And there is a web page dedicated to What to Bring recommendations for guests. If you have other questions, please contact Cyndi at owner@DogPony.com or 408-471-8757 (phone/text).
Q: Is your property fully fenced?
A: YES! The hilltop house’s shared back yard and guest private side yard have 6' high wrought iron fencing that is secure for dogs. In 2020, we added narrow mesh fence at the bottom of the wrought iron so tiny dogs can't squeeze between the pickets in the guest yard. A 10'x10' chain-linked dog run is available at the pond if you want to keep pets confined while you enjoy lunch under the gazebo.
In addition, the full 60-acre perimeter has 4' high standard livestock wire "field fence" that keeps most dogs inside the property line with you though it's not intended to be foolproof since wildlife comes and goes. Several guests with “escape artist” dogs have reported that their dogs had no reason to challenge the field fence with 60 acres of clear trails already on the side with their people but it’s up to you whether you want to just let your dog off leash on the full property. Both fence types shown in photos below.
Q: Will my dogs be safely separated from the ranch's livestock?
A: WE LOVE ANIMALS SO THEIR SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY TO US!!! Our horses, donkeys, llamas, and chickens are safely separated in ~10-acres of pasture on the east side of the 60-acre property with ~4' high cross-hatched "field fencing" that should keep most dogs out of the livestock area.
Our fencing is more secure than most rural neighbors who fence livestock typically with 3-strand wire. Our chickens have a predator-proof coop and run (fencing goes underground) so we are confident your dogs won't get to them as long as you don't open any of the chicken doors.
If you have very small or very determined high-prey drive dogs, we recommend that you leash them when walking near livestock pastures since they might find a way to go over or under the fence. Children should be supervised at all times as well to ensure they don't open gates and go into the animal areas. Guests allowing their dogs to harrass our animals, or people going into the horse/donkey/llama/chicken pens putting both themselves and our animals at risk will be asked to leave immediately per our rental agreement (our livestock areas are under constant video surveillance).
So far, there have been no issues which means we're happy to continue sharing our unique dog-friendly farm-stay with rental guests!
Read more info about our Ranch Livestock.
Q: How many dogs can we bring? Are any breeds excluded?
A: We welcome ALL WELL-MANNERED dogs of any breed, even those un-neutered. Of course if they are likely to damage our house, then you probably wouldn’t even be considering traveling with them and we find that people interested in our vacation home are very responsible pet owners. We’ve hosted groups up to 5 large dogs and 6 smaller dogs during a single rental so far, and as long as the dogs get along well together, we don’t have a maximum for number of dogs. We aren’t fond of “pet fees” when we travel, so no additional charges for dogs (unless damages).
Pets must be up-to-date on Rabies vaccinations and NOT have any contagious diseases (Kennel Cough, Giardia, Parvo, Flu, etc. with vaccines recommended though not required). Dogs should be relatively flea free with recent flea and tick treatment recommended especially during cold-weather tick season.
Q: Can we swim in the pond with our dogs? Can our dogs swim year round?
A: Yes and yes! Our lined pond (50' x 70' x 6' deepest point) is like a very large pool complete with aeration, circulation, AND filtration that runs daily. We do NOT have fish/fishing (so no risk of fish hooks) and we DO use pool/pond chemicals (chlorine and algaecides) to keep water safe for people and their pets. It's not quite as clear as a typical pool but much cleaner than a natural pond. Of course, swim at your own risk and no diving.
Our well water keeps the pond full year round, and during the winter, our elevation doesn't get cold enough to freeze the water (occasionally a brief layer of ice at the shallow end). We are passionate about our water dogs who we designed our swimming pond for, so we always ensure the pond is ready for people and pets to enjoy!
Q: I've heard of cold/dead/limp tail -- should I worry about it with my dog swimming in the winter?
A: We’ve never heard of any problems with limp tail with any dogs swimming in our pond, including our water-loving Labs. Cold/dead/limp tail is basically a sprained tail that recovers after a few days (pain meds help) and not primarily based on water temperature (we had a Lab who loved to swim with the icebergs in the melting snow near Tahoe without any problems). When we competed with our Labs in dock diving, we learned a lot about limp tail after our first competition when it happened to one of our Labs. Just like any athletic endeavor, you shouldn’t over use a cold muscle especially in cold conditions or you risk injury. As long as we did a thorough warm up with rub down of our dogs’ bodies before/after jumping into the water, we didn’t experience limp tail even during cold January competitions.
Q: Is the Dog & Pony Ranch available on these specific dates?
A: Our calendar is always up to date and we book on a first come first serve basis (based on deposit received) with responses typically within an hour. So the only scenario when dates shown as open might not be available is if someone else has a booking request sitting in my inbox that I haven’t yet processed (which I usually do within an hour). We accept bookings up to a year in advance, though feel free to contact us for special cases further in the future.
Q: Do you charge for children?
A: Yes, we charge based on total number of people regardless of age, though no extra charge for dogs who don't use the utilities and linens like people do ;) Please note that the house is NOT childproofed, and the circular staircase, hard floors and large natural property including horses & livestock and unfenced pond & waterfall are not ideal for young children. We leave it up to parents to decide whether the Ranch setting and the amount of supervision they want to provide is appropriate for their young childrens' age level. Older children love the Ranch and especially our loft which was designed for our nieces and nephews (all now teens and older).
Q: Is your home well-suited for my group?
A: The very romantic master suite makes the guest house best suited for couples with dogs who book the Dog & Pony Ranch the most! Families have also highly rated our house and kids especially love the loft for their own private retreat. Almost all of our reservations are for 2-4 people with their dogs. The 3 beds will sleep 6, though please consider how your larger group would share the space (see layout at bottom of Beds and Baths page). We do have also have an air mattress for guests so let us know how we can make your group comfortable!
Q: How do I make a reservation?
A: We accept bookings via VRBO/Homeaway and Airbnb if you prefer those services, OR most of our guests book directly (saves booking site fees) with the Dog & Pony Ranch using PayPal and the Quote Calculator link with brief reservation form on our Calendar/Rates page.
Q: What are your payment terms?
A: Direct bookings are safely paid via a PayPal invoice with all the various payment options supported in PayPal (credit cards including AmEx, debit card, bank balance, eChecks, etc).
Q: What are your check-in/out times?
A: The standard times are 3pm check-in and 11am check-out to give our housekeeper time to get the house ready for next guests when there are back-to-back reservations. However, if we don’t have anyone immediately before/after you, then we try to be generous with early/late times, especially for returning guests.
Q: What is your change/cancellation policy?
A: We offer typical vacation home rental change/cancellation terms (see Rental Agreement for details). Basically, date changes/cancellations are refundable (less $100 cancellation fee) if requested more than 4 weeks before check-in. If less than 4 weeks prior to check-in, 50% of the rental cost is forfeited.
To protect yourself from the cost of last-minute cancellation/changes, we encourage you to purchase insurance. Renters may add “Future Stay Credit” insurance to cancel current dates and get full credit to be applied to a future booking if need to change reservation dates for any reason (up until noon of Check-in date).
Or you may choose to purchase third-party cancellation insurance – be aware that pet health isn’t usually covered by travel insurance unless you get the “cancel for any reason” coverage. We've personally used squaremouth.com for travels with our dogs and they offer options for pandemic and cancel-for-any-reason insurance.
Q: How are you addressing these uncertain times with COVID-19?
A: We have worked on a case-by-case basis with guests who had EXISTING reservations prior to the Mar 19, 2020 California mandate and have been generous with rescheduling for those needing to stay-at-home. For people making NEW reservations, please understand that lodging/ hospitality has been one of the most impacted business sectors so we encourage insurance and have added a "Future Stay Credit" purchase option in our change/cancellation terms.
We are closely following recommended practices for lodging and have put in place additional sanitation measures including blocking at least 24-hrs between guests (which unfortunately reduces our available dates). Of course, please follow good health practices of frequent hand washing and not exposing others if you are sick.
With our 60 private acres for social distancing and our location being a reasonable drive from Northern California cities, we've gotten even more requests than usual for summer 2020 with people planning much-needed getaways as govenment restrictions are eased. Our calendar shows available dates and is always kept current.
Q: Do you have cell phone reception at the Ranch?
A: AT&T has good coverage, while Verizon and T-Mobile are getting better at the house , but other carriers may not have good reception in our rural area. We have WiFi to supplement those not able to get cell coverage.
There is good cell coverage in the towns of Jackson, Sutter Creek, and Pine Grove (only 4 miles away).
Q: Do you provide firewood?
A: Yes, we provide firewood for the wood-burning fireplace during fire-safe months.
The outdoor fire pit is only available during hosted visits when we can light and safely monitor the fire (just let us know if you want a sunset fire) -- the county restricts vacation rental home guests from lighting outdoor fires due to all the signficant losses from California wildfires.
Q: Is there a place nearby to charge my electric vehicle?
A: Yes, downtown Jackson has a charging station in the parking lot at Hwy 88 and Main Street across from the fire station as shown in the graphic (you can't miss it). Charge your car while you enjoy a meal out or shopping in downtown Jackson only 15 minutes from the Ranch. The charging station uses convenient Mobile Now app to pay.
Q: Do you have rattlesnakes or other natural hazards?
No, there do not seem to be any rattlesnakes issues since none seen/heard in over 20 years on the property.
There are many lizards and have occasionally seen a harmless type of snake. As in most of California, the biggest hassles you may find are foxtails/stickers (mostly late summer) and ticks (mostly Nov-Apr) so be prepared and they shouldn’t cause problems. Under the kitchen sink, there is a dog comb that helps with sticker removal and tweezers if needed. Here's a favorite tip from a guest for how to remove ticks without tweezers by just circling the tick with your finger -- we use it now and it really works!
Q: What other type of wildlife might we see?
Many wild animals come and go on our 60 acres including numerous deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels and the like. There are lots of birds including predatory birds so you may want to keep your small dogs close. On our motion activated trail camera, we've seen the same types of nocturnal animals that live throughout the Bay Area (skunks, foxes, coyotes, and an occasional lion) so just stay closer to the house at night to avoid them. We've never had any problems and neither have our guests, so be safe and enjoy the natural setting of living on 60 acres!