What I Want to Do with My Dog But Can’t

I wish I may, I wish I might ... not have to stow my dog in the cargo hold for an international flight.


My dog, Pinch, is a huge part of my life and we do a lot together: travelling, walking, snuggling, playing and comforting. However, like most dog owners, there are things I’d like to be able to do with Pinch, but can’t. Besides the obvious wish of keeping him happy and healthy until the end of his (hopefully long) life, there are more specific points that come to mind, such as:

1. Have him sit next to me on a plane

Pinch is half Dachshund and half Miniature Pinscher, so he’s a tiny little guy. He’s only about 15 pounds and stands low to the ground, but in terms of the airline standards that allow you to transport your pet as hand baggage in the cabin, Pinch might as well be a Great Dane.

I’ve looked into flying back to my native Canada from France (where I currently live) with Pinch, and have come to the conclusion that your dog must be the size of a guinea pig in order to have him or her fly in the cabin with you. Pinch may be able to walk under my coffee table with room to spare, but there’s no way he’d fit beneath the seat in front of me on a plane. As such, he’d have to fly in the cargo hold, and while I know that pets can and do travel safely by air all the time, the thought of him being in a little cage in the belly of a giant plane for eight hours freaks me out. I wish I could just buy him a ticket, put on his harness and buckle him into the seat next to me. He’s well-behaved on public transportation, and would likely just sleep curled up in his seat the whole flight, anyway.

But alas, there’s no way that would ever be allowed (unless I become rich and buy my own private jet), so if Pinch ever does come with me to Canada, I think I’m going to need sedatives more than he will.

2. Give him a backyard

Living in France is expensive, and I’m a (sorely underpaid) English teacher with a (sorely underpaid) French military police officer husband, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to afford a house with a fenced-in yard. We are lucky that my husband’s job provides us with a large apartment, but I’d love to be able to give Pinch his own green space. Pinch loves rolling around in the grass, and I feel guilty having to keep him cooped up inside most of the time. He does get walked 4-5 times per day, but I know it’s not the same as letting him spend a warm, sunny afternoon lounging on the lawn. Again, if I do become rich one day, Pinch will not only have a seat next to me on my private jet, but a giant backyard just for him!

3. Get a nice photo of us together

The funny thing with Pinch is that he will sit nicely for photos when it’s just him, but whenever I try to get a pic of me and him together, or one of him posing with his feline siblings, it quickly becomes mission impossible.

Case in point:

Take 2:

Third time’s a charm?

How about a cute shot of Pinch and one of my kitties?

If anyone has any tips on how to get your dog to sit pretty for a family portrait (human members or otherwise), please let me know in the comments!

4. Dress him up in cute sweaters and coats

Pinch and I live in the Alps and it gets cold in the winter. Unfortunately, Pinch has never been a fan of wearing any sort of clothing, and when I do stuff him into a coat for his own comfort outside in the chilly winter temperatures, he gives me the most pitiful expressions (and will often refuse to pee with it on, preferring to shuffle around awkwardly on his tiptoes until I take it off him).

I wish I could buy him a winter wardrobe that would be functional (for his benefit), yet totally adorbz (for my benefit), but Pinch will have none of it — my pooch prefers to brave the elements in the coat he was born with. Even if it means pee breaks of five minutes or less from December through March.

5. Let him off leash anywhere I want

I’m lucky that France is a pretty good country in which to own a dog. Dogs are tolerated — and even welcomed — in most places, but I would still like to be able to let Pinch run off-leash in some of the (safe) areas around where I live. I wish I could let him run across the empty fields he eyes from the end of his lead, but most of those fields are private property. I wish that he could romp around the many lakes here in this region, but most of the beaches do not allow dogs at all, or your pet must be kept on a leash at all times. I understand the laws, and I respect them, but I still feel badly for Pinch when he’s straining at the end of his lead, and I want nothing more than to let him off so he can run freely and roll around in the grass or sand.

I’ll take this opportunity to say that I always pick up after my dog, and it’s a shame that because many other people don’t (France is notorious for errant piles of dog poo), most parks and soccer fields post “No Dogs Allowed” signs. There aren’t any dog parks where I live, and it’s really unfortunate that I cannot let Pinch run on the empty rugby field here in town. And even though I’ve seen other dog owners do it, my innate Canadian politeness and respect for authority will not allow me to throw caution to the wind and unclip my dog’s leash. (That, and I’m married to one of the town’s police officers, so I have to set an example, y’all.)

6. Let him know just how much he means to me

I’ve written about it before, but I’ll say it again: My life is so much better because Pinch is in it. Being an expat can be very lonely and stressful at times, but his presence has always had a calming effect on me. Pinch is more than just my dog; he’s my companion, my fur baby, my family. I’m trying to take care of him as best I can, and I know I’ll always love him to the full capacity of my heart. And while I think he must feel how much he’s valued and loved, I just wish I could be sure.

We want to hear from you: What are some things you wish you could do with your dog, but can’t?

About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.

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