By Caroline Costello for BedandBreakfast.com
Welcoming touches that make you feel at home, from family-style hospitality to handcrafted breakfasts, are a big part of what makes a B&B stay special. And sometimes that sense of homey comfort comes by way of fluffy, four-footed innkeepers. Whether it's a whiskered face greeting you at the door or an old dog sleeping by your feet on an airy sunporch, innkeeper animals offer travelers a special kind of domestic happiness.
Spend quality time with sweet creatures at the following seven B&Bs, where sociable dogs, cats and horses live on site and interact with guests. Generally, resident pets stay out of guest quarters, but they roam public areas and are on hand for meet-and-greets when needed. Many of these inns are pet friendly, so you can bring your own companion if you want.
Inn at Huntingfield Creek, Rock Hall, Maryland
Despite Jezebel's advanced age of 14 years, the English lab faithfully escorts arriving guests up a set of stairs to their rooms. Chocolate lab Java and Jack Russell terrier Maggie, who sniff out dropped cookie crumbs and greet travelers with wagging tails, round out the trio of canine innkeepers at Inn at Huntingfield Creek. Human proprietor Joanne Rich told us, "All three dogs caught on quickly to the concept of Chesapeake hospitality." Some of the inn's regular guests go as far as to call ahead to see if the dogs will be at the B&B during their stay.
A Bed of Roses, Asheville, North Carolina
Upon arrival at this grand Victorian home in Asheville, innkeeper cats Nadia and Sasha will likely welcome you at the door. "They have always loved to greet guests as they arrive and try to sniff and get into their suitcases," said A Bed of Roses owner Emily Flynn McIntosh. "We call them our TSA cats."
The inn's lavish (humans-only) guestrooms have jetted tubs, fireplaces, antique decor and complimentary Wi-Fi. When you need a little cat therapy, grab a cup of tea and a freshly baked cookie, and spend some quality time with Nadia and Sasha in the expansive wood-paneled foyer.
At Sun and Cricket Bed & Breakfast, horses graze, golden retrievers romp and barn cats soak up sun outside the carriage house. (Guests who love cats frequently ask to stay in the historical carriage house so they can be closer to the felines.) According to innkeeper Tara Bradley-Steck, "Dogs and cats are a featured attraction, and over time our repeat guests have come to remember them fondly and ask about them as if they were long-lost cousins. When we know guests are interested in meeting the various members of our menagerie, we are eager to make introductions."
A range of wild animals can be spotted on the 35-acre estate in Western Pennsylvania as well. Observe deer, turkeys, bears, coyotes and a variety of birds while relaxing by the inn's large outdoor pool or hiking scenic marked trails around the property.
Decker Creek Bed & Breakfast & Biscuit, Austin, Texas
'We got into this business to offer a place for people traveling with dogs," said Decker Creek innkeeper Pat Rathbun. "One couple drove all the way from Toledo with eight dogs after they found our place online."
Decker Creek is dog-friendly and dog-replete. Three resident pooches, Beau, Razr and Shiva, rule the 50-acre wooded property on the outskirts of Austin, Texas (about 14 miles from the city center). Bring your pets and take advantage of the impressive array of just-for-canines amenities on offer, such as homemade dog biscuits, beds, crates and food bowls. Expert more than a few perks for people, too: Accommodations include roomy private cabins with kitchens, jetted tubs and screened-in porches.
Ginger Cat Bed & Breakfast, Rock Stream, New York
Tang-colored Wally is the loyal mascot for which Ginger Cat Bed & Breakfast is named. Wally has a few buddies: The B&B is home to five resident cats. Although the felines aren't permitted to wander around guest quarters, you can seek them out in common areas in the inn. Or just ask innkeeper Gita to arrange a petting session; she'll be happy to oblige.
Ginger Cat is an entirely vegan B&B that has one dog-friendly room, Zachary's Room, as well as a beautiful wide deck and a large four-season sun porch.
The B&B is located a few minutes' drive from Farm Sanctuary, America's first shelter for farm animals. Travelers interested in meeting even more gentle creatures should swing by. Guided tours of the sanctuary cost $10.
Gateway Guesthouse, Austin, Texas
The well-behaved dogs of Gateway Guesthouse are kind of a big deal. "Based on our reviews, they may be more popular than us!" said innkeeper Blaise Bahara. What's more, the dogs blog. You can read their first-person (first-pooch?) stories about squirrels and doggie spa days on Austin Front Porch.
Standard poodles Louie and Lazos, and soft coated wheaten Leo greet travelers at this Diamond Collection property in Austin's Travis Heights neighborhood. When not petting poodles, guests can relax by the pool or hot tub, enjoy a gourmet breakfast by candlelight, or take cooking classes hosted by the inn's chef.
Stone Crest Cellars Bed & Breakfast
Stone Crest Cellars Bed & Breakfast is home to two cats, Elmo and Merlot. You'll likely spot the felines guarding the entrance to the property's wine cellar. (The cats have their priorities straight.)
This B&B by the sea, with its spectacular Pacific Coast views, is a popular venue for weddings--and an especially winning choice for ailurophile brides and grooms. Innkeeper Judy Joubert told us, "We do lots of weddings on site, and [Merlot] has been known to follow the bride down the aisle and even sneak under the gown during the ceremony."
This article originally appeared on BedandBreakfast.com. BedandBreakfast.com is the world's most comprehensive site for discovering unique accommodations and booking bed and breakfast getaways. With more than 10,000 properties and nearly 75,000 rooms, BedandBreakfast.com connects travelers with extraordinary B&Bs, country lodges, urban inns and small hotels worldwide.