Day to Day Experiences with Ethan the Service Dog in Europe

As I’ve detailed elsewhere, we travelled with Ethan, Oliver’s service dog, to Europe over the last two weeks.

In general life-with-Ethan-in-Europe was quite similar to life-with-Ethan-in-Canada. Here are a few notes about our experiences:

  • We travelled in both Germany (Düsseldorf) and the eastern Netherlands, staying in a VW camper.
  • DRM, the camper rental operation, had no issue with Ethan, simply asking us to pay particular attention to the before-return-cleaning, which we did.
  • Every campground we stayed at welcomed Ethan without hesitation (most of the campgrounds allowed dogs in general, as long as they were kept on a leash).
  • One restaurant, a sushi place in Düsseldorf, refused to let us bring Ethan inside, despite our explanation that he was a dog guide. They did let us eat outside on the patio, after a 20 minute wait for a table to open up.
  • Every other restaurant had no issue with Ethan at all; indeed most restaurants supplied us with bowl of water for Ethan without us even asking.
  • Several shops – a grocery store, a national park gift shop and a few others – told us that dogs weren’t allowed before realizing that Ethan was a service dog. After explaining this to them – Service-Hund in German and geleidehond were the keywords that we used to good end – our interogators were universally apologetic and allowed Ethan to stay with us.

One of the unfortunate ironies of traveling with a service dog is that the stress of needing to worry about whether or not the dog will be allowed where we want to go mitigated some of the very stress-reduction that Ethan’s presence injects into our day to day life; fortunately, as the trip wore on and we got used to the situation this stress withered away, and by the end of the trip we were pretty confident that we’d be able to handle almost any situation.