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Privileged Pooch: Going pupscale in SoCal

After perusing “The Privileged Pooch, Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern California,” I’ve decided if Ace and I ever run into author Maggie Espinosa and her dog, Marcel, on the road … they’re buying.

Unlike my Travels with Ace project, “The Privileged Pooch” – not to be confused with the fine pet boutique in Baltimore of the same name – is a guidebook that focuses on high end luxury travel with your pet.

“Now you can share Southern California’s celebrity lifestyle with your furry friend,” reads the summary on the back of the book. “The days of staying at substandard hotels and dining at drive-thru’s when traveling with the family pet are over.”

Not for me, they ain’t. But that’s not the point.

Espinosa’s point is that bringing a dog along on your trip no longer automatically relegates you to economy-level accommodations. And her book, provides plenty of examples, in highly readable form, of where you can stay, play and eat with your pet — in Palm Springs, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara and greater Los Angeles.

High-end establishments are starting to wise up to the fact that about 10 million pets each year vacation with their owners — and that many of those owners are from the demographic at which tourism-related businesses commonly take aim.

“The Privileged Pooch” lists 69 hotels (not a Motel 6 among them),  55 restaurants, 56 dog-friendly activities and 38 “trendy shops” where you and your dog are welcome.

Espinosa has done some culling, weeding out those establishments that have too many restrictions or silly and unrealistic weight limits. (For the dogs, I mean. Southern California doesn’t have weight limits for people. Yet.)

She uses a rating system of one wag to four wags for pet friendliness — one being “pooches permitted,” four being “pooches paradise.”

Maggie and Marcel

At the latter, you might find such features as special puppy menus, a “togetherness massage” for you and your dog (at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa) or ”blueberry and plum pet facials” at a dog-friendly spa called The Healthy Spot.

Espinosa and her bichon frise, Marcel, tested all 69 hotels, and each section of the book, region by region, includes recommendations for everything from dog-friendly beaches to emergency veterinary care.

Our favorite example was the Doggie Bus in Tustin, which totes dogs and their humans to the beach at no charge. An Orange County man started providing the service not to get rich, but simply because he enjoyed doing it.

Now that’s dog-friendly.

Santa Cruz may reconsider downtown dog ban

santacruzNearly 35 years after it banned dogs from downtown, Santa Cruz is considering allowing them to return.

The coastal California city, plagued by strays that were being picked up at a clip of 200  a month in the 1970s, banned dogs in its central business district in 1976, at the urging of merchants.

More than three decades, merchants are again urging change — but this time it’s to allow dogs back into the business district, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Today, the Downtown Association, which represents business owners, will discuss recommending the council overturn the ordinance while strengthening leash laws and other safeguards.

An association poll shows a majority of merchants believe they are missing out on business from tourists and locals who would bring their dogs downtown for a stroll or dining at outside tables, much as they do in well-known dog-friendly towns like Carmel and Los Gatos.

In Santa Cruz, dogs are also banned from some local beaches and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

“Forty years later, the council has the right to reconsider something,” said Mayor Mike Rotkin, who has served a total of 26 years on the council since 1979. “It’s a very different council and times are different.”

Former Councilwoman Carole De Palma, who voted for the 1976 ban, said the city should reconsider reversing the law because dog owners tend to be more responsible these days. De Palma, who owns a 7-year-old dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Pearl, said increasing safeguards could reduce problems that led to the ban.

N.M.county mulling ban on pet sales in stores

Bernalillo County, New Mexico is considering a ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.

The ban could be included in an animal-control ordinance the county board of commissioners is discussing at a Dec. 9 meeting.

Although the proposed ordinance, as it’s now written, does not ban cat and dog sales, the ban could be added as a floor amendment prior to the consideration of the proposed ordinance, Pet Product News is reporting.

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