Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why travel with your dog?

Outside the airport at Larnaca, Cyprus
People look at me like I'm crazy when I say that I travel with my dog. The first questions I get asked are usually about the cost of plane tickets, then about whether I give her sedatives when flying. There are difficulties and expenses, of course, but I think the benefits of having your furry friend with you when you travel often outweigh the negatives.

Here are a few good reasons to go to the trouble of taking your dog with you when you travel...
Boarding the ferry at Xora Sfakion, Crete

It depends how long you are going for, but if you plan to be away for a couple of weeks (and don't have doting family to dog-sit), the cost of leaving your dog in a kennel can be pretty high. Sage has stayed for a weekend at our closest dog-hotel ( There we paid around 12€ per day (at 30kg she falls in their 'medium-sized dog' price range).

The cost of traveling with your dog will depend on A) where you are going from/to  B) whether you are going by plane, ferry, car etc. C) the size and weight of your dog.

Less anxiety
If, like me, you are a neurotic 'pet parent', and you have to leave your dog at a dog-hotel, or even with friends/family, you will probably not completely relax until you are back home and reunited. I went to see the Pet Stop Cyprus dog-hotel. I spoke with the owner, who was lovely. I looked over the premises and saw clean cages, open spaces for exercise, all sorts of different animals the owner had rescued (cats, dogs, parrot, monkeys!). Everything there was fine. Better than fine. But the feeling I had when we dropped her off and left her sitting alone and anxious in a cage, and the doubt I had all weekend that I had done the wrong thing, and the desperation I had when we got stuck in traffic and were late to retrieve her...
European Pet Passport

On a boat along the South coast of Crete
Chance to give time and attention to your dog
Your holidays are a great chance to really spend time with your dog, without work and the daily chores that get in the way at home. If you are holidaying together, this is a perfect opportunity to put in some extra training time, and to spend more time walking around new cities, hiking in countryside, swimming in the sea etc.

Dogs need new smells and sounds in order to learn and develop. You don't need to leave the country to provide access to new stimuli, but traveling together is a good way for you both to make the most of new experiences and have a break from the everyday routines of home.
Car travel

Opportunity to meet like-minded people
Turning up to a new area with your dog can be a great way to meet new people. As with any group of people with shared interests, dog owners love to get together and share stories and advice.

Finding your way to the local dog park or dog beach, or simply doing the same walk a couple of times and getting to know the local dog walkers, often leads to new acquaintances. You can even research online first, as most communities have dog walking or dog training groups you can join. Some larger cities also organise dog shows and festivals, or charity events for the animal shelters.

At the dog park in Heraklion, Crete
Motivation to go places you might not otherwise visit
Just as at home, having a dog means you have to get up and go out walking whether you feel like it or not. The need to find places where your dog can exercise freely can be a great motivation to go out and explore a new area. Since moving to a town that is not very dog-friendly, here in Cyprus, I have taken  trips all over the island, looking for mountains to climb, gorges to explore, deserted coastlines and woodlands. Whether it is cold and rainy or baking hot, my dog needs a good run around every now and then, and that is the best motivation for me to go out and explore.
Clearing immigration at Larnaca airport, Cyprus

Gives you freedom
At work at archaeological excavation...with my dog

It is very convenient to have a dog who is used to travelling if you ever find that your situation changes - you move home (or country), or spend some time away from home traveling for work.

I was very lucky with Sage. She came along with me while I was working all over Crete, as well as camping trips and holidays, and never seemed bothered by car or ferry travel. I always try to bring things to remind her of home, and to give her as much time as possible, but she has adapted to a slightly nomadic life and really enjoys being in new places.

Life is just better when you're with your dog
Well, not much to say about this really. You'll either understand or you won't. I just know that I enjoy my holidays and travels much more when I'm sharing them with my dog, Sage.
Near Governor's Beach, Cyprus

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