The Best Interview With City Dog Expert!
I am thrilled to welcome City Dog Expert to the Montecristo Travels “special correspondent” series. The series where we prove we are not the only ones traveling the globe with our pet(s). The first step in building a community of people passionate about both their pet and travel. So welcome WELCOME!
First off can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? Who is who; do you have a basecamp town or country? How did you all find each other?
My name is Kimberly and I am an actress, dog behaviourist and dog lifestyle expert. I started City Dog Expert in 2013 as a resource for dog owners in Urban Environments. I am currently owned by 3 rescue dogs Houdini, Folly and Jester.
Houdini is a rescue from Animal Care and Control in NYC (Harlem) and was picked up 7 minutes before he was PTS. He was riddled with behavioural problems and both human and dog aggression. It took me about 6 months of hard work with him to turn him into the wonderful dog he is today and he is the perfect travel companion.
Folly is another Animal Care and Control rescue (this time from Brooklyn). She is a Brooklyn girl through and through and was handed into the shelter as a puppy with 2 broken front legs. Thankfully she healed fast and was a welcome addition to my family. Folly is super loving but at times a little Brooklyn attitude appears when she doesn’t get her own way!
Jester is the baby of the group. He was originally rescued from a puppy mill ring in Liverpool by a lovely family.The poor little thing was severely sick with parvo and it was hit or miss as to if he would survive.Sadly, once he was on the mend and out of the vets, there was a cancer diagnosis in the family and they couldn’t look after Jester anymore. I then adopted him after a 12 hour round trip to Liverpool and back in 1 day!!
We often have foster dogs added into the mix also. The maximum we have had is 7 additions. Thankfully all the dogs get along very well.
How many countries have you all been to so far? Do you have a favourite (I know that is such a tough question!) and where was it the biggest challenge and why?
We have spent most of our time travelling within America. We have done nearly all the states on the East Coast (and lived in NYC for 6 years and Florida for 6 months), Canada, Scotland, England and France. We are currently living in London but who knows where will be next.
Our favourite place to live is either London or France as they are both so dog friendly. The dogs come into restaurants and cafes with me and are welcome in shops, markets and on public transportation. I have never been turned down entry (yet).
The biggest challenge when travelling with dogs is knowing the law for each country ahead of time. Most of the time, the vets are very good at making sure you have the correct paperwork and vaccines but you must always double check yourself. When flying from NYC to Paris, we had to have everything stamped at the airport the day before travel. There was a mistake with the signature being in the wrong place so we had to get a cab back to Manhattan, go back to the vets and go back to JFK again. It was a very expensive day in cab fares!!
Thankfully within the EU the Pet Passport scheme is much easier and is a lot less hassle.
I have to ask — what do you believe is the best part about having your pets with you while you travel? I know that for us, having it brings a variety of perks; the most unexpected and best one is that we aren’t treated like tourists. People think we live there and so the entire “vibe” changes. We don’t feel targeted by the tourism industry. What is your take?
You have absolutely hit the nail on the head, having a dog with you prevents people taking advantage of you as a tourist which is very nice. It is also a great way to instantly make friends in a new country. As I do so much travelling alone, having the dogs with me (or at least one) acts as a real ice breaker. A dog lover is a dog lover, no matter where you are from. We will have an instant connection in our love of animals.
Also as a single female traveller, having the dogs with me adds a sense of security as I feel less likely to be a victim of crime with my dogs. It also helps me feel instantly settled and confident as there is the assurance of familiarity and home. If I am not confident in a new environment, my dogs get anxious so it is in their best interest for me to relax (especially if it is somewhere unfamiliar)
We know a lot about flying in-cabin with a small dog. Can you walk us through what it means to have multiple dogs? Are people’s concerns warranted? Do you have a favourite airline? Does anyone in your crew fly cargo? What is the big #1 tip
you would like to share.
I try and avoid flying if at all possible. Within the USA, I used to fly often with the dogs and never had any issues with 2 or 3 dogs. However, the last time I travelled transatlantic, the airline forgot to put Folly on the flight. I was absolutely traumatised by the experience. American Airlines were very apolegatic about the experience and paid for all my expenses until Folly arrived but it wasn’t an easy event to forget. I still have dreams about the French cabin crew meeting me as I left the plane telling me that my dog was missing!! *Quelle horreur*
Within the states, Delta was my preferred airline as I always found the staff and crew very accommodating.
What have you learned about your pets on the road? Something you are convinced you would not know had you not taken this adventurous route. For us, it’s the fearlessness that seems to come out when on the road and the fact that we are far less likely to coddle “the small dog”. We learned not to underestimate endurance. What about you?
Sometimes our fears hold us back. This is especially true with travelling with pets. My worst fears were my dog barking or howling, pooping or peeing in an inappropriate place, jumping up at someone etc. Thankfully every time I have travelled with my pets, they have made me want to cry with pride. What I thought would be a dreadful experience, turned into moments of such pleasure. One example is Harley Quinn my old beagle who was an absolute terror on a daily basis (mostly due to health issues) strutting through Orlando Airport walking perfectly to heel, sitting every time I stopped and settling immediately in a duration lie down whenever I sat down or on the flight- behaviours she would often refuse to do on a daily basis.
We often travel within the UK and the dogs are just perfect on the train with passengers often commenting on how well behaved they are.
Travelling with dogs forces you to step outside your comfort zone and try new things and go to new places without embarrassment or the shame of trying. Often I have been scared to do new things outwith my comfort (or fitness) level and going on trips with the dogs have taken me sailing, diving, mountain climbing, etc If I get tired, bored or embarrassed it’s ok as my dogs will never judge me turning around and going back home. They don’t care if it’s only half a mountain they climb as long as we climb it together.
How do you choose where to go next? Do you feel boxed in or limited by having your dogs as your travel companions?
Great question. The only thing that holds us back on our adventures is my own limitations. Most hotels can become dog friendly if an extra deposit is paid and within the UK transport connections are so fantastic that I can be within Paris 2 hours or Scotland within 4!!
Some countries sadly have very strict quarantine laws (Australia) so that wouldn’t be a possibility for us in the near future. However, within Europe the possibilities are endless. I work on the philosophy that if I can get there, my dogs can get there. Speaking of which, we are off to the seaside.
I will not keep you! THANK YOU so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I can’t wait to see where you are all off to next and I assure you we will continue to follow you on your blog, FB page and on Instagram! I love that you are showing the world that having multiple dogs and international travel are not mutually exclusive!
Thanks so much for a fun interview!