not the end of the Enterprise story. My goal is to get that changed, or at least get them asking the about pets when you call to book the car]

Flying was an option, but it was way, way too expensive. I mean, the ticket, since I’m booking right before is expensive, too, but it’s not nearly as bad as what it would have cost to rent a car or fly. So, Toby unfortunately will not be joining me, but I will be there, but he is letting me use his Twitter handle — @toby_pup — during BlogPaws.

With a sad face, I am looking forward to seeing everyone! Safe travels 🙂

8 thoughts on “Why Toby Won’t Be at BlogPaws

  1. OMG..your story sounds just like mine! you should pop over to my blog, coveredincathair dot com and see the post about what happened to me..car broke down, terminally ill cat, 6 hr drive to blogpaws..I can so relate. We decided to go but now the weather models are worse for us in the northeast! now what? Boohoo!!! I hope you get there safe and we see you tomorrow!
    Robin 🙂

  2. Michelle, we had the same thing happen with Enterprise. We are a pet friendly company (PetSafe) and were renting a car for work to drive up to give away a dog park to Huntington, WV. Enterprise took one look at our furry travel companions and wanted to charge us 2x the price of the reservation to take them. We just decided to drive our own car. Very disappointing.

  3. Laura, I'm still waiting to solve my complaint with Enterprise. In addition to the dog part of the story, they lie about picking people up. I made the reservation for the car at 1:30am while waiting for the tow truck to take my car broken down car back to my house.

    They assured me there would be no problem picking me up the next day. However, when I called in the morning, they told me — we can't pick you up, just call a cab. And, since it was a Saturday they were closing early. I was livid.

  4. Sorry, Michelle – sounds like so much stress! I hope that the trip itself goes smoothly.

    Also, I didn't realize that Amtrak didn't allow emotional support animals. I used to do work related to housing discrimination and I guess I take it for granted that they should be considered service animals too. I also find it kind of insane that they don't allow police dogs or search & rescue dogs. Amtrak needs to step it up!

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