This year, for the first time, we took our dog away with us to Europe.
Clearly we had followed all the Defra rules about the Pet Passport. She had had her anti-rabies jab and the blood test one month later. Then the necessary time had passed before we left (six months since the blood test) for us to be able to return to the UK in a hurry, should it have been necessary. On the advice of my vet, in place of the usual three monthly worming tablet that I give my dog, I put her on a four x one monthly dose of an extra strong worm & tick juice, reverting to her old regime two months after returning home.
We crossed the Channel on the Euro Tunnel so that we did not need to be separated from the dog. We all sat together in the motorhome for the very short time it took to cross. (35 mins from driving on to driving off!)
Using the Internet, we had already found a campsite only 30 miles from Calais which offered help with sorting out a vet appointment for the return journey. So we decided to go there first to chill for a couple of days before heading further south and it was so good that we stayed for a week longer than planned.
We also visited the vet whom we would be using on our return home, and purchased a ‘tick hook’ for safe and easy removal should the worst happen and she get unwanted passengers.
Our tour took us via Buysscheure, Reims, Dole and Valences to Avignon.
As we came level with Switzerland, I put on the dog’s anti-tick collar to give her added protection, and from now on, we limited her forays into longer grass as a precaution
It was really a bit too warm for the dog by the time we had got to Avignon, even in May, though we were also concerned that she might actually be ill. However, we were relieved to find that when we drove to the summit of the Mont Ventoux, in the brisk and very chilly wind there she regained her normal liveliness. Lesson learned; after that she only went for walks in the shade and in early morning and late evening… and was allowed to sit in the air conditioned van all day.
Next stop was Aguessac, near Millau. As we were now quite high up in the mountains, it was cooler and better for our furry friend. We had a picnic under the amazing Millau Viaduct, then drove over it North to South at the end of the week on our way to Perpignan & the Bay of Roses in Spain. At least in both of these places, the pitches were well shaded, and therefore animal friendly, and there was plenty of room for exercise, but as far as she was concerned she was at her happiest when we arrived at Les Sables D’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast. (via Agen)
Although dogs are banned from the main long beaches, we were able to use our little car (liberated from its A-frame) to take her to little sandy & rocky beaches a mile or so further south where she revelled in the various rock pools, not to mention the Atlantic briny itself. Indeed, so happy was she in her favourite rockpools we also bought her a little paddling pool to use outside the van.
Our return to Buysscheure was via Sonzay, and Abbeville. We were welcomed back to La Chaumiere like old friends, and spent a very pleasant few days there, in company with lots of other Brits who were also taking advantage of the fact that Bernadette, the co-owner, also works for the local vet and sees to it that all the arrangements go smoothly. Indeed, the World Cup Final was watched there by a multinational crowd, to the accompaniment of a multitude of canine snores!
The visit to the vet was a doddle. In a plush surgery, a worming tablet was gently administered and a de-flea treatment also given. In line with the regulations, the timing of the vet visit is important, it has to be more that 24 hours before leaving France, but fewer than 48 hours..
We are notorious for getting lost when trying to get onto boats or trains and this time was no exception. We were so intent on following the vehicles in front that we went through the embarkation portal before we had checked the dog through her special system.
But it was not a problem, the young lady explained how to double back to the entrance we should have taKen…. (to the right with an enormous yellow sign in the shape of a paw!) Here a young man checked the pet passport, verified that she was indeed the right animal by detecting and reading her microchip, and wished us a safe journey. Sorted!
We would not have considered going abroad for three months without our dog, so we are really happy that we were able to take her with us this time.
The great bonus, of course is that the French and Spanish are so animal-friendly. She was welcomed at every cafe and bar we visited, given huge bowls of cool water everywhere, and she happily snoozed under many a table, both indoors and outdoors. How different from Wales where many hostelries will not even allow dogs to join their owners outdoors!
We were pleasantly surprised by the ease with which we were able to travel with our pet, and would certainly encourage others to do likewise, whilst being mindful of the need to travel in Spring rather than high summer… but then, it is pleasanter for people at this time too!