I’ve not posted for a couple of weeks so, to catch-up: we have been on a road-trip in France and Teddy came, too. It was our first all-together holiday. The children were excited to have their ‘brother in fluff’ (their words) come along. I was not feeling so laid-back: What if Teddy pooped in the car? What if Teddy broiled in the car? What if Teddy suddenly hated the car? What if he got car-sick? And so on… But the only hairy moment during our travels had nothing to do with the journey. It came towards the end of the wedding that we had driven eight-hundred-odd miles to attend. It was a fairly relaxed, family affair in a tiny and intricately painted chapel somewhere outside of Toulouse. We arrived in town that afternoon and were loathe to leave the dog somewhere unfamiliar. It was warm, so there would be no stowing him in the car. Teddy had been welcome everywhere on our journey down through France (I love that the French even have a term for the go-everywhere dog: chien de poche), so my husband came over all French. He tucked our tufty Miniature Schnauzer under his arm, found a pew, and set Teddy down confidently on the cool flagstone floor.
The dog coped well with the silences, the singing, and the various getting ups and sitting downs (as did our children – amazing what bringing a furry friend can do). All ran smoothly until the trumpet started up. Teddy’s ears pricked and he issued a low warning bark. Fiercely efficient, my husband whisked Teddy outside, tout de suite. Face saved.
What advice would I give to those travelling in France with a dog for the first time? Well, once you’re there it’s a cinch. But you can’t organise your first trip at the last minute. There’s the pet passport and the rabies jab (21 days prior to travel) to be sorted out. Our vet also advised us to find a local vet in advance to administer and register the essential worming tablet (it has to be given sometime between 24-120 hours before you re-enter the UK). I made a check-list of the other bits and pieces that I’d read up on. For my own future reference, and just in case it’s of use to anyone else, it read something like this:
List of vets en route (we downloaded a list from Pet Planet).
Crate with water bowl attached, and bedding.
Travel water bottle with attached trough plus collapsible water bowl.
Ted’s own blanket and favourite toys (just like our children).
Dog food: the regular stuff plus vet-advised canned food incase of stomach upsets.
A cool-pad for Teddy to sit on (he ignored it entirely, but it wasn’t hot when we were on the road).
Dog tag marked with mobile telephone numbers plus international dialing codes.
Tiny screw-top barrel-style dog tag, so that we could update details as we changed locations.
Region-specific tick collar.
Fox shampoo because you don’t want to do an eight-hour stretch in the car with anything less than a decent smelling dog.
Tie-out stake (one of our stop-offs was surrounded by farmland).
Dog brush to prise out the burrs that seem to be Teddy’s favourite accessory.
Supply of squeaky balls.
There were plenty of other things that went in Teddy’s luggage – our two boys kept adding toys for him (them) to run around after. But what made everything easy was the essential dog-friendliness of the French. More on that next week.