It seems that I have blogged quite a bit about dogs, here at The German Way Expat Blog (There’s a Dog in the Pub, Moving with Max). The reason for this is because my evolution as an expat in German-speaking Europe, has coincided with my evolution as a dog owner. This is no surprise of course, seeing as how Germany is about as dog friendly a country as you will ever find. But as I have learned, due to very comprehensive federal policies, and thus high cultural standards regarding pets, being a pet owner in German-speaking Europe comes with more responsibility than many North American (or other) expats may be used to. As with all other rules, regulations, and cultural norms, it’s important to make yourself aware of the “German way” (or Swiss or Austrian), if you plan to partake in the world of expat pet ownership.
Posts tagged dogs
I pissed off a German today. Such an occurrence is not uncommon. Whether it’s my barking dog, my driving skills, or how I maintain my yard, it seems that on a regular basis I am being told that I’m doing something wrong. In a blog post from years ago (“There’s a dog in the pub!”), which detailed my first experience with the notoriously direct Germans, I told the story of being confronted by a neighbor for doing something he didn’t like, and ending up in tears. At that time, I had only been in Germany for a couple months, and being from Canada, a nation known as the nice guys that say sorry for everything, being confronted in such a way was not only shocking, but very upsetting. Now, over five years later, I have since grown the thick skin and the understanding necessary for dealing with the authoritative German people, without the tears. But, though being scorned may not affect me as personally anymore, I must admit that learning to essentially tell people to (politely) “screw off”, has not been easy.
Today I’m continuing my list of expat likes (the good), dislikes (the bad) and major gripes (the ugly) – all related to living in Germany. In Part 1 I began with “the bad,” but my “good” list has turned out to be even longer! So long in fact, that I need to split my “good” list in two. You can read the second half of the list in my next installment.
To reiterate: Germany is no more monolithic than the USA. Conservative Munich is not really anything like free-wheeling Berlin. But I have tried to list things that generally apply, and note those things that may be more regional in nature. Everyone’s good and bad list will be unique, but there are many cultural things that all expats in Germany can relate to. And, as I pointed out in my first section, I could make a similar list for life in the US. In fact, this German list is also a commentary in reverse on life in the US.
If you want a more neutral comparison of US and German culture, see our six German Way cultural comparison charts, starting with Driving.
My list is not prioritized! Since my “good” list has now grown to over 20 items, it would be even more difficult to rank them. For that reason, items in the list are not numbered. Okay, here we go, this time with the good… READ MORE »
When imagining Switzerland, most people might picture snow-covered mountains, rolling green pastures, cows, cheese, dairy-maids, and ginger-bread looking houses. Now while many may assume that these are just stereotypes, I can assure you they are not. Of course, the country has far more to offer with large modern, international cities, including Zurich, Genève, and Bern: some of the top-rated for quality of life, in the world. However, the Swiss people also pride themselves in keeping their majestic landscape and cute culture just as it has been for hundreds of years. And one of the very best ways to experience the stunning surroundings is with your own two feet. Venture atop stony cliffs or along the blue water’s edge; romp around in a soft sheep pasture or amongst row upon row of grape vines. Switzerland’s numerous and well-marked hiking paths, or Wanderwegs, extend to every nook of the country and assure you safe, challenging, and of course incredibly beautiful experiences.
Pets are becoming more and more a part of the family. They live in our homes, sleep in our beds, and the lucky ones even join us on vacations. So when considering relocation to another country many pet owners would never dream of leaving their furry family members behind. Thankfully for us pet-people, German-speaking countries welcome pets, especially dogs. While moving with your pet to Austria, Germany, or Switzerland may be far less complicated than say to the UK where quarantine rules apply, these countries do require three very important things: a valid rabies vaccination with proof, an identifying microchip, and some additional paperwork. Switzerland, Austria and Germany currently require the standard EU veterinary certificate, formally called Form 988, which your North American vet will likely be familiar with and may have copies available in their office. There is a fee to have this form filled out. In the past this form has required an endorsement stamp from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or The United States Drug Administration. Currently the form only asks for your vet’s stamp. Be sure to check each time you are to travel as I have found these requirements change time to time. Form 988 can be ordered online or downloaded through various websites, for example:
Kaiserswerth, Germany, a small village just outside of Düsseldorf, is a dog haven. There are vast green farmers’ fields for miles, very little traffic, and the shore of the Rhine offers many interesting things to smell and discover. Dogs in Kaiserswerth are always off-leash. They never bark. They greet each other so politely you expect them to shake paws. They sit silently under tables in restaurants and cafes, and stand calmly as children pat them. They even wait at pedestrian lights as dutifully as the Germans themselves.
Enter my seven-year-old cocker spaniel, the former stray, Tess. Tess really doesn’t like other dogs. Tess barked at kids. Tess never sat still.
I first moved to Kaiserswerth in 2007 with my then very-new-boyfriend, and my dog. On one of my first outings in this new land I was floored at the sight of a golden retriever lying ever so comfortably under a table at a neighbourhood pub. READ MORE »
The big day had come. We were nervous. My wife was busy cleaning. The house was spotless, which is certainly not normal for us. Cleaning was something that we both hate doing. We had all the windows open to air out the place, even though it was only about 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside.
Frau X was sitting at our kitchen table. She was wearing a black sweater and faux pearl necklace to go along with her black rimmed glasses. Her perfume wafted through the kitchen. A big folder of papers sat in front of her, not unlike that big book that often sits in front of a preacher during a sermon. Our file was in that stack somewhere.
She was about 5’6, of slight build, dark hair, black plastic rimmed glasses. She spoke English pretty well but spoke German to me as a matter of principle. The only visible clue about her visit to our home were the papers she was clutching. Otherwise she could have been any visitor. We’ll call her Frau X.