Spots in Time : Gord Turner

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!

On the way to downtown Castlegar recently, I saw an RCMP vehicle with lights flashing pull over a car with a young woman driver. Nothing strange there, you’d say,except that the woman had been driving with her dog in her lap.

Even if the dog had been a service dog, it probably was not trained to help this woman steer her car. Likely, the dog was simply a pet that she loved, and she couldn’tresist cuddling it while she drove. Clearly, however, the dog was an impediment to this lady’s driving no different than using your hands to hold a cell phone andtalking while driving.

I thought this incident was probably an anomaly you know, one in a thousand. However, on our latest trip to the prairies, we were traveling behind a pickup truck thatseemed to be slightly out of control. The driver was having trouble steering as the vehicle slid onto the shoulder a few times and crossed the centre line regularly. Wedecided we had to get past this vehicle and seek safety ahead.

As we passed, we saw the driver had a dog in her lap, and it was moving a bit within her arms. The woman looked over at us, smiled and waved as we went by. I couldn’tbe sure, but I thought the dog might have grinned at us too. It certainly lifted a paw our way.

A few kilometres farther along the highway, we came upon a large highway sign that stated, “Distracted driving law in effect.” To my mind, having a dog (or child) in yourlap while driving is just as bad as socializing or doing business on a cell phone while driving. Texting while driving may be more dangerous, but a lap dog could easilydo something unusual and cause the driver to have an accident.

That wasn’t the only dog thing I observed on our last trip. Driving through small cities and viewing the hotel advertising signs, I discovered that hotels now areinterested in housing pets along with humans. Indeed, many of the signs said “Pet Friendly” or “Pets Welcome.” In fact, the notice about pets was always the first phraseon the sign way ahead of welcoming human travelers.

When I checked websites for some of these hotels, I discovered that pets represent additional revenue for a hotel. Most places charge an extra $20 per pet, stating thattwo pets are the maximum allowed. Extra cleaning costs could also be charged in some pet situations.

My preference is to stay in a hotel room that hasn’t been used by pets. If animals have stayed in a room I’ve just rented for the night, how do I know how well the roomhas been cleaned? How do I know whether or not the previous guests have had their pets sleep with them? How do I know if the pets have shed hair or had an accidenton the carpet? True, some animals are cleaner than humans, but then, some animals are not.

The hotel we stayed in at Billings, Montana had the right idea. It didn’t announce itself on its signs as a pet-friendly overnight stay. If travelers brought a pet along, thehotel would allow them to keep it in their room, but the room was in a separate part of the hotel.

Indeed, the hotel had several separate building units. The Big Sky building we stayed in had an entrance notice that said, “No smoking and no pets in this building.”Apparently dogs or cats or boa constrictors were only allowed in another section of the hotel. And thankfully, we didn’t see any of these pets.


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