The typical comment I receive when I say that I came to Edinburgh with Curry, my one year old dog, is “I wish I brought my dog too, I miss him/her so much!” Of course, if you have a pet you understand how hard it is to be apart, but when you actually plan to take him with you as a visiting student, what issues do you have to deal with?
1. TRAVEL TO THE UK
I already had a Pet Passport, which is essential to travel with your four-legged companion, and Curry had a microchip implanted and was vaccinated against rabies, as requested. The only thing I had to do just a few days before departing was the tapeworm treatment and a quick visit to the vet, who confirmed on the passport that my dog was healthy.
Planning my journey was not too difficult because I took a Thello night train from Venice to Paris (you have to book a private cabin for 115€ plus 50€ to pay on the train if your dog is more than 5kg) and another train from Paris to Calais. The problem was crossing the Strait of Dover to arrive in the UK: even if pets can travel both in England and France, they are not allowed in the Eurostar train that connects the two countries. Why not? I asked the same question, it seems they just want to make things more complicated for pet owners…
The Eurotunnel is perfect if you have a car, since the dog must stay inside throughout the journey: you will be on the other side in just 35 minutes! But if you don’t have one, like me, I totally suggest you search on websites such as Bla Bla Car for someone who allows pets in their car. This is the cheapest option, since you can find rides to London for just £15 (plus a £19 charge for pets to cross the Eurotunnel). There are also pet-friendly taxis from Calais to Folkstone, but if you contact them the day you arrive you will pay more than £400 for everything (taxi driver and Eurotunnel), so book them in advance.
Finally, I took the last train from London to Edinburgh for £70 and a taxi to arrive to my new home.
One of the best things in the UK is that pets travel FOR FREE on public transport!
And thank God pets no longer have to spend six months in quarantine when entering the UK…
2. FIND A PLACE TO STAY
First of all, you must know that pets are NOT ALLOWED in student’s accommodation, so you have to look for a flat or a room of your own. This is another big problem because not all apartments allow them and if you want to rent from estate agents you have to book an appointment and be there to see the flat in person. Since I was in Italy I had only searched apartments from private landlords and after months of research and rejections I finally found a beautiful apartment for me and Curry. Of course, landlords will prefer a working professional rather than a visiting student with a dog and you will need time to search different websites, but it’s not impossible. You can also find some useful advice about private housing provided by the University of Edinburgh: https://www.accom.ed.ac.uk/for-students/private-housing/
Good luck! 😊
3. FIT THE DOG WALK INTO YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE
The University with all the lectures, tutorials, readings, essays and studying will take a lot of time and you have to be aware of that. If you have a dog, you can’t just leave him alone all day. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t brought him, especially on busy days when I barely have time to go home, walk the dog and return to the University hoping there won’t be traffic; or when I get home after a night out with friends and the only thing I want to do is lie down on my bed and fall asleep, but a dog is waiting for me excited to go outside. Besides that, it’s not only about duties and responsibilities: you can do different things with your dog since there are nice walks, dog-friendly pubs and a lot of people waiting to know and pet your friend!
For example, if you like going to the cinema don’t miss the first ever dog-friendly film screening that will take place on Sunday 25 March: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/entertainment/edinburgh-cinema-will-host-dog-friendly-film-screening-1-4692052
I hope you enjoyed my first article and I can’t wait to tell you more about my adventures! 🙂