Plenty of hotels flaunt their pet-friendly status these days, but some properties are going a step further, appointing a resident pup to serve as the face of their front of house.
And they are even teaming up with local rescue organizations to help dogs find forever homes.
"You're almost completely disarmed when you walk into a hotel and you see a dog curled up on the couch or coming to greet you," said Joel Morales, chief marketing officer at hotel real estate group Castlerock Asset Management.
"Dogs have a way of being welcoming and intuitive. It just breaks down any walls."
Castlerock's Bobby Hotel in Nashville has had an on-property dog since it opened in 2018, when Sasha, a former "office dog" at Castlerock headquarters, was promoted to the role of dog-in-residence at the Bobby.
Sasha has since retired, but her tenure inspired the launch of a more formalized canine program, developed in partnership with local animal rescue group the Nashville Humane Association and Pets for Patriots, a nonprofit specializing in helping U.S. military veterans adopt companion animals. Under the initiative, a shelter dog is hand-selected by the Nashville Humane Association and, following a stint at the hotel, is later adopted out as an emotional support animal for a veteran in need.
Sasha, the first dog-in-residence at the Bobby Hotel in Nashville, relaxes in bed. Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Bobby Hote
As part of their residency, each dog undergoes a period of extensive, professional training, which helps them master the art of avoiding designated areas -- including the hotel's exits, elevators and food and beverage outlets -- and waiting until a guest initiates interaction before extending a greeting.
"There's a stigma that shelter dogs can't be trained to be companion dogs, and this is a really important program that helps to address that stigma," said Morales, adding that guest response to the dog-in-residence at the Bobby has been overwhelmingly positive.
That said, for the hotels, having a dog-in-residence "isn't for the faint of heart," Morales said, citing considerations that must be made around vet visits, liability insurance, ensuring the dog is given enough time off and the extra cleaning required.
"But putting in this extra effort and this extra investment is really important to us," Morales said. "You're working with a living, breathing animal, and there's a huge amount of responsibility that goes behind that."
Few hotels are as familiar with the many commitments of pet ownership as Maine's Inn by the Sea, which has been home to an on-property dog-fostering program since 2015. Established in partnership with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, the Inn by the Sea's initiative was created
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