Border Collie dog in the bathtub looking up at the camera

Bathtime for Dog Models | Dog Photography

Something a little different today as you will be seeing more than the usual little fluffy black dog. Meet Tikka’s friends and recent dog models: Roddy, Lolita, Buster and Sparkles!

I had the recent opportunity (and pleasure) to work with a fantastic local (Vancouver) company that hired me to take lifestyle and product photos for their natural dog shampoo. What’s great is they loved the Vandoggo blog and the photos of Tikka on her travels and asked if she could model for them. How could a girl say no?

This grew to pulling in some help from dogs we know and love and the whole campaign expanded to having different dogs pose during bathtime, and it was a blast to shoot. Dogs in tubs, dogs in towels and dogs being dogs – all adorable and all amazing models.

Thank you to Beau Canine Essentials for being an incredible client and for all the dog Moms and Dads for helping out! Enjoy the round up of dog photography at bath time.

 

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Lolita – Only 4 pounds but totally up for the job. She was such a good girl holding her poses and took adorable to a whole new level.

 

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Roddy – Tikka’s long time best friend and weekend walking buddy. What a handsome Keeshond. You don’t know fluffy until you have met Roddy!

 

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Buster – This is Lolita’s shy ‘brother’ and Tikka’s boyfriend. Only living a few doors down from us they meet up for pee breaks to catch up on the local happenings around town. 

 

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Sparkles – All glamour and unicorns, this Border Collie loves life and was the pinnacle of professional.  Need an ‘ears up’ or a subtle head tilt? This gal executes!

 

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Tikka – Our resident Diva.

 

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That’s a wrap!

*If you are interested in personal portraits of your dog or commercial pet photography you can reach me at info@vandoggo.com 

 

Small dog in Venice infront of Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore

Explore Venice with your Dog – Part 1 | Dog Travel Italy

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.”  ~ Truman Capote

For Tikka’s three day visit to the capital of the Veneto region of Northern Italy,  Venice was like eating a box of dog biscuits in one go. Where else in the world can you walk through every single street of a bustling city, without a single car or bike stopping you and your dog at every corner? It’s a dogs playground with all the new sights, smells and noises to take in and many Piazza pigeons to put in their place.

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Ponte dell’ Accademia over the Grand Canal

After a long drive up through Ravenna and along the coast from our overnight in Assisi we looked forward to parking our car and spending some time on foot and on the water. Vehicles are completely banned from the islands that make up Venice, so you need to make arrangements to park your rental cars for your time here. There are multiple garages only a short water taxi distance from your hotel, or you can park on the other side of the lagoon and take a longer ride across the open water. We chose the Venezia Tronchetto Parking structure and it couldn’t have been easier. Clearly marked, lots of parking and only 20 Euros per day. Bye bye car!

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If only all taxis were this stylish…

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On our way to our Venice hotel

We had our hotel book a water taxi for us, and we called to let them know that we were parked and ready, and our sleek water chariot arrived within 10 minutes to whisk Tikka and us to the canals. She was a little unsure of the boat situation as water is not really her thing, but she quickly curled up on the comfy leather seats and watched the view out the windows. Once again, incredibly dog-friendly. There are no issues with dogs taking any private or public boats in Venice.

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Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal

 

A quick drop off of our bags after pulling up to the hotel and we hit the streets, eager to start exploring, get our bearings and find the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). Within 1 minute we were lost. Expect this on your first trip out the door and just go with it. You will eventually start to figure out the streets and remember some distinct corners and alleyways to make your way around, but for your first time, just take a deep breath and enjoy being ‘lost’ in a fantastic world of tiny shops, hidden courtyards and out of the way cafes. You can always turn on Google maps…

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We wound our way to the wide promenade of Riva delgi Schiavoni which lead us straight to St. Mark’s Square. The crowd was busy but manageable and we knew we’d be back early morning to have the place more to ourselves. One tip, don’t stop for drinks or food in the cafes that surround the Piazza, unless it’s your lifelong dream to have a 14 Euro cup of regular black coffee. As with all of Italy, the cafes and restaurants in Venice welcome canine travelers and there are throngs of places to eat, drink and relax with your dog beside you, at a fraction of the surcharge for stopping by a landmark.

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St. Mark’s Square complete with Tikka, wedding and pigeons.

Back out on the promenade we found Giardini Reali, a great little grassy park next to the S. Marco Vaporetto stop (public ferry). For a dog that lives in a rainforest (West Coast of Canada), Tikka had some adjusting to do in Venice as public parks that contain any green are very few and widely spread apart from each other. We jotted down some of the parks before we arrived in each city and used this as a loose walking guide, making a note on which ones were close to our hotel for night time relief. It wasn’t so easy in Venice but Tikka adjusted by finding the smallest of weeds poking out from the stones to relieve herself.

 

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Giardini Reali

 

 

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Venetian Jack Russell in St. Mark’s Square

 

We were greeted by a good number of friendly Venetian off-leash dogs as we took our evening stroll back to our hotel. All happy to say hi to the little Canadian dog visiting their home, giving her tips on how to find the parks and which pigeons to chase.

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The Venice sunset is extra special with your dog

This is the first of a three-part series on visiting Venice with your dog as we walked many a street, crossed many a canal and visited many a gelato stand. Up next, we visit the main sights of Venice, explore some less visited areas and Tikka decides that pigeons aren’t so great after all.

Just found our roundup of traveling through Italy with a dog? Catch up on our Dog Friendly Travel Page and our visits to Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast and more!

 

 

 

Small black dog in Assisi Umbria Italy

Overnight at Assisi with your Dog | Dog Travel Italy

Driving from the Amalfi Coast to our next multi-night city stop in Venice is a long haul for humans (although Tikka could manage the extended nap with no problem) so we broke up the drive with a one night stay in Assisi, in the Umbria region of Italy. It was an early start to the 5 hour drive from our temporary coastal home in Ravello as we wanted to arrive with time to explore Assisi in the daylight and visit an incredibly well reviewed little wine bar. Leaving early also gave us time for a historic lunch stop in Monte Cassino, about 80 miles south of Rome.

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Rebuilt Monte Cassino Abbey

The Abbey at Monte Cassino is like opening a book from the ‘WWII blunders’ history book and walking across the page. This rocky hilltop sanctuary was unfortunately bombed by the allies following reports that German forces were occupying the monastery, but tragically only Italian civilians seeking refuge were killed in the air strike. Recognizing the significance of this wartime error, the abbey was rebuilt in 1964 and now stands as a reminder of the Battle of Monte Cassino. Although dogs are not allowed inside, the views and nature surrounding the site make for a great dog friendly stop to stretch the legs.

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One of many walking paths in Mount Aurunci Park.

Only a minute back down the hill from the abbey is the Polish WWII Cemetery, the final resting place for over 2,000 Polish soldiers that stormed the bombed out Abbey after Germans eventually took hold of it. This is a huge cemetery that is part of the Mount Aurunci Park, that offers sweeping vistas of the Lazio area and close up inspections of war ‘trinkets’ left behind.

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Polish Cemetery and Monte Cassino

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Well marked trail heads with adventure times included 🙂

A whole day could easily be spent filling your brain with history and walking the paths with your dog so we made a note to spend more time venturing further into the park on our next visit in this area. But for now, we had to hit the road to make it to our stop over town of Assisi for the night.

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Annual Peace March from Perugia to Assisi, heading down Via Beato Padre Ludovico da Casoria.

We arrived around 4 pm right in the middle of a massive peace march which blocked the road to the quaint hotel we were trying to get to. After we snuck down some back roads we came within 300 ft of the hotel gate and made a ‘sorry we are tourists’ gesture and joined the March for 2 minutes in our rental Jeep before turning into the hotel courtyard. After checking in we did a quick search and discovered this gathering was 100,000 strong, walking 24km from Perugia to Assisi and has been held annually from 1961.

It seemed like we faced all 100,000 people as we climbed the hill against the flow to the center of Assisi.

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Basilica of San Francesco

Once at the top of Via Beato Padre Ludovico da Casoria (say that fast three times…), we paused at the Basilica of San Franscesco and witnessed the late afternoon sun throwing a beautiful warm light over the valley below. Tikka even seemed to enjoy the sun was happy to take a break from navigating the crowds. Assisi is a prominent stop for many as it is the birthplace of Saint Francis, one of the Catholic church’s most famous saints, who preached sermons to animals and cast a watchful eye over all creatures. He also died here at the age of 44. Regardless of beliefs and whether or not you travel with your dog, this is a delightful stop when exploring Italy as walking the streets immediately transport you to the wonders of the 12th century. And the porchetta sandwiches and meringue from the tiny street side vendors make for a happy belly.

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Perched with the best spot to take in the valley view from atop Assisi.

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Piazza Inferiore di S. Francesco

 

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Meringue heaven.

Before coming to Assisi we read about a wonderful wine bar called Bibenda Assisi and the wonderful owner Nila, and knew we had to make a stop after the gushing reviews (how often do you see a 4.9 out of 5 rating?). This quick stop turned into many hours of chatting, discovering new wines and learning about her journey from the Ukraine to opening a business in Italy. This is what traveling is all about – a happy dog crashed out at your feet while you languish over wine, local cheeses and cured meats and chat into the evening with a new friend. Incredibly dog friendly we can’t wait to visit with Nila in future years!

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A new host at Bibenda Assisi. Thank you for visiting!

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Via San Francesco

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Little alley of Vicolo Frondini with the best-framed view.

The crowds had dissipated on our walk back to our beds and we had the bricks to ourselves as we wound through the streets chatting about the great day we had in yet another dog welcoming area of Italy.

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Welcoming sign in a local Assisi leather shop.

While you await our next Italy installment (Venice, yay!), catch up on the road trip so far on our travel page: Dog Friendly Travel

 

 

 

 

Visiting Ravello, a Canine playground | Dog Travel Italy

A feast for your eyes and a playground for your dog, Ravello is the place you go to relax while taking in the incredible views, wandering the hills and the winding pedestrian streets with your pup. Spend time with friends drinking beer, eating pizza and laughing into the night with your dog asleep next to you in one of the town’s charming restaurants. This hillside dwelling town on the Amalfi Coast is a fantastic dog friendly getaway and a perfect home base to explore the coastal towns or head over the hill to Pompeii for a day trip, only an hour away. But first, we need to get to this little hillside town.

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Driving along the Amalfi Coast and looking back at Positano.

Driving to Ravello is an adventure all by itself, and one to be embraced and not stressed about as it’s all part of the memories of a wonderful vacation. If you haven’t heard already, the narrow Amalfi Coast road is famous for it’s twists, turns and cliffs. Traffic is halted while buses maneuver around tight corners and you are constantly saying things like ‘That tour bus will never ever fit through there…‘ and ‘Aiieee, that’s just not possible!’ and ‘What the…there’s no room??!!’.

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Tikka at a hillside lookout, Ravello Italy.

If you don’t want to brave this first hand then it’s best to get a driver or take a bus and relax while looking out at the scenery and the car chaos, but we were not swayed by the stories and decided we’d go all in. Tikka was also up for the challenge, giving us a paws up and then napping the whole journey. We took our time and drove carefully in the daylight, learning to honk as we went through tunnels and leaving lots of room for cars in front of us in case they had to back up to make way for a truck.

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Marina di Praia and the steep road that takes you to this little cove.

There are many places to stop along the way and with stomachs rumbling and a dog needing a pee break from all that napping we decided to stop at a wee cove and grab some lunch. The road down to the water was a steep descent, clinging onto the side of the hill so we took it very slowly. Marina di Praia is a tiny village with a pebble beach and towering cliffs between the towns of Praiano and Conca dei Marini. Along with the beach goers and rental umbrellas, there are fishing boats and nets and we knew we were in for a yummy seafood lunch. Trattoria da Armandino didn’t disappoint and we happily dug into our fresh calamari while Tikka laid out in the warm sun, having a nap from all that, you guessed it, napping.

 

With our bellies full we started the car and headed back up the cliff to join the road and finish the last 30 minute leg of our drive. Describing Ravello with words would fall short of how magical and beautiful this pocket of Italy really is. So I present you with the first morning we awoke after our drive down from Rome. No dispute, this was the most incredible sunrise we ever witnessed. You win Amalfi Coast. We get it. You are a goddess.

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Sunrise over the Amalfi Coast looking out from Ravello.

And the beauty doesn’t stop as you explore the town with your dog throughout the day. Every angle reveals a gorgeous view, whether looking towards the houses and gardens dotting the hills or towards the sailboats bobbing along the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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Hills of Pontone, view from Ravello.

 

The sun and the rain were playing a game of leap frog during our five day stay, but the wet stuff didn’t deter our daily adventures. We took Tikka to the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, built in the 11th century and extensively renovated in the 20th century and just popped into a cafe when the rain swept through for 3o minutes.

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Entrance to Villa Cimbrone. Big doors, little dog.

 

The gardens of the Villa are a great place to bring your dog with lots of shade and nice pathways to walk along and we took her off leash in a quiet area for a game of fetch to let her stretch her little legs.

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Tikka at the Avenue of Immensity, Villa Cimbrone Gardens.

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Entrance and Cloister to Villa Cimbrone

Most people come to stand at the edge of the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (Infinity Terrace), 1200 feet above the water and possibly the best view in Italy. There are also numerous paths, rose gardens, statues to gaze at and a 5 star hotel to sit and sip a Limoncello at the pool lounge… and yes, it is dog friendly.

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Terrazzo dell’Infinito. Spectacular even on a cloudy day!

I was asked…what was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen in all my travels and I said the view from the Belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day, when the sky and the sea were each so vividly blue that it was not possible to tell one from the other.’

Gore Vidal

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Pathway to Eve’s Grotto and Mercury’s Seat.

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Detail inside the Cloister, Villa Cimbrone.

One of our days was spent at Mamma Agata’s, a friendly family run cooking school at the edge of Ravello, with huge gardens and huge smiles. Mamma Agata started her career as a teenager and cooked for Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire at the wealthy house she was employed at. Jacqueline Kennedy also enjoyed her simple, traditional dishes made with local ingredients that grow sweet and flavourful under the Italian sun.

 

We picked up some great cooking tips for authentic Italian dishes but it was the experience of joining the family for an afternoon that made it so wonderful. We didn’t want to impose so we left Tikka to rest at our AirBnb, but we were quickly scolded upon arrival for leaving her behind and yet again we were reminded about how dogs are welcomed with open arms in Italy. Probably not a bad thing that Tikka skipped the cooking class as I sense she would have been stuffed silly with all sorts of goodies from the kitchen.

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Piazza Centrale and Duomo Ravello

If you are thinking of a trip to Italy with your dog, you won’t go wrong with planning a relaxing stay in Ravello. For more information, this is a good link for exploring the town and attractions. Also have a look at the video below from the Ravello Festival, showcasing the surroundings for their annual music festival. When you go, raise a glass of Limoncello in honour of all the wanderlust dogs that keep us company on our travels 🙂

 

Read more about our travels around Italy with our dog Tikka on our Travel Page

Dog Friendly Travel