And there is a full 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' wrought iron fencing that is fully secure for medium and large-sized dogs, though some very small dogs have been able to squeeze between the wrought iron pickets. If you need to contain small dogs outside, leashes are always an option, there is a small exercise pen, and a 10'x10' chain linked dog run is available at the pond, or a clever guest used a blow up collar on their small dog so could no longer fit through the fence ;)
In addition, the full 60-acre perimeter has 4' high standard livestock wire "field fence" that keeps most dogs with you inside the property line though 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 freedom 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 these photos.
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, 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. Most of the dogs who visit the Ranch are medium or large size since so few options are available for them, and very small dog owners should note that the backyard wrought iron fence may not contain them. We aren’t fond of “pet fees” when we travel, so no additional charges for dogs (unless damages).
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 another 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 approved (this has not happened since we opened in 2013). We accept bookings about 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 who seem to enjoy 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 you can save their service fees by directly booking 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 have a pretty typical vacation home rental change/cancellation policy (actually, more generous than many owners). 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 unless re-booked (less $100). You may choose to purchase travel insurance separately to protect against unforeseen cancellation needs – 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 have gotten surprisingly inexpensive cancel-for-any-reason insurance.
Q: Do you have cell phone reception at the Ranch?
A: AT&T has good coverage, while Verizon is getting better in most of the house and property, but other carriers are not likely due to the rural area. We have WiFi and a computer for Skype 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 fire pit and wood-burning fireplace for use during fire-safe months.
Please be super careful in dry California since insurance doesn't cover negligence. Those who burn in the fire pit during non-safe months are liable for any fire damage (the Butte Fire of 2015 caused hundreds of millions in losses).
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 almost 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 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!