Diwali special: Travelling with paws
Planning to escape the bustle of city life this Diwali? Don’t leave your pets behind. These sprawling properties ensure that you and your family of pets have an enjoyable stay
The most common term for someone with pets is “pet owner". But most people these days prefer the term “pet parent".
I think of myself as a pet parent. The first and most important reason is that I don’t own my pets (a purebred Indie and an Irish Setter and Indie cross), I adopted Simba and rescued Stella, four years ago. The second reason I prefer to be called a parent is that I feel a deep love, appreciation for and attachment to both my dogs. That feeling is something I neither bought, nor own. It’s something my pets honed.
But the fancy, self-important, new-age term and the feelings it incited didn’t stop me from travelling on holidays for days and sometimes weeks, leaving my dogs in the care of my housekeeper or nanny. Clearly, like many pet parents out there, I too had double standards.
Yes, my heart broke every time we backed out of the driveway, waving goodbye as the dogs peered at us through the windows. But in time I evaluated this heartbreak and realized it was actually guilt because even if I couldn’t put them in perforated steel crates and cargo them to Europe, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t take them on our drives to Palakkad, Puducherry or the dog park 45 minutes away.
So last weekend we finally loaded up the car with our overnight bags, and along with a toddler bicycle, added a bag of treats, towels and toys for our four-year-old dogs.
Both our dogs had driven down from Mumbai to Bengaluru in 2013 and 2014. But years of not travelling in a car had changed them. Simba, a nervous wreck in the front seat, refused to sit down for the 2-hour journey to Hosur, Tamil Nadu. Every bend, curve and bump in the road was met by a steady swerve that would make even the most seasoned surfer jealous. Stella, in the back seat with the toddler and I, had it worse as she battled motion sickness by sticking her head out of the window.
But we finally arrived, after getting lost just once, still sane and happy, at a pet-friendly resort called The Hideaway. As the first family to arrive that day with dogs, Simba and Stella immediately marked the resort section of the 35-acre property as their own.
I learnt a lot of things about my dogs over the next 24 hours. That Simba is a feisty little fool who tries (and fails) to dominate dogs 10 times his weight and size. That Stella is a dream dog, a flower child who loves every blade of grass crunching under her paw and the odd plunge into the lotus pond. They didn’t abandon us in the all-natural and stimulating environment—they stayed close behind while we went exploring the restaurant pavilion, the pool for humans and finally, the pool for dogs.
This first trip with our family of five made me realize that I hadn’t adopted my dogs only to leave them behind while we went off on adventures. I adopted them because I really wanted to enrich their lives. Just as they have helped enrich mine.
Here are a few recommendations for resorts where pets are welcome.
Dune Eco Village & Spa, Puducherry
Situated 14km outside Puducherry, the Dune Eco Village & Spa has something for every kind of traveller, including pets. The property with a private beach and multi-cuisine restaurant has special villas for families with pets and also provides pet meals on site. The Puducherry city centre, a 20-minute drive away, has great options for families looking to explore the promenade in the French quarter, the eateries in the Tamil quarter or just getting lost in long walks through the city’s beautiful by-lanes, dotted with heritage buildings and candy-coloured houses.
Rates per night (weekends and holidays): Rs10,200 onwards for a double room; dogs stay free.
Distance from Chennai: 138km
Contact: 09159550341; firstname.lastname@example.org; Dunewellnessgroup.com.