I’ve spent a good twenty-six years of my life obsessed with dogs (or wanting to be a dog) and this trip has bid me the opportunity to meet some really great canines. And so this post just had to happen.
The Dog Post.
One of the biggest struggles of going rogue for ten months is being away from my four legged buddy, Bubba.
He comes up in conversation more than any other member of family and he’s consistently been the background photo of my phone since I left. Can you blame me, he’s just so damn handsome?!
Dogs have and always will be a simple pleasure for me. Some people feel happy when they see babies… I prefer dogs.
At home and on the trip I’m constantly aware of any dogs in the area. Even as I write this post on a ferry bound for Santorini, there is a beautiful golden setter that scurries by intermittently hot on some undisclosed trail. I distract Chris from what he’s doing every time the pooch hustles by and he pretends to care, which makes me happy.
Seeing a dog (especially on a boat) is great, but getting to know a new four legged friend is even better.
We’ve met dogs of all shapes and sizes along the way. Some petite and dainty, others bulky and bruising. Each has it’s own personality that I just couldn’t get enough of.
So now I’m going to tell you about all of them 🙂
The first pup needs no introduction. He’s an old friend of mine and taught Bubba the ropes as a young pup in Clemson.
We stayed with Gunner-pup in San Diego and were so kindly hosted by his wonderful human (and fellow Clemson laxer) Brittany. I hadn’t seen Gunner (or Brittany) since 2008 so it was an absolute treat to reunite with this pooch.
He’s one of the best pups you’ll ever meet and yes, he’s huge!
Now onto international four legged friends…
Our first pup encounter came in Melbourne, Australia after a long, dogless month in New Zealand.
It should be noted that while New Zealand is a scenic goldmine and arguably one of our favorite destinations, they fall short in this category. New Zealanders love the land so much that they ban dogs from almost every outdoor entity, meaning the entire country. Dogs are a threat to the beloved Kiwi bird and they get the short end of the slobbery stick. Which is a shame because Bubba would have really loved some of those hikes.
Anyway, in Melbourne we met Mila! A spunky black pug with more energy than one can comprehend. She was a permanent resident of the Airbnb that we were staying and added tons of entertainment to the situation.
Each morning we’d wake up to her in our bed starting the day with an aggressive game of hide and seek amongst the covers where hands are hidden to keep from getting nibbled. Throughout the day you’d hear her sprinting up and down the hall, gathering bark and sticks from outside.
That little ball of energy stole our heart and was just what we needed to fill the void.
Our next MVP pooch of the trip was just a hop skip and a jump north in a lovely beach city known as Gold Coast. Her name is Natty and she lives with two lovely humans who were the original purpose of our stay. Our priorities quickly shifted after meeting the beautiful King Charles pup.
Natty was an absolute sweetheart and a pleasure to spend the days with- she takes after her humans. Just six months old but smart as a whip, we soaked up every minute with the princess. With those eyes how could you not?
Dog interactions only increased as we continued North. After our amazing 4-day live aboard dive trip, we settled into a nice Helpx in Cairns. The actual help needed was minimal and mostly consisted of hanging out with three oversized pups called Lenny, Jordi, and Rani.
And boy, what a crew!
All were absolute sweethearts with their own quirky personalities. Jordi and Rani were rambunctious trouble makers that you couldn’t actually stay mad at because they were too cute.
Lenny was the brains and the brawn behind the group and spent most of his days siesta-ing in the sun.
Lenny and I got along quite well.
Not only is Lenny a great napper, but he’s also a part time exterminator.
His human, Britta, has a serious fear of cockroaches and has trained Lenny to swoop in to her rescue anytime she makes a fearful gasping sound. He will wake up from a dead sleep and rush to the scene where he proceeds to punch the insect with his paw until it’s motionless. It’s a fascinating process to watch. Chris and I found ourselves hoping a cockroach would show up so we could alert Lenny of the intruder. We tried to snap a video but Lenny was just too fast.
A Helpx looking after dogs was like finding gold at the end of a rainbow. We’re so glad to have met this wonderful crew in Cairns.
Our next stop along the trip was Japan. Although we didn’t meet any notable dogs in our three week stay, we did see a disturbing number of poodles in strollers.
The dogs in Japan are usually dressed in absurd outfits and give dirty looks to those passing by. While I think that clothing and strollers seem a bit unnecessary for dogs, there is no such thing as loving your pooch too much. I would probably be a stronger supporter of dog sweaters if Bubba could fit into them…
He’s just big boned.
We were only able to capture one Japanese pup on camera, but it was a worthy snap.
Any disapproval of Japan’s dog practices were quickly shattered when I arrived in Southeast Asia where dogs are no longer pets and are treated more like rodents, or dinner.
It was heartbreaking to see the hundreds of stray dogs running around every city, beach and country that we visited. And yes, in Vietnam they still eat dog. I made the tragic mistake of going to a local market the first week of the month (which is a popular time to eat dog) and saw the sales first hand.
There were the rare dogs with collars that made you feel relieved that they had a guaranteed meal, but most dogs were scrounging for food with mange and other skin diseases apparent.
As you can imagine, this was a consistent source of sadness and a constant reminder of cultural differences. I feel extremely lucky to live in a country that has made so much progress establishing and protecting animal’s rights.
Despite the staggering number of strays, we did get to know a few SE Asia pups with happy homes, including a few Koh Tao beach dwellers and Easy Friends Hostel nugget, Lu.
Most importantly in Thailand, we met Dow, a yellow lab pup whose owner graciously hosted us for a few weeks. We connected with Dow’s human Rich and his lovely family through a friend and it was a bonus to get a six month old lab in the package as well.
There was an older lab and three cats among the four legged family members. All added their own personality to the group and made our stay that much better.
We stayed on a small farm in Greece and had wonderful animal interactions over the course of the three weeks. Lady is the farm dog on hand and is a shy shepherd mix. She was consistently taunted by our fabulous Greek meals but always kept her composure.
Although she was a hindrance in trying to herd the sheep (she always wanted to play, which the goats didn’t enjoy) it was always nice to have her around to keep us company while we worked.
Pigs, goats and sheep also roamed the farm and were fun to interact with.
I know I know, this is the dog post… but other animals that stole my heart deserve their time to shine too!
If all goes well, there will be more to come on this post!
Fingers crossed we meet more Euro- Pups!