- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2000

VIENNA, Austria A company claiming to be the world's first canine travel agency has been flooded with inquiries from dog owners wanting to take Rover for dream vacations abroad.

Flughund, based in Germany, has proved a huge success with people looking for suitable vacations for their pampered pets since it opened a year ago.

It offers everything from health farms, where dogs can be sent to work off a few pounds, to specialist hotels offering facilities such as doggie cinemas and dog massage and beauty parlors.

For the gourmet, there is a hotel in France that has a canine restaurant and dog sitters who will look after the dog if owners want some romantic time alone.

There is even a Flughund club, where dogs get discount vacations and special deals such as joint owner-and-dog appointments at the local hairdresser.

"People would be surprised at the range of dog-related holidays there are around the world. The cinema at a hotel in Austria, for example, shows mostly 'Lassie' films, and the dogs love it. They sit there staring at the screen and barking and having a great time," said Regina Winter, the company's managing director.

She got the idea for Flughund from when she ran a conventional travel agency and often took one of her Belgian shepherd dogs to work with her.

So many people asked if she could recommend dog-related vacations after seeing the dog that she decided to go into business.

Flughund is now trying to collar the lucrative demand for British vacations by finding suitable destinations while using the relaxation of rabies-quarantine laws to tempt British customers abroad.

"It's like a new land has been discovered for dog owners because of pet passports," she said.

"People outside the [United Kingdom] love the idea of being able to walk their dog on Dartmoor or the Scottish Highlands, and many others are desperate to visit London, with their dogs, of course."

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