At The Aspen Animal Shelter, You Can Rent-A-Pet On Your Vacation

hikers with dog
Courtesy of Aspen Animal Shelter

If you’re a frequent traveler as well as an animal-lover, there are two scenarios that likely describe you: petless and sad about it, or pet-owner, but usually forced to leave it at home or board it. Neither is a happy option, but the always-innovative Aspen Animal Shelter has a furry, feel-good Band-Aid for you.

The for-profit, no-kill shelter offers a Rent-a-Pet program that allows visitors to borrow dogs from two hours to an entire weekend. Explains Director Seth Sachson, “Our motto is ‘Exercise your heart. Walk a dog or cuddle a cat.’ It’s meaningful for a shelter to have this type of program, because these are adoptable animals, and visitors and volunteers are helping the dogs get exercise and develop socialization skills.”

Rent-a-Pet, which is also open to residents, pairs pet-friendly people with dogs (or cats) to ensure a good fit. If your desire is to spend a full day out on the trails, you’ll get an athletic animal that’s up to the task. Casual strolls may find you with a more mellow mutt. And, bonus: like most ski towns, Aspen is incredibly dog-friendly, so you’ll find that many hotels (including the toniest of properties) welcome pets.

Virgin Australia Offers Frequent Flier Points To Pets

virgin australia plane
Aero Icarus, Flickr

Air travel is getting better and better – if you’ve got four legs, that is. Just last month we told you about first class airline lounges that had been designed especially for pets – now airlines are offering award miles to furry fliers.

Virgin Australia announced this week that it will reward its frequent flier members with an extra 300 points when they book a domestic flight for their pet. For the time being, the program applies to cats and dogs only.

About 30,000 pets fly with Virgin Australia each year and the carrier’s CEO says the initiative is aimed at enhancing the airline’s image as a family-focused carrier.Virgin is the first airline in Australia to offer mileage points to pets, but the concept isn’t entirely new. In 2005, Virgin Atlantic offered various rewards through its Flying Paws program and a few years later, JetBlue began providing frequent flier miles through its JetPaws initiative.

First-Class Lounge For Pets Opens At Chicago O’Hare

dog carrier airport
Tom Check, Flickr

Luxury pet hotels, pet portraiture, pet birthday parties and even pet facials – these are just some of the ways the travel industry has bent over backwards to make our furry friends feel like they’re on vacation too.

Now, our four-legged besties are getting the first-class treatment at airport lounges, thanks to the opening of a lounge designed especially for pets at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The on-site kennel is located in United Airline’s new cargo facility and has 28 separate enclosures designed to hold different types of animals comfortably until it’s time for them to fly. The kennel is temperature-controlled, as are the purpose-built vans that shuttle the pampered pooches from the lounge to their flights come boarding time.The lounge, which opened at the end of last month, is the third such pet facility that United is operating in airports across the U.S., with similar services available at Houston and Newark airports.

United says the lounge staff is trained to provide first-class care for the animals, which includes walking, bathing and grooming them. After all, even pets like to stretch their legs, take a hot shower and freshen up their look when they’re in transit, right?

Video Of The Day: French Street Performer Spreads Love Of Cats

Street performers, or buskers, are found in every corner of the world, and practice of performing in public places for gratuities dates back to antiquity. Performers are constantly coming up with wild and wacky ways to impress passersby and entice them into donating their spare change. This short documentary by Paul Trillo follows one of those unique characters: a cat-loving street performer who travels for hours by train throughout the south of France to perform with his affectionate house cats. Although it was shot during the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, it was brought to my attention today when Vimeo.com cat-ified their homepage for April Fools Day.

Who is the strangest street performer you’ve ever seen, and where did you find them?

Grumpy Cat Steals Show At SXSW

Music, film, expos, tech. Yadda, yadda. The real star of this year’s SXSW is Grumpy Cat (actual name: Tardar Sauce), says CNN.

For the uninitiated – all 10 of you – Grumpy Cat became a viral obsession last fall, after her owner’s brother posted her photo to Reddit. The 11-month-old, Arizona-based feline is of curious ancestry (she’s believed to be part Ragdoll breed, and her permanently frowny face and small size are genetic quirks). In reality, says her owner, Tabatha Bundesen (who also runs the Grumpy Cat™ website), “Tard” is sweet and playful … when she’s not sleeping. There are Grumpy Cat memes, merch and thousands of fans, of which I’m unapologetically one.

I follow Grumpy Cat on Twitter and live for The Daily Grump on her site, which posts new photos of Tard and her brother Pokey doing their thing. What can I say? Grumpy Cat just makes me happy. If you happen to be at SXSW, come visit her at the Mashable tech tent, where she’s holding court from her cat bed, and posing for photos (in between naps, of course). Celebrity apparently hasn’t changed her a bit.