Traveler’s Best Friend: Dogs “Working” at Bed and Breakfasts Across the Country

“Dear Sarah and Bo, We had a great time at your bed and breakfast.” “Special thanks to Bo for greeting us so warmly.”

Burnt Toast Inn - Sarah and Bojangles

Burnt Toast Inn – Sarah and Bojangles

Browsing through messages in the guest book, one can readily see that the Burnt Toast Inn is a partnership.  Owner Sarah Okuyama handles the business end — reservations, accounting and food prep, while Bo shares responsibility for making everyone feel at home. He’s irresistibly handsome, with almond-shaped eyes and a perpetually furrowed brow that projects concern and caring. Sarah says, “Everyone falls in love with him.” A cross (she thinks) between a Rhodesian ridgeback and a mastiff, Bojangles has been involved since Sarah opened the bed and breakfast in 2004 in Ann Arbor, MI.  Like many large breeds, the 90-lb. pup has a laid-back disposition that wins friends immediately.  And like most sensitive innkeepers, he knows when to be attentive, and when to withdraw and give guests space.

As Susan Strom of the Whitegate Inn in Mendocino CA notes: “Guests who come to Bed and Breakfasts and Inns usually are looking for a connection with the owners/innkeepers and even with the history of the place. Corky the Miracle Dog is an important part of making that connection.” Most people just love to hear the feel good story about his miraculous adventure and all the wonderful things people did to help him make it home to the Whitegate Inn. Corky, a Portuguese Water Dog, generally visits after breakfast or during wine and cheese hour at the B&B and is often seen posing for pictures with the guests!

Captain's House - Rudy

Captain’s House – Rudy

At the 1890’s Captain’s House on the Lake in Granbury, TX, Rudy the Dalmatian and Million, a retired greyhound, live in the owners’ quarters.  But they entertain guests each night as they romp by the lake and cause a ruckus chasing ducks into the water.  “The guests at our B&B love to interact with the dogs while we’re out on a walk,” owner Bob Hayes says. “Everyone enjoys watching them.”

 And miles away at the Meramec Farm in the Missouri Ozark hills two terrier mix dogs, Feisty and Sylvie, escort guests to and from the swimming hole so they don’t get lost at this country bed and breakfast best known for its Missouri Fox Trotter, and Peruvian Paso horses, but that’s a story for another day!  

Canterbury Cottage-Ellie May and Melvin

Canterbury Cottage-Ellie May and Melvin

Ellie May and Melvin, a schnauzer poodle mix and a lab/poodle respectively, assist Martha Helfrich and her partner Rob Rochon at Canterbury Cottage in Bar Harbor, ME.  The “oodles” don’t enter the guestrooms or beg at the breakfast table, Martha assures, but they are welcomed in the living room area of this cozy bed & breakfast.  She often finds little Ellie May nuzzled next to a guest, or 80-pound Melvin with her head resting contentedly in someone’s lap.  “Dogs sense whether or not you’re a dog person,” Martha notes.

The charm of staying in a bed and breakfast with a resident tail wager is evidenced at the Hayes Valley Inn where cocker spaniel Breezy regularly greets the guests to this European style B&B located in downtown San Francisco.

Innkeeper/dog owners unanimously hear that their pets enhance the bed and breakfast experience.  For every booking lost due to an aversion or allergy, there are many more that choose a bed and breakfast with a dog-in-residence. “Dogs provide an extra dimension of comfort to travelers,” Sarah Okuyama attests. “Especially those who miss their pets at home.”