A Dog's Round-the-World Packing List

When we first set off on this big travel adventure with Chewy and Abby, we didn't know how much gear we would need or want.  In fact, the essentials boils down to a pretty short list which I've shared below.  When we take short trips with them, we usually dump all of this stuff into a standard school-size backpack or a duffle bag.  In Europe, we kept their stuff in a plastic bin so that it was separate from the rest of our things.  Either way, these are the essentials to keep your doggie happy while on the road.

In addition to the below, we also pack the following:

- Dog food
- Dog treats
- Pet passport and most recent vaccination records
- Collar with tags that list the dogs' names, international cell phone number, and e-mail address
- Benadryl for Abby's allergies and Glucosamine/Chondriton and Baby Aspirin for Chewy's arthritis


We're a bit late to the party tonight but some of our favorite traveling dog bloggers have posted their doggie packing lists, as well.  Check out their posts here:

- Montecristo Travels’ dog travel packing tips
- Dog Jaunt’s dog travel packing tips
- The Ramble's packing tips

Online Pet Food Stores + Mr. Chewy Giveaway

Abby and Chewy in London

Abby and Chewy with the London skyline

The new year has come and gone and we are still traveling with Chewy and Abby.  This week, we were getting organized to take them with us to Eastern Europe and we realized that the dogs have way more than we do.  In particular, we are carrying a lot of dog food and dog treats --- around 400 pounds of dog food and 50 pounds of dog treats.  A little ridiculous, right?

Of course, we could buy Pedigree dog food in Croatia and Turkey because it seems to be a universally available brand.  But, we prefer to feed Chewy and Abby the super-premium Orijen brand food for a few reasons: (1) Abby is an extremely picky eater and will refuse food for days on end if it isn't a brand she likes (yes, I know that we probably shouldn't tolerate this behavior but she's been like this since she was a puppy); (2) Chewy stays on the slim side which is good for his arthritis when we feed him a high protein, low carbohydrate food; and (3) their skin and fur are so soft and silky since we switched over to Orijen.  Now, there's a lot of debate as to whether ultra-premium foods are worth the cost (and, in our case, hassle) but we're trying our best to stick to feeding them Orijen throughout the year.

Chewy and Abby at christmas

Chewy and Abby tearing up their Christmas presents

In the United States and Europe, we can find Orijen pretty easily in large cities such as Atlanta, London, and Rome.  But, it can be a hassle trying to find stores that stock it which is why we almost always purchase their dog food online .

Frankly, I think online pet food stores are one of the best inventions on the internet.  Instead of lugging heavy bags of food from the store into the car into the house, when we use an online pet store, the food arrives neatly packaged on our front doorstep, usually at less cost we would have paid at the store.

In Europe, we use the fantastic Zooplus .  I love this company.  They offer free shipping in England and several other countries, including France and Italy, through affiliate sites.  They ship to 14 countries in Europe, don't require an English bank account because you can pay with an ordinary credit card, and the food and treats are substantially cheaper than those we find in the store.  For example, we can buy a Super Saver Pack of Rocco's Chings Chicken treats (Abby's favorites) for about a quarter of the price that we found in Pets at Home (the UK equivalent of Petsmart/Petsupermarket).  The food always arrives promptly and within a week and we have been incredibly happy in using Zooplus.

Mr. Chewy site

In the United States, a new company called Mr. Chewy has adopted the Zappos model --- free shipping on orders above $49 in the United States, 365 day returns, and online customer service.  First and foremost, I LOVE Mr. Chewy's name --- but, then again, that could be because it reminds me of my Chewy!  Their site is very easy to navigate and they offer the best selection of premium dog food I've seen on the Internet, including hard-to-find brands like Orijen, Stella & Chewy, Merrick's Before Grain, and The Honest Kitchen.  Patrick and I totally want to order this Kobe Master Beef Canned Dog food that we found on Mr. Chewy's site!  Of course, they also have Pedigree and Science Diet and every other brand that you can think of so no matter your budget, Mr. Chewy has something for your dog.  And, if you're still not convinced, head over to their Facebook page where people are RAVING about how much money Mr. Chewy saves them each year.

And . . . I'm giving away a $50 gift certificate to Mr. Chewy !

All you have to do is head over to Mr. Chewy , look through their site, and leave a comment in the Rafflecopter letting me know what you would order with your $50.  You can get additional entries by tweeting this contest and liking this blog post or liking us on Facebook.  (This is my first time using Rafflecopter so hopefully this will work out well.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Queen Mary 2 Kennels: Embarkation

White glove welcome for the dogs when embarking onto the ship

The day we embarked the Queen Mary 2 with Chewy and Abby was one of the most stressful days on our trip.  It wasn’t that the day was actually so hard but rather we didn’t know exactly what we needed to do, how the puppies would react, whether their paperwork would be completely correct, and when we would be able to see the dogs once on board.  So, if you are planning on taking your dogs on the Queen Mary 2, hopefully, this guide to embarkation will help appease some of the concerns and fears that you may have.

Abby at Prospect Park

Abby at Prospect Park

Pre-arrival tasks

Early morning walk : We woke up at 7:00 a.m. on our embarkation date, showered, ate breakfast, and took Chewy and Abby for a long walk in Prospect Park.  I HIGHLY recommend setting aside the time for at least a 45 minute walk on the morning of your embarkation because our dogs were not able to use the bathroom until 3:00 in the afternoon (more on this below).

Returning the rental car :  Patrick returned the car to the car rental agency (after having the interior cleaned to avoid extra charges).

Last minute packing/tagging :  Remember to tag your bags with the stateroom tags that Cunard provides (more below on what happens if you forget)!

I wish I had packed an embarkation day backpack with the following items in it: a collapsible water bowl for the dogs, some biscuits or dog bones for them to chew while waiting, a folder with all of the dog’s documents and their Third Country Certificate (I carried this in separately but wished I had it in a backpack so I didn’t have to fumble with it while walking Chewy onto the ship), our passports and our documentation, our Kindles or an iPad to while away some time, our cameras, and maybe a bathing suit if it’s a nice day.

Thundershirt for wary/scared dogs :   Abby gets very frightened when dealing with crowds and loud noises and we were so happy that we put her Thundershirt on before we left the hotel.  The entire day is very stressful for dogs so if your dog is even slightly afraid of crowds, noises, and unfamiliar environments, I HIGHLY recommend buying the miracle-working Thundershirt, getting your dog familiar with it before boarding, and putting it on him/her before leaving your hotel/house.

Abby in the town car

Chewy in the town car

Abby and Chewy in the town car

Arriving at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

We left the Sheraton Brooklyn at 10:30 a.m. to arrive at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal by 11:00 a.m.  Our town car cost $30 with two dogs.

Road to the cruise terminal

Cunard allows passengers with pets to check in at 11:00 a.m., while all other passengers begin checking in at noon.  We got there at 11:00 a.m. and were so glad that we did because we were able to skip through most of the lines very quickly.

Luggage tags

Tagging luggage

Tagging luggage and giving the stewards the luggage

Immediately upon arrival, a steward takes all of the luggage from you.  Cunard provides tags that have your stateroom number on it before your ship but I completely forgot to put these tags on before we arrived at the cruise terminal, meaning that Patrick held the dogs while tons of people milled around with their suitcases, and I stuck all the tags on the bags.  Because we arrived early, one of the stewards helped me with this task.  Again – get there early!

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal

Front of the cruise terminal

Going through security

Going through security was a little bit of a trick.  Patrick held the dogs while I put my bags through the x-ray machine and walked through the metal detector.  Then, Patrick handed me their leashes around the side of the metal detector and he did the same thing.  I am not sure what you do when you are just a single person and have a dog; perhaps one of the guards holds your dog for you.

Waiting to check in the dogs in the cruise terminal

Dogs check in

All of the families with dogs were ushered to the far end of the cruise terminal where we met with the ship’s steward.  She carefully went through every single line of their Third Country Certificate and, Rex, the ship’s kennelmaster scanned their microchips.

Cunard takes the documentation VERY seriously; one of the women on our ship was not allowed to bring her dog aboard because she had not completed the tick/tapeworm treatment 24 hours before embarkation.  (We were very impressed with Cunard, actually, because one of the Cunard staff members agreed to take the dog with her to her own vet's boarding facility so that the woman could do her round-trip cruise and return in 20 days.)

Security at the cruise terminal

Human check in line

Humans check in

After the steward signed off on Chewy’s and Abby’s paperwork, we went to the counter (with them) to check in.  The attendant checked our passports, took our photographs, and made Patrick and me boarding cards which we used as stateroom keys and while on board to make purchases.

Wait, wait, wait

While all this sounds like it might have taken awhile, in fact, we were done with the check in process by 11:20.  We were not allowed to board the ship until noon, so we waited in the lobby with Chewy and Abby.  Some of the families with dogs took their dog outside to try and use the bathroom, but there is not much greenspace outside the terminal.  We stayed inside and wished we had brought the dogs their water bowl and some treats.

Walking down the corridor Walking across the gangway
Past the Brittania Chewy and Abby at the elevator

Heading to the kennels

Up the elevator, through the corridor, and past the dining room

Finally, we were able to board at around noon, which was at the same time that many of the disabled individuals boarded.  We took the dogs up a very packed elevator (another reason why we recommend using the Thundershirt if your dog gets nervous), through a set of stairs, showed our boarding cards, past the lobby where we were greeted by a number of staff and quickly snapped a picture.  Then, we walked briskly up another elevator, through the Brittania dining room, and up the final elevator to the twelfth floor, which houses the kennels.

Chewy checking out his kennel for the first time

The worst anguish

This was the very hardest part of the entire day.  By 12:10, we were at the kennels, but Rex had to go back down to get more dogs, and the dogs are not allowed to walk around until the ship departs Brooklyn at 4:00.  So, this means that we had to very quickly fill their water bowls, get them into their crates (which nearly all the dogs resisted) and leave them for almost four hours, while they still were discombobulated and confused.  Chewy’s frantic barking followed us all the way down to the elevator bank.

I don’t know how to make this easier on the dogs, because this whole part of the embarkation process is very rushed and incredibly stressful.  We were glad that Abby had her Thundershirt on and wished we had one for Chewy, too.  I would also suggest leaving some treats in the crate, though neither of our dogs wanted the ones we stuck in there.

We wander while the dogs wait

We went down to the King’s Court buffet area to have lunch , found our stateroom, meandered around the ship, and were surprised to get our luggage by 3:00 or so.  We unpacked, walked around some more, and went up to wait until we could see the dogs.

Abby greeting me on t he QM2

Abby greeting me at departure


At 4:00, the ship left port and Rex closed up the dogs’ outside area and let the dogs out.  We found out that the dogs may not be on deck until the ship leaves port, so the absolute second the ship left port, Rex let the dogs out.  (However, in Southampton, the dogs are not allowed onto the deck until two hours after the ship leaves port --- very frustrating.)

Chewy looking at the Statue of Liberty

Chewy and I looking at the Statue of Liberty

We hung out with them from 4:00 to 6:00 and ensured that they were doing okay and adjusting.  To be honest, as soon as we saw them, we sighed a huge breath of relief because they both wagged and were their normal, happy little selves.

During the two hours, we fed them and made sure they had water, hugged them, showed them the Statue of Liberty, and took lots of pictures of them meandering about and meeting the other dogs as New York quickly receded into the distance.

Note: There are two gates that separate the dogs’ area from the rest of deck 12 but, on the first day, many people lifted the gates and walked through the dogs’ area to get to the other end of the ship.  On later days, we became more vocal about telling people that they were not allowed in the dogs’ area but we wish that Cunard had signs that Rex could post on either side of the gates saying, “No Passengers Allowed Without Permission.”  On the first day, in particular, we found it very nerve-wracking that random people were walking through the dogs’ area because all of the dogs were nervous and stressed and many of the people walking through did not properly shut the gate so the dog owners were constantly checking the gates to make sure that the dogs did not leave the designated area.

View of Manhattan from the QM2

View of Manhattan from the ship

Getting ready for dinner, exploration

From 6:00 to 8:00, we explored more of the ship, relaxed, and got ready for dinner, while the dogs stayed in their crates.  Because they had some time to adjust, the dogs got into their crates with less hesitation and seemed to hunker down to rest more easily.

Evening walk/playtime

From 8:00 to 8:30, Rex let the dogs out into their area for half an hour so that they could stretch their legs and do their business one last time before bed.  Then, we were off for dinner, and the dogs’ embarkation day ended as we let them back into their kennels and they fell asleep.

How to Take Your Dogs to Europe, Part 2

* Two weeks ago, we wrote about the first steps that you need to undertake in order to get your dogs from the United States to Europe .  Yeah, it's crazy complicated but having our pups with us in Europe makes it so worth it.  This week, we're finishing up the whole process.

Step 9:  Your Veterinarian Must Complete the Third Country Certificate

Two months before the D-Date, your veterinarian must fill out the Third Country Certificate that you received from the USDA Veterinarian.  This document simply summarizes your information, the dog’s characteristics, the microchipping, rabies vaccination, and serotological test.  Write out the whole thing in BLUE INK.  Your veterinarian will need to sign the document in blue ink and date it.

The reason that you need to have this form filled out only two months prior to the D-Date is because a Third Country Certificate is valid in the EU for only three months after the USDA veterinarian endorses it.  If you are planning on spending more time in the EU than three months after you get it endorsed, you will need to have the document converted to a Pet Passport , which is what we did.

Step 10:  Authorization by the USDA Veterinarian

At this point, approximately one and a half months before the D-Date , you will need to complete the procedures for your state’s USDA Veterinarian in Charge to certify and stamp the document.  In Alabama, I mailed all of our documents and certifications to the veterinarian along with a check and pre-paid return envelope, and they sent the certification back to me in two weeks.  In some states, you may be required to make an appointment.  Call your state’s USDA veterinarian to find out.

Step 11:  Certificate of Fitness (if your dog will be on an airplane)

If your dog will be taking an airplane to England, your veterinarian will need to complete a certificate of fitness and health check seven days prior to the flight .

Step 12:  Tick/Tapework Treatment

Between 24 to 48 hours before you board your means of transport to England, a veterinarian will need to provide tick and tapeworm treatment to your dog and certify that the treatment was given on the Third Country Certificate. This is the one step that causes the most problems ; on our trip to Europe, one woman was not allowed to bring her dog on board because she did not get the tick and tapeworm treatment within the specified timeline.  Think carefully about exactly when you will be boarding and schedule the veterinarian visit somewhere around the 36 hour mark, just to be on the safe side.

If you will be taking the Queen Mary 2 , we used their recommended veterinarian, Sara Neuman at Vinegar Hill Veterinary Group in Brooklyn.  Be prepared for the high expense, though.  Our 15-minute visit for her to look over the dogs and to give the dogs some Frontline and a small pill cost us almost $270.

* After July 1, 2012, the rules now require tapeworm treatment to be given one to five days before the animal reaches the UK.    However, see the following letter regarding special circumstances for those dogs boarding the Queen Mary 2:

Our Reference AHDWO 40796

Thank you for your e-mail received on the 12 th December 2011.

With regard to the new rules relating to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) that come into effect on 1 st January 2012 and the requirement for dogs (only) to be treated, by a vet, against tapeworms ( Echinococcus multilocularis ) no less than 24hrs and no more than 120hrs (1-5 days) before expected arrival in UK.

Please be advised that an amendment has been made to the current agreement (RMOP) between Carnival (Cunard) and Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), for the approved route from New York to Southampton in relation to the tapeworm treatment.

I can confirm that on this route, from 1 st January 2012, pet dogs must comply with all the requirements for the Pet Travel Scheme as normal, except that the Tapeworm Treatment ( Echinococcus multilocularis ) must be administered no more than 5 days prior to embarkation by a qualified vet and the details recorded in the Pet Passport or Third Country Official Veterinary Certificate.

This will enable your dog to travel from New York to Southampton with Cunard and enter the UK fully compliant with the scheme.

Step 13:  Breathe a Sigh of Relief

And then you’re on board/in air !  All this sounds like quite a bit of preparation but, in total, it amounted to four veterinarian visits, some mailing, and a good deal of hand wringing.  The folks at Cunard helped me throughout the entire process and required that we send them copies of the documents in each stage because otherwise, they would not let us board their ship.

Funny enough, after all this work, when we entered the UK, the DEFRA agency officials didn’t even board the ship.  They have told Cunard that they plan on cutting down their checks on authorized means of transport into the country and will now check only about 30% of the pets entering the UK.  [I’ll tell you more about the embarkation process and disembarkation process in the next few posts.]  And, when we crossed from England to Spain, they didn’t even scan the microchips for either dog.

Step 14:  Convert the Third Country Certificate to a Pet Passport

Once we arrived in England, we took our dogs to a local veterinarian to have him convert the Third Country Certificate to a Pet Passport.  Unlike the Third Country Certificate, the Pet Passport does not have a time limitation and it provides plenty of space for the EU and UK veterinarians to document their other vaccinations and tick and tapeworm treatment.  The rabies vaccination must be kept up to date because the Pet Passport is only valid as long as the rabies vaccination is valid.  Every time we plan to re-enter the UK, a veterinarian will need to provide the tick and tapeworm treatment within 24 to 48 hours before we board the means of transport back in the UK.

But, otherwise, the dogs now have free rein to roam and explore in the United Kingdom and the European Union!

October 2011

How to Take Your Dogs to Europe, part 1
October 26, 2011

June 2011

Planning Travel with Dogs
June 1, 2011
Akila writes. Patrick takes photos. Chewy eats. Abby runs. We live, love, and travel in this world.
Chewy's Silver Screen Soiree
Chewy turns ten and we celebrate with a walk on the red carpet.
Sweet Georgia Skies
Green forests and super-high waterfalls. Chewy and Abby gave the North Georgia mountains four paws up.