Houseboat rentals are available on many Northern California lakes and waterways, but—just as with hotels—not all rental companies welcome dogs, and some that do limit canines to just one or two of their oldest, least desirable boats. Before you get your heart set on that deluxe model with a rooftop hot tub, faux fireplace and big-screen TV, be sure to ask. In competitive markets such as Lake Shasta, you'll find lots of dog-friendly options.
Think of a houseboat as a slow-moving RV that takes a long time to turn, and you get an idea of what driving one is like. Some rental companies require designated drivers to have previous boating experience, although most will accept novices. At any rate, you'll be put through an extensive orientation before shoving off.
Houseboat rental rates vary hugely according to season, size of the boat and amenities. Fuel and tax are extra, and hefty deposits are required. Mid-June to mid-August is the high season. Good deals along with good weather are to be found in the shoulder seasons, with September considered an optimal time to go houseboating. Regardless of time of year, most companies require a two- or three-night minimum rental.
So what happens with Fido when nature calls? Most houseboaters spend their nights tied up to shore, so it's easy to hop out and take your pup for his morning constitutional. What if he can't wait? Have pick-up bags and bucket at the ready and be prepared to sluice.
Two website booking agencies representing multiple houseboat operators in California are Houseboating.org and Houseboats.com.
Photos: Houseboats at Jones Valley Marina - Janet Fullwood