FOREST CITY - About six years ago, Amy Burkert was with family members and two dogs traveling on a fishing trip around Lake Superior in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"For 3 1/2 weeks (her husband) Rod heard me say 'I can't believe how hard it is to travel with pets,'" Burkert said.
Rod Burkert suggested he and his wife change that, so they did.
The Burkerts started gopetfriendly.com about six years ago. Interest and popularity has steadily grown. Burkert has about 151,000 Facebook followers.
The couple now lives full-time in a Winnebago motor home that was parked at the rally grounds of the annual WIT Grand National Rally last week in Forest City.
The logo-wrapped motor home is tough to miss with the dog, Scout, not their dog prominently displayed.
Burkert maintains the website and other social media and writes a blog. She's gathered about 60,000 pet policies from various businesses and locations. As she learns of any changes or additions, she updates the policy list.
"My goal is to facilitate building a better relationship with your pet," Burkert said. To help people "have fun memories with their pets."
The Burkerts travel with their dogs, Buster, an eight-year-old German Shepherd and Ty, a 10-year-old Shar-Pei.
Burkert seeks pet friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and sites that can be accessed by people traveling with pets.
Pet friendly primarily means friendly to dogs but some locations are receptive to cats and even reptiles, Burkert said.
When they left Forest City they planned to head to North Dakota, the only state of the lower 48 states they've yet to visit.
"When we first started I didn't expect our National Parks to be so difficult to travel with pets," Burkert said. "Sometimes, it's for good reason. Sometimes, it's not."
A pleasant surprise was one rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. "It has a 13 mile trail that's pet friendly," she said. "We had a blast. It was all flat since it was on the rim so it was all easy walking."
Burkert stresses her two dogs have distinct personalities that are accounted for when traveling. All the traveling is a learning experience and the dogs have learned as well.
Buster tends to bark at dogs not on leashes while Ty would rather sit inside the motor home most days.
The dogs just didn't learn to sit quietly on the patio at a brewery in Bend, Oregon, Burkert said.
Traveling with pets takes time and effort, she said.
"In general, more people are traveling with pets," Burkert said.
Businesses have become more receptive over the years but lately, Burkert has noticed a slight decline in that reception.
"Unfortunately, (some) people are not being responsible," Burkert said.
Burket addresses such issues on the gopetfriendly.com website.
One example of a how not to travel with a pet is to arrive at a hotel and then, leave the pet alone, she said.
Pets need to get used to the room, Burkert said. The Burkerts stay in the hotel room for 24 hours before leaving the dogs alone. After 24 hours, the dogs understand this is where they will be staying with their family, Burkert said. She will leave her phone number at the hotel desk so she can be contacted if the dogs bark.
The Burkerts have visited a host of different places including what likely is Buster's favorite stop in mountain snow near Santa Fe, New Mexico, in May.
"He bounded in the snow for an hour," as he played with three squeaky balls, Burkert said.
Ty doesn't really have a best visit day, she said. The dog just likes being with his family and doesn't seem to care where he is, Burkert said. And he likes the couch in the motor home.