As a single mum with one daughter, most would consider my nuclear family score to be a teeny-tiny two. However, in our minds, we are most definitely a family of five, our numbers bolstered by Spider the cat, Kitty the Chiweenie and George the Pug. These furry-family members are an integral part of our family unit.
Fortunately, all three have a very human voice, channeled via me – Spider, although a hard-core kinda gal, has a somewhat squeaky voice, Kitty, definitively boss of the furries despite his diminutive size, speaks in a rather plummy Oxford English and George, a Pug of much buffoonery is pure Cockney loveable rogue. Spider, in that typically catty manner, is often too disdainful to engage. The dogs however regularly contribute to family debates on all matters – from the more trivial daily decision – should we go for a walk despite the rain (Kitty, George and I outvoting my daughter with a ‘course we should, we’re waterproof’), to the bigger questions – where shall we go on holiday?
That we should all go together is not even a question. And I’m certain the majority of dog owners feel the same. Yes, we can organise a dog-sitter, we could even, at a heartbreaking pinch, put our dogs in kennels. But we want them with us. We want to see them bound along joyfully on mountain hikes, cavort in the shallows with our small humans, curl up in front of the fire after a day spent in wide open spaces. We want to stay together as a family unit, and to insist they stay home is to put a mark on our vacation before it’s begun.
Interestingly when clients enquire about bringing their pets they have, universally and without exception, assured us their dogs are well-behaved. On our daily beach walk, I see around 3 in 10 dogs who are certainly NOT well-behaved but fortunately for us the owners of this thirty percent choose to book elsewhere.
We really are quite astonished though, at how remarkably few issues dogs have caused over the years – if only people’s children were as well behaved. There was, of course, the dog who was actually a cat and stayed at a hideaway where the owner is highly cat-allergic. That didn’t go down too well and was an admin nightmare for us – ‘Pet-friendly’ having to change to ‘Dog-friendly’ on all our documentation.
When a new hideaway joins our portfolio, one of my initial tasks is to assess its potential for dog-friendliness. Of course, there are those hideaways with hyper-precious owners, only white sofas and an unfenced garden where even I can see it simply can’t work. But for homes of a more robust nature getting a ‘yes’ starts with establishing if the owner has dogs themselves. If they do it’s a much easier sell. I can allay their concerns over damages with a genuine reassurance that the vast majority of dog owners are super-responsible and truly won’t allow their pets to trash the joint. Also that we insist on the following assurances from our guests – a maximum of two dogs, no dogs under one, dogs to stay off the furniture and must have their own beds. Then I play heartstrings…’When you go away are you fine leaving your doggies at home?’…and purse strings ‘Of course dog-friendly houses do get more bookings. It doesn’t always work but we do have a sizable dog-friendly section and rest assured, I’m constantly pushing to increase it.
Below are a few personal recommendations for doggy heaven hideaways…all come with the Kitty and George paw print of approval!
Tankwa River Lodge, Tankwa Karoo
Immense wide open spaces for daytime exploration, huge fireplaces for evening relaxation.
Danielskraal, near Calitzdorp
Delightfully eccentric owner lives on the farm and will make a huge fuss of your tail-waggers.
Bella Rosa, Tesselaarsdal, Hemel en Aarde Valley
Has an immense garden for your furry friends to explore.
Albertyn Huis, Kleinmond
Don’t be put off by the ‘Dogs must be on leashes’ sign on the beach. Stride down the beach for around 10 minutes and you’ll find you have it all to yourselves – and your dogs can run free.
Here’s to many happy holidays with ALL the family!
Perfect Hideaways has over 300 curated properties across South Africa. If you’d like to stay in one of these hidden gems, contact us on [email protected] or +27 21 790 0972 so that we can help you find your perfect hideaway.