10 Things I Learned While Traveling With a Dog

by Rebecca A. Watson on March 31, 2015

in Dogs, travel

This past week Sante and I took our first trip with Neka. Europe is amazingly dog-friendly, which is one of the reasons we finally felt ready to get a dog. (California is amazingly dog-unfriendly. I was stunned.)

Our trip was a whirlwind, American style, three-cities-in-one-week vacation: Prague, Innsbruck and Munich, with a castle in between. Aside from my German getting a whole lot better, I learned a few things about traveling from our sweet goose Neka.

1. Cobblestones are evil.


And they are everywhere in Europe. Proper footwear in the city as a tourist is as important as being a hiker in the Alps. You’ll pay if you don’t think ahead. Which we didn’t.

Although we have very svelte shoes for Neka, we neglected to pack them. So two days into the trip, I headed to a pet store. Thank god I learned a few phrases of Czech before we got there. And thank the goddess for the unspoken language of animals.

2. Too many pictures ruin the present.

prague sante

Although we got some awesome photos of Neka, true to her namesake’s roots she is not the biggest fan of photos. She tolerated a few and that was it.

I’ve been feeling that lately too. I love having memories, but not at the cost of not being present. Puppies are the best for teaching you to stay in the moment.

3. Get off the beaten path.

lennon wall

OK so maybe I already knew this one, but I’m much more aware of noises, people and sensory overload when I’m with Neka.

Loud noises and intense people make her squirm, so heading to a lesser known monument in the Lesser Quarter of Prague (the Lennon Wall) was just the ticket. And it made for a calmer day for us as well.

4. Selfies are ridiculous, but sometimes necessary.


Since getting Neka, I’ve tried to take a few selfies with her. They did not go well. She’d wriggle out of my hands as soon as I pointed the camera at us. What the heck are you trying to do?

And looking back at some of those photos, I wondered too. What was I trying to capture? Nothing really. So what was the point? They went straight to my digital trash bin.

But sometimes selfies are awesome. Because there’s nothing worse than looking through your vacation photos and not finding a single one with everyone all together. And this moment, along with a few others, were worth capturing, no matter how ridiculous it seemed.

5. Family portraits are infinitely more interesting.

fam portriats

Yes that’s the astronomical clock in Prague and yes I was losing my mind over the awesomeness. But aren’t you so much more interested in what Neka is looking at across the square?

What does she see that creates such longing in her eyes? It’s probably a dog. A male one, most likely because …

6. Dogs really are insane when they’re in heat.

a dog in heat in the park

In Germany they frown upon fixing a dog before he or she reaches a year old. So for the first time in my life (and I grew up with a few female dogs) I have experienced a dog in heat.

We took her to the English Garden in Munich, which was torture in more ways than one — wide open prairies of grass she couldn’t run on because she would never come back until she was pregnant and plenty of dogs interested in making her that way.

I felt like the mother of a teen-aged daughter only worse, because having “the talk” is not possible with a dog.

7. Grates are scary.

grates are evil

Especially ones over canyons and waterfalls. How are we, as humans, OK with walking over these things? I seriously had never considered how freaky they can be. I’m hoping Neka hasn’t added a new dimension to my fear of heights.

8. Dogs can be resentful.


This is immediately after we walked on aforementioned grate. Can you see it in her face? She doesn’t give a damn about this stupid castle. Get her off this shady ground now!

9. Sometimes there is just too much walking.


I’m not sure if it’s my English blood or what, but I have never really experienced walking overload. Even after seven hour hikes with my friend Hannah (who is most definitely English), I’m OK to go a bit farther.

But Neka and Sante (and many other people in this world) are not like this. There is such a thing as too much walking, and sometimes we all need to rebel and rip off our shoes.

10. Resting is part of vacation too.


Even with the madness of our schedule, both Sante and I took days off, mellowing out with a book and taking baths. I got a massage to celebrate my two-year, no-booze birthday.

Because vacation isn’t all about seeing things. It’s also about processing what you’ve seen, learning lessons from your experiences and well, just chilling out.

We’d hoped for a trial-run before doing a whole week out of town with Neka, but I think we all did pretty good considering. We had fun and she seemed genuinely interested in all the different smells the cities had to offer.

I wish I’d taken a video of Neka when we returned home. The joy she displayed upon seeing her toys we didn’t bring along, long lost in her mind, was frickin’ adorable. Just trust me when I say that I think every animal feels that feeling of There is no place like home.


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