LUPO GOES TO EUROPE
My long-haired German Shepard Lupo is famous for being the Castle winery dog. Whenever I am at the Castle, Lupo, my best friend, is there at my side. He has become popular and well known to our customers. He has even become somewhat famous gracing the cover or interior of several winery dog books. And yes, his name means ‘wolf’ in Italian.
As I ease into semi-retirement, I travel to Italy for more prolonged periods to stay at my monastery, now finally refurbished after 3 years and 6 months of restoration. For years I had made promises to myself to bring Lupo to Europe with me, as he and I suffer greatly when we are apart for extended periods. For weeks after I would depart he would go to the Castle searching for me, hanging out at my car, not eating---hoping I would arrive. Hearing this always saddened me.
This past April, I decided to go to Europe for 12 weeks. I just had to bring Lupo irrespective of cost or trouble. It wasn’t easy. Many airlines didn’t want dogs at all. Others would only take smaller dogs. Lupo weighs 122 pounds. Other airlines that would take a large dog didn’t fly where I wanted to go. I kept hearing no at every turn. Finally, I found an agency that could do it for about $4,000. As a last resort I was willing to pay the money, but I kept researching until a godsend happened. That godsend was LUFTHANSA. They agreed to take him and even walk and water him in Frankfurt, the stopover. And the cost was only $400 each way plus the cage. Not only does Lufthansa give great service to passengers, they really treat animals well.
But still I wasn’t sure. Friends said 11 year old Lupo might die on the long, 15 hour flight and layover. Others said he would suffer greatly, and I shouldn’t do it. Then there was all the paperwork with the vet, the state of California, the vaccinations, etc. But the vet assured me it could be done safely. And since Lupo sleeps most of the time anyway, could lie down, stand up and turn around in his cage (also equipped with lots of water) I decided to do it. I wish I could lie down on a flight.
I had to fly to Rome instead of my usual destination, Florence, as a bigger plane was needed, but it worked. Upon disembarking in Rome, I nervously looked for Lupo. As soon as he saw me he howled with delight. I promptly let him out of his cage, and he did an extraordinary thing. He christened Leonardo Di Vinci Airport by pooping in 5 different spots on the polished marble floors – which I had to clean up, but Lupo was healthy and happy, and we happily drove off to the monastery.
In Europe, I took Lupo everywhere with me, traveling through much of Italy, Germany and Austria. We hung out together every day, and he slept near me at night. I used to allow him to sleep in bed with me sometimes when he was younger and smaller. He was allowed into all restaurants and hotels with me. Nobody refused him. He was even offered meat and bones at restaurants. Europeans have a different mentality about animals. He was a good---and pampered---watchdog at the monastery as well.
Lupo and I had a great time together. He is one of the most well traveled dogs I know. I do wish he had studied Italian harder to communicate with that country’s dogs better. And thankfully he didn’t soil the San Francisco airport on our return, probably out of respect for American soil. I vow now that every time I go to Europe for a month or more my best friend Lupo will be with me.