Already last autumn we decided to go the World dog show in Portugal. There were lots and lots of preparations since everything had to work out nicely with the travels, the hotel and, not to forget, the entries to the show. We took some time and wondered about which dogs and how many we would bring with us. The last question wasn’t difficult to answer if we were going we would bring all the dogs we could show! Håkan, our Finnish boy, we hadn’t even seen when we decided to bring him with us. At the end of October we began to phone several airline companies, to find a company that could take us to Porto with 4 dogs in the cabin. Our choice was the Portuguese airline TAP. Naturally we got a comment from one of our friends that travels a lot, she said: “Do you know that TAP stands for Take Another Plane!”
When we told our close friends Göran and Ulla about our plans regarding the World dog show they also decided that they wanted to go, without dogs though. And it’s true, the more the merrier!
Abroad they have different dates regarding payments of entering fees. The closer to the show, the more expensive it gets. To get it as cheap as possible, we paid the entry fees in January and we entered four dogs to the show. The organisation abroad is far way from the standard we are used to in Sweden, there were several faults in the entries when we got them back. The dogs were entered in wrong classes and two of them had even changed sexes! Anyway, after several phone calls and fax messages, everything was correct. We planned to stay for a few days in Porto because we wanted to have a closer look at the town. Therefore we needed a hotel which was placed in the centre of the city.
We had some trouble finding a hotel because first of all we had four dogs with us and secondly most people couldn’t speak a word of English. After a while we got hold of a nice small hotel that was supposed to be placed near the centre of the city and yet cheap. The planning for the travel was going on the whole time and one-day Catarina came up with the idea that we should bring a trolley to have the dogs in. After we had laughed for a while, we began to see that it wasn’t a stupid idea at all. We understood that it would be quite warm in Portugal and the dogs would not be able to walk so much, and we didn’t want to stay at our hotel the whole time. When we had accepted the idea it was time to find a trolley and that’s not the easiest thing in the world. We finally found a good trolley in the paper for the cost of 200 Swedish crowns, but we also needed a parasol so we bought that too. It cost almost as much as the trolley – but it was well worth it! The weeks went by and finally the day came when we went across the bridge to Kastrup airport for continuing travel south. On the way to the terminal we placed the dogs in the trolley and there was many people that got a good laugh already in Denmark. At the check-in the dogs had to leave the trolley and instead be placed in special aeroplane bags, exclusively bought for this occasion, in which they had to stay until we had arrived in Porto. The dogs managed the trip splendidly, even though it was only Håkan that had went by aeroplane before. When we arrived in Porto we were happy to see that all luggage had reached our destination even our trolley!
It was in the middle of the night and at this time we had to find both a taxi and our hotel. I don’t know if the taxi drivers had ever seen a trolley full of dogs before, because they seemed a bit confused. When we put our luggage in the car, they only stood beside us and stared. The driver couldn’t speak English but when we reached the centre of Porto we understood each other OK! The driver stopped in the middle of the centre of Porto and pointed to our hotel, we got quite long faces when we saw it. We had made reservations at a hotel close to the centre of the city, but we didn’t believe it would be in the absolute centre. Our next thought was of course – How much will this cost?? It has to be cheap!
We had a good night sleep and a wonderful breakfast and after that it was time to take a look at the city. The dogs walked for a while, but they were soon tired and wanted to be in the trolley, which now had a Swedish flag on the side. People were crazy wherever we went. Everybody, old as well as young people, wanted to look and pat the dogs. The dogs fascinated everybody. I do believe they had never seen such white dogs before. Everybody we met were happy and friendly and wherever we went people just had to pat, record or photograph our dogs. Dogs as well as the trolley made a tremendous success!
The city of Porto was a tough city to walk in. It was ups and downs all the time and the pavements were narrow and tall. There weren’t many outdoor cafes but the ones we found, we visited of course. Göran made his own kind of mathemathics and was thrilled of the fact that beer was so ”incredible cheap”. It didn’t cost more than 1,50 Swedish crowns!! Well, this wasn’t completely true. The beer cost 15 Swedish crowns, but that is cheap too!
When we sat and enjoyed ourselves at a café, we saw a well-known face in the crowd. Oh yes, it was one of our friends from Sweden, Vera from Helsingborg (French bulldog breeder). It’s indeed a small world. The funny part was that just before we met Vera we had talked about “think if meet this or that person”. The weather in Porto was pleasant for the dogs. The temperature was about 18-20 degrees Celsius. We were very happy that the heat wave, which had been in Porto earlier, had passed before our arrival. The temperature had been around 38 degrees Celsius during this period. Phuu! When it was time for dinner, we had to find a restaurant that both accepted five tourists and four dogs in a trolley. Suprisingly some turned us down, saying that they could accept two, but not four dogs. A somewhat suprisingly attitude. Two or four dogs, what’s the difference? Well, we found some very nice restaurants with very good food, so we were more than satisfied. While we were eating the trolley was parked at the end of the table. It happened more than once that the waiter placed a menu in front of the dogs so they also could read what was served. It’s possible that our dogs are better in reading Portuguese than Swedish!
And then the day had come – Sunday, the day for the show. And now one very nervous. A quarter to eight we left the hotel with our dogs. Ulla and Göran wanted to have some breakfast first and would then join us at the show. When we left for the show we saw a lot of policemen out in the street and there were also a lot of fences. Well, we didn’t think so much about it, but Ulla and Göran would soon find out why. The trip to the show went well, and the driver drove us all the way to the front door. It was only to walk straight through because there was no veterinary check. – No, sir! Since we were quite early we had time to prepare the dogs and to try to calm the nerves. Easier said than done! Bichon frisé was the first breed to be judged in the ring and that was fine with us – because then it would soon be over! The judging was going to start at 10 o’clock and a couple of minutes before that, Ulla and Göran appears, both very upset.
It was shown that the entire centre of Porto had been closed down at 8 o’clock, no traffic was allowed. Due to the fact that this was Portugal’s national day! Ulla and Göran had to walk for almost an hour before they got hold of a taxi. They arrived at the show just in time for the judgingÉ We were very happy that we left the hotel a quarter to eight I would have got a “nervous breakdown” if we hadn’t made it to the show in time!
We had a wonderful day in the ring and were thrilled about our dogs’ placements. The girls, Myrra and Berit, became second in their classes while Rasmus became Portuguese champion and World Winner 2001. Håkan became Junior World Winner 2001 and BOS! It felt incredible and we had a hard time to understand what had happened.
Now it was a great to have the trolley; we just collected our things and put them and the dogs in the trolley. Voilà – now we could explore the rest of the show ground!!
We were going to participate in two of the afternoon’s finals; brace and breeder’s class. Since we have been abroad before and knew how it can be at different shows we asked not once, not twice, not even three times – no we asked four times which time the prejudging would start. The answer was “Just before three o’clock”. Convinced that this was the truth we went to see the rest of the show ground. You can’t imagine how wonderful it was to find a quiet place and a chair to sit on. We felt as balloons that had lost all the air.
About a quarter to three we went to the honorary ring and prepared our brace class and then off to the prejudging ring. There we were stopped by the stewards and were told that the judge had left and the prejudging was finished and that we were too late to be able to compete! I can’t believe itÉ Now we were furious we had asked several times at the show office and got the same answer every time ”Just before three o’clock” and now we were not allowed to compete! It didn’t matter what we said; the stewards didn’t change their mind.
We couldn’t do anything but to walk away, not silent I might add.
We gathered our dogs for the breeders ‘class so we wouldn’t miss that, and then once again went to the prejudging ring. One can understand that we became quite surprised when they pulled Stefan into the ring with the brace class! They were allowed to compete!
The brace went superb and became Best in Show 2nd among almost 20.
Next class was breeder’s class and here it also was many participants. Stefan walked in the middle and drilled us: ”1-2, 1-2, 1-2 down show the dogs smile! Up 1-2, 1-2, turn, 1-2 down show the dogs smile!!” But we got paid for the job! Our breeder’s group was placed as 2nd Best in Show! I must say that this was one of the largest things I have experienced the feeling was undescribable. Joy that the judge liked our dogs and happiness because we got to share this moment together Stefan, mom and I.
When we returned to our hotel the dogs and we just lay on the beds and relaxed for a while enjoying the day. But one can not relax for too long and soon we were all on our way to have dinner. It was a wonderful evening and suddenly the entire centre of Porto was filled with people, young as well as old. The cars drove around and honked their horns. It was a huge party for everyone and it was quite noisy.
We told each other: ”It is incredible that the entire city of Porto is celebrating us!” Well, that was not the case. The thing that had happened was that the city’s soccer team had won the national cup! We can assure you that the Portuguese people really know how to party – it kept on most of the night. The day after the show was a nice and quite day. It was wonderful just to walk around and sightseeing, sit at a café and take a beer or two. This was a day just to enjoy life.
Our plane was leaving early next morning and it was almost in the middle of the night when we left our hotel and went to the airport. We had no troubles to get our trolley and dogs with us this time either. But we did meet a couple of more or less hysteric Americans and Mexicans which despite they had made reservations (and in some cases even paid for it) were not allowed to bring their dogs with them! What a nightmare. After a while everything seemed to work out well, but yet! I don’t know what I would had done if there had been any problems with our dogs.
One thing that we have learnt is that it’s not enough to check once (or twice) when travelling with dogs!
The trip from Portugal went as well as the way down, and now the dogs were used to flying because they had already made the trip once!