By Nathan Dudney and Danielle Drewrey
Experience stories of Adventure Dogs along with tips on training for your next adventure.
An adventure dog is prepared to go anywhere. Wildrose Whistling Teal “Porter” embodies what an adventure dog is and more. In the summer of 2018 Porter was to embark on a trip most people will never get the opportunity to experience; he would tour Europe! Here is a glimpse into his European Vacation.
Before this European Vacation could begin there was a lot of preparation. Porter’s parents, Nathan and Hannah Dudney began the process months in advance.
Preparation for the trip was extensive, but that was only a result of going above and beyond on research. There are many sites offering information about traveling internationally with an animal, and even sites that provide services where they collect all required paperwork for you, but ultimately it is a very simple process that anyone can do with limited prep. The main key is to have your paperwork in order for customs. The location for that information can be found though the USDA https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/. Although it may seem like a large undertaking and a lot of information to sort through, the key comes down to 3 things that are all explained on the intuitive USDA website.
- Where are you coming from and traveling to? This is important in case the country of origin has things like screwworm or Foot and Mouth Disease.These countries have stricter requirements for paperwork and quarantine.
- Have an appropriate ID microchip. It is a requirement in most EU countries that your pet be implanted with an ISO compliant microchip, which consists of 15 digits. Porter’s microchip was not compliant so we had to implant him with an additional microchip. It is very important to have the microchip implanted with the required lead time before trip.
- Have a USDA accredited veterinarian complete, sign and issue you an EU Health certificate that then needs to be endorsed (counter-signed and embossed/stamped) by APHIS/USDA within 10 days prior to entering the EU.
In addition to the paperwork required to enter a foreign country with your dog, the travel itself provides a challenge. Flying with your dog, especially underneath a plane in a travel crate can be worrisome. Luckily, Porter is trained as a light mobility dog and registered with the airlines through ADA regulations. We were able to pursue this due to some major injuries I sustained and as a result have reduced mobility. Porter began flying in small single engine planes as a puppy and he holds a Wildrose Adventure Dog certification for Aircraft as a result. We began flying on commercial planes, under Porter’s Service Dog status about two years ago, but this was his first international flight and of course this was his longest journey. Checking in is a breeze as we are already registered with the airlines. While going through security, I do carry an extra slip lead that has no metal in it so that Porter doesn’t set off the metal detector. While going through the metal detector alone I use the “through” command and follow behind him. While waiting to board, Porter always sits under my feet or next to them and we use the “Get Under” command which is essential for a service dog. We do take the option to board early so we can go ahead and get Porter settled before everyone else boards. Traditionally I choose a bulk head when available but lately we have flown with another row in front of us and I believe this gives Porter more room to get under the seat in front of us. I do always choose the window on the left-hand side of the aircraft as Porter is trained to heel on the left. When we sit, I do lay a small blanket on the floor which is simply to define his “place” and it’s more of a token, so that he knows he is supposed to stay there. I then again use the “Get Under” command so that he knows to get small and use the under seat storage as his area.
The most nerve-racking thing was the idea of Porter going more than 10 hours from bathroom break to bathroom break. He is on a very steady schedule for going big potty, so this didn’t prove a challenge. He does have a different command for each with the Wildrose used “get it done” and “Hurry up.” We did take a few potty pads just in case there was an accident. On our layover in Philadelphia we took Porter outside to not only use the bathroom but burn off some energy with retrieves. I did monitor his water intake before the flight and made sure it was at a level that he needed without making me too nervous he would need to use the restroom. On the flight Porter slept, got bored, stretched his legs with a few flights to the galley and ultimately stole the hearts of the flight attendants. I did offer him water inflight, but he didn’t want any. A note to those who haven’t flown with their dogs: Porter usually pants quite a bit. I do not know the reason but this used to alarm me. Now I just know it to be normal for him. When I flew home with Porter alone and without my wife, the flight would force Porter to go over 12 hours bathroom to bathroom. We prepped the same way and he did an amazing job. A few leg stretches up and down the isles while inflight and a water drink when he was thirsty. The only difference on the return trip while being alone was Porter and his great “place” while on the plane. When I needed to personally use the bathroom, I simply left Porter in his spot, told him to “Place” and he stayed. I personally think this is asking a lot for a dog to do in an environment like an airplane with lots of people, food and distractions going on, but he was amazing.
Porter accompanied us to Spain, France, and Italy. We were most excited for Porter to experience playing in the surf and doing beach retrieves. Which of course turned into Porter’s favorite moment of the trip, retrieving out of Lake Como in Italy. He could swim all day! Porter’s first retrieves in Lake Como were in front of the Villa Olmo. This area had people around, no swimming signs, but a perfect run down into the water in an area that boats used to dock at while visiting Villa Olmo. We did spend a day on a boat in Como where Porter swam and even found some ducks. Lastly, we went to the northern part of the lake via car to Bellagio where there were many people swimming, other dogs, and lots of boats.
Porter flew into Madrid, Spain, and we drove in a rental car to San Sebastian, Spain, where we had an apartment for a month. During that month we took mini trips via rental car to Haro, Spain, in the La Rioja wine Region, Bilbao, Spain, where the Guggenheim is, Urbasas y Andía National Park near Pamplona, Spain, Saint Jean De Luz, France, and then flew to Milan, Italy, (San Sebastian to Madrid to Milan) where we rented a car and drove to Lake Como Italy.
Dogs seem to be much more accepted in Europe when it comes to sanitation/public access. Dogs are frequently allowed in bars, restaurants, and stores, especially in the Northern Spanish Basque region where we spent much time. The Basque region, especially San Sebastian, is know for amazing food and wine. Porter was allowed at vineyards and even on winery tours. Most places offered water and we even had a waitress at a bar/restaurant ask if she could give Porter an entire baguette. Dogs are so welcome in Northern Spain that the assumption is dogs are allowed unless there is a no dog sign. This is the opposite of the US, I feel. Some bars/restaurants had no dog signs but many of them allowed Porter anyways. At a minimum, most places have some outdoor seating and it is common culture in Spain to order a drink at the bar and stand outside on the sidewalk enjoying with friends.
During the vacation we were sure to keep Porter’s Instagram @porter.pup followers up to date on the daily events.
Every Adventure Dog is equipped with a set of skills that gives them the ability to take on many situations. A few of Porter’s learned skills include but were not limited to:
Get Under is a command you give the dog to go under a table, bench, chair, etc. The best way to teach this skill is to first make the dog comfortable going under a table. When the dog is doing the motion of going under the table, that is when you give the “get under” command. This skill is best paired with the down command after the dog has gone under the place you want them to go.
We use this command all the time in service/public access environments. No matter how small the area, and even if it is impossible to actually get under or get in, Porter will try when given the command.
Being calm is a skill that is beneficial to any dog. The best way to form calm behaviors is to reward the dog when they are in a calm state of mind. Do not praise your dog unless they are doing the action you are looking for. Through repetition and desensitization to environments your dog will be calm in any setting.
Get it done vs hurry up understanding the difference between “get it done” and “hurry up” for potty breaks is huge. When your dog is using the bathroom give a command to differentiate between the two. Not every environment is right for big potty and some situations you need it to happen, especially before boarding a plane! Practicing using the bathroom on leash will come in handy when your in a situation where your dog needs to be kept under control.