"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coco in Paris, Part 2: Dog Travel Essentials

"One of the most enduring friendships in history
-dogs and their people, people and their dogs."
- Terry Kay
I love to travel - especially to Paris. Getting 'there' is it's own particular adventure, to be enjoyed to the fullest. But the prospect and reality of traveling can be daunting. You want to pack and bring your essentials, in the smallest space possible, look and feel fantabulous and be as comfortable as possible to boot. Adding your dog to the mix is a particular challenge - sigh. But it is possible to do all of the above - yes you can!

In my last post I covered the wonky aspects of taking your beloved canine to Paris. Next up: Dog Travel Essentials...

Coco and I just after take off

*Remember, I'm talking about taking a 5 to 7 lb dog (that rides in-cabin with you).

1. Airline Approved Carrier

The most important item you'll need is an airline approved dog carrier - you won't be allowed to check-in without one. It has to be of a certain construction and be small enough to fit beneath an airplane seat. Several outlets carry a dizzying array of airline approved carriers: Amazon.com, PetCo, Petsmart, etc. The Pet Travel Store caters to everything pet travel. Of course you can always just Google: airline approved dog carrier too.

Teafco Argo Petaboard Carrier, $65.

Coco uses the Teafco Argo Petaboard. It's primarily mesh (great airflow), comfy, soft, light weight, easy to carry, perfectly fits beneath a seat and neatly sits atop my Travelon carry-on. The Argo comes in several bright colors, I suggest that you get in Black - simple and low key.

Travel Tip: Especially for international flights, you should arrive at the airport a good three hours before your scheduled departure. Thus, including flight time, your dog could be in her/his carrier for 10+ hours - which is totally unreasonable, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Airports are fine with your dog remaining free before you board, as long as they're well behaved and leashed. I strongly suggest that before you leave for the airport: feed your dog very little, water her/him good, and take him/her on a very long walk. You'll be able to leave your well behaved dog outside of her/his carrier until you board - and don't freak out if your dog has an accident inside the airport, that's what paper towels are for. 

Once you arrive at the airport, find a grassy spot (or at least a dog friendly spot) and let fido walk as much as possible. The folks at Dog Jaunt have compiled a comprehensive list of every 'dog relief area' in the U.S.

2. In-Flight

Coco is a wonderful traveler. She's so calm and quiet that I never have to actually put her in her carrier while in-flight - no one knows she's there. She stretches out on my lap, puts her head down and promptly falls asleep - for the entire flight. She's not interested in food and only takes a few sips of water. Once we land, she patiently waits for us to go through customs (in my arms), for us to retrieve our luggage, and for me to take her to our usual outdoor Charles DeGaulle Airport spot before she relieves herself - yeah, I can't believe that she holds it that long either.

But I realize that our situation is...unique. If your dog is normally a nervous traveller, then chances are flying on a plane will up the nervous quotient considerably. Ask your vet for calming pills or drops, the Pet Travel Store carries several 'calming' chews, pills and drops (just be sure to consult your vet first). Also, leaving your dog in her/his carrier is a great option too. The small, safe, dark, warm and cozy space is calming and comforting. 

3. Accessories

Luckily, no matter the size, a traveling dog does not need much:
- a good harness and lead

I'm a huge fan of the Easy Walk Harness ($15 @ Amazon)
Because Coco is a small breed, her tiny neck is too delicate for a traditional collar. You attach the lead between the dog's shoulder blades - easier control and stress free (for dog and owner)

Flexi Leash - 24 feet (@ $25 at Amazon)

- a small or large zip lock bag of dry food (of course Coco doesn't need much). If you're amenable, every Parisian cafe, restaurant, or bistro will gladly provide a bowl of water and a small bowl of chopped meat, upon request. But I suggest that you throw a collapsable food and water bowl into your bag.
I love these collapsible bowls by Kurgo; very light and clean fast with a rinse (@Amazon, $8 each)

But I'm especially gaga about these soft collapsable travel bowls from OllyDog. For small dogs, I recommend the "Sipper" (5x5x2 - open, capacity .75 Liters) $10.

You should always have a sweater or two, no matter the weather (airplane cabins can be cold, especially on the floor). I love these Classic Cable Sweaters by Fashion Pet. They're simple to clean (gentle machine wash and dry) and don't shrink or 'pill.' They come in 8 primary colors and several sizes (xsmall to xlarge)  - yeah, Coco's got one in each color (@Amazon, $10 each for Coco size)

Hotel Le Tourville - my favorite Paris hotel

4. Accommodations
Since my travelling party consists of 3 children, 3 adults, and 1 Coco, I no longer stay in hotels when I'm in Paris, I rent an apartment. I think that it's the best value (money, comfort, and experience). VRBO.com is the best place to find a Paris apartment rental. VRBO is a site that lists privatly owned apartments. There you can find apartments that house 2 to 10 people. To the right of the listing, if there's a little a paw print icon then the apartment's dog friendly.
*When you write to ask about availability, be sure to tell the homeowner about yourself and your dog. Assure them that you and your dog will respect their beautiful home - they are considering opening their home to you and fido after all ;-)

Still, there are several beautiful, high quality hotels (of every price range) that except dogs (usually not more than 25 lbs, but again if your pooch is well behaved a slightly larger dog should not be a problem). Actually most do but don't advertise it, you've got to ask. I'm happy to find the perfect hotel for your Paris stay, just contact me.

5. Where to Go

Coco and I doing the daily grocery shopping

Paris is the most dog friendly place on the planet. You can take your dog with you everywhere: the metro, the bus, grocery stores, department stores, cafes, restaurants, bistros, caberets and bars. But I always carry Coco in with me and she stays on my lap or next to me (if I'm sitting on a bench or banquet) The only place I've never tried to take Coco is to a museum. Other than that, there's no place a well behaved dog is not welcome in Paris - yet another reason why I love this city!

I hope that my Coco in Paris series inspires you to bring your dog to Paris - it's a grand adventure!

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

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