This post kicks off what we hope will be an ongoing series about people who travel with their pets. We plan to interview people whose lifestyle allows them to spend A LOT of time on the road with their furry folk. Then, we’ll share their stories in hopes of inspiring our readers to do something cool with their pet. Let us know what you think! And if you have a story you would like to share, please contact me.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce Allison Otto. You can follow her adventures over at her blog, Small Dog on the Go.
I’m a shortform filmmaker and travel journalist for the Travel Channel, a World Hum contributor, a documentary filmmaker, a part-time yoga teacher, and a full-time mom to my dog, Cosette. When I’m not on the road I hide out in a vintage 1958 Airstream trailer.
Tell us about Cosette
Cosette is about 3 1/2 years old. I have no idea about her breed … I’ve heard everything from a Basenji mix to Min Pin mix. I adopted her at a dog adoption fair in LA through Little Big Dog Rescue. At first she was very skittish and spent a lot of time hiding behind my sofa, and then gradually she started to become more comfortable. Now we can hardly bear to be separated from each other!
Where is your home base?
I split my time between Bisbee, Arizona and Denver, Colorado.
How many weeks a year are you on the road? Does Cosette accompany you on all of your trips?
I spend roughly 35 weeks per year on the road. Cosette accompanies me when I’m traveling in the US. When I go out of the country, she usually stays with my mom or my brother.
How do you travel from location to location? Where do you stay?
When I’m traveling in the US, I usually go by car (I drive a small hybrid SUV) and put a huge dog bed in the back for Cosette. She also likes to lounge on the console between the front seats, so I put an additional cushion there for her. I pack a bag of dog food, some treats, water, and her bowls. As for where we stay, I look for dog-friendly hotels.
I understand some of your work involves filming Danger and Cooper for Outside K9. How difficult are those assignments?
Danger and Cooper are INCREDIBLY smart and well-trained. They’re two of the coolest dogs I’ve ever met. In addition to the basic commands, they can fetch beers, recycle, open gates, and go skiing, hunting, hiking, and biking with their owner. Filming them can be difficult only in trying to keep up with them and their antics. But it’s worth it when I catch their adventures and comical expressions on camera.
What’s the coolest assignment you’ve ever had?
There’s been something special about every assignment I’ve had, but I’ll always remember the great time I had on a 6-week fall foliage/back roads of New England filming assignment for the Travel Channel. My mom came along and we brought Cosette, my brother’s dog Jack, and my mom’s dog Stinky. We turned the back of my car into a giant “dog zone.” It was Stinky’s last big road trip – he passed away the following spring – and we saw some wonderful fall foliage along the Kancamagus Byway, the Historic National Road, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stayed at some great dog-friendly bed and breakfasts – the Daniel Rust House in Connecticut was one of my favorites.
What’s your most favorite place that you’ve visited so far?
I don’t have a favorite place – I have favorite moments from all the places I’ve been – running at dawn in the mountains of Dominica, filming on a train deep in Mexico’s Copper Canyon, celebrating my 21st birthday during Carnivale in Venice with my wild aunt and her friend, dressing as a giant Bavarian sausage to run the 7th inning sausage race at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
How does Cosette fit into your daily life? For example, can you take her with you when you are filming?
If I’m traveling by car, Cosette comes with me on filming assignments most of the time. I figure out way to make it all work and make sure that she’s comfortable.
When you’re not making films, what do you do to relax?
I teach and practice yoga, go hiking with Cosette, or catch up with friends.
Do you have any difficulty finding dog friendly places to stay and things to do with Cosette?
On occasion it’s been tough to find dog-friendly hotels, which is why I generally plan my route ahead of time and search for dog-friendly hotels if I’m going on a long trip.
Based on your experiences, what could businesses do to make traveling with a pet easier/better?
Some hotel chains, like Loews, have it down perfectly! When you check in with a dog they give you dog treats, bowls for food and water and plastic bags for your walks. It’d be great if more hotels could do that – or at least kept a few rooms for people traveling with dogs.
What would you like to tell people who say, “Boy, I envy your lifestyle. I wish I had a job that would let me travel with my pet.”?
I’d tell people that there are some great blogs and websites (like yours!) that offer advice on traveling with pets that can help make their wish a reality.
And for my own personal satisfaction, what’s up with the vintage trailer fascination? I get it … I am just curious what started it off.
I discovered the world of vintage trailers on a filming assignment at The Shady Dell for the Travel Channel and fell in love with them! I like their compact efficiency, their spaceship look, and the whole retro world they exist in.
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