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Bed Check: Dog-friendly accommodations

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 15, 2010; 11:12 AM

Why leave home without them? Sometimes it's just not practical to take your dogs on vacation, but when you can, pet-friendly lodging is a godsend. Not only do you get to share a vacation with your favorite creatures, but you avoid needing to make costly caretaking arrangements back home.

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These days, dogs are welcomed at roadside motel chains, upscale urban hotels, countryside bed-and-breakfasts and rural resorts. Two Travel staff members took their very different canines - Becky Krystal packed up her two Shih Tzu mixes and Joe Yonan his Doberman pinscher - to sniff out three Mid-Atlantic places apiece.

Inn at Meander Plantation

2333 N. James Madison Hwy., Locust Dale, Va., 800-385-4936. www.meander.net. Rooms from $175, pets $25 per night.

It didn't take long for my two city-slicker dogs to adjust to a country way of life.

Hobbes and Leo, Shih Tzu mixes ages 4 and 5, respectively, were understandably eager to bound out of the crate in the back seat of my car after the two-hour trip to the Inn at Meander Plantation. In the shadow of the stately 1766 manor, they seemed to immediately comprehend that this place was different from the streets of Arlington. They dashed across the wide-open field, which was noticeably lacking in cars and canines.

The buildings outside the main house, in the rolling hills near Culpeper, Va., are pet-friendly. I appreciated having the one-bedroom groom's cottage (vintage early 20th century) to ourselves: no one for the dogs to bother and vice versa. The innkeepers, Suzanne Thomas and Suzie Blanchard, had provided a sheet, which I placed over the sofa, and a towel that proved crucial for paw-cleaning. There was also a throw pillow embroidered with the visage of a doublet-wearing pug; the carved outline of two dogs adorned a pair of shutters outside.

We ventured onto one of the walking paths on the 80-acre property. This one took us past row after row of corn, which the dogs found endlessly fascinating. Maybe they were looking for Ray Liotta and his baseball; I don't know.

The novelty of the place never wore off. The dogs were enthralled by the horses and sat down to watch them graze in the distance. Hobbes later decided to bark at a couple of them.

Barking also ensued when the resident golden retriever, Callie, trotted over. Soon enough, everyone was friends. Less lucky was the slug Hobbes ingested on our evening walk, but such is the circle of life.

Thomas said the decision to allow dogs was an easy one, since she and Blanchard like to travel with theirs. In 20 years, they've had only two incidents of destruction. "We've found that people traveling with pets are extremely conscientious about traveling with pets," she said.

The innkeepers have returned the favor.


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