Karl Lagerfeld’s cat does not drink at this doggy bar
(Lees hier de Nederlandstalige versie van deze post.) I recently got a nice tip : if you’re travelling by car through Switserland, somewhere near Basel there’s a gas station with a genuine doggy bar. Isn’t that nice, that someone decided to give some attention to our four legged friends in such a place. But for Dog On a Sofa, it’s also a reason to give some thought to the question whether we should take our dogs with us when traveling. As we read this morning in the paper, some pets are lucky enough to be traveling by private jet (with two maids as it turns out). Well at least that seems to be the case for Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, anyway. Surely most “ordinary” pets like Lila (our golden retriever) travel in a more modest, down toearth kind of way. Literally that is, because when Lila travels with us, it’s usually by car, rarely by train and actually never by airplane. Which takes us to the first question in this post…
Are dogs allowed on airplanes?
This blog is written from the point of view of the inexperienced dog owner, so let’s start by giving some basic info from those who would be travelling from a western country like Belgium. Brussels Airport teaches us that one basic rule applies almost everywhere. Smaller pets (up to 6 kilos) can travel with their owners inside the plane’s passenger cabin. Does your dog (or cat) weigh more than that? Start getting used to the idea he will be traveling in the cargo hold of the aircraft. In both cases, an approved bench or travel case will be obligatory. Consult your airline company’s web site and prepare to tackle quite a large set of rules and regulations…
Would we take Lila (our golden retriever aged 1.5 years) on a holiday involving plane travel?
No! Unless we’re actually emigrating, I wouldn’t think of it. Lila weighing 28 kilos, she’s bound to go in the cargo compartment. And I’m wondering just how comfortable it will be for her down there. Not as comfortable as for us humans in a heated and ventilated cabin with smiling members of staff all around us. That’s not only comfortable but also very comforting. The former your pet might have too, the latter certainly not. There may be heat so your dog won’t die, but that’s about it. And Lila being rather easily scared or worried, and not at all fond of strange places or loud noises, there’s no telling how she would react to being handled by a bunch of strangers, loaded roughly and lifting off with a hell of a racket…
In the back of the car, heading for Nice (France)
That’s not to say that Lila has never traveled with us. Just last summer, she went on a car trip to Nice (France). The boot of the car being filled with luggage, she went on the rear seats. All belted up like our daughters, and she even had room to lie down. But even though all seemed to be in order and there were many happy moments together, I’m the first to admit we also encountered our share of difficulties resulting in mixed feelings during and after the trip. After an overnight stop in the Champagne, an uninvited guest had boarded our vehicle. Lucky for us, our eldest daughter knew that black “beetle” was actually a tick that was looking for a cosy place in our dog’s fur. A few days later, it seemed Lila wasn’t too fond of downtown Nice with its cosy market squares (too crowded) or splendid Château (too far) under a clear blue sky (too hot). Well you know, we came to understand at that moment that a dog will always be a dog, unaware of the cultural delights any kind of historic city has to offer.
Adapt to the dog, ’cause the dog won’t adapt!
Dogs aren’t able to adapt like we humans are. They don’t know that it’s a holiday and you’re supposed to enjoy it, they simple are what they always are : themselves. Still, oddly enough, we keep having a hard time leaving Lila behind, so we’re still secretly contemplating the idea that whe should take her with us wherever we go. Quite recently, when Lila’s lady owner went to Switserland for a hut-to-hut hike, she realized that this could be just the kind of journey that is truly fit for a young golden retriever. Lila would be able to walk and run about in the wild without causing trouble, sprinting through meadows, wading through puddles and swimming in lakes… But if you can’t change your plans or won’t be limited by your dog, than you should definitely go for the sensible alternative : leave it at home, find a pet hostel or temporary home with friends or family, and enjoy the idea that missing you for a few weeks wil be less of a traumatic experience for your animal than being conveyed in some cargo hold!