VICTOR TEIXEIRA – LMDI
All my life I have been attracted to other people, the more different from me the better. I like to meet with different cultures, learn different customs and experience different realities. As a child, when on holiday, I was always drawn to foreigners and immediately tried to learn a bit of their language. As an adolescent I gained various penpals and remained in contact with them for years, in an era when the internet did not exist. Finally, as an adult, I travelled the world and actually lived different realities, both for holidays and for work.
This made it quite easy and frankly natural for me to approach complete strangers, especially when they are in the company of a dog. Such an occasion presented itself right outside our hotel in Bilbao, where Alexandra was walking her dog Teddy. We immediately struck up a conversation that of course culminated in this very blog…
Welcome to our September DogBlog!
TEDDY’S TRAVELS: ENGLAND – SPAIN (by Mom Alex)
Today our cockapoo Teddy turned one. In his first 365 days he has visited lots of places! Born in Kent, then taken to his forever home in Bedfordshire. Since then he has splashed around the beaches in Bournemouth, explored the villages within Norfolk and even hiked up the Peak District.
Back in April, at just 8 months old he was lucky enough to take his first trip across the sea to Spain! For 9 weeks, Teddy got to enjoy the Costa Del Sol visiting Madrid, Bilbao and Burgos on route.
I’m going to share our experience of travelling with our puppy from England to Spain so that you can get some ideas on how to go about this adventure if you too would like to travel with your furry friend.
We packed up the car and headed to Portsmouth from Bedfordshire; this journey was around 2 hours in the car. We stopped at a big park in Portsmouth to walk Teddy before heading to check in to the ferry.
We took the Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, this cost around £600 for myself, my partner & Teddy. You have to arrive at least 1.5 hours early to check in; we got there a bit earlier so it was a quick process and we had enough time to leave the car in line and head into the port pub for some food before boarding.
On the way to Spain we had a dog friendly cabin, this was brilliant as the journey was 2 nights and 1 day. The dog friendly cabin is the same as the normal cabins, however they are all together, near to the dog toilet / walk area and they have laminate flooring instead of carpet for any accidents.
Teddy was treated to a welcome bag with a rope toy and poo bags which was lovely. We took long lasting chews on board to keep him entertained throughout the journey as he wouldn’t get much of a walk.
He enjoyed the journey and had no problems going to the toilet but some of the other dogs wouldn’t go as there is no grass unfortunately so if your dog will only go on grass I’d take some artificial grass with you to lay down.
At meal times we left Teddy in the cabin, he isn’t a chewer and so he just slept whilst we were away. We left classical music on the TV so that he couldn’t hear other dogs barking to disturb him. We had a 4 berth cabin so there was plenty of space and he slept on the bed. I know some dog owners who brought their crates into the cabins struggled with space.
I would say we enjoyed this experience but it is a shame that they do not have any communal indoor areas for the dogs where you can get a drink and, for such a big ship, it is a shame they do not have a bigger enclosed dog area outside so the dogs can play.
On arrival into Bilbao, it was a long wait to get through passport control in the car; luckily in April it wasn’t too hot! Once through border control, we made our way to Marbella which was a 9 hour journey. We had arranged to stop over in Madrid for one night to break this up.
Teddy loves being in the car and is very chilled out, so just slept most of the journey. We didn’t take too many bags so that we could fit them in the boot and allow Teddy to have the entire back seat to roam around and get comfy. He gets strapped in with a harness and a dog seatbelt.
After 5 hours, we arrived to the Novotel on the outsides of Madrid. This hotel was brilliant! Very dog friendly and Teddy was treated to another welcome gift with dog bags and a ball.
We found an enclosed dog exercise area with agility equipment over the road which Teddy loved; it was just a shame there were no other dogs in it at the time to play with him! We explored Madrid with Teddy, visiting some restaurants and public attractions. After a few hours of walking we got a taxi home which Teddy was accepted in, we couldn’t use the metro as you are only allowed dogs on it at certain times and they have to be muzzled.
The next day we drove the remaining 4 hours down to Marbella, where we arrived at the villa we were staying in. We found restaurants and dog beaches around that dogs were allowed in.
We drove back to the ferry port from Marbella in July, stopping at Burgos and then Bilbao (this is where we met Victor from Let My Dog In and his dogs). It was much hotter and so Teddy spent a lot of the time poking himself through the middle of the seats to enjoy the aircon.
On the ferry on the way home we had the kennels, not the dog friendly cabin; the journey took 1 night, 2 days.
However these days were very long as we sat outside most of the time with Teddy so he didn’t have to spend much time inside the kennel. Our journey home was a completely different experience due to this, you don’t get the welcome gift and it really is a shame how uncatered for the dogs and owners they are. The dog walking area is cold and windy and there is nowhere to sit down (other than on the floor where the dogs do their business which we did resort to after standing for so long; we did get some chairs from the sundeck but these were soon removed as they are not allowed).
You can also drive from Dover to Calais via the EuroTunnel and then through France to Spain, however our Animal Health Certificate would have had to be in two languages.
In order to be able to embark on this journey, we had to sort a few things first:
First up was the Rabies vaccine
Next up was the Animal Health Certificate: these are around £250 however if you shop around you can get them for around £100, particularly at vets near ports; the vet we found actually did it for just £70
We bought a Seresto collar to protect Teddy from ticks and fleas
We also got the kennel cough vaccine as we knew he would be in a kennel on the ferry
The dogs have to wear muzzles in public areas on board the ferry, so we trained Teddy gradually to be comfortable wearing one (our experience was that this wasn’t enforced)
We got Teddy a shave groom so he wouldn’t be too hot with all of this fur
Before heading home, you need to get your Animal Health Certificate stamped to say your dog has had a worming tablet
In Madrid we stayed in a Novotel, in Bilbao an Ibis, and in Burgos an independent hotel. We found Novotel to be very dog friendly, Teddy was treated to a welcome gift which included poo bags in a holder and a ball.
We stayed at a lovely villa with a pool so after walks Teddy liked to lay on the step in the pool to cool down. We found some dog beaches and took Teddy out with us on most days.
Caterpillars are dangerous to dogs and we were near lots of pine cones where these were. We took Teddy to training classes and found a doggy daycare for him. As Teddy is just 10kg, whenever the pavement was hot we would pick him up and carry him.
We are hoping to travel again, Teddy did not want the suitcase to be filled to leave so decided to sleep in it.
To summarise, we absolutely loved visiting Europe with Teddy and are really glad we did it early on in his life so now we are confident to take him away again and will have many years left to explore with him. We would use the ferry again to get from England to Spain: 100% if we could get the dog cabin and only 50% if we had to put him in the kennels as we would debate trying out driving the whole way. If you’re considering taking your dog abroad, I would definitely recommend it if you’re going for a long period of time – 1 month+ in my personal opinion – it would be a bit of hassle (and expense) for a shorter duration. Our favourite hotel was definitely the Novotel in Madrid as they were very friendly and the dog gift was a lovely touch! I hope you enjoyed reading about Teddy’s first trip to Europe and wish you lots of happy travels ahead with your fur babies If you would like to see what else Teddy gets up to, you can follow him at @teddys.day on Instagram. Feel free to drop me a DM with any questions I can help with from our experience!
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