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Need to get away, but want to bring your pet with you? Blue Sky Dogs offers pet travel services for animals and their owners. Consider this scenario:

You come home from work exhausted to find your one-year-old golden retriever bouncing around like popcorn in a furnace. After surveying the dog hair on your red velour sofa (the one it’s not allowed on) and the teeth marks on your antique sideboard, you wonder: Is 30 minutes with the dog walker while you’re away for the day enough to burn the energy off your pet?

While it’s certainly better than nothing, said Tammy DeCarlo, owner and founder of the New York City-based Blue Sky Dogs, there may be better ways to take the edge off of active dogs. And Blue Sky can help.

Dog lovers from New Jersey to New England have been turning to the company’s pet-friendly travel services since DeCarlo founded the company in 2003. She was inspired by her own dog, a golden retriever-Chow mix that she and her husband used to take hiking outside of Manhattan.

“She totally loved it,” DeCarlo said. “That’s when I got the idea to create something that gave other city dogs a chance to get out and have some fun.”

Today, the company offers pets and their owners a variety of pet travel options, from a different kind of doggie daycare, to weekend getaways and day trips.

For dogs only

For $85 to $145 an outing, pet owners can enroll their dogs in Blue Sky’s Canine Country Days, doggie daycare with a decidedly adventurous twist.

While traditional daycare confines dogs to the same indoor space, Canine Country Days takes dogs on supervised trips that emphasize open air, variety, and freedom – like the park, the mountains and the beach. Once there, dogs that might otherwise be backyard -- or building bound -- get the chance to run around in nature, off leash.

The benefits of which, said DeCarlo, are obvious: Less pent-up energy translates into less stress. Dogs arrive home calmer and more content, better socialized and behaved – and less inclined to chew things. “A lot of our clients also use the service to get their overweight dogs in shape,” she said.

But the dogs aren’t the only ones getting something out of it. “My clients appreciate coming home after a long day to a dog that’s happily slumped over in the corner,” DeCarlo said. “All that’s left to do is feed them, take them for the last walk of the day, and spend some quality down-time together.”

A shared experience

And yet, as the name would suggest, Blue Sky offers more than just a dog’s day out. It also offers owners quality up-time with their pups, by providing them with all-inclusive “Best Friends” day and weekend trips that are just a car ride away. That includes:

  • Day-long excursions that cost approximately $150 and range from hiking and going to the beach, to visiting a wine vineyard – a “client favorite,” DeCarlo said.
  • Weekend getaways that, for $500 to $800 (depending on the number of dogs and accommodations), offer clients and their dogs the chance to stay at regional bed and breakfasts and quaint inns – and enjoy activities such as hiking, canoeing, agility classes, ferry rides and even yoga.

Recognizing that not everybody likes to travel in a group, Blue Sky also helps clients plan their own travel. “A lot of places say they’re ‘dog friendly’ but that’s open to interpretation,” she said. “We do the legwork for people so they know that, wherever they go, dogs are welcome.”

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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