dog friendly Memphis hotel - The Guest House at Graceland

A tilt of the head, a sidelong glance, a forlorn gaze; if you’re a pet parent, you know the look that signals the moment your furry friend figures out there’s a trip in the works and he is not going along for the ride. In fact, some of our pets have so successfully wrapped us around their paws that we choose to take shorter trips or fewer vacations just to mitigate the impact of that heart-wrenching moment.

The American Pet Products Association’s 2017–2018 National Pet Owners Survey says 68 percent of U.S. households (about 84.6 million residences) are home to at least one pet, including 89.7 million dogs. Keep that in mind and consider this: A recent TripAdvisor survey of 1,100 pet-owning travelers revealed 35 percent of those surveyed take shorter vacations and 25 percent take fewer vacations rather than leave their pets behind when they travel.

That’s a whole lot of people choosing staycations over vacations. On the other hand, 53 percent of survey respondents bring their pets along when they travel and 52 percent actively seek out pet-friendly lodging — including The Guest House at Graceland. Opened to rave reviews in October 2016, the AAA Four Diamond-rated, 450-room hotel just a short walk from Graceland accommodates dogs weighing less than 35 pounds in its South Tower rooms for a daily fee of $25 per dog.

Noting the growing interest in pet-friendly accommodations, Paris Permenter, publisher, DogTipper.com and co-author with her husband, John Bigley, of Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos, says pre-travel research is an important element of finding the right fit for your pet.

“Look for size and, in some cases, breed restrictions to make sure a property is a match for your dog,” says Permenter. “And, if you’re traveling with more than one dog, check for restrictions on the number of dogs, or sometimes total weight, welcome per room.

“Once you find a hotel that’s a match for you and your dog, consider if the hotel will also be a good fit for your dog’s interests, especially if the hotel will be your home base for several days,” she says. “Are there activities on property or nearby for your dog or will the hotel primarily be a place to sleep? Is there dog-friendly patio dining nearby or dog-friendly shopping? Is the hotel within walking distance of a park or dog park?”

While The Guest House at Graceland prefers guests not leave their dogs in their guestroom unattended, there is a designated dog-walking area on site. Guests who venture beyond hotel grounds will discover that Memphis as a whole is a predominantly pet-friendly destination. Choose901, a consortium of Memphians who are passionate about sharing their love of Memphis, offers a comprehensive list of pet-friendly parks and venues including Outback at Shelby Farms Park, Overton Bark, Cheffie’s Café (water bowls and puppy snacks offered on request), Central BBQ and Muddy’s Bakeshop (home-baked goods for people and pups). City & State, a coffee shop and artisan-centric purveyor of clothing, home goods, gifts and accessories, is another fun place to explore with your pet in tow.

As more hotels embrace pet-friendly travel, Permenter says it’s up to pet owners to set a good example for future generations of pet travelers.

“It’s so important for dog travelers to be good ambassadors,” she says. “We’re enjoying more travel options than ever before with our dogs, but that could always change. Pick up after your dog, obey leash laws, and make sure your dog is safe and happy throughout the trip. Make your dog an integral part of your trip plans, whether that means you may need to forego a museum visit or hire a pet sitter for an afternoon.

“Finally, just slow down and enjoy the trip with your best friend,” she continues. “You may not be able to pack in as many stops when you’re traveling with your dog, but you’ll bring home countless memories and see your destination from a completely different perspective.”

Bottom line: Do your research. Make a plan. Then get ready for the look of pure joy that crosses your dog’s face when you say those two little words, “Let’s go!”