Our life of constant travel is amazing, but we sometimes miss the things that come with having a home, such as a full kitchen with a spice rack, a closet full of clothes and most of all a dog. Lee and are total dog people, we can’t help ourselves but switch on that ridiculous goofy voice when talking to any canine. If we eventually do decide to live in one place for a while, we look forward to having a barking, drooling, sniffing member of the household.
Although we aren’t able to fit a dog in our backpacks at the moment, it is surprising how many dogs we have ended up spending time with on the road. Throughout our travels we have had the pleasure of encountering many furry friends and here are some of the most memorable ones.
Alfie – Accrington, UK
After Lee and I met in New Zealand in 2009 we traveled back to his home town of Accrington and lived there for 14 months. During that time, we ended up falling in love with Alfie, a big clumsy lovable doofus of a Dalmatian.
It was a big of an odd situation how we ended up living with Alfie, as he essentially came as an accessory to the house that we rented. His owner is a friend of ours and sometimes asked us to come over and feed or walk him while he was out of town. Eventually we moved into the place and took over caring for the spotty one. Little did we know that Alfie would find such a place in our hearts.
He is one of the most social dogs I have ever met and he loved nothing more than to be at the center of a group of people. We couldn’t even think of leaving him locked in the kitchen when we had people over, he would bark like crazy as if to say, “Hey Guys? Don’t forget about me!” He wanted to be right where the action was all the time. I’ll never forget the one time when Lee’s mother and step dad were having a meal at our house, Alfie wandered over and placed his chin on the table patiently, looking up at us with expectant eyes wanting to join in the party.
Alfie was adorable, but he could also be infuriating. One autumn day I was taking him for a walk at Higham’s Field and I let him off the lead as he loved to run as fast as he could across the field. As I watched him I thought that it looked pretty fun and I decided to do a couple of sprints as well to get some exercise. I took off my coat and put it on the ground near the goal posts, rolled up my sleeves and sprinted across the length of the playing field. Alfie was running next to me, but then he disappeared. I slowed down and turned around to see what he was up to.
He was grinning like a madman, gleefully peeing all over my coat.
Alfie brought so much laughter to our lives. We laughed at the way that his eyelids and back legs twitched when he was curled up on the couch sleeping and the way that he would wiggle into bed between us and then extend his legs to push us both to the edges of the mattress. He used to get himself tangled in the curtain room divider and when you were cooking he would lie down strategically right in the middle of the kitchen floor. Whenever we came home, he would have his paws up on the windowsill and he would greet us happily at the door.
We ended up living with Alfie for 8 months and we were devastated when our time in England was up and we had to say goodbye. However, our spotty goofball was adopted by a friend who is the landlord of the local pub. I couldn’t think of a better home for such a social dog, as he gets plenty of attention and snacks from pub patrons and goes on lots of walks. We miss you, Alfie!
Milo – Accrington, UK
Milo lives with Lee’s mum and step dad and he is a lovable big black Belgian Shepherd who was quite well behaved, until you took him for a walk in the forest and let him off the lead. At this point, he would find himself the stick to end all sticks and never let go of it. I’m not talking about a small twig here, the type of sticks that Milo liked to play with were more like tree branches. They were usually three times the length of his body and he would drag them across the ground stubbornly, whimpering if you didn’t wait for him.
He was also a nightmare if he ever decided to go for a swim in the Leeds to Liverpool canal, which runs behind Lee’s mum’s house. Once he was in the water, no amount of coaxing would get him out. He was in the canal ignoring our calls for so long one day that Lee had to strip down to his boxers and wade in the murky water to get him out.
But how could you stay mad at such a cute dog?
Ollie – St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
After our amazing three month trip across Canada from coast to coast, we decided to spend the winter in St. John’s Newfoundland. We braved the snow and cold and found gorgeous landscapes, incredibly friendly people and a fun-loving laid back culture. We had the pleasure of surfing the futon of the amazing Candice Walsh while we were there and that is how we met Ollie, a Rottweiler/Lab mix that she was dog-sitting for a friend.
Although Ollie was known for being smelly and leaving a slime trail of slobber in his wake, he was a sweet and lovable creature. We took him on walks through the snowy streets of St. John’s past colourful houses, historical pubs and the beautiful harbour.
He also kept us warm by snuggling with us in our futon during those cold winter nights. Who knew a dog could be such a great pillow?
Rufus – Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
After our stay in St. John’s we took one month to explore Newfoundland in even more detail and we hitchhiked between the tiny towns of the island. We stayed in cute and welcoming bed and breakfasts and with local people we met via Couchsurfing. Our couch surfing hosts in Corner Brook were a British couple called Angela and John, who were unbelievably great hosts and made us feel at home in their beautiful house.
Rufus was also great host, as he always followed us around the house to make sure we were not lonely. It was hilarious to watch him try to navigate the large snow drifts when we went for walks, as his little legs tended to sink down into the snow with each step. He came with us on a hike to Gros Morne National Park, doing the typical duty that every dog does on a hike; running ahead to scout out the path and then running back to check on the group. Lee and I always say that however long you hike for, the dog has probably covered twice the distance.
Rocky & Rory – Roanoke, Virginia, USA
After our trans-Newfoundland trek we went down the USA for three months to visit Lee’s brother Jason and his wife Mary, and our new niece Elizabeth. This also meant getting to know their beagle duo, Rocky and Rory.
While Rocky and Rory spent most of the day sleeping on the couch, they also provided some entertainment as well. Rocky was the mischievous one, while Rory was the quieter, softer one of the two. They would bark at the neighbors on the other side of the backyard fence but when someone opened the screen door to the deck to tell them off, Rory would run up to the deck as if to say, “It wasn’t me! It was all his idea!”
Rocky also had a strange habit of licking the gunk out of Rory’s ears, which Rory seemed to tolerate and perhaps even enjoy. Rocky is also an unabashed pervert with a fetish for dirty women’s underwear. I had to be careful about leaving my dirty laundry basket unattended as he would often go in there looking for a something to chew on.
Rocky and Rory also loved a good singalong. If you started howling around them, they would join in yipping and yowling like wolves on a full moon.
Chang – Koh Lanta, Thailand
After traveling in the USA we embarked on our backpacking adventure of Southeast Asia, starting in Thailand. Throughout Southeast Asia we have noticed a large number of dogs wandering around the streets. Many of them don’t have collars, which means that they are probably strays.
Garbage is not hidden away in inaccessible dumpsters here but is usually just piled on streets and in back alleys, which provides an ample food source for dogs as well as cats and rats. In every city that we have been to in Southeast Asia so far, there have been stray dogs napping on the sidewalk and wandering down the streets.
We stayed for a while on Koh Lanta, one of the islands of Southern Thailand, where we had a bungalow within steps of a deserted peaceful beach. One night we were walking home from eating dinner down the long dirt road along the coast of the island when this scruffy brown dog started following us. She walked up to Lee and he held out his hand for her to sniff. With that verification, she must have decided that we were worth protecting, because she proceeded to escort us down the road. She walked between us and the road and whenever a car or a motor bike came by she would stand her guard.
She came all the way back to our bungalow with us and we tried to offer her some crisps to thank her for taking such good care of us. She wasn’t interested though, as she was much too concerned with the sounds of the waves crashing on the nearby shore. She sat at attention, never looking away from the ocean as if she was guarding us from it. We named her Chang after the Thai beers we were drinking. A little while later after we went to bed, she fell asleep right outside our front door. When we woke up, she was gone, probably to watch over some other tourists. Thanks for being our guard dog, Chang.
Harry – Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Last we week we stayed in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, which is a hilly area of the jungle known for its fresh cool air, tea plantations, strawberry farms and beautiful hiking trails. We hiked up Gunung Brinchang, the second highest mountain in the region and after admiring the view from the top we were walking back to the village along the winding mountain roads.
Out of nowhere a scruffy little white and tan dog started to follow us. She was persistent and wouldn’t leave us alone, running around our feet and causing me to trip over her and step on her paw. She yelped, but soon forgave me and continued to follow us for the rest of the five miles back to our hotel in a completely different village than where we found her. We were terrified that she was going to get hit by a car, because she would wander over to the other side of the road to look at something and then go running back towards us through traffic. I winced every time a car had to slow down to avoid her.
We named her Harry because we had been trying to get her to go home and stop following us, shouting “Go Away! Can’t you see we don’t want you?” just like the scene in “Harry and the Hendersons”. (of course, we didn’t punch her though)
However, she must have been able to tell that we didn’t mean it because she carried on happily trotting along behind us, even when the torrential rains started and we all got soaked to the skin. When we got back to the hotel we left her outside as we dried off and showered. A couple of hours later when we came out to go for dinner she was still there, curled up in a little wet ball outside of the hotel door. She followed us to the restaurant and waited outside, even though the owners tried to shoo her away.
It was when I came out of the hotel to go to the store for a snack at around 11pm that I cracked, when I saw her curled up outside the door again. She looked so exhausted from all of the walking and so cute and pathetic. I went to the convenience store and bought a can of dog food. I coaxed her around to the back alley and dumped the gelatinous chicken out of the can onto the ground. She was on it in seconds, happily digging in to the feast. I quietly slipped away while she was eating. The next morning Harry was gone, but I’m glad that I could leave her with a full belly.
These are just a few of the wonderful dogs that we have met in our travels around the world. In the coming years we look forward to meeting many more. What sort of animal friends have you made on your travels? Share your stories in the comments below.