For those of us who choose to make animals a welcome part of our homes and families vacation usually means a leisurely road trip, perhaps a stay-cation or Dog forbid a boarding kennel and all the guilt that goes with that.

Now Southwest Airlines has an alternative, the 'I can take my buddy on board fare' or 'Who's that doggy in the window seat.'

The program as one would imagine comes with many ifs, ands and wherefores but still offers the furry traveler the luxury of basic 21st century air transport; luxury that is if you enjoy being strapped into a tiny enclosure and stuffed under the seat in front of you (come to think about it that pretty much describes air travel these days anyway).

Southwestern warrants no responsibility for the traveler's welfare but that's acceptable since most pet owners enjoy an exceptional level of watchfulness and loyalty from their companion animals - I for one would feel much safer flying with my friend and determined terrier protector Duncan as opposed to relying on the good will of craven porters, menacing baggage screeners and ill intentioned ticket clerks... much better.

But you will have to decide for yourself if this new service is a boon for pets and their devoted companions or just another marketing ploy designed to cash in on the public's genuine affection for our best friends.

I wonder if they have any milk bones mixed in with those tiny packs of honey roasted peanuts.