Peter Adams plays Thursday with his dog, Bernal Brun, at their room at the Paws Inn in Bethel. Adams’ wife, Michele Lemettais, stands in the doorway. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

BETHEL — Like any innkeeper, Carolyn Bailey sees all sorts of guests walk through her doors.

Some are friendly and energetic, others more nervous and introverted.

The worst, she said, are the ones that just do not know when to put down the squeaky toys. 

Bailey is owner of Paws Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in Bethel that specializes in hosting guests with pets. It is no secret her favorite visitors are the ones on four legs.

Well-behaved dogs and cats are free to roam Bailey’s 1860s farmhouse, or spend time in the fenced-in area outside. “And you know, sometimes dogs don’t want to be socialized, they’re tired, and they want to go to sleep, so they … let me know when they want to go back to their rooms,” she said.

The idea for Paws Inn was born nearly 20 years ago out of Bailey’s love for animals. While she did not have a dog back then, she carried dog biscuits wherever she went, handing them out to pets and strays.

After staying at a pet-friendly bed-and-breakfast in New Hampshire, she realized she could do the same, hosting people and their pets from all over in her own home.

“I like animals better than the people,” she said with a laugh. “I like the animals better, so it works out pretty good.”

Bernal Brun and Joey lounge on a bed Thursday at their room at the Paws Inn in Bethel, a pet-friendly bed-and-breakfast. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Visitors to the Paws Inn say it is a special place for both them and their furry companions.

Peter Adams and his wife, Michele Lemettais, first stayed at the Paws Inn five or six years ago on their way up to Rangeley. Since then, they have returned for several stays. 

“We fell in love with the place and (have been) coming back ever since,” he said. 

Bailey estimates that about 85% of her guests return for a second stay, and some, like Adams and Lemettais, have even become friends. 

Adams said he and his wife enjoy traveling with their two dogs, but admitted it can be challenging. Before multiple-day trips, the couple plan where they will spend the night, searching for lodging that allows pets. 

“Usually (businesses are) more ‘pet-willing’ than ‘pet-friendly,’” he said. “I’m not a huge expert or anything, but in my experience, this place is kind of unique. I’ve never really run into a place like this where the pets are as welcome as the people.” 

Wesley Mawhinney, a teacher from East Machias, was another guest last week at the Paws Inn. For her, it wasn’t a question of whether she would bring her beautiful 8-year-old Caucasian shepherd, Bella, along on her trip to Bethel — she credits her dog for giving her the courage to have made the journey at all.

Wesley Mawhinney and her dog, Bella, hike together recently in western Maine. Submitted Photo

Last year, Mawhinney lost her husband to a heart attack. She rescued Bella shortly after, and spoke at length about how grateful she was to have her as a companion.

“She has given me a reason to get up to walk. She keeps me safe,” she said. “She shouldn’t be a quarter of the dog she is because she had a horrible eight years, and she’s the most loving dog.”

To mark the year anniversary of her husband’s passing, Mawhinney knew she wanted to honor his memory in a way that would make him proud.

“He loved road trips, he loved driving on back roads,” she said. “We took simple but amazing adventures, and there wasn’t a road he wouldn’t turn down. We’d eat at bizarre little restaurants and meet people who we would have never met if we hadn’t turned down the road.”

Michele Lemettais and her dog, Bernal Brun, at their room at the Paws Inn in Bethel. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Mawhinney said she was always the shy one. But, Bella inspired her to pack up her SUV and travel across the state to explore a place she had never been, something she is sure he would have liked. It was her first trip on her own in 20 years.

“I wanted to take this trip to kind of honor and begin the healing process,” she said. “I would not have left my house and gone on vacation. Without my girl I wouldn’t have done it.”

Mawhinney’s daughter, who has also stayed at the Paws Inn, recommended she travel to Bethel with Bella. The pair spent their trip hiking and exploring the scenic mountains of western Maine.

In addition to hosting travelers with their pets, Bailey also watches local pets when needed. One time she had 12 dogs at once. “That was too many,” she said. “I kept everybody separated. It was crazy. It was a crazy day.” More often, she has four or five at a time.

Guests Michele Lemettais and her dog, Bernal Brun, relax Thursday at their room at the Paws Inn in Bethel. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Although many of the animals running around Bailey’s home are dogs, she said she often hosts cats as well, sometimes rabbits and birds.

“You’d be amazed how many like to [travel with their cats],” she said. “I often see an older cat or sickly cats or cats [that] are used to being around, they bring it with them.”

Bailey sees dogs of all sizes, with every type of personality at the Paws Inn. Not all are good — some, she says get the “worst pet of the weekend” award — but, it is all part of running the bed-and-breakfast.

“Our dogs are all different. You never know what they’re gonna do,” she said. “Most of the time they’re really funny. They’re really cute. They’re love bugs.”


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