Motor Club Membership Has Pets Wagging More, Paying Less

motor club

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit motor club that has been helping travelers since 1902. Formed mainly in response to a lack of roads and highways suitable for automobiles, AAA membership has evolved to serve the changing needs of more than 50 million members. Tackling everything from emergency roadside assistance to road maps, travel guides and travel services along the way, AAA is relevant today too. Advice and discounts cover everything from saving money buying a car to caring for and traveling with pets.

“Owning a pet, whether it’s a dog, a cat, a hamster or a bird, can be pricey,” says AAA in its monthly newsletter. “In this sluggish economy, everyone is on the lookout for ways to shed unnecessary expenses, and spoiling our pets may not make the budget.”

AAA directs members looking to save on spay/neuter services, discount pet food and medication to partners such as Pets Warehouse, PetFoodDirect and large retailers like Costco, PETCO and PetSmart.

On the road, AAA’s hotel search engine will help travelers locate a AAA Diamond-Rated hotel fit for them and their pet. A copy of AAA’s “Traveling With Your Pet” ($9.99 digital edition available at the iTunes Store, Amazon.com and bn.com), details pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, attractions and more.The AAA website has free information on traveling with pets too, including:

AAA also offers discounts on vacation packages, cruise vacations and more. A lot has changed at AAA since 1902, including up-to-date mobile apps and a YouTube channel that can be a great help to the travelers of today.

AAA online guidebooks, launched last year, let members download free digital guides for their Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader or smartphones equipped with an e-reader application. Site visitors to AAA.com/ebooks can view the available eTourBook titles, but only AAA members can initiate a download. To complete the process, members login to download titles to their personal computer and then sync the files to their portable device.

This video about safe summer travel is typical of what AAA has for motorists.



[Flickr photo by TheGiantVermin]

Summer Travel With Pets Made Easy With New Book

For many Americans, pets are essential participants in family outings but bringing them along can pose some challenges. The new edition of “Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook,” offers resources for planning pet-friendly vacations that can make the process easier.

The book includes a listing of all pet-friendly AAA Approved and Rated lodgings throughout the U.S. and Canada. Listing more than 600 pet-friendly campgrounds, dog parks and attractions, the guide has useful tips for preparing four-legged travelers for the road or air and handy information about pet etiquette, insurance and emergency animal clinics.

“We know pets are very much a part of our guests’ families. As such, we want to welcome pets and their owners to our more than 1,600 pet-friendly properties,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Best Western.

AAA runs an annual Photo Contest that picks winners to appear on the back cover and spine of the next edition and also receive cash and prizes.

In this year’s contest, sponsored by Best Western, two winning pet photos will be featured on the cover and spine of the book, published in May 2013. The first place winner, featured on the back cover, will receive $300, a $150 Best Western Travel Card (valid at any Best Western Worldwide), pet treats and five copies of the book. The second place winner, featured on the book’s spine, will receive $150, pet treats and two copies of the book.

“Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook,” in its 14th edition, is annually updated and available at many AAA and CAA offices as well as select bookstores and online booksellers.

Pet Friendly Hotels



Flickr photo by David d’O

Heifer International: Working To End World Hunger, One Llama At A Time

bolivian farmerGot an extra $20 burning a hole in your pocket and want to make a difference in the lives of others? Buy a flock of ducks. Eighty-five dollars will get you a camel share, while a mere $48 purchases a share in a “Knitter’s Gift Basket (a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit).”

Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock, and animal husbandry, agricultural and community development training to over 125 countries, including the U.S. The goal: to help end world hunger and poverty by improving breeding stock, providing valuable dietary supplements such as milk and eggs, and creating viable business enterprises for commodity products such as cheese, wool, honey, or crops cultivated by draft animals like horses and water buffalo.

The livestock species used to support disenfranchised communities are diverse, but traditional to their respective regions. They include goats, sheep, honeybees, beef and dairy cattle, water buffalo, yaks, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, camels, rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry.

When I was a kid growing up on a small ranch in Southern California, we used to donate our male dairy goat kids (which, if sold here, would most likely be relegated to dinner) to Heifer. Although the program no longer ships live animals overseas (it’s easier and safer/more humane to ship frozen semen), the concept remains the same: using top bloodlines to improve the quality and enhance the genetic diversity of herds or flocks in impoverished regions.

Heifer teaches the concept of the “Seven M’s: Milk, Manure, Meat, Material, Money, Motivation and Muscle.” These are the benefits livestock animals provide to people in developing nations. With the training provided by Heifer employees and volunteers, the cycle of poverty can be broken, and families and villages can thrive. During the holidays or for birthdays, I like to make animal gift donations in the name of the recipient, an especially valuable lesson for children (who, let’s face it, really don’t need another electronic piece of crap to foster their ADD and lack of global awareness).

Never doubt the power of a furry friend to change the world. To make a donation, click here.

Check out this Heifer International gallery of animals and their proud owners from around the world:

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SkyMall Monday: Toilet Dog & Cat Water Bowl

gadling skymall monday toilet cat dog drinking bowlDogs and cats have an odd fascination with toilets. They try to drink from toilets, they fall into toilets and they are mesmerized by the sounds made when you flush toilets. Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we have one furry toilet drinker who hits the bowl hard when he’s stressed. However, no pet owner wants to encourage that behavior because toilets are filled with bacteria and germs. Besides, pets have their own water bowls from which they should be drinking. Toilets are for deposits, not withdrawals. Until now, that is. If animals want to drink from toilets so badly, why not let them do it in a safe and decorative way? Thanks to SkyMall that dream has become a reality. The next time that your dog or cat tells you that they’re thirsty simply direct them to the Toilet Dog & Cat Water Bowl.Certainly, this idea is less preposterous than teaching your cat to poop in the toilet. At the very least, it’s way less creepy. Your pet gets the toilet watering hole that it desires and you get a handsome accessory to display in your home. It’s a win-win. If this were a poker game, you’d be holding a straight flush!

Think that toilets are for people? Believe that no one should drink from toilets unless we find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic hellscape? Well, while you feed your dog from your wearable water bowl, we’ll be reading the product description:

A hilarious conversation starter and pet pleaser, this unique water bowl keeps your pet well hydrated and your home cleverly decorated.

Sure, you could decorate your home with paintings, furniture and sculptures, but those are far from clever. Having a toilet in the middle of your living room is just the conversation starter that your fancy parties need. Surely your pet won’t be confused by the fact that they are permitted to drink from their small toilet but get yelled at when they drink from the toilet in the bathroom.

Quench your pet’s thirst for toilet water with this sanitary and attractive accessory that will look perfect in any home. Why have a ball when you can have a bowl (I’m so sorry)?

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Pets travel safe, near or far

petsAmericans love their pets and more pet owners than ever are traveling with them. Spending over $50 billion on pets in 2011, the pet business is booming and so is the business of keeping pets safe and secure when traveling.

“Pet identification, whether at home or abroad, is an important part of keeping pets safe,” says Susan Smith, President of Pet Travel that has on file entry requirements for countries all around the world, is familiar with airline regulations and serves as a Pet Travel Agent.

Pet Travel encourages the extra security provided by a microchip implant, based on a passive RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, making pets traceable worldwide.

If international travel with a pet is not in the budget, staycations are available too at destinations like A Dog’s Day Out in Alexandria, Virginia, where people bring in their dogs to stay either for the day or overnight.

But the ultimate pampering for pets might be found at dog salons like Bark and Bubbles in Fairfax, Virginia where pets can be washed and groomed, have a birthday party or get a facial.

The largest 24/7 in-door doggie spa is at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, the 2012 Pet Friendly Hotel of the Year award winner and host hotel for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This one offers a variety of amenities that Show participants require: exclusive DogTread Treadmills, bathing/beauty parlor/salon, dog grooming/comfort station, canine gym, walking area, a canine masseuse and animal communicator and even his and hers relieving area.

The 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place on February 13th and 14th, 2012 at Madison Square Garden, directly across the street from New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania.


Tips for Safe Flying With Your Dog

Flickr photo by pretendtious