When repatriation is in your near future and your expat days are coming to an end, you can’t help but think about the things that won’t be commonplace anymore – in the place you’re headed. We’re headed back to the US and while there’s much to look forward to, there are so many things I’ll be missing from Amsterdam.
Flowers, open air markets with miles of fresh produce, riding a bike instead of driving a car, amazing transportation options, Dutch cheese, walking along the canals, and the ability to bring my dogs with me practically everywhere I go.
The US can seem uptight about many things. You’ll hear this declaration living abroad. Some of those things include nudity, sex, anti-bacterial everything (which probably does more harm than good) and NO DOGS ALLOWED in restaurants, shops, schools and on beaches. We Americans are used to seeing NO DOGS ALLOWED signs in too many places.
Our dogs, brought with us from the States, have been living pretty well in their comings and goings with us in the Dam. Here, and throughout Europe in general, dogs are allowed almost everywhere with you. You can bring your furry friend in most restaurants, shops (but not grocery stores), on trams, trains and busses, even on vacation with you. No need for a service dog certificate.
We hail from a small town on the north shore of MA where townspeople campaign every year for or against, write letters to the Editor, and vote continuously about dogs being allowed – for how long and from what time of day – to walk on the beaches. I have to agree with some of my European friends, we Americans may indeed be too uptight.
Thunder, our 10 year old Newfoundland is pretty popular in our Amsterdam neighborhood because of his size and dare I say, beauty. He’s a friendly gentle giant with a very loud bark and he’s all about the show. He knows he’s literally “something else.” He commands attention, pushes his way into doorways, goes right up to people for a pet and very much wants to be included. In Amsterdam, it’s a dog’s life and he loves living it. Thunder doesn’t always come inside a cafe with us for lunch or dinner given his size, but since we do as Europeans do, who love to sit outside, even in winter, with heat lamps or not, Thunder feels included. He loves seeing the shopkeepers he knows and enjoys getting a treat from them. It certainly keeps us returning to these places as repeat customers.
Our little dog, just slightly too big for my purse, also enjoys an afternoon or evening out with us. Cookie is always admired by waiters and other diners and enjoys the attention and stimulation of watching the cyclists pass by out the windows. He’s a cat chaser, so I keep him close since cafes and restaurants welcome cats too and many allow them to live there. If you live in the Dam, you know mice are a nasty common problem here, and cats are essential for shops and restaurants to help deter them. No need to call an exterminator.
Thunder needed a knee surgery, his second, during our first year here as expats. His first was performed in the US. Our Dutch vet insisted we be with Thunder as he was brought into surgery to calm him before sedation and be there when he woke up to assure him he was OK. Now, this definitely did not happen in the US. I don’t even know what the surgical room looks like back home. But I can tell you, from personal experience, the Dutch approach to caring for one’s pet is way better. Did I also mention the surgery was cheaper in Amsterdam?
Civilized and welcoming, Europe opens up its arms wide to our furry friends and realizes the benefits of including them (or not excluding them) in one’s daily comings and goings. Dogs make people happy and being with their humans makes dogs happy. It’s a win win over here in the Dam. I will savor it while it lasts.