Holiday roadtrip to Estonia from UK and tips for travelling with dog

Our holiday road trip started this year just with me, S and Lonni. Rest of the family joined us later. It was hot and Lonni tried out every fountain we could find. I wasn’t really sure were people’s looks disapproving or admiring. Lots of people asking, how’s Lonni coping on 3 days trip/8-10 hours driving a day? To be honest, we quite often forget she’s in the car. She sleeps most of the way and just waking up bit confused, if I break to hard 🙂

She has to stay in the car on the crossing from England to France, which takes about an hour and half, but she seems not to be traumatised by that and as soon we get off the ferry, we try to find beach to let her run a round before heading of to Germany. This time the beach we chose was full of hunters. We decided not to take risk to get shot and drove bit further from Calais, where we found the beach with no sea to see 🙂 Lonni managed to find the bit of muddy water. She was absolutely disgusting and smelly – ready for our stop in Antwerpen.

The first night we stayed near where iron curtain used to be. We stopped for dinner in Duderstadt, beautiful German town. 

We stayed close-by at Herzberg in the lovely apartment .

It was newly decorated, very clean, with small kitchen and very spacious walk in shower.

Lovely place to stay with the dog, beautiful Harz countryside and some lovely walks too. Pity we didn’t have more time to look around. It’s off the route a bit, but we love taking the road trip as part of the holiday and often try to find places which are more interesting than roadside chain motels.

Second day we drove in Poland. Lovely country, where is so much to discover. We stopped at Wroclaw – charming university town with beautiful old square, river and lots to see. People are friendly and always happy to help you. It’s so much cheaper than in UK or in Estonia. Real gem worth visiting. There are lots of places to choose for staying in Poland.  This time we stayed roadside motel, which was ok, but the lady who runs it was bit surprised and shake her head, when we showed up almost at midnight with Lonni. I think her son advertises the place as dog friendly and not telling her 🙂 She told us not to let Lonni in the bed – like we can stop her while sleeping 🙂 Other than that it was ok. Lovely breakfast and off we went to our last stretch of the journey.

I usually start to feel home already in Germany, food is similar to Estonia. Poland even more so. Lithuania feels like “Hey, I’m home” – rye bread, potato salad, pork and so on.  Even there is still all day driving to do.

Our must stop in Lithuania is Marijampole. Because it’s on the right place, where we need break from the driving, they have lovely park with lots of fountains and streams we can cool down us and Lonni (but also where is good change to lose all your phones – long story, happens only to my husband!) and there is handy cafe next to the park with the terrace, we can have our lunch and I can get all excited about ordering all familiar foods I have been missing.

Few tips for having road trip to Europe with your dog:

  1. Check that your rabies vaccination is up to date. It has to be done 21 days before entering to UK (other countries in Europe don’t seem to care about it). The vaccine is valid for 3 years so no need to do it every year but also no harm  (at least didn’t see any side effects to our dog)
  2. Goes without saying she needs to be microchipped, but it was only checked entering UK.
  3. You need the pet passport. Plan it advance as it varies how long it can take. In our case it took 2 weeks from applying. You can do it through your vet.
  4. Don’t expect your vet knows all rules about travelling with your pet – do your own research. The best resource for the current laws is https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/coming-back-to-the-uk
  5. Before entering UK, your dog need tapeworm treatment. It’s given as a pill and the vet has to sign the passport. It needs have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before returning UK. Find the vet in advance in the country you visiting and book your time. If you travelling in different countries do your calculations correctly and don’t miss the time frame for the treatment.
  6. In our route the only ferry, which doesn’t let pets out the car is between Dover and Calais. When leaving your dog in the car, leave the windows open. I used to leave something to chew for her but I don’t think she ever touched anything. It’s only 1.5 hours so most of them are absolutely fine with it. You can leave bowl with the water.
  7. If it’s you first time travelling with the pet give her lots of practice. Take a long drives, leave her in the car for some periods, not on the hot days of course! Lonni used to get car sick, when she was younger, but she grow out of it.
  8. Stop at least every 3 hours and give your dog at least 10 -20 minutes stretching , especially if it’s a big dog as there isn’t much room in the car.
  9. Take your own food for dog with you. At least for duration of the travel. We don’t have much time to go supermarkets and we’d like to use all our stops sightseeing . Also you dogs stomach might get upset with new food and all the excitement.
  10. Have a poo bags with you! Lots of them! In every pocket and bag you have! You don’t want to be middle of nice town square next to the big pile of poo and nothing to clear it up.
  11. Have your dog bed with you for hotels and camping or where ever you staying. It will be something familiar for her in the new places you visiting. (even so Lonni prefers our beds 🙂  )
  12. Have a bowl for the water in the car and lots of bottles of water for you and for your dog. Offer her drink wherever you stop.
  13. If you feed your dog with anything like we do, it’s handy to have little plastic box with you when you have breakfasts or meals in the hotels, so you can take bits of meats, eggs, fruit (yes, Lonni loves melons and banana) and other things for your dog. Also it comes handy if you only find big tins of food in the supermarket and want to use only half of it. If you only use dry food it’s won’t be necessary.

 

 

Should you get Chocolate Labrador?

I don’t consider myself as a specialist in “canine science” and following are strictly my personal opinions based on my own life changing experiences. But, when I have been talking to other lucky Choc lab owners I can see lots of similar behaviors and problems they have come across.

First of all, if you choosing your first dog don’t ever  be fooled with most sweetest, teddy bear like puppy! That, what happened to me anyway. I saw this adorable puppy one of our pub lunch’s next table from us and I knew straight away we’ll have one of those.

We were already in process to get a dog. It has been my biggest dream since I was 10 or even younger. I used to go all dog shows, which visited my home town and I even bought red leather lead and red wooden brush for my future dog. I was so desperate – but it took me nearly 30 years, before my dream came true. We weren’t sure what kind of dog we’ll get and we were considering to get rescue, but unfortunately in UK it has been almost impossible to adopt the dog, when you are working full time, even all conditions would’ve been ideal – lots of room for dog, big garden, woodlands just behind the garden giving lots of opportunities to run off lead, enough income to cover all costs and most importantly, very committed owner to be!

So puppy it was meant to be and when I saw advert with those chunky puppies I was sold. I do know the dangers of buying puppy from the advertiser on a website and I will probably wouldn’t go same route if I have to do it again, but I think Lonni’s mum was genuine family dog and local and I’m quite certain no one got harmed in the process.

Little did I know that getting a young puppy is like having a baby! The commitment and time you need to put into can be quite stressful. Of course there are lots of fun and laughter  as well, but for your puppy happiness you need to be committed and put lots of work, time and patience into it. I learnt that chocolate Labradors aren’t just sweet looking teddy bears, they are mad (almost crazy). Unfortunately I learnt it after I got Lonni, that the chocolate colored ones are the maddest of them all. That’s why you don’t see many working chocolate labs! You couldn’t trust blind person led by chocolate lab – as soon she would notice something interesting she would be off with you tangling along middle of traffic or pump into the lamp-post. Don’t get me wrong they are easily trainable! Lonni was one of the best in her puppy class, but take her out into the field and she’s off to meet people and other dogs whatever you shout or do! So embarrassing!

They just think that everyone would be as happy to meet her as she is, when seeing any human being. Most dog owners know that there are plenty of people out there, who don’t find your beloved pup adorable – imagine that! 🙂 and there are lots of grumpy dogs who won’t be impressed by bouncy 25 kg puppy. Doesn’t help that Lonni is alpha female and not scared of anything or anyone! (maybe just bit wary of our black cat Tomi)

She’s also bit of a bully. She doesn’t mind big strong dogs who drag her around by collar and have a play fight and she doesn’t mind curios small brave dogs, who trying to play with her. She doesn’t like weak and nervous ones. She can sense that they are afraid of her and thinks it’s a good opportunity to go after them. I had many of those situations, which ended me in tears and apologizing endlessly to the shocked owners of the terrified dogs. Luckily this behavior has almost disappeared and 99.9% time she’s easy going and playful dog, who doesn’t mind sharing her toys or even food (that’s not really possible anyway. Nobody can eat as fast as Labrador, so when you even trying to take her food you have to be super fast, which I said is almost impossible). Lab on the following video could easily be Lonni 🙂

They are lovely family dogs, but you still need to get ground rules clear. When we first got her, she picked my son, who is youngest in the family and tried to get ahead on pack order. He tried to get my sons favorite place to sit and tried to get between me and him. She soon learned that she’s on the bottom of the pack, she realized that even the cats have more rights 🙂 She was also very bouncy, so when you have small children you have to be mindful that hey can easily knock them over not really thinking about it.

And they are strong – very strong! If she’s seeing something – she would be off if you not stopping her with you arms feet and teeth if needed 🙂 Probably that’s the one reason why I joined CrossFit to be strong enough to control my dog 🙂

All Labradors need plenty of exercise. Firstly because they have lots of energy so it helps them to keep calm(er). Lonni have 2 off lead 30-50 minutes walks a day and we do try to fit some longer walks in on the weekend. She also have access to our garden, when we are at home, but she’s not so interested to exercise herself. Also they need plenty of exercise to keep them slim as they are very greedy and do anything to get some food. It’s very easy to over feed them. I think it’s very common sight seeing Labradors tottering around with no waste line, especially chocolate Labradors.

Choccies are very excitable. It does get better, when they get older, but I remember how our visitors were met by this 28 kg bundle of bouncy happiness and it took for 5-10 minutes to calm her down. We found that the best thing to help her control emotions was giving something to her carry around in her mouth. She actually discovered it herself – she crabs nearest shoe or sock or anything she can find and carries it around, while showing her happiness with her waggy tale. This does mean that most days we all desperately trying to find pair of shoes, when we are in a hurry but the pair is never together.

Above is just a snippet of what it’s like to live with chocolate Labrador, if it didn’t put you off, maybe it’s the dog for you. We love our Lonni and wouldn’t have it any other way! 

xxx