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  • August 6, 2019

    DOG STAYS HOME, WE FLY ALONE

    HENRY WANTS TO GO HOME

    When we first got our dog Henry, he loved to travel. But now that he’s a little older, not so much. Especially in the middle of summer in Florida with thunderstorms every night, scary critters that lurk in the dark, relentless heat, bugs, and humidity.

    Henry’s gotten used to air conditioning, cool nights, clear skies and his own numerous comfy beds. And he likes it that way. Henry loves his neighborhood, and he has a reputation among the other dogs here. He’s kind of a tough guy in the Hood. There are a few dogs that he likes, a larger group that he hates, and a bunch of human friends and neighbors who shamelessly spoil him.

    If he sees a small- or medium-size dog, he’s ready to assert himself. If he sees a big dog, he tries the same strategy. And if it doesn’t work, he is not ashamed to just run like hell back to his mom.

    Despite his tough-guy reputation, we have to be careful. Some of those big dogs actually may be coyotes, who come down from the hills to hunt little dogs like Henry, and some of the cats may be big, fat bobcats, who stalk the neighborhood, looking for a tender morsel such as Henry.

    Every summer, there are numerous instances of bobcats leaping out of trees or from backyard fences onto unsuspecting little pups. So when we all go out in the backyard, we automatically check out the nearby big pine tree to make sure the coast is clear.

    The dangers where we live are real for a little dog, but this is Henry’s home and this is where he likes it. When we recently returned from a five-week motor trip, he went from asleep on his mom’s lap to looking out the window and beginning to recognize familiar landmarks. By the time we turned in the gate he was shaking and whimpering with excitement. By the time we turned down our street he was barking and straining to get out of the car.

    It is good to be home, especially for a little boy who loves his own turf.

    We’ve decided though, that we’re not taking Henry on long trips anymore. We’ll go and he’ll stay home with his baby sitter and mommy-substitute, “Auntie Bev.” From now on, when we travel, we’ll get on a plane, fly across country, rent a car, eat at nice restaurants, and stay in nice hotels.

    Speaking of nice hotels, one of the pleasant side effects of leaving Henry at home is that never again will have to stay in a La Quinta Inn. Before we had Henry, we never stayed at a La Quinta. But we learned on our first trip with him that while most hotels do not take dogs, all of the La Quinta Inns do.

    The La Quinta’s are a mixed bag. There are few of them – maybe 5 or 6 percent – that are fairly nice. The ones in Mobile, Alabama; Vancouver, Washington; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Broussard, Louisiana come to mind. But, most of them are barely up to standard, and there are a few that are just God awful.

    The San Antonio Dominion La Quinta, north of the city off Interstate 10, was the last La Quinta we stayed in – hopefully, the last forever. It used to be one of the nicer and newer La Quinta Inns, but that was three or four years ago.

    This time around, although the room was clean, the hallways were nasty and the outside walkways were littered with cigarette butts and gum wrappers. And apparently, as with so many hotels in the chain, nobody is in charge of picking up the dog poop that litters the outside grounds. We pick up our own, but for those visitors who are not so enlightened, the hotel grounds people really should do it.

    Dogs used to stay free at the La Quinta chain, but after the chain was recently purchased by Wyndham, it began charging $25 to $50 a night for pups. That’s fair enough – there is a cost to letting dogs stay at a hotel. The problem is that despite the added fee, nothing has been done to clean up the mess, either inside or out.

    That’s not our problem anymore. With Henry at home, basking in Auntie Bev’s arms and with the AC cranked up, we can stay anywhere we want.

    And that’s exactly what we intend to do.

    George Lee Cunningham

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