A dog takes a Metro bus with his person. Photo by Ned Aherns/King County Photography
A dog takes a Metro bus with his person. Photo by Ned Aherns/King County Photography
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After a long workday, it is important to me to spend time with my animals in the evenings and weekends. However, that “dog and cat time” is also the only time I have to run errands, get exercise or visit friends. So I’m taking a lesson from a few Seattle residents who have found ways to include their pets in everyday activities.

Seattle is friendlier than most cities when it comes to taking your pets along for the ride. Since pet-friendly restaurants and social outings are common, King County Metro Transit (Seattle’s provider of bus services) ensures that you and your pets can travel together. Metro is one of the few major metropolitan transportation districts that allows dogs — and other animals in crates — on buses.

“[D]ogs were allowed on buses as far back as anyone can remember, even on predecessor Seattle transit systems,” explained Metro Transit spokesperson Jeff Switzer.

Amy Parsons moved to Seattle about two years ago with her Corgi-mix, Murphy, and decided she didn’t need her car to get around. From their Queen Anne apartment, Parsons and Murphy either walk or take the bus for nearly all their transportation needs, from visiting friends at a dog-friendly bar to their trips to doggie day care.

“Everyone seems to be pleased about it,” Parsons said, regarding the reaction of other Metro riders who often give Murphy plenty of attention on the bus.

Metro allows dogs and other animals to ride the bus at the discretion of the driver, who may limit the number of animals on the bus or address any issues that may arise. Animals in carriers don’t need to pay, but large dogs on leashes can get their own ORCA card, Switzer said. Smaller dogs, like those who sit on their owners lap, don’t pay a fare.

“The bus is part of our community, and riders are pretty good-natured about sharing a ride with animals.” Switzer said. “It brightens people’s day.”

Parsons moved from Minneapolis, where dogs weren’t allowed on the bus, and said it was a perk that Seattle buses allow dogs.

“I love the convenience of it,” said Parsons, who added that Murphy, a mid-sized dog, doesn’t usually pay for his ride and finds his “seat” on the floor under the benches.

Getting some exercise

While eco-friendly transport with your dog allows their inclusion in many parts of your life, one Seattle resident has found a way to share exercise time with her cat. Wedgwood resident Amy Webster recently learned about feline exercise wheels and set one up in her home. Getting a cat exercise wheel allows for freestyle exercise for indoor cats.

“It’s my resolution to give my companion animals a better quality of life,” Webster said, regarding her motivation to provide exercise opportunities for her indoor cats, Zelda and Indie. “Zelda is a very active cat, and I could tell she wanted more.”

Webster is training Zelda to use the wheel with cat treats and encouragement. Zelda, a tall, sleek cat with both brains and beauty, happily engages in the activity.

“It’s a bonding time, and both of us look forward to it,” Webster said, regarding her twice-daily training sessions with Zelda. “My dream is to have her running on the wheel, while I’m exercising on the bike.”

Pet-friendly homes

While including pets in our lives takes some creative thinking at times, one of the most crucial ways to ensure we can share our lives with cherished family members is to find the right place to live. Yet, many people with pets know that apartment hunting can be limited by pet exclusion or restriction policies.

Robert Pregulman, founder and editor of Seattle Dog Spot, an online community on living with dogs in the Seattle area, diligently compiled a one-of-a-kind list of Seattle rentals that include pets. Pregulman takes the apartment hunt one step further by including information on the type and number of pets allowed and weight or breed restrictions.

Pregulman said he gets a lot of email from people about finding a pet-friendly apartment where some breeds of dogs, like pit bulls or bully breeds, might be accepted. He said that a lot of apartments have breed restrictions, and he felt it was important for dog owners to have that information.

Pregulman also recommends double-checking pet policies prior to renting to ensure it hasn’t changed. To obtain the Seattle Dog Spot list of pet-friendly rentals, visit www.seattledogspot.com to download it for free.

As our society becomes more sensitive to the rights of all animals, it is only natural that we will find it easier to include them in our communities. After all, the artificially constructed belief that animals should be excluded from everything from hospitals to restaurants is slowly being broken down.

Luckily, progressive institutions like Metro or local apartments and creative local residents lead the way to ensuring a more inclusive future for animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane (livinghumane.com). To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.