Here, There, and Everywhere:
Travelling with Your Dog
Travelling with Your Dog
Travelling with your dog is always a recipe for adventure – after all, why shouldn’t our dogs be part of the fantastic memories that we make as we journey through life ourselves? Although dog lovers everywhere bring their furry friends on regular family vacations, there are a few ‘woof’tastic dog owners out there that take wayfaring with their pets to a whole other level. Seeming to take a line from the book ‘Go, Dogs, Go!’, these intrepid canines have done it all, travelling on boats, bikes, planes, trains, automobiles…and in one case, even a hot air balloon! Let’s meet a few of these country-hopping canines to see what life on the road is like through a dog’s eyes.
World Woof Tour
A last minute rescue from the shelter was only the beginning to Oscar’s life on the road. A mixed breed mutt who captured his owner’s heart at first sight, Oscar inspired his mom, Joanne Lefson, to come up with the idea to travel together around the world, raising awareness for shelter dog adoption by tracing their own paw-printed path through more than 30 countries. Living on the road for 8 months during their World Woof Tour was definitely challenging for both pup and owner at times, too, even though they got to take in some of the most awe-inspiring scenery. Joanne says that it took over six hours In Malaysia to find a hotel that would allow Oscar to stay with her, since local cultural and religious traditions viewed dogs as unclean animals, and on one occasion, Oscar decided to test his luck by leaping into a crocodile infested river for a quick swim to cool off! Their biggest disappointment, though, was the immensely long quarantine period that would have been mandatory for Oscar to enter Japan – a full 180 days – so the Cherry Blossom festival had to be left off their tour map. The modes that Oscar has travelled by are almost too many to tally on four paws – planes, buses, cars, boats and trains, of course, but even elephants, camels and hot air balloons have carried Oscar from point A to point B. Oscar’s last road trip came to a sad end in January of 2013, but although this adventurous little mutt is gone in body, in spirit, he’s still an inspiration for millions of dog-lovin’ travellers all over the world.
Sweet Sailing, Dog!
It may not seem like an ideal life for landlubbers, but for dog lovers with the itch of the sea on their blood, there’s no better way to live than on a boat with their four-legged family members swaying by their sides. Oliver the Poodle and his human family, Jereme and Kim, spend their days navigating the waves on their sailboat named the LAHO around the Caribbean (www.lahowind.com). For Oliver, this life seems to be pretty much a pup paradise, as he often gets to visit sandy beaches and search out sticks and starfish when they’ve docked for supplies. One of the most tedious parts of doggie life on the water, though, is the potty routine, and not the human one! Like many boat dogs, Oliver needs a dinghy ride to shore at least a few times a day to do his business, since he won’t pee or poop on board the ship, no matter how big the patch of Astroturf. Kim also says that there are some scary parts to life on the water with a pooch, too. Oliver contracted Erlichiosis (a tick-borne blood disease) at one point in their sail and got extremely sick, so they had to halt in one harbour for over a month while they found a vet, and waited until he recovered. Hurricane season in the tropics isn’t fun for this pup either – instead of enjoying the light show that comes with the storms, he can usually be found hiding in a cabin below decks until the sun’s out again.
Talk about a family of cycling superheroes! In 2008, dog owners Fin and Zoa packed up their lives and their two dogs Paco and Jack to begin an epic, multi-country (heck, multi-continent) bike tour. While they say that many people have called them crazy for hauling their mutts along with them, these amazing owners say that they didn’t want to use the dogs as an excuse not to travel, so they found a way to do it together. Jack, a 90lb Golden Retriever mix, and Paco, a 45lb Portuguese Podengo, usually ride in a trailer behind Zoa, but given the right conditions will also bikejor along beside them for some of the time as well. They’ve travelled across the UK, most of Europe, and the USA on their bikes, (though ferries and trains have been part of the routes as well) and through some definite ups and downs.
Fin and Zoa say that they were often viewed as a kind of travelling circus wherever they went, and often got a lot of onlookers commenting on the rig, the dogs, or their sanity. Zoa writes “Some think it is cool, crazy or ridiculous, some think we are nutbags, most laugh. Young kids and middle aged French and Italian women (clapping and shouting ‘Bravo!’) are our biggest fans. Spain had the least favourable reaction. Many people stop to talk, ask questions, and take photos/video. On our tour across America the invitations for a meal and/or a place to stay were overwhelming. “
This unique family life can be restrictive, uncomfortable, or scary at times, too, though – Fin and Zoa decided to bypass Morocco and the Middle East because of safety concerns for the dogs, and they’ve slept under the stars on many nights where a pet-friendly lodging couldn’t be found. Luckily Jack and Paco are used to snoozing in the great outdoors! Paco also took his security detail a little too seriously one day and disappeared for 3 hours after a rabbit chase, and on the flip side, was chased himself by a bull in France. They’ve even accidentally left Jack at the top of a mountain when he hopped off the trailer, not realizing it until they’d already trekked down 3km! For the most part, though, cycling with their pups was a great way to stay in shape (they’ve ridden anywhere from 50 to 130 km in a day) and meet new people, though sometimes they had to come up with some creative hacks for life tasks, like washing dishes in public water fountains. Their experiences inspired them to write series of children’s books, and their life on the road is documented in detail on their blog Cycling Gypsies (https://cyclinggypsies.wordpress.com).