Visiting Florence with your Dog- Part1 | Dog Travel Italy

Ah Florence!

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I’m on vacation!

Our first city adventure with Tikka in Italy finally arrived as we rolled into this beautiful Tuscan city late in the afternoon on a warm September Day. Tikka, passed out in the back of the car, was again of no help with navigation so we found ourselves doing a few loops around the old city before zoning in on the exact street that took us to our hotel. Confession: we did have an ‘oh, crap… we are going down a one way street the wrong way’ moment. Glad we got that out of the way early on in our vacation, we knew we’d do it at least once!

After a quick check in at the hotel, we unloaded our bags and we were off with Tikka by our side to get our bearings before the sun went down. Florence is everything people write about in poetry, paint in pictures and sing songs about. Gorgeous, inspiring and welcoming… even for dogs.

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View of the Arno River and Oltrarno district at Sunset

Our first night took us down to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) for a fantastic view of the setting sun. With it being our first night around any major tourist attractions, we were surprised at just how crowded the streets were for late September. Quick note to selves that our city walks would be best early in the day to beat the masses and this plan paid off our entire trip. By going out early we not only had the city and views to ourselves we also saw the buildings and landscapes in the fresh warm glow of sunrise.

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Look closely to find Tikka and her Dad on Ponte Vecchio

And that’s just what we did on our first morning. Up at 7am to walk Tikka across the Arno River and climbed the stairs to Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) for the view of all views over Florence. Tikka enjoyed the early 45 min blood pumping walk after all the driving the day before and seemingly enjoyed the panoramic view as much as we did.

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This is what early mornings are all about, just look at that view!

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Sunrise at Piazzale Michelangelo

On the walk back we made a typical Italian breakfast stop at the bottom of the hill, close to the river at Cafe Rifrullo. We could get used to this! Fresh flaky pastries and top notch espresso to get our day going, all while our dog could have a quick nap beside us. The best part was watching all the locals with their dogs come and go – clearly Italian baristas are the bartenders of the morning, getting to know their regulars with quick chats as they came and went.

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Our favourite little dog friendly cafe in Florence

We made our way back through the Florentine streets to our hotel, stopping along the way to wonder at the numerous statues at Loggia dei Lanzi and the elaborate designs of the Florence Duomo. Crowds were still light so navigating the streets was easy with Tikka on the end of the leash.

After chilling for a few hours in our room we ventured out again for a meal at Fishing Lab Alle Murate with Tikka under our table. Yum! Highly recommend the Sea Bream and Tuna appetizers..Incredible!


Late afternoon and a lot of walking later, we decided to leave Tikka at the hotel and walk up the 400+ steps of the Palazzo Vecchio to take in the vista and explore the battlements and prison cells of the tower. Arriving late in the day there was zero line up and the light was beautiful over the rooftops. This was one type of place where dogs weren’t allowed, a lot of museums won’t let dogs in. She wasn’t complaining…all the walking and new sights, sounds and smells left her completely crashed out in the room.


Let’s get climbing



View from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio

We finished out our busy day with an amazing dinner at a little restaurant called Trattoria Sostanza. We made a reservation ahead of time and let them know a dog would be in tow which was no problem. When we arrived, they couldn’t have been more accommodating or dog friendly. We were at a table where she could lay out of the way of any waiter’s feet and there was already a full water bowl ready for our arrival. It was just an introduction to how dog friendly the rest of our trip was going to be! 

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Read the second part of our visit to Florence with our dog where we visit parks, explore Oltrarno and check out the Mercato Centrale.

This post is part of the Vandoggo series of traveling around Italy with your dog.




Packing List for the Dog Gear | Pet Travel

We are counting down the days to our Italian adventure and the lists are well underway. Although it’s a multi week vacation, packing for Tikka isn’t extending too much past our regular planning for a weekend trip. The Transport of Animals paperwork is the biggest addition (I’ll write about this in an upcoming post) and there is also a muzzle and a pee pad going in the bag. Biggest decision is which toys get to come along…!

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Tikka in her Sturdi Bag getting ready for her Italy trip.


This is first on the list as all the careful packing in the world won’t matter if you are turned away from the border with forgotten papers. Along with our passports, Tikka’s paperwork will be in our personal carry on, in duplicate. Read more in this separate post about the paperwork for taking your dog from Canada to Europe.


Tikka just fits into the requirements for in-cabin travel and our Sturdi Bag has been our go to carrier. For this trip we are flying with Lufthansa and if she lays off the extra treats she and her carrier will meet the 18lb limit. We use a Large Sturdi carrier and what’s great about this brand is the structure is flexible so the roof will conform to being under the seat without an issue whilst still leaving Tikka plenty of room. And when she is not under the seat, it pops back up to it’s original form.

Crate for Hotels

Although Italy seems more relaxed for dogs not being crated while in their rooms alone, we’ll still bring along one of Tikka’s soft kennels as she likes having her own ‘den’ to hang out in. We have a collapsible soft sided crate that goes up in seconds and fits in the bottom of our bigger suitcase (but takes up a lot of room) and we also have a Sturdi tent. The tent rolls up much as a smaller camping tent does and goes up with two fold-able rods. The floor space is bigger with the tent, so if we need to zip her into it we can put food and water in the corner. Needless to say we will be keeping the amount of time Tikka spends alone in the hotel rooms to a minimum as most of the time she will be touring the sites and eating pasta with us.


We will be bringing a couple of toys with us as it’s always nice to bring friends along on the trip when your family is driving you crazy. It’s tempting to go overboard but we are limiting to two small stuffies – one with a squeaker and one without. When we are at the airport we usually find a corner away from the crowds so that Tikka can be out of her carrier before the flight and I’m sure the travellers around us appreciate not hearing the repeated squeak of the dog toy. We will also pack a couple of balls for romps in the park  – having an extra with us in case one goes missing.


Moosey, pack your bags!


Poop Bags

Bought a new multipack so that we can put a roll in different places and never be caught without one. In the carrier, suitcase, rental car…


Along with packing a spare in case one somehow goes missing, we always put a short leash with no metal on it in the carrier bag. That way when we go through security we won’t get hauled off to another room for a further exploration.

Collapsible Bowl

Love these bowls – they flatten down to a disk and then pop open when you need it for water on the plane. Because it’s flat it neatly stores in the small pouch on the side of the carrier.


We are going to spend time at the beach after all! If space in our luggage was a huge concern I may pick up a towel in Italy, but we have a fantastic super absorbent towel that is perfect for a wet dog or muddy feet and there is room to bring it.

Pee Pad

To date, all of our air trips have been under 6 hours so Tikka needing to pee mid journey has never come up. We’ll pack a couple pads just in case as she was trained on them very early on as a pup, so she’ll have an opportunity in the airplane bathroom if she wants to go. I suspect she’s going to try and hold it, which would be 12 hours from grass to grass at each airport. Poop wise, we feed the night before the journey and then there are just small treats on the day of travel. This keeps the stomach settled and less chance of a desperate ‘I have to go poop now’!

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The ever evolving packing list


A new item on our list and new to Tikka is a muzzle. Italy requires muzzles for all dogs travelling on transit – It does seem a bit relaxed for small dogs, but she hasn’t fussed with having it on and I’d rather follow the rules so that countries will stay open to having dogs live openly among us 🙂


Just wait until you see this! Although Italy is incredibly dog friendly, we did pick up a backpack that you can rest your dog in for some of the areas that need you to hold your dog. Also perfect for a short jaunt on a Vespa to visit a local winery.  I can’t wait to get some pics of Tikka and share with you how we liked using it.

Treats and Food

Due to most country’s regulations, meat and food products can be problematic to bring in, so to avoid any hassle we decided to leave these behind. A couple dry treat crumbs may be found at the very bottom of my pocket, for a little reward getting in an out of the carrier in security…

I think we thought of everything but I’m sure we’ll pickup anything we leave behind.


Have Dog, Will Travel! | Pet Travel

Time for a change of scenery whilst bringing all the comforts of home along for the journey. Tikka brings so much comfort to me and my husband, always next to us no matter what kind of day we are having, ready to snuggle up to us with all her fluffy love. So of course she needs to come with us on our next big trip so that she can check out the scenery right along side of us!

Although Tikka is a seasoned traveler, navigating through airports and snoozing in different hotels, all of her travels have been in Canada and the US and only a few days at a time as they always centered around work trips. Finally, an opportunity for a proper 3 week vacation…now how the heck do we choose where to go and where is dog friendly? How long can Tikka fly for? How easy is the paperwork? And so the trip vetting process began.

After researching all of the above and narrowing down choices, a destination started to pull away from the pack. It became hard to dismiss it while scrolling through numerous websites and blogs about dog travel. The country sat right in front of us,  begging from its back legs and spinning like a circus poodle. How could we resist?


Italy it is!

First on our checklist was ‘had to be dog friendly’. Wow! Does Italy have this covered. Dogs in and outside of restaurants, in cafes and all around town squares – The Italians have actually figured out that you won’t die if you eat outside of your own house with your dog laying down next to you.

Checking out hotels and AirBnB was amazing. When you filter for ‘pet friendly’ only a small percentage of properties would drop out of the search. So many options in all ranges from rustic to luxury. Stores are also welcoming and we’ve read about dogs being spoiled at the local markets with the purveyors fussing and giving treats to happy wagging tails.

Transport looks fantastic – dogs on trains and buses and water taxis in Venice. Bringing Tikka along for all our adventures won’t be slowed down if we have to jump on local transit.

And then the deal was sealed when we found out about the beaches that cater to our four legged friends… beach chairs and umbrella rentals in huge off leash areas along the blue Mediterranean sea while someone walks up and down the sand selling gelato for dogs.

All sounds like doggy heaven and we can hardly wait, and we’re looking forward to having everyone follow along our trip with us! Ciao!

Tikka Vandoggo Vancouver Dog vintage suitcases






Canal to Chalet in Montreal | Dog Travel Canada

We recently took a quick trip to Montreal for the Just For Laughs comedy festival and our furry sidekick came along for some urban exploring. What is so great about traveling with a dog is how it opens up planning decisions on what to do with your day. Instead of driving to points of interest we put on our shoes, clip on the leash  and get walking.

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Lachine Canal, Montreal

After landing on Friday afternoon we launched google maps and planned our route to Griffintown. Destination: a dog friendly brewery  west of the Old Port that we found online through a Montreal Blog. The walk over took us along the Lachine Canal which has a nice wide path for people and bikes. Perfect for a leisurely dog sniffing stroll from tree to tree with no cars to worry about.

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Pathway along the canal

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After our 30 min walk in the sun we were ready for a cold craft beer and some grub, so we settled into the dog friendly patio at Brasseur de Montreal. Unashamed tourists that we were, we jumped on the poutine and steak frites. Staff were incredibly friendly and brought over a water bowl for Tikka and she made the place her own.

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Patio at Brasseur de Montreal. Time for a beer, rest our paws and charge our phones.

We could have stayed for hours, relaxing in the sun but we had to get back to go out for an evening of comedy. The Just For Laughs festival takes over the city, showcasing the art of comedy and there is something for everyone. It was a late night, but next morning instead of sleeping in we went on a 3 hour urban hike. Destination: Place to purchase and eat a croissant.

Urban Forest

Urban Forest Art Installation

First thing Saturday we struck out from our downtown hotel and headed towards Mont-Royal. Our chosen path took us through the downtown streets, through an Urban Forest by McGill University and landed us in a cool dog park called Percy-Walters at the bottom of the hill. After a brief off leash romp and chatting with some locals we headed to Rue Peel to start our climb up to the chalet and lookout.

What’s neat about this park is you can take a gut busting direct route with the stairs or choose winding path that slowly works it’s way up the side of the hill. Guess from the picture and my breathing which one we did…

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Masters of the stairs

So great to see everyone enjoying the city park  – young and old, locals and tourists, dogged and dogless – they all come out on a Saturday morning to battle up the hill. For the less in shape (*cough) just take your time and you will soon be rewarded with a break in the trees and the following view.

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View from Mont Royal lookout

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Chalet at the top of the stairs, Mont Royal, Montreal.

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Looking good at the Lookout!

Took some pics, enjoyed the vista and then we were off for part two of our morning trek. A mini adventure unfolded as we worked our way over the top of Mont Royal and then finding a path to work our way through the woods, hoping we were coming out on the right side and the right road. It took a while tromping through the trees on the spiderweb of trails but we got there!

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So many pathways and trails in Parc Mont Royal

Now in the home stretch we were just 15 min from our flaky breakfast at Fous Desserts. A croissant,  pain au Chocolat, and a couple of teas in hand we walked over one block to Parc Sir Wilfrid Laurier and watched Tikka eyeing the squirrels while we ate our breakfast on a bench. It felt good to rest our paws and take in the local activity from our corner of the park. Time didn’t allow for a walk back so we jumped in a Uber car that was more than happy to have our dog come along.

Thanks Montreal for a wonderful trip and the hike within a city!



Copper Toned Basil | Dog Photography

I recently had a scrumptious morning romp with Tikka and her new friend Basil at the Derby Reach park in Langely, BC. I’ve been looking for opportunities to get my camera pointed at something other than black fur and Basil was up for the job! This guy found a wonderful home with Kristy and it was a pleasure spending the morning with them both.

Basil in the Fraser River

Basil in the Fraser River

Basil at Derby Reach Park

A healthy romp through the high grass

Basil running along the Fraser River

Serious case of the Zoomies

Kinda loving this last picture – Basil mid way through a round of wave chasing. Half of the dog park visit was spent running up and down the river chasing the mini waves coming in from the boats heading out for the day.