For the two-legged, traveling is pretty easy. Whether you go by plane, train or bus, you just book a seat and go.
But for people who want to bring along their four-legged companions even for a day trip, the going is much tougher. Pets are not allowed at almost all accommodations, be it hotels, inns or resorts. In Korea, even the great outdoors is often not very pet-friendly because of restrictions at parks, beaches and mountains.
As this is vacation season, demand is higher than ever for places to put pets when heading out of town for a few days.
The solution for most is a pet hotel, and these days demand is high. For instance, Cool Pet Hotel, inside the I’Park Department Store in Yongsan, central Seoul, was completely booked until last Thursday and for the rest of August it is still 80 percent full.
Pets are growing increasingly popular. These days, an estimated 10 million Koreans have pets. Despite the high number of owners, there are still a few animal-friendly places in Korea, but gradually, new businesses have started catering to all sorts of pet lovers.
Here is a list of places where you can enjoy taking a holiday with your pet before the summer is over.
Letting the dog out – outdoor canine park
Indoor playgrounds for pets and pet cafes have been around for decades, but the very first open-air playground for dogs recently opened at Seoul Children’s Grand Park in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul.
Animal clinic Irion offers some pretty fancy dog day care each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The dog park opened late last month as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s efforts to improve animal welfare.
The playground is open to anyone and any dog, free of charge as long as the dog is licensed.
Seoul introduced a new licensing system earlier this year, requiring all dog owners to register their pets at city or district offices.
In addition to unregistered dogs, diseased dogs and dogs in heat are prohibited from entering the park.
According to Lee Wun-oh, an official working in the animal department of the Seoul city government, about 60 dogs use the park every day on average.
With the increasing popularity of pets, I’Park Department Store in Yongsan, central Seoul, has seen sales of pet-related items rising, too.
“Demand for such spaces arose a couple of years ago because there are no places where dogs can run off-leash in the city”, said Lee.
The Seoul city government will see how this first park goes, then decide whether to open more.
The park is open from Wednesday to Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Children under 13 have to be accompanied by their parents.
A big splash – dog beaches
Dogs love to swim, but there were few places open to them. Most beaches ban dogs outright. Now and then an occasional indoor swimming pool for dogs might open, only to close soon after.
But Sageunjin Beach, located a stone’s throw from popular Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung, Gangwon, is now open to all dogs during the summer holiday peak season.
The beach costs 2,000 won ($1.70) for medium- and large-size adult dogs, and 1,000 won for small dogs and puppies.
Considering how thoroughly dogs have been banned from beaches in the past, it is a bit surreal to see them frolicking in the water in Sageunjin.
The beach’s snack shack is even stocked with chew toys and canned dog food, a sure-fire sign that the beach is ready for man’s best friend.
Of course, even on a dog-friendly beach, dog owners are reminded to always pick up after their pets, and the beach provides buckets and shovels.
Thanks to the popularity of the dog beach, some accommodations in the area have smartly opened their doors to dogs, too.
But if you want to go, you need to go quickly. Sageunjin is open only until Monday, Aug. 26. (033) 640-4925
Day care for dogs
When most people have to go out of town, pet hotels or friends’ houses are the most common options for taking care of dogs. But now there is a more entertaining option for your pet – doggie day care.
One of the posher and more popular day care centers in Korea is run by a pet clinic called Irion, which means “come here” in Korean.
Irion has five locations in Seoul, including Cheongdam-dong and Songpa in the southeast and Sangnam-dong in the west of the city, as well as one more in Ilsan, all offering full veterinary services, grooming, pet hotels and day care.
The very first park for dogs in Seoul has opened at Seoul Children’s Grand Park in eastern Seoul.
The day care runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Irion offers pick-up and drop-off services.
“We offer a different curriculum every hour”, said Gang Hee-gyeong, an official at Irion. “It’s almost the same as a day care center for children. At the end of the day, teachers write a letter to each owner about how the dog has been doing. At 3 p.m. every day, a vet does his rounds and checks out all the dogs”.
Gang added, “They also learn how to mingle with other dogs and potty training basics”.
Since web cameras have been installed at the centers, dog owners can check up on their dogs on a real-time basis using computers and smartphones.
The day care center costs 40,000 won per day for small dogs and more for larger dogs. Only spayed and neutered dogs are allowed to use the day care center.
http://www.irion.co.kr, (02) 1577-6125
Cr : Oh KPPOP