Frequently Asked Questions

Dog asking questions about Dog & Pony Ranch

Dog/Animal Questions

  • Is your property fully fenced?
  • Will my dogs be safely separated from the ranch's livestock?
  • How many dogs can we bring? Are any dog/breeds excluded?
  • Can we swim in the pond with our dogs? Can our dogs swim year round?
  • I've heard of cold/dead/limp tail -- should I worry about it with my dog swimming in the winter?
  • Can we come for a day visit -- we'd like to spend some time with the llamas / horses / donkeys?

Dog with frequently asked questionsReservations Questions

Other Questions

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).


Dog Questions

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.
Narrowed fencing to confine small dogs Field fence around perimeter of property aerial layout of hilltop house and yards
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Q: Will my dogs be safely separated from the ranch's livestock?  
Safe fencing separates dog and 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 the Dog & Pony Ranch Barn Animals.
Satellite layout of Dog and Pony Ranch in Gold Country Dogs watching chickens at the Dog & Pony Ranch
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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.


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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!

Here is a photo of our pond while empty to better illustrate the equipment. Please avoid the aerator closest to beach (marked by floating mini-fountain since a few guests have kicked it). Floatable retrieval toys are fine but please do NOT throw rocks, etc. into the pond since they may damage the liner.

Pond with liner and equipment
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Q: I've heard of cold/dead/limp tail -- should I worry about it with my dog swimming in the winter?
A: It shouldn't be a problem if you take precautions. Cold/dead/limp tail is basically a sprained tail that recovers after a few days (pain meds help) and not only 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 and especially in cold conditions, you shouldn’t overuse a muscle or you risk injury. A couple of guests with dogs who want to do many big jumps into the pond have gotten cold/dead/limp tails so we're now calling more attention to this FAQ. As long as we did a thorough warm up with rub down of our dogs’ bodies and tails before/after jumping into the water (and didn't allow too many big jumps that can tweak the tail on water landings), we haven't experienced limp tail again with our Labs, even dock-diving during cold weather.


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Q: Can we come for a day visit -- we'd like to spend some time with the llamas/horses/donkeys?
A: Yes! We are re-starting Day Visits in September 2021. Please note that we do NOT allow drop-ins at our private ranch for the safety of our animals and guests -- privacy is one of the aspects our guests value the most so we only permit one reserved family/group at a time for either overnight or day visits.


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Reservations Questions

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.


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Q: There's only a single night available so will you make an exception to the 2-night minimum?
A: Absolutely NO. 1-night is not worth it for either our guests or us. Most of our guests say that 2-nights is barely enough time to enjoy the Ranch and book longer stays for their next visit. Just as most people need their weekend breaks from work, we greatly value our time between guests to enjoy our ranch and animals ourselves. If you're passing through and only have 1 night, a motel is a much better choice. If you can only getaway for Sat/Sun due to work schedules, then find an available 2-day weekend to book and we'll work with you to arrange early arrival and/or late departure. For example, if can only stay Saturday night but willing to book 2 "nights", we would give you more daytime hours on the Ranch like Sat 8am - Sun 8pm for almost 2 full days (assuming surrounding reservations permit at time of reservation).


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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).


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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 on Guest House page). We do have also have an air mattress for guests so let us know how we can make your group comfortable!

reservation request form


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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 with us on dogpony.com (saves booking site fees and offers more options) using PayPal and the Quote Calculator link with brief reservation form on our Calendar/Rates page. Our calendar is always kept up-to-date and we are usually booked sevaral months in advance.


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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).


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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.


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Q: What is your change/cancellation policy?
A: We offer typical vacation home rental change/cancellation terms (see Rental Agreement for specific 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. Note that we do NOT provide refunds for last minute changes outside of Dog & Pony Ranch's control, though we did provide refunds to the guests affected by our 2015 mandatory fire evacuation.

To protect yourself from lost rental costs due to last-minute cancellation/changes (illness, weather, wildfire smoke, etc), we encourage you to purchase travel insurance. Renters may add “Future Stay Credit Insurance" at time of booking 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 to day before Check-in date). The "Future Stay Credit" is good for 2 years though subject to availability and current pricing.

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.


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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 a heavily impacted business sector so we encourage insurance and have added a "Future Stay Credit Insurance" 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 California cities, we've gotten even more requests than usual starting summer 2020 with people planning much-needed getaways as govenment restrictions are eased. Our calendar shows available dates and is always kept current though is usually booked serveral months out so please plan ahead.


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Other Questions

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).


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Q: Is your WiFi/internet fast and reliable?
A: Unfortunately no, and this is one of the things we miss about city living. Rural internet speeds are much slower and options are limited. We pay for upgraded service but our point-to-point wireless is usually around 4-6Mb which is fine for buffered Netflix but won't work well for video conferencing (e.g. city speeds are typically more in the 100Mb range so that's how much faster you probably have used Zoom or gaming). Weather and heavy shared usage (holiday weekends, distance learning) can make speeds even slower. You may find your cell hotspot working faster but even it won't be as fast as in cities with lots of higher speed cell towers. If trying to upload/download large files, we usually go to McDonalds or Starbucks in Jackson which both have fast/free service.

We do NOT recommend coming to our rural ranch to remotely work or do distance learning. The 60 private acres are a wonderful place to vacation and unplug a bit, but if you are planning to do more than occasional work emails or want to spend your time gaming, you will likely find our rural internet speeds too limiting. When covid hit making our slow speeds even slower, Cyndi even had to get an office in-town to do her high-tech work so please don't expect fast internet at our rural ranch.


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Dog Pony Ranch drivewayQ: Do I need a 4WD? What type of road do you have?
A: No 4WD required -- regular cars have no problems with our driveway in any season (read more about our location and weather). Our 0.4 mile driveway is steep in places but fairly straight. It is "chip sealed" which is better and less dusty than gravel, and doesn't get as hot as paved asphalt (so easier on paws). See photo of the last section of driveway before the circular loop around hilltop house.


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Q: Can I bring my mountain bike to cycle on your trails?
A: Yes, you can ride your mountain bike on our Ranch trails, however they were developed for walking routes (our main loop is a mile) so pretty short for cycling. If your goal is to have your dogs run with you while you bike without worrying about leashes, then the main Ranch loop can be fun. Troy is an avid mountain biker and his usual route is riding to the nearby Tabeaud rec area, taking the 2.5 mile loop around Lake Tabeaud, and then back home for total of ~7.5 miles.


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Q: Are California fires/smoke affecting your area? 
A: Wildfires and smoke are a frequent problem in California and status during the dry season can change day-to-day. In 2020, we weren't as impacted as the many areas of the state, and some Bay Area guests were even relieved to escape to our relatively less-smoky air during bad Bay Area fires. 2021 has had many fires in Northern California with vacation spots like Tahoe horribly affected. We hope you get to enjoy our typical blue skies with starry nights and beautiful sunsets, but you're sure to have fun at the Ranch even if it's a bit hazy.

California is a big state so our air quality is often different than other Northern CA locations. There are many helpful websites to help you track Jackson area conditions including PurpleAir.com (we're closest to Clinton, Pine Acres, Pine Grove in this GPS view and often better conditions than Jackson), californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com, wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/ and amadorgov.org/services/amador-air-district. Fortunately, our animals don't seemed bothered when there is smoky haze -- it even can make the temps cooler which they appreciate!

Amador County has an excellent CodeRED alert system and we saw how country neighbors pulled together during the 9/2015 Butte Fire which required evacuation at our Ranch and we had plenty of advanced notice. We have an evacuation plan for our animals but will be sure to keep current guests updated if we are required to evac again.


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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). This is not just our policy -- Amador County restricts vacation rental guests from lighting outdoor fires due to all the signficant losses from California wildfires in recent years.


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nearby Amazon lockersQ: Where can I pick-up Amazon, UPS, FedEx deliveries?
A: Amazon has hub lockers we regularly use just a few miles away at the Pine Grove Market, 19394 State Highway 88, Pine Grove, CA, 95665. FedEx and UPS do deliver to our rural address, but be aware that lower-cost UPS SurePost (used by Amazon) converts to USPS "last mile delivery". Since packages don't usually fit in our USPS cluster mailboxes a mile away, USPS delivery takes longer with a pick-up slip in our mailbox which then you take to the post office in Jackson the next day to get your package.

We do miss the front-door delivery of city living, but between Amazon Prime and a variety of stores in town, we find country living just takes a bit more planning.


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Jackson Electric Vehicle Charging

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 the Mobile Now app to pay.


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Q: Do you have rattlesnakes or other natural hazards?  
A: 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!


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Q: What other type of wildlife might we see?  
A: 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. Our wildlife gallery includes photos from our motion activated trail camera. We've seen the same types of nocturnal animals that live throughout the Bay Area (skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, 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!


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