A Big Dog
If you’re one of the growing numbers of frequent flyers with pets, then you’re going to end up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at one time or another. O’Hare International Airport, or ORD in frequent flyer parlance, is the second largest national hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines. In fact, before Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changes in 1998 and 2005, O’Hare was the world’s busiest airport in terms of takeoffs, landings and number of passengers. In other words, ORD is a “Big Dog” among airports and one you’re liable to run across often if you’re a regular traveler.
Accommodating Travelers with Pets
There seem to be two primary means of accommodating frequent travelers who are also pet owners, and the oldest and most familiar to all is that of a kennel. Typically, a pet owner drops off Fido or Fluffy at a kennel—with instructions, which may or may not be followed—for a given number of days and returns after her trip to retrieve her pet and pay the bill. Surroundings are usually utilitarian and spartan. There’s a lot of easily sprayed-down concrete and chain link fencing and despite the lingering odor of disinfectant, the place usually smells of eau de canine.
From Kennels to Pet Resorts
Saq Nadeem is one of a group of entrepreneurs who’ve transformed where your dog or cat might stay in your absence from a kennel to a virtual resort for guests with paws. He founded Paradise4Paws with locations at O’Hare and Chicago’s other airport, Midway. At these luxurious accommodations, Fido or Fluffy are treated to “spacious rooms, plush bedding, spa treatments, a large swimming pool and a lively social scene.” Pet owners can confirm Fluffy’s massage is conducted correctly and that Fido is enjoying his pool privileges from anywhere in the world via webcam. Nadeem keeps his facilities available to pet owners 24 hours a day and this convenience is one of the main reasons cited by pet owners whose travel schedules change frequently and unexpectedly.
A Liver Treat on the Pillow?
In keeping up with urban trends, Chicago-area hotels are welcoming Fido or Fluffy to stay with their owners in what were previously people-only establishments. This sort of pet-welcoming treatment isn’t limited to exclusive and expensive hotels. More modest motels such as Best Western are also in on the act, having hired Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan as a consultant to help make the chain more Fido-friendly. Most establishments require a damage deposit in addition to an additional “guest” charge and many require that Fluffy or Fido not be left alone in the room or suite.
Top Pet Choices for Chicago
The helpful website OfficialPetHotels.com offers the top five choices for pet owners who wish to room with their furry friends in Chicago as tabulated by website user votes:
- The Palmer House Hilton
- Hilton Chicago
- Hotel 71
- Hard Rock Hotel Chicago
- Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers
Choices for pet owners have changed. You no longer have to choose between an impersonal kennel to care for Fido or a nosy neighbor to feed Fluffy. Now, both can fly with you to your destination where well-respected establishments will welcome all of you with open arms. And should you need a few hours on your own in a metro area, chances are there will be a pet spa available so Fido and Fluffy won’t feel forgotten.