There were so many wonderful things to see on our trip around Italy and so many dog friendly ways to get to all the sites we wanted to see, or at least what we could fit in to three weeks. Although most of our travel was by car, local transit or on foot, we did break from our regular programming and rented a couple of Vespas to visit Chiusdino in the Siena region of Tuscany. Would this stop us from from bringing our dog along to enjoy the afternoon? A big ‘heck no’! Check out our fun little video of Tikka riding a Vespa in Tuscany:
By planning ahead and getting Tikka comfortable with being an orange burrito before heading out on the open road it made for a smooth and stress free adventure. Here is what we did to prep for our Vespa adventure:
We researched dog comfortable backpacks after deciding we might rent Vespas in Italy and came across K9 Sportsacks. It definitely did the job and we were really pleased with how easy it was to use and how well made it was made. We also wanted something highly visible with some airflow, and the bright orange with side venting did the trick. One item that I wished for, that I see has already been incorporated in their new backpack, is a clip to attach the dog’s collar, so that if a dog decided to start to wiggle out, they are tethered onto the pack itself. The updated model also has more venting and an extra pocket.
Before leaving for the trip, we practiced getting Tikka in and out of the backpack, with two people doing it and also with just one. We started out with giving her a treat each time she stepped on the backpack on the floor and graduated to her sitting on the pack to patiently wait to zip her up. The first time we completely zipped her in, we loaded her with treats and immediately let her out again. She jumped right on it again and she was already savvy to the big payoff.
Once we knew she was happy being a snug bug, we put the pack and goggles on and walked around the office for a bit. All of this was in short sessions so that she was never outside of her comfort zone. The next step was a short walk outside so that she would be at ease being carried outside as well. We put on her ‘Doggles’ so that she would get used to them (she isn’t the biggest fan of wearing them, but tolerates them once in her backpack).
Over to Italy
Before we launched ourselves at the Vespas, we rented a couple bikes the day before . We could have tried her out on bikes back in Canada, but knowing we would do some biking in Italy we turned this ‘getting comfortable’ session into a short sightseeing trip just minutes down the road from our hotel and visited the San Galgano Abbey. Before going out onto the road we slowly rode around the safety of the hotel grounds with no traffic and one of us was always behind the person carrying Tikka so that we could keep an eye on her. She was all doggy smiles so we headed out.
Bring on the Vespa
The big moment arrived and we would see if our steps would turn into a trouble free adventure on our rented scooters. Before loading her into the backpack, we let Tikka sniff and move around the Vespa and gave her treats so that she knew this red beast was a friend. When we were mobile, we took the same precautions as we did on the bikes the day before – went slowly and drove around the back of the hotel before turning onto the road. We also kept a close eye on any reactions of the scooter starting up, and used the horn a few times as well. Tikka was bright eyed and alert, but there were no signs of stress (no shaking, bug eyes, panting, licking lips, whining, etc).
On the Road
As we wanted our first doggy Vespa adventure trip to be a huge success we picked a destination under 30 minutes drive time. Again, the person with Tikka rode in front so that someone could be watching her and it also made a buffer for any drivers coming up behind us. She did move around a little but we quickly determined that she was just getting comfy instead of trying to get out. This is where having the new tether would be a help as it would be an extra step of security. Our town visit of choice was Chiusdino about 20 minutes away so a perfect outing! (Check back for an upcoming post with more pics).
Exercise Before Zipping Up
One note about exercise. Before we headed out on the bikes or the scooter, we took Tikka for a good run around/walk a few hours before so that her energy tank wasn’t running on full. This is a game changer for doing anything with your dog, especially if they are high energy. The last thing anyone would want is a squirmy, crazed dog zipped up in a bag out on the road, so a big recommendation is to have them in a calm state before zooming off on your adventure.
Want to read more? Check out our round up of dog travel here.