You heard the one about the guy who checked into an Annapolis hotel room with a snake?
This guy checks in to the Loews Annapolis with some sort of snakein a Plexiglas box. They say fine, no problem. Show you to your room, sir?
The hotel these days is working to solidify its reputation among pet owners and animal lovers. If Motel 6 says, " 'We'll leave the light on for ya'," Loews might say, "We'll leave the water bowl out for ya."
Actually, they bring the water bowl in. If you check into the place with a dog, room service brings up a water bowl and biscuits on a silver tray. If you bring a cat, the biscuits are replaced by cat treats. This sort of thing can happen when animal lovers reachpositions of influence in major corporations.
In this case it wasRichard Flinn, the rooms division director. The West Street hotel had always welcomed guests with their pets. But Flinn, a two-dog man, started thinking one day about how the hotel might do something extra to accommodate pet owners -- sort of the animal equivalent of the mint on the pillow -- and perhaps help the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He had a willing ear in hotel manager Thomas Negri, who owns a cockatoo named Punky and says he'd probably have other pets were his wife not allergic to animal dander.
In thespring, the hotel launched what it calls the Very Important Pet program. Three rooms are set aside for pet-bearing guests, and the hotel donates 5 percent of its room tabs to the Anne Arundel County SPCA; that's come to $312 so far.
The hotel has also set aside a grassy yard next to the hotel for dog-walking. It's called "Pet Park."
TheLoews is an elegant hotel, a place with a six-story atrium/ballroom,a place where it's hard to find a room for under $100 a night. Wateris served in heavy crystal glasses in the restaurant, and the chef learned his craft in France.
But while the 217-room hotel has attracted its share of beautiful people, it has also been a magnet for animals.
Flinn recalled that several stray dogs have found their way to the front door, and said a sparrow roosted for several months in the atrium, where the staff fed it water and seed until it found its way out.
Flinn said the pet program has gone without a hitch. Threeor four pet-owning guests a week have come and gone since the program began in late April.
Most have brought dogs, but there have alsobeen a couple of cats. And the snake.
Then there was Flinn's sister, Pam McKeowan, who stayed at the hotel while in the process of moving her family to South Carolina. She stayed at Loews with her husband, two children, a dog, two parakeets and a ferret. Their room, said Flinn, "was kind of like Noah's Ark." The ferret, he said, "liked thebathtub a lot."
The ferret and the snake are the most exotic animals that have stayed at Loews.
There's been nothing to compare with the time Flinn was working at the Peabody Hotel in Baltimore and the animal trainer stayed in a room with a fully grown white tiger, which was appearing in a locally filmed television commercial.
So far, the other guests haven't complained about barking dogs or screeching cats. The housekeeping staff has had to replace just one pet-damaged carpet.