Uh-oh! It’s Assessment Time. How do you think we did, Georgie-Porgie? Or was it BIG Wheelie? This could determine our fate for future travels.
May’s comment: Was it difficult to take two dogs on this trip? Yes and No.
It was over the Christmas holidays and I couldn’t leave them behind so they both had to come on the trip. It wasn’t an option and we just had to get on with it. I knew they would be a handful but the BIG Wheelie bag became more of an issue. I’ve travelled often with them that I knew I could handle two. But I used to only travel with hand luggage.
So can one travel with two dogs? If there are two pairs of hands, it’s a lot easier, or if I had just one dog of course. But should you need to go to the bathroom at a train station, that becomes a problem. So you learn not to drink too much beforehand! But when on the train, I can leave them at our seats when I needed to go. They used to look for me but now Darcy just snoozes on but George would peep around the seat and look for me. Always such a joy to see his little face staring at where I had gone.
How did they fare on this trip?
Darcy had always shown a knack for knowing when she should be submissively quiet – she takes on a whole different stance when we enter an airport or on a train that is more restrictive about pets. For example, when waiting at the Departure gate or even in an Airport Lounge, she chose to sit under the chair and laid down very quietly – almost disappearing into the woodwork.She went into her tote bag without hesitation, and when in the plane, she would curl up on the floor under the seat and went into snooze mode. She would only wonder what is going on when taking off – the loud sounds bothered her a little but with words of assurance, she settled back down. Even when I put her and bag on my lap during the flight, she chooses to curl up and sleep – made it difficult to take photos, but I suppose it’s better she’s quiet than restless. By the time we were landing, she already knew the drill and wouldn’t even be bothered with the unusual sounds. Once we’re off the plane and in most airports, the dogs can walk on leashes (except UK airports – they go into panic hysteria at the sight of a dog walking around and at Charles de Gaulle where I had to carry her) – and once again, she doesn’t pull as she tends to when we arrive somewhere new. Instead she follows submissively alongside me as I push the cart along.She did not stress out in crowded environment and would just go with the flow – as in the Dutch trains. And new environments do not bother her either. She is now used to being left in hotel rooms. She wasn’t always like that. In the beginning when we travelled, she would cry and howl. Twice in her early years, I was informed by the hotel staff that she was “in distress.” These days, she would look at me when I tell her to stay, cock her head and watch me leave the room – and just remained calm. I don’t know it if helped that she has George with her. I don’t think it made a difference but probably for George it does help to have Darcy there. The only time she might panic is when I take my luggage out of the room, leaving her behind. There was one time when I was being practical – to take luggage and dog separately. When she saw me leaving with the luggage and I closed the door behind me, she cried for dear life! Thankfully a hotel staff in the hallway took my bag down and I went back to the room to get her.
She loved the snow and it was so much fun watching her rub her face in it. She ran around like a lunatic, jumping around, rolled and played. If we had longer periods outside and she was allowed off-leash, she would have had a blast! We always wore the Equafleeces or their Christmas jumpers and then I don’t think she was ever cold.
She managed with food changes. Of course she didn’t have the perfect Honey’s Raw Food poo – but she managed with the different foods we tried.
With strangers, she was hesitant. She’s not a George begging for attention. She allows them to pet her but would come back to me quickly. She doesn’t trust others. So when other passengers offered to take them for walks, she would be straining to get back to the ferry or she would sit and stare at it.
If she was George’s size, there would be no boundaries we cannot cross!!! We would be world travellers – and no stopping us. But her size makes it a bit more obvious there’s a dog and I have to manipulate situations to fly. We have been on trains and ferries all over Europe, and have flown to New York, Stockholm, Milan, Malta and this last flight. At the end of this trip she had visited 18 countries to date – and counting.
Darcy’s traveller score: A, short of an A+ because of her size. Otherwise, she’s a perfect travel companion in every way.
George is still a nervous dog – not with people but he stresses out just a bit in new environment. Not when he was running around outside but within enclosed areas. We had done a lot of travelling by the time we got on the ferry. He does not show his stress when we travel by train, tram, bus, ferry – except for when he’s in a car. He panted anxiously no matter how I held him and reassured him! And when he’s stressed, his poo consistency changes – and they are usually soft for a few days till he had calmed down. That in addition to food changes – my little street dog had become such a sensitive eater. He is worse than Darcy. So with that combination, the first three mornings in the cabin were eventful! Plus he also got sick and while I usually hear him, I must have slept like a rock with the boat motion that I hear nothing. Could it have been seasickness? Maybe, but he was fine on the day it got quite rough at sea. He was only afraid of the waves crashing against the pothole.
George was the ice-breaker – whenever any strangers came to say hello to the both of them, he commanded their attention. Or he would approach people to get their attention.His advantage – size matters. He can go into a carrier bag – we use the Sleepy Pod for flying and if the Ruffit backpack didn’t fall apart, it would have been even easier to strap him to my chest! Then it would almost belike having one dog.He had been in it several times now and he didn’t stress when he was in it. I’ve flown with him to Mallorca, New York and now this time from Oslo. He has been to a mere 11 countries but catching up as he might be the in-cabin option rather than Darcy. LOL!
George: A-, his stress levels make it inconvenient to take him to new places. And I also don’t trust him off leash. The whole time we were away he was never off leash whenever we were outside. Especially as it was mostly dark and the ferry always left on time!!! Can you imagine if he did a runner? God forbid. But he’s easy to carry!
So I guess Darcy was the better traveller but George had size on his side.
I like travelling with the two of them. If it was a straight train ride to some destination – easy. I’ve had it down to a science with backpack, cross body purse and hand luggage size roller. The double lead could be helpful but George in a backpack – amazing.
If I have to choose one, I suppose it depended on the destination. George is easy to fly with – he’s under 8kg. When I am just taking trains across Europe, and I could only take one, it could be either but Darcy writes the blog! LOL!!!!!
Some notes from our journey:
I. Accommodation with dogs – we stayed with friends and in hotels:
- My friends know how much my dogs mean to me. They all welcomed us three – from Oslo to Düsseldorf. There were no questions about where they slept.
- We found hotels in Hamburg (Hotel Atlantic Kempinski), Copenhagen (Axel Guldsmeden) – both of these needed to be near the train stations, and in Oslo (The Thief) and in Bergen – they were more for their location.
- On the ferry, we only had two cabins to choose from – both near the car deck – for local passengers travelling with dogs. So no luxury cabins, just basic with linoleum floors – for accidents.
II. Transportation included:
- Ferry crossing from Harwich to Hoek van Holland on Stena Line Ferries – the dogs had to be in the kennel but you can visit them whenever you want to. Must book kennel. Foot passengers and car passengers.
- Ferry crossing from Germany to Denmark – the train went on the ferry and we had to get off the train and went up on the ferry. Dogs were allowed everywhere – amazing! What a concept! I had lunch on board with them.
- And of course our ferry “cruise” along the Norwegian fjords with Hurtigruten – we had pet designated cabins and they couldn’t go anywhere.
- Bus transfer (711) from Hoek van Holland to Schiedam was difficult on the way when the bus was crowded plus it had rained. Two sleepy dogs after a night in the kennel only wanted to sit on me while I balanced them both and BIG Wheelie went flying around. 🙁 On the return, the bus was empty and it was fine. In the future they may reinstate the train connection from Hoek van Holland to Rotterdam or Amsterdam.
- And a tram ride when in Oslo was a nightmare. Steep steps up the tram, BIG Wheelie, no one offered to help, snow and icy conditions, crowded rush hour. Rachelle met me at the other end – she took the dogs and I pushed the BIG Wheelie.
- On the other hand taxis in Norway took dogs without question, but not so in Copenhagen and Hamburg. They had to be notified about pets when calling for one.
- We took 11 trains in total starting from London Liverpool Street – all the way to Bergen via Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo. Pets travel for free in UK trains and are allowed in First Class cabins. We had to pay for Darcy when travelling in Europe but George was small enough to go in a bag so he went for free – though he was never in a bag. We were allowed to travel in First Class – until we were heading towards Sweden. From then on – we had to be in Pets designated coaches. The most difficult part of the journey was in the Dutch commuter trains – usually crowded and no seats even though we had First Class tickets. I stood for over an hour on the steps of a carriage crowded with commuters and this time I used BIG Wheelie to block off feet from stepping on Darcy and George who comfortably snoozed on the floor the entire time.
- Train stations usually have lifts but you need to find them – usually at one end off the platform, and they are usually stinky and filthy! But if you have a short connection, the stairs are the fastest and Darcy and George are used to running up and down – I just had to manage them while balancing BIG Wheelie. We avoid escalators but sometimes I needed someone to take BIG Wheelie while I walked the doggies up the adjacent stairs.
- Flying was probably the fastest and easiest – partly because I checked in BIG Wheelie. I am used to having the two of them and know how to handle them with backpack and two free hands. But that meant I had to carry two dogs in their bags when boarding and leaving the plane! I found out that the straps on the Sleepy Pod also worked on cross-body and that made it a lot easier than to just carry Darcy – all 10 kg of her on my shoulder!
- The two lead in one doesn’t really work when trying to board trains as they are different sizes. It worked well if I was walking through a train station and pushing the BIG Wheelie.
Till our next travel, we bid adieu here as we carry on with our stories from our daily lives.