Every time I tour The Tropical Dog blog I feel like I should be sipping a leafy, colorful cocktail! Greek-Moroccan Maria Himmich and her Mauritian Collie mix Shark bring a whole new level of exoticism to dog travel – together they have explored Colombia, Greece, Morocco, France, Mauritius and Rodrigues island, which is where Maria first met Shark as a puppy in peril. Maria had always been firmly feline in her affections but when her beloved Michou died in her arms she swore she’d never have another cat. Then along comes Shark with the exact same markings – black with white paws, neck and tummy. Destiny called and their adventures began…
The Tropical Dog blog features some of the most exotic travels I’ve seen with a dog! Obviously you have an adventurous spirit, was Shark the same way or has there been a period of adjustment for her?
Well, as we say, dogs look like their owners! I have had Shark since she was born and she has always been curious. I remember when she was a puppy, she would always find a way to escape from the garden to explore the surroundings and she would be super excited to get on my scooter to go to the beach. The more I travel with her the more she reveals her adventurous spirit!
I took my first flight with Bodie about 9 months ago and I’ve only just got over the trauma of it! How are you and Shark on plane journeys? Any tips for other travelers with dogs that are too big to join their owner in the cabin?
I totally get you! When I decided to take Shark with me from Rodrigues island (in the Indian Ocean) back to Europe, we had to take a 1.5-hour-flight to Mauritius then another one of 12 hours to Paris. Believe me, I spent 12 hours stressing out and praying! Since then, we have been on 9 flights together. The 3 pillars of a safe travel by air with a dog in the hold are information, organization and responsibility. I always make a lot of research on both the airlines’ requirements and the destination country’s pet regulations. I always follow them strictly. Finally, I always keep in mind that the safety of my dog depends on me. So I plan every step of the travel carefully. Click here to get more of my tips about traveling with a dog by air.
You say your dog is your best travel companion, why is that?
I always preferred to travel solo because it’s the only way for me to feel totally free. I like to do whatever I want and sometimes, I don’t want to talk. Guess what? My dog likes to do whatever I want and doesn’t speak! So yes, my dog is definitely the best travel companion! She can explore a place with me all day, sit next to me when I work on the blog and sleep all night without complaining. Did I mention that she keeps me warm when it’s cold? Click for my 10 reasons to travel with your dog.
If you could click your fingers and wake up anywhere in the world with Shark, what destination would you most like to experience together and why?
I always dreamt of exploring Australia and New Zealand but with a dog it’s super complicated because of the quarantine rules and the distance. I will never take the risk to let Shark in quarantine even for a single day, plus I don’t want her to suffer long travel like that. But if you give me the opportunity to just click my fingers, I’d love to take a gap year and explore that part of the world – I’d buy a van and hit the road through these two fascinating countries with my four-legged companion!
What are your fondest memories of taking a trip with Shark?
Well, every single trip with Shark has become a fond memory. I enjoy so much traveling with her! I remember our first road trip together in Morocco last year. We went to the South with a couple of friends and Shark was so happy to share the backseat with a surfboard and me. We explored the city of Agadir and the wonderful villages of Taghazout and Imsouane during a week. It was awesome seeing her swim in the Atlantic Ocean, run after the seagulls and wonder what was that strange animal with a bump on his back (the camel)!
Do you have an all-time favourite dog-friendly accommodation?
The truth is I haven’t find the perfect dog-friendly accommodation yet! As I often stay several months in the same place, I rent an apartment to feel more comfortable. And when I had to go to hotels in Greece or Colombia, they just allowed dogs but weren’t really dog-friendly. I dream of going to a hotel where I feel that my dog is really welcome and receive nice attentions!
Have you ever had any doggie disasters when traveling?
Oh god yes! Guess we all had! Last January, when I left France for Colombia, I had a couple of disasters. First, as I waiting for the taxi to go to the airport, the wind pushed the door and it closed on Shark’s leg. She screamed in pain like never before so I believed her leg was broken. Fortunately, she was more scared than hurt. When the taxi came, he refused to let my dog in. I had to negotiate very hard as I was in a hurry to get to the airport. But I finally arrived at time and everything went well!
What are your tips for making travel with your dog a pleasurable experience?
I totally agree with Sonja from Montecristo Travels on this. The key word is PLAN. Obviously traveling with a dog is not as easy as traveling solo. We need to check out pet-friendly transportation, accommodation, places to visit… My dog has changed my way of traveling but in a very good way. Thanks to her, I now look for places off the beaten track. I prefer nature to cities because she does. At the end of the day, what really matters is the satisfaction of having shared an unforgettable adventure!