Pawstruck: Celebrity travel expert Claire Newell on her Mexican mutt

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Claire Newell and her Chihuahua Joey

The lovely and talented travel expert Claire Newell – whose new show “Operation: Vacation” debuts on Travel + Escape in January – chose her Chihuahua after losing a longtime and much beloved feline companion.

The president of Travel Best Bets and frequent Global BC contributor chatted with Vancity Buzz about how having a dog has changed her life. She also provided some fantastic tips for travelling with your pet. And I mean, who better to give you travel tips? This is a woman who has her own brand of luggage, for cryin’ out loud.

Tell us about your dog

Joey is a 1.5-year-old pure bred Chihuahua we got after losing our 22-year-old kitty, Princess. My husband and kids were desperate for a dog. I wasn’t quite ready for any pet after losing Princess. However, I started doing some research and typed in long-living, smart, loyal, non-shedding, small dog — and up popped the picture of Joey with the Mexican flag behind him. I was sold! Then after meeting him I was instantly in love!

Joey as a puppy

Joey as a puppy

How do you think having Joey has changed your life?

Joey has brought so much joy & unconditional love into my family’s life. We all love him so much. He’s this adorable little ‘bond’ we all share. Plus, having Joey has been a great way to teach my kids responsibility since he needs to be walked, fed, watered & loved.

Between TV appearances, running a company and having two kids, how to you make time for your dog?

My kids are older now — 14 and 12 — so we really share the time spent with Joey. We rotate walks between my husband, kids and me…and of course he gets tons of cuddle time. From his grandparents too!

Joey and Claire's daughter Lauren

Joey and Claire’s daughter Lauren

Any advice for someone thinking of getting a dog?

Be prepared for a major emotional commitment. You won’t believe how quickly you fall in love! It’s almost like having a baby. This tiny creature just becomes a part of your family. They make you laugh, give you cuddles when you feel down and just add happiness into your everyday life.

Do you think your dog has a distinct personality?

Without a doubt Joey has his own personality. He’s curious, loyal, smart, super friendly and really “chill.” He doesn’t bark like a typical little dog when fireworks go off or when the doorbell rings. I LOVE LOVE LOVE him!!!

Wee Joey on his favourite pillow

Wee Joey on his favourite pillow

It’s an understatement to say you travel a lot for work. How do you find travelling with your pet?

I try not to fly with him unless I have to. It can be quite traumatizing for them with the noise, unfamiliar smells and being confined to their crate too long. We usually let him stay home with our amazing dog sitter.

Joey cruising in the car

Joey cruising in the car

Finally, are there any travel etiquette rules when it comes to bringing your pet on a flight?

Some airlines don’t allow animals at all; others only allow pets to travel during certain months (not during the hottest or coldest months). Some airlines all pets in the cabin if they are under a certain size; others only let them go into the cargo hold. So do your research.
If an airline will allow pets to travel in the cabin, you have to call the airline once you have booked your flight and add them to the file. Do it right away because they only let a few animals into the cabin per flight. You will also likely have to pay $50 to $150 depending on the airline.

Here are some other handy travel tips:

  • Make sure to have ID tags on your pet’s collar and list your cell phone number on them.
  • Label your pet’s carrier prominently with your name, address and phone number.
  • If your pet is in the cargo hold, try to book a direct flight.
  • Crate should clearly be labeled with the words “LIVE ANIMAL”.
  • Pack something soft in the crate with your scent on it.

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About the author

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Darcy Matheson is the founder of PetFundr, a crowdfunding site for animal welfare projects. Her first book, "Greening Your Pet Care," is available on Amazon and in major book and pet stores.
@darcynews

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