Unlike our previous travels, this time around we’ve been travelling with dogs and discovering all the things that come with it. Even though I’ve considered myself a seasoned traveller, this is a very different ball game. How is it different? Let me tell you.
Travelling can be stressful. Being in foreign countries, away from friends and family can be even more so. Sometimes it can even get lonely. Being in a country where you don’t understand the language can make anyone feel like an outsider.
Dogs, known to relieve stress, provide companionship and ensure you don’t feel alone. Travelling with your own dogs is like having your best friend with you all the time. They make being away from home so much easier.
Any dog owner knows that furry companions are one’s very own entertainment. From playing catch and going for walks to chasing birds and barking at random things, dogs can be loads of fun. Discovering new environments, new scents and flavours is an adventure for them.
We discovered that Moka likes to chase lizards. They scurry around the ground surprisingly fast. We don’t have lizards in the wild in Canada so she’s never seen them before. Watching her try to snap at them is simply hilarious. We would have missed that experience if we left them behind.
Discovering new things
As many other European countries, Italy is very dog friendly. We always knew that, but we discovered just how friendly when we brought our dogs with us from Canada. We have brought them to bars, restaurants, shops and even grocery shopping. It’s been an eye opening experience.
One of my favourite experiences is grocery shopping with a special cart reserved for dogs. In Canada, you can’t bring your dogs to the grocery store, never mind with a special cart. I’ve discovered a completely new side of going out and it’s an enjoyable one.
It’s amazing how much people want to talk to you when you have a dog. Old, young, men and women of all backgrounds can’t resist a furry face. I often watch people as they notice the dogs. Many of them smile at them and even come over to pet them. People will ask questions about them, tell you their stories and walk away happier.
It’s not just the locals that ask about the dogs. Many travellers miss their own dogs are drawn to ours. They come over, almost child-like, asking to say hello. Once we ran into a Canadian couple who missed their own dog and we ended up telling them how we brought ours over. Another time it was a woman in Rome who was almost in tears as her boyfriend asked if she could pet the dogs. It’s quite amazing how many people will open up around the dogs.
Blending in with the locals
Walking around with your dog in tow certainly makes you appear less like a tourist and more like a local. There was something freeing in walking the dogs around Rome, early in the day, watching the locals go about their business. Tourist traps were closed, streets were being cleaned and we looked like locals doing their thing. It felt like we were party of the fabric of the city.
I must say that now I can totally understand people who travel with their kids. While travelling with dogs is not the same as travelling with a child, there are some similarities between the two.
They are always with you, so you have to be on your toes at all times. Going anywhere entails questions like “can we bring the dogs?” and excluding places that don’t allow them. That museum might be tempting, but if dogs can’t come, it might have to wait for another time.
Hotel stays have become more of a worry. There could potentially be an accident inside (here always hoping for non-carpeted floors) or damage to the place. Our dogs are good to travel with, but they don’t always do great in new spaces. The last thing we need is a barking dog that disturbs everyone else. Hence why we can’t always leave them alone in a hotel room.
Travelling with dogs can be stressful for both the dogs and us. They have been such troopers during our travels, but sometimes I do see the toll it takes on them. The long car rides, the new environments and constant change can stress them out.
We always bring with us familiar items to help them adjust to new environments. Our go-to items include anti-anxiety drops, dog beds, thudershirts (to manage stress), toys and collapsible dishes. These are the only constants the dogs have around them and they have been lifesavers.
Aside the places that are potentially off limits, the challenges include steering the streets. Touristy places, jammed with people in narrow streets make it difficult for two small dogs to navigate. As Snoopy, our older dog, already has a hard time with sudden movements and noises, let’s just say he isn’t very fast and I have to carry him. Plus, the cobbled streets are not easy for him to walk on.
Moka, our other dog, is always in exploration mode. She’s pulling, exploring, barking and being excited at everything around her. This means that one of us is ahead with one dog while the other is lagging behind. Carrying a 14lb dog is not a big deal unless you have to do it in excessive heat through a sea of people. That is why we’ve invested in a carrying pouch to make things easier for everyone.
If you think the blistering summer heat makes walking unbearable, just imagine being a small, fluffy dog. The temperatures here in Italy can be quite high and can make anyone uncomfortable. For the dogs, it’s even harder. Now the dogs are used to heat as we get plenty of it in Toronto. What they are not used to is trekking around for hours. Good thing for collapsible bows and frequent water fountains.
There are a lot more pet-friendly accommodations these days than there used to be. While that makes travelling with dogs easier, it sometimes comes at an extra cost. While our hotel in Rome, for instance, allowed pets, we had to pay an extra fee for the second dog.
It’s always a good idea to check ahead of time and ask for detailed charges before you arrive. Many hotels will say they are pet friendly, but how friendly might depend on the size of the pet and how many you have. Some hotels have additional fees (anywhere between 5-20 Euros) per day per pet. While that might not seem like a big deal, it can add up quite quickly.
Pet sitter services, groomers and any additional items like food and toys can also quickly add up. It’s important to always budget these fees in your trip planning.
The travelling with dogs experience
The whole travelling with dogs thing is both fun and exhausting. On one hand, I love having them around, but on the other hand, it really limits what we can do and where we can go. We don’t have anyone to watch them so our trips are limited to places where we can bring them or ones that are within few hours’ drive.
While it’s not an ideal situation, we’re happy to have them with us. In the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you travelled with your pets? Let me know!
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