Visiting South America

[Updated 3/15/2020]

This winter I was fortunate to tour South America. The trip included following the HMS Beagle’s journey around this incredibly beautiful continent.  As we entered through the treacherous straits of Magellan, Dr. Tom Macan, the resident historian on our ship, read the dairy of Darwin’s accounting of this passage. After 18 days at sea I arrived in Valparaiso Chile, a very busy and large sea port.

In the 1990s, explosive detection Labradors using my Super Sniffer® method were introduced to this country. It was heartwarming to see Labradors still working the port and still using my methodology of training. When I say Labrador Retriever in the context of Chile, you need to think back to the first water dogs. They are small to medium dogs about 21-23 kilos in weight and 50-51 cm tall.  Their coats are rough and very weather resistant with web feet and thick tails. The expression is kind but the heads are not as chisled or refined as our modern Labradors in the States. Nonetheless, they are Labradors.  Most are black. I have only seen 3 yellows and no chocolates.

From the port town, we headed inland to the heart of Chile, Santiago, where I leased an apartment in the heart of downtown for a month to finish my latest book. The location was great as it is only half a block from a large park, 3 blocks from a main shopping and government area, and right in the core of Belle Artes — a place where students, artists, and an unusual mix of cultures and people hang out.  Chile has its share of stray dogs too, many of them abandoned purebreds.  German Shepherd and Labrador Retrievers are the most prevalent seen.

Street dogs have their favorite hangouts too and it turns out my. Apartment building had their own dog. He was a quiet black Labrador with a docked tail. His look was quite distinctive and he had an air about him I find hard to describe but it was certainly there.

I love to walk so right off I wanted to walk the hood and check out my new surroundings..  As I wandered into the “artists alley” not far away I started seeing artwork that featured the dog outside my apartment building.  It was quite good and had him wearing a red bandanna, which I learned was what the protesters wore. I was now more curious what the story was as I looked over all the things with his image on it; notebooks, decals, posters, hats, shirts, really anything you can think of.  It took me a while to locate someone that spoke English then I learned our black friend was a national hero.

If you haven’t heard there is a lot of civil unrest here in Chile amongst the working people against practices of their government.  Protesting has been going on for some time and its quite sad that they don’t seem to be making any progress.  Some of these protests are quite large and just before we arrived one such protest was held in our area of town. The police here are much more aggressive than in the USA and during the protest they went after a man who only shouting with their clubs. This black dog rushed to the defense of the person and stayed off the attack of the police while the people got away.  He instantly cauterized the movement so that now they shouted even the dogs have had enough!

The dogs still follow the crowds when there are protests which I witnessed first hand on International Women’s Day when tens of thousands women marched and protested treatment of women by the government.  The dogs who normally snooze all day and ignore everything around them, were up and prancing beside the protesters.

As I take my daily walks I also noticed that with all the pet owners walking their dogs there was no dog on dog aggression issues, with either other pet dogs or the street dogs. A variety of breeds are in my neighborhood and include Beagles, Burmese Mountain Dogs, Dalmatians, Pugs, Poodles, Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Border Collies, Boxers, Bulldogs, to name a few. All the dogs walked politely near their owners, no one pulled on a leash if they were on one. About half the time or more they were not on leash.  At a park at the edge of Belle Artes I discovered all the owners gather to chat, share beers and let the dogs play. There is no fencing, it is right off the busiest of streets, and yet everyone is fine.  It begs the question what is the difference I see here verses what I see in the States? Could it be that even though Santiago is a large city, the laid back attitude of the people is influencing the dogs? If I had to choose one word to describe both it would be relaxed.  Everyone was enjoying themselves.

I will be heading to Buenos Aires Argentina next and will be writing my next blog from there. In the meantime do as they do down here, get out with your dog, relax and enjoy.

Tabouli’s Traveling Tips for Flying with a Service Dog

By Debby Kay ©2017 All rights reserved

When you travel by air for the first time with a service dog there are a number of things you need to be aware of as airlines, airports and those associated with these services have many different ideas on what’s right about dogs.   To give you a first-hand view of what to expect and how to prepare, I asked one of my well-traveled service dog friends, Tabouli, for his list of things to remember for your dog.

T in line at airport

Tabouli likes to have his own bag with all his stuff in one place. This might mean an extra baggage charge depending on the airlines. T mat in airport

One way around all this is to have the bag sent ahead by overnight express mail. For the trip you won’t need much other than paperwork (particularly important for overseas flights) and collar, harness, and leash along with your dog’s vest if he wears one. One useful tip is to have a small TSA compliant combination slip lead with no metal on it for going through the metal detector.  Once you are through the detectors you can put on the regular gear.

Tabouli loves the window seat

T out airplane window

Looking out the window at 30,000 feet

because people don’t step over him and since he is a small dog that sits on his person’s lap he gets to rest his head on the arm rest.  Small dogs like small children can sit in the lap and should also be buckled into the seat belt. There are some easy to use devices available online like the EzyDog Seatbelt Restraint for under $10.

One thing Tabouli told me he didn’t like were the service dog relief areas at the airports. They are mostly indoors when available and for a well housebroken dog like him he can’t bring himself to using it.  If your dog is like him then be sure to give your dog lots of time to walk and relieve himself outside before you get to the airport. If I know a puppy is going to be traveling, then I teach them as puppies to use Piddle Pads and to evacuate on command.  To help the dog feel more comfortable you may want to restrict water and food intake to a minimum prior to the flight.

One thing Tabouli experiences a lot are really crowded trains and buses as they are moving from airport terminal to plane and parking lots. T crowded busIt helps if you practice taking your dog to crowded places before you get to the airport so as not to stress your dog out. Catch a bus or subway train as part of preparation for your trip so the dog has at least some experience before the first trip to the airport. Dogs needs are really simple when traveling, the main thing to remember is prepare them by training in places similar to airport situations as much as you can before you fly. Go for walks during rush hour at busy stations or similar places, go to crowded city stores or events, but best of all if you can get to the airport to practice before you actual travel that will go a long way towards alleviating stress for your dog’s first flight.

For more information on flying with dogs visit K9Wings.  Safe travels everyone and a special thank you to Tabouli for sharing his insights.

T on boat