All Paws Onboard!

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Reprinted with permission by FIDO Friendly magazine. Originally published in the Winter 2014 issue (Online version, page 32).   Does he stay in your car? Or wait it out in a kennel? What you need to know when traveling with Fido by ferry. I was thrilled to finally realize my dream of visiting the rugged island of Newfoundland, until I thought about whether or not my furry girl, Tessi, would be allowed on the ferry serving the island. Ferries are sometimes a necessary part of travel. When we need them, we want them to accept our four-legged friends as important companions to us and therefore accommodate them. I was relieved to find that Marine Atlantic, which runs Newfoundland’s ferries, allows our pals, as its counterparts generally do throughout the United States and Canada. Policies, however, vary considerably. All travelers will probably remain in their vehicles on small pontoon-type boats covering short distances. Bigger organizations customarily either require that a dog stay behind in the vehicle or in a kennel in a designated area. Crossing time and local laws can further dictate how pets are handled. If there is a choice, Fido is apt to be more comfortable amid his car’s familiar smells. Keep in mind our traveling buddies are likely to be left unattended since human passengers are typically prohibited on the vehicle deck during the crossing for security and safety reasons. While traveling with Marine Atlantic, automobiles carrying pets are placed in an area offering better air flow. For Tessi’s comfort, I put screens in the windows so they could be partly rolled down. Lake Express, which crosses Lake Michigan, indicates that the local Coast Guard does not allow windows to be left open. As with many other ferries, it offers a limited number of kennels. Some companies will let passengers bring carriers, but usually of a designated type. If Fido must to be attended to for medication needs or bladder relief, a kennel may be preferable. Just make sure human passengers are allowed to visit. Wherever our doggies are tucked away at, blankets, toys and other favorites can further their comfort.

Do not be surprised to learn that Fido is not permitted throughout the ship.

Certain companies, however, such as the Owen Sound Transportation Company, welcome leashed dogs in designated areas on deck. Tessi and I made new friends when we voyaged across Lake Erie to Pelee Island on one of their vessels.pelee-ferry-1 Do not be surprised to learn that Fido is not permitted throughout the ship. There are many variations in the policies of canine ferry travel beyond what I have mentioned here, making it important to first research the company serving the intended destination. I often find policies listed under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of a company’s website. Like others of her kind, Tessi dislikes being away from her human parent and was overjoyed to see me when I came to rescue her after the five hour ride to Newfoundland. Together again, we excitedly headed out to explore its unfamiliar world.

© Cheryl Smyth, 2014


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