Couple's Web site offers tips on travel with animals

-Hitting the road with a medium-sized shar pei was manageable.

Then Buster joined Amy and Rod Burkert's family.

The German shepherd made booking hotels a challenge and prompted the Pennsylvania couple to develop a Web site that helps others who want to share vacations with their pets.

"I spent two full days looking for seven hotels on our road trip and said, 'There has got to be a better way to do this,'"

said Amy Burkert, a native of Gays Mills. "But there wasn't.

I spent another two days looking and couldn't find anything."

The Burkerts launched in June after researching lodging, dining and attractions nationwide that welcome both humans and their furry friends.

"Dogs want to be with people. Our dogs want to go. They don't want to be left behind," Amy Burkert said.

"For some, pets are our children," Rod Burkert said.

Traveling with pets can be more economical, as boarding costs can exceed $600, Rod Burkert said. As a sign of the times, more places are becoming more accepting of four-legged visitors, he said.

The Burkerts also have included information at the site on veterinarians as well as doggie day care and pet sitters, since some attractions people will want to visit simply won't accommodate pets, they said.

The Burkerts are on their first tour, with stops planned in Cleveland, Chicago, Iowa, Canada and Niagara Falls.

Ty and Buster are traveling with the couple in the vehicle and they'll stop along the way to check out an RV.

"We're traveling with our pets to make it easy to travel with yours," Rod Burkert said during a stop in La Crosse.

"We gave up our jobs for our dogs," Amy Burkert added.

"We call ourselves recovering accountants," Rod Burkert said.

Credit: La Crosse Tribune, Wis.