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Extreme Doggie Travel

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I like my dog just fine, but for those of you out there that let your dogs kiss you on the face, Aimee Berg's Show Dogs Take Flight is for you.

Jojo, my Westie, doesn't have her own luggage, a fancy travel crate or a professional handler. She pretty much travels by car or stays with a friend if we, the humans, need to fly. She's never seen the inside of a hotel or met a doggie concierge, but she's also not a contender for the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"Inge, a white Standard poodle from Houston, flew via private jet (along with her vet, stylist, handler, and personal photographer) and was chauffeured to a hotel in a private van. 'Inge's so accustomed to travel; she's so much like a little human,' said her owner Holly Sundbeck."

To be fair, some dog people would consider my practical approach to pet ownership as cold or unfeeling, and granted, I've never gelled Jojo's brows, chalked her fur or made her work out on a treadmill, but I did break down and let my daughters put her in a sweater this past Christmas.

"When Westminster veteran Janine Starink leaves Vancouver, B.C., with one of her Giant Schnauzers, she often packs a 25-lb. blow dryer, a hose, and a pink extension cord in her carry-on -- which always looks suspicious in the scanners -- but this time, she checked Gatsby's gear in a bin full of brushes, scissors, clipper blades, whitening shampoo, and gel (to keep his eyebrows down on show day)."

According to the US Travel Association, "18 percent of US adult leisure travelers usually take their pets with them when they travel," so who am I to judge? Personally, I just don't want to be bothered with a dog on vacation -- constantly stressing about where she's permitted to eat, sleep and pee -- but show-dog owners and handlers don't have to sweat the details, thanks to the 30 hotels in Manhattan set up to accommodate the 2,597 prized pooches' most basic needs.

"After a good run, some dogs will only relieve themselves on a piece of sod, but grass is scarce in Manhattan. That's why bales of sawdust fill special rooms at select hotels. On the 4th floor of The New Yorker Hotel, the canine loo has a separate pen for toy dogs, while the Hotel Pennsylvania has divided its spacious subterranean outhouse by sex and planted plastic fire hydrants on the 'boy' side."

Obviously a pure pedigree also breeds good manners and exquisite taste. Hotel Pennsylvania's doggie concierge of 7 years, Jerry Grymek, says that, "On the whole, Westminster dogs are on their best behavior" (of course that's all his non-disclosure agreement allows him to say).

"Barney the Great Dane enjoys a high thread count. 'He cuddles well,' Cain explained, lest the next hotel guest wonder why the bed sags. Kimberly Carey says her dog Gabe the Dalmatian 'is sometimes quieter than the other guests and has never eaten the hotel furniture.' Starink's Giant Schnauzers have never had an accident in the room."

This story has really made me appreciate my low-maintenance dog. Jojo may not be show-worthy, but she'll eat anything, sleep anywhere, play with anybody (including herself) and never beg for a bath. Maybe she deserves a vacation.

See photos of the dogs arriving, prepping and primping for the Westminster Dog Show.

If you think your dog is a winner, or should at least travel like one, get more Dog Travel Tips From the Champions and Pet-Friendly Travel Tips from TravelChannel.com.