Dogs – On Board – In France

We can’t comment about cats, but dogs love an inland boating life with lots of mainly safe opportunities to explore the canal-side, including with their owners. Labradors and some other breeds also appreciate the permanent opportunity to leap in and swim. The water – especially in locks (ecluses) – does represent an obvious hazard and dogs should always be completely under control in locks, tied-up safely or ‘down below’ and possibly with their life-jackets on.

With good reason, French people love dogs and – like children – they’re welcome practically anywhere, including in many restaurants. We’ve tied Chloe up outside boulangeries whilst we went in and they’ve looked surprised that we bothered. So surprised that one gave us a couple of extra croissants just for her – to soothe her feelings. They do, however, love dogs that bark an awful lot and also dogs that take a dump on the pavements. Which many of them do, unhappily.

The UK ‘PETS’ (Pet Passport) Scheme

See www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/petsIn simple terms, the dog (or cat or ferret) has to be microchipped (it is inserted in the scruff of the neck) and an official passport issued with the chip’s code details on. Then there’s a rabies vaccination and a month after that a blood test to check it has provoked the correct antibodies. The animal cannot return to the UK until six months after this date. This applies to the initial vaccination, not the booster shots.

This vaccination has to be repeated (booster) every year (although our own vet has told us that the new vaccines actually last two years). All of this has to be recorded in the passport, with the vet’s official stamp.

Returning to the UK, the dog has to be treated against ticks and tapeworms (i.e Frontline) and this has to be done between 24hrs and 48hrs before actually boarding the ferry or the Chunnel. There are no other routes back in (other than scheduled airline – but not on a private yacht). Again, this must be recorded in the passport itself (it used to be acceptable to document this on a separate piece of paper from the vet, not any more).