Hello, my name is Melissa Halliburton, and I'm the founder of the world's leading pet-friendly travel website, BringFido.com. Since launching in 2005, we've helped more than 10 million people take their dogs on vacation. That's a lot of lucky dogs, but it all started with just one. Rocco.
I adopted Rocco shortly after graduating from MIT, and quickly became frustrated by the process of finding a pet friendly hotel whenever I wanted to get out of Boston for the weekend. I'd call hotel after hotel, quizzing the front desk clerks about their pet policy, fees, weight limit, and other restrictions.
The last straw for me was when I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding on Cape Cod. I called every hotel within a 100-mile radius to ask whether they were pet friendly. Unfortunately, the closest place I could find that would accommodate Rocco was an hour away from the church. I booked it because I wasn't about to leave my dog at home! As fate would have it, on the morning of the wedding, I got a flat tire on the way to the church. Rocco and I arrived fashionably late to the wedding - in a tow truck, bridesmaid dress and all!
When I returned home from the wedding, I purchased the BringFido.com domain name and immediately began compiling information on pet-friendly hotels across the country. More than 50,000 phone calls later, BringFido.com was born (with the help and support of many friends). Just as I'd hoped, it made planning vacations with a dog (or adventurous cat) a lot easier for pet owners across the country. It was even described as being like "Trip Advisor for dogs" in our first year of business.
For the next five years, life was good. Rocco and I explored the country together finding more and more great hotels and attractions to include on the website. He was treated to a doggie makeover at the famous Henri Bendel's on New York's Fifth Avenue on the first day they began allowing dogs in the store. He marched in the Barkus Pet Parade during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He ordered room service from the pet menu at dozens of fancy hotels. He was the flower dog in my wedding, and a year later, he sat watch on my belly when I was pregnant with my first (human) child.
About One Year Ago...
In the summer of 2011, Rocco started limping for no apparent reason. I brought him to our family veterinarian and was horrified to hear that the MRI revealed an inoperable tumor on his spine. His health declined really quickly over the next several weeks, and Rocco eventually lost his battle with canine cancer.
Within a month after losing Rocco, I received more bad news - I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 33. Needless to say, it was a crappy year. After having surgery and undergoing radiation therapy, I felt like I needed to reboot my life. So, I decided to take the summer off to go on the ultimate dog-friendly road trip with my new dog, Ace.
Over the course of 80 days, we visited hundreds of dog friendly attractions in nearly every state. I'm not just talking about the local dog parks either -- Ace and I took surfing lessons in San Diego, we hiked Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge, we slept in a safari tent in Yellowstone National Park, we spent the day on a lobster boat in Maine, and we rode a roller coaster together in Pennsylvania. Okay, it was a kiddie roller coaster, but still, how many dogs can say they've done that??
Why I Want to Write a Book
It was an incredible summer, and I only wish Rocco had been able to join Ace and me to scratch a couple more items off his bucket list. Luckily, it's not too late for the 78.2 million other dogs in the United States to have an amazing vacation with their families! But what I realized while I was traveling this summer, is that lots of people still have the misconception that traveling with a dog means staying at a fleabag motel and eating at drive-thru restaurants every meal. People, that is simply not the case!
No matter where you live, or want to go, I can tell you about some truly exceptional and unique things to do with your dog there. Help me get this book published by backing our campaign, and I will show you 365 of the BEST places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states!
I Need Your Help!
The Ruff Guide to the United States will be a high-quality publication with full-color photographs of the featured pet-friendly attractions. Printing a book of this quality is not cheap, so we will be using 100% of the money raised to cover printing and shipping costs.
Pledges start at just $1.00, and once you've backed us on Kickstarter, you'll get to track the progress of the book and provide input on its final content. A picture of YOUR dog could even be included in the book! I've intentionally set this campaign to end by Christmas, so you can give (or get) something from the Rewards list before the end of the month. If you see anything you like, please SHARE IT with your friends on facebook, twitter and pinterest.
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? If you choose to purchase the Ruff Guide to the United States as a gift, or purchase one of our experience packages for a friend, we can email you a printable certificate to give to the lucky recipient on Christmas. If you'd prefer, we can also send a greeting card from Ace to let them know they'll be receiving a copy of the book as soon as it's released in May 2013.
For just $15.00, you can get electronic version of the book. For $25.00, you can get an autographed copy of the book. One not enough? We also have packs of five books for $100 and ten for $175. All U.S. orders include shipping, and there is a small surcharge for international backers.
The Launch Parties
With a pledge of $50, you can get an autographed copy of the book and an invitation to one of our official book signing parties in Charlotte, San Diego, Carmel, Napa, or Sausalito. Or for $250 more, you can get two invitations to a private dinner party in Washington DC during the Blogpaws conference. We'll have a very small number of pre-release copies of the book there with us, and one of them will have your name on it!
For the dog (or dog lover) who already has everything, this Christmas, give them the gift of being in the book! We've come up with a bakers dozen of really cool "experience" packages to choose from across the country. Experiences range from $500 to $1500 and include a professional photographer who will join you on the activity, and take an amazing photo of your dog for use in the book. Experiences must be completed by January 31, 2013 to be included in the book (due to our print deadline), but can be arranged anytime in 2013 if you don't mind skipping the photo shoot portion of the activity. Note that some experiences may not be available on certain dates, including holidays, special events or other times of limited availability.
"BONE APPETIT" IN SAUSALITO, CA
"SUP DOG" IN HONOLULU, HI
"BONES & BREW" IN HOUSTON, TX
"PAMPERED PUP" IN PALM SPRINGS, CA *OR* NEW YORK, NY
"CHATTANOOGA CHEW-CHEW" IN CHATTANOOGA, TN
"FOR LAZY DOGS ONLY" IN KEY WEST, FL
"POOCHES FOR PINOT" IN NAPA, CA
"DOG IS MY CO-PILOT" IN SEATTLE, WA
"SKIJORE 'N MORE" IN WISCONSIN *OR* NEW HAMPSHIRE
"QUEEN FOR A DAY" IN LONG BEACH, CA
"RUFFING IT" IN SEDONA, AZ
"JUST HORSIN' AROUND" IN GEORGIA
"HOP 'N BED" IN OREGON
"THE PUPPARAZZI" IN HOLLYWOOD, CA
Risks and challenges
This book is ready to go! We have already visited all of the places we intend to include in the book, and have a printer lined up. We plan to send them the final copy on February 1, 2013, so the next couple of months will be spent proofreading, fact checking, and finalizing the list of our top 365 places to play and stay with your dog (we currently have about 500 contenders, so whittling the list down to the best of the best will be the hard part).
THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND HAPPY TRAVELS!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The "Ruff Guide to the United States" and all of our experience packages are great gifts for all of the dog lovers on your Christmas List this year. If you buy either the book or an experience package as a gift, I will make sure that you get a greeting card or certificate explaining the gift before the holidays. However, since our campaign doesn't end until Christmas Day, once you back the project, I will need you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (or message me through Kickstarter) to let me know where to send it and who to address it to (either you or the gift recipient). I can send certificates via email or postal mail -- just let me know which method you prefer. If you really need a certificate well before Christmas, please let me know that as well. I'll do my very best to get it there on time.
You mention that all backers can submit photos of their dog for inclusion in the book. How do I submit a photo?
Once you back the "Ruff Guide to the United States," you can submit as many photos of your dog as you'd like for possible inclusion in the book before January 31, 2013. If you have a photo of your dog at a dog-friendly attraction you think might be "book worthy," send me an email at http://mailto:email@example.com with the photo attached, and be sure to let me know your name, your dog's name, and where the photo was taken.
The photo could be from an awesome hiking trail, a dog-friendly brewery, or anywhere really. However, it will have a higher likelihood of being selected for inclusion in the book if it was taken at one of the spots we're already planning to include in the book (just because we're keeping the total number of attractions to 365, so if we add a new attraction, we'll have to bump one too).
Want to get a leg up on the competition? Let me know where you live, what states your dog has been to, and where else you're planning to go before the end of January, and I'll give you a list of attractions in those areas that have a high likelihood of being included in the book.
Everyone who purchases an experience package will *definitely* get a full-page photo of their dog in the book, but I will do my very best to get as many backers (at any level) in the book as well too. The more dogs, the merrier!
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