Direct flight with Lufthansa from San Francisco International to Frankfurt, Germany! Sounds great!
On August 29th, 2012, we were left our other two Kooikers, Toni and Nelle, behind with my dearest friend who travelled all the way from the Netherlands just to watch our house and dogs. Erroin and I were heading to the airport with Amica, our 1 year old Kooiker girl. She did join us during our trip to Europe. You might be asking why?
Well, we were invited to participate in a Search and Rescue Dog training in Munich, Germany. We also wanted to see how Amica deals with travelling and all that goes into it. She is on her way to become a SAR dog and will need some practice in unfamiliar situations. We also went to visit several Kooikerhondje Kennels along the way, as well as friends and family.
Amica was travelling with us in the cabin. She slept through the entire flight in her own travel bag that we highly recommend since it comes with a collapsible dome: Petego pet at work carrier. Weight wise, Amica was somewhat above the limit but it still worked out.
There is quite a lot of planning that went into this trip since dogs need to have a veterinary certificate and paperwork from a USDA vet. The last part turned out to be a challenge since the paperwork needed for travelling with a pet entering the EU recently changed and is now a six page document that the USDA vet needs to sign. It is hard to find any resources online and I highly recommend contacting both the USDA and your vet beforehand.
Checking-in and going through security was exciting for Amica. The airport was filled with noises from the many people in line and the beeping screening machines. Everyone was thrilled to see a dog and Amica went to everybody who wanted to pet her.
Prepared with all the paperwork needed, we walked through customs at Frankfurt airport just to find out that nobody was interested in our documents. This does not mean you should not prepare.
The biggest surprise at the airport was that the first dog we met at the exit was a male Kooiker waiting with his owner for family to arrive! What a coincidence since the breed is not that commonly known in Germany either. In most of Europe, unlike the United States, dogs are allowed in buildings, restaurants, and pretty much everywhere without the need to be labeled a “service” dog.
After a long pee break, we picked up the rental car. Our upgrade turned out to be a Mercedes convertible. Wow! But, oh well, no back seats and not enough space for long legged people travelling with a dog. How disappointing can the next car be, right? Well, it turned out to be a small Ford Fiesta in bright red. Cute and cheap on gas at least.
Amica took over the back bench and was buckled up in her harness. Dogs must be either crated or buckled up if travelling in a car within Germany. It’s the law.
Our first stop for two days was at the Kennel “Von Chicostein”. Six beautiful Kooiker girls between the ages of 1 and 9 years welcomed us.
Amica was introduced to all of them one by one up until all 7 Kooiker girls were mingling amongst each other during the dinner barbecue on the patio. Amica was politely tolerated but not allowed to participate in their play. Anscha, the mother of our boy Toni, showed a striking resemblance to Toni both in looks and behavior. She has the exact same way of rubbing her head along your leg. It is impressive what genetics can do. Tessa was frisky and outgoing as ever and difficult to stop in kissing our faces. The world winner girl, Olina-Carina at this years show in Salzburg, observed the crowd from some distance. She is really a beauty with such majestic manners.
Monika and I went for long walks with the dogs mostly off-leash in the woods.
Our next stop was along the way to Switzerland, in the German wine country near where the Rhein and Necker rivers meet. We spend time with my husband’s extended family.
The following two days were packed with visiting several Kooiker people and breeders in Switzerland. Amica lived with four other Kooikers (one male and three females).
Amica’s calm demeanor was very helpful when they tested her patience the first day. Our friends live near big open fields and the Kooiker pack played chasing each other outside all morning long. In pooring rain, we started our visits of the Kennel “Vom Wichtelhaus” and “Van Eenthuis”.
Pictures can only say so much about a dog but meeting the bitches in person and watching them move and interact was worth any trip and we fell in love with several dogs. The Kennel “Van Eenthuis” is also breeding Island horses and they own the impressive Shire horses. Amica stood right next to that gigantic horse and was quite surprised when she looked up eventually.
We said good-bye to the Kooiker people and headed to Bern to meet with my Swiss friends that I first met in New Haven, CT while walking my dogs. We went to the “Baerengraben” where a bear family is kept in a large dedicated area at the former entrance bridge into Bern. It is the symbol for the city. Amica was sniffing intensely at the gate. I was more interested in the freshly made chocolate.
Our next stop was back in Germany and to reunite with my friend, her husband and the new baby girl. We stayed at a cloister that is hidden in Bavaria near the Alps which has it’s own brewery and is newly renovated as a hotel and conference center.
After resting for a few days, we hit the road again and headed north. Our next stop was near Stuttgart at my friend and good-child’s place. Their young puppy Luzy is a new “designer” breed and called “Bolonka’Zwetna”.
The long drive between Stuttgart and Berlin went by real fast and Amica could explore downtown Berlin including all different kind of new playmates. She loved our family property outside of the city. We spent wonderful days with my family and headed south again towards Munich.
We stayed a few days with my old friends from my former SAR dog squad. They have two Catahoula Leopard dogs one is 5 years and one was 9 weeks at that time. The Catahoula Leopard puppy Aquim is already bigger than Amica but they played very cute together. Their other 2 dogs were more Amica’s size.
We participated for one day in their SAR dog training in wilderness. Watching how the team works was of great interest to my husband and myself. Amica had a wonderful time as well!
After those amazing days, we had to say “Good-bye Munich” and fly off towards home and the rest of our Kooiker pack.
Amica did well on the return trip. What an exciting adventure for the young girl.