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Go on a Winter Retreat With Your Dog

By Jennifer Viegas

Does your dog give you that telltale depressed look when you return home from vacation -- the kind of look that says, “You had a great time while I was lonely and stuck at home with the sitter”? Skip this guilty moment by taking your dog with you on a winter ski adventure. Many top resorts nationwide make it easy on you and your powder hound.

“We welcome dogs in our lodge, and everyone has a great time,” says Lucas Milawsky, spokesman for Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vt. “Dogs love the attention we give them, and it’s genuine because we really enjoy having them here.”

Whether your dog is lounging in front of a lodge fireplace or hitting the snow-covered trails, it’s sure to have one of the best winter vacations ever. Just a bit of advance preparation is needed.

Ski Resort Dog Policies
At many resorts, a $50 one-time fee gets your dog full entry to your room and other areas, including Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., says Matt Webb, a resort spokesman. Milawski says Stowe’s fee is the same. “You can go hiking with your dogs. A lot of owners love to go up on the mountain and play fetch,” says Webb. “At the end of the day, you can relax together in the resort.”

Beyond the standard fee, policies vary widely at pet-friendly resorts. Here are a few questions you might consider asking in advance:

  • What pet amenities do you provide? Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Lodge, for example, provides dogs with a clean bed and a couple of bowls. Most places expect you to bring food.
  • Can dogs be left alone in the room? “At Snow King Resort, it’s OK to leave your dog alone for a few hours during the day, but we like to know someone is with the dog at night,” says Webb. Some other resorts have even more strict policies, requiring the use of a sitter when you can’t watch your pet.
  • Where can my dog go? At most pet-friendly ski lodges, dogs are welcome in certain areas but not in others. For example, they’re often not allowed in areas where food is served.
  • Is there a limit to the number of dogs? Matching the relaxed attitude of vacationing skiers, resorts tend to not set strict limits on the number of dogs allowed, but if you have a canine “Brady Bunch,” you should mention your special needs in advance.

  • Are other types of pets allowed? If you have a dog, a bunny, a cat, etc., check in advance to see if the whole animal menagerie is welcome. Often, resorts only allow dogs but no other animals.

Dog-friendly Ski Resorts
Author and co-founder Len Kain suggests checking out the following canine-ready ski resorts. Be sure to contact each beforehand to determine up-to-the-moment policies. According to Kain:

  • Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire: Provides 8 kilometers of groomed trails for dogs and on-site fido-friendly lodging. Dogs need to be leashed on the trails and at the resort.
  • Bear Notch Ski Touring Center, New Hampshire: Dogs are allowed on most of the over 40 kilometers of groomed trails, and they can be off-leash if under voice control.
  • McGuire’s Resort, Michigan: Dogs are allowed on all 10 kilometers of groomed trails and on-site pet-friendly lodging.
  • Carter’s X-C Ski Center, Oxford and Bethel, Maine: Dogs are allowed at both centers, each of which has more than 40 kilometers of groomed trails. Dogs can be off-leash if under voice control.
  • Tamarack Resort Nordic Center, Idaho: Dogs are allowed on all of the 22 kilometers of groomed trails. Dogs can be off-leash if under voice control.

Snow Play
Once you’ve settled on a resort, days of snow play await. Many dogs love to chase snowballs down hills or to catch them in their mouth like icy Frisbees. You can also have your dog fetch sticks and pinecones for making snowmen, or play hide and seek with dog biscuits and other treasures. In short, it’s a veritable play paradise for pooches. Says Milawski: “We don’t have a house dog here, but many of us wish we did. The guests’ dogs wind up becoming part of our family instead.”


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