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Traveling the Camino de Santiago with a service dog

givney42

New Member
I am planning my trek for 2010 and use a service dog for a medical condition. I would need to bring him with me but am having a hard time locating anything on the internet as to what the rules and regulations are as to service animals in France and Spain, mainly as to accomodations and such.

If anyone knows or has heard of anything about this please post a reply. I've tried the ONCE group in Spain but their info is only for vision impairment and guide dogs, not medical alert or other types of service pups.

Thank you in advance.
:)
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Unfortunately, dogs are not that welcome in Spain whether it be on public transport, hotels, or pilgrim refuges. You might find that they are more welcome in the hotels in France but not in the Gites or hostels. I saw a few pilgrims last month walking with their dog/dogs and most had camping equipment so that they could sleep out.
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
I can only offer sympathy but no help. Sil already said the essence. Animals and pilgrimage don't really match, also because the official health regulations may change quickly in case of outbreaks of diseases. You need a lot of luck too! Try to find as much pilgrims with dogs as you can; here's one of my fellow dog lovers: http://home.kabelfoon.nl/~buc/start.html
Good luck!
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Au contraire.
Trained and certified service dogs that are kept harnessed alongside their handlers are most welcome in Spain, on trains, buses, in restaurants, albergues, and in all public places. I´ve been hospitalera in albergues where guide and service dogs were made comfortable as possible, alongside their owners. They´ve never caused problems, and I´ve never seen them turned away from anywhere.

Reb.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
From AngloInfo:

Moving Pets to Spain from the United States or Canada
Animals from the USA and Canada may enter Spain if they have:
* a valid Veterinary Certificate (stating owners details, a description of the animal, details of identification and vaccinations)
* valid rabies vaccines
* a tattoo or a microchip (compatible with standards ISO-11784)
The cage or carrier must be labelled with the owners name, and their (or a nominated person's) address and contact numbers in Spain.
Once in Spain, a Spanish vet can issue an EU Pet Passport allowing travel within Europe.

Travelling with Guide Dogs
Guide dogs for the blind entering Spain must adhere to the same requirements as other domestic pets above.
Once in Spain the service dog has free access to all public buildings and may travel unrestricted on all public transport. The dog should be registered and licensed with the Spanish National Organization of the Blind (Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España, ONCE).
* ONCE Website (in English)
* AEPA, Associación Español de Perros de Assistencia, The Spanish association for assistance dogs.
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
I don't know where you are writing from. It might be worth emailing Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in the UK:

http://www.hearingdogs.org.uk/index.php

they may have links with Spain, but should have experience of people going on holiday from Spain to the UK.

European law should make a clear distinction between official service dogs and pets (eg "no animals admitted except guide dogs" notices) but I have no idea whether this is enforced in Spain

Andy
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
I think that most albergues would be sympathetic but a lot can be lost in translation if you don´t speak Spanish. It may be best to take a note in Spanish explaining the situation.

Three pilgrims arrived in Santiago with dogs today funnily enough, each reporting the difficulties of finding accommodation.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Rebekah Scott said:
Au contraire.
Trained and certified service dogs that are kept harnessed alongside their handlers are most welcome in Spain, on trains, buses, in restaurants, albergues, and in all public places. I´ve been hospitalera in albergues where guide and service dogs were made comfortable as possible, alongside their owners. They´ve never caused problems, and I´ve never seen them turned away from anywhere.

Reb.

Nice positive info Reb -

Givney, perhaps were you to have a laminated sign attached to the harness in Spanish and also one in French .. would make it easier when you enter buildings ... unless you speak Spanish and French?
 

givney42

New Member
Thanks for all the info. My dog is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and can fit under a standard airplane seat when needed. He may be big, but does compact well.

For those who have seen other walking the trail w/dogs, or have walked with their own what kind of miles were the dogs able to cover. My pup is in very good shape, but don't want to push him too hard. I know us humans can walk more farther than dogs. but don't want to blister his paws.
I'm thinking of bringing the tent to camp much of the route. Thankfully it is ultralight, along w/sleepbag is at 6lbs total. But am a little worried about camping as a single female w/my dog.

Kim
 

philipc67

New Member
I don't think you should bring your dog on the Camino.
Apart from the practical difficulties re being admitted to hostels and albergues, the simple fact is that your dog will be walking alongside you in a foreign terrain, entering the territories of the local country sheepdogs, village dogs, guard dogs etc, causing it fear, stress, and possible confrontation. Also, will it be able to walk your distances on foot? What about the animal's exhaustion/paw blisters/food and drink?
I suggest you think again as I am sure you must care a lot about the animal's welfare. If you cannot go without the dog or cannot leave it behind in someone else's care, perhaps you shouldn't go.
Anyone with dog experiences on the Camino?
Ivar, do you have any advice?
 

Telluridewalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
I feel strongly that anyone, including those with handicaps, should go for it. Perhaps this could be your personal contribution to the Camino- to educate those along the way about the nature of service/assistance animals and the legal rights of those who have to rely on them.

As for your dog, I'm not a dog owner, but many people in the mountain town in which I live outfit their dogs with leather "booties" to protect their dogs' paws from sharp ice and snow- these are also popular among the dogsledding crowd- some Internet research should offer up a number of options.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Who is not in favor of rising to challenges, whether abled or disabled? The issue with a service dog is only a little bit about human hostility in albergues and restaurants. It is more about caring for the dog, and the dog's safety among the dogs of the Camino. A service dog accustomed to carpet and short walks will be challenged by the rocks, pavement, and long days. Hydration, rest, foot protection, and proper nutrition will be important for the dog's health and safety.

Spanish dogs range from yappy ankle biters to genuine farm dogs protecting livestock. Some are chained or behind fence. Some are not. I met a man walking his leashed pitbull, an unusual breed in Spain, and began to approach to ask directions. He waved me back and we had a shouted discussion. He seemed quite uncertain that he could control his dog if I got too close. A service dog might have had a very dangerous, even fatal, encounter with this animal.
 

givney42

New Member
My dog is very use to long hikes and travels. He uses booties in snow and icy conditions, and prefers bare paws when hiking gravel, rock, and other types of trails. My pup is well socialized meaning he has had many, many experiences with different things including strange dogs, strange people, including drunks, drug adicts, violent people. He carries himself very strong and will take on something he or I deem as dangerous. He's very good at protection as well as being sweet and kind to people, elderly, children, smaller dogs, and those that are not a threat.
My concern of the trip is what has other peoples experiences been with taking their dogs. I know there have been others who have walked the camino w/their dogs. what was their experience with food? etc. My pup does eat raw, so as long as I can find a butcher who is willing to grind chicken, and such I"m fine. Or can go dehydrated as I've done before on week+ long hikes.
Kim
 

philipc67

New Member
Please see my last post on the Camino Frances forum (November 5). I just finished the Camino.

Having seen a few people travel with their dogs, my belief that you should NOT bring your dog on the Camino is now very reinforced.

Spanish hotels, albergues, and restaurants are hostile to dogs.
You will have great difficulty finding accommodation, will have to sleep in a tent, and it gets cold in the mountains, even in summer.
Some stretches of the Camino, including steep rocky slippery climbs and descents and stretches along highways, are difficult and dangerous, even for the healthy and fully fit. Think paw blisters, dehydration, and exhaustion for the animal.
Getting proper food and water is difficult.
There are daily encounters with other territorial dogs, and they can turn ugly.

Please listen to my advice. Put the dog's welfare before yours. If you can leave him behind with proper care among family/friends and travel without him, do it. If you cannot travel without him, then you should NOT do the Camino. Also, as other members have pointed out, you should check the Spanish laws re SERVICE dogs compared to regular "pet" dogs.
 

Telluridewalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
philipc67 said:
Having seen a few people travel with their dogs, my belief that you should NOT bring your dog on the Camino is now very reinforced.

Phillip, please reread the title of this thread: "Traveling the Camino de Santiago with a SERVICE dog" (emphasis mine). There is a huge difference between a dog and a service dog, especially in the legal sense. I can't speak for Spanish law, but here in the US it is illegal to deny someone entry into a public place because they have a service dog with them. I imagine that it is similar in Spain. Some of the items you cite (territorial fights, blistered paws, exhaustion, dehydration) are all reality, but can be mitigated in some way or another. But how humans treat someone with a service dog is a matter of law- I wouldn't let ignorance or lax enforcement of the law (and basic human decency) dissuade someone from the Camino.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Our Cadogan guide to Northern Spain gives two sites for help with disabilities. One is the ONCE site which you already have here. The other is ECOM, based in Barcelona and a confederation of Spanish organisations offering services for disabled people. http://www.ecom.es
Hopefully they will have enough knowledge of a variety of situations etc and will be able to help/advise you.
Buen Camino to you and your dog
Tia Valeria

PS: The address, tel no and e-mail contact are at the bottom of the homepage
 

givney42

New Member
I truly appreciate those who have replied with both encouragement and caution. I've been in contact with a vet in Madrid who use to live in the US, who is willing to help with getting my dog registered in Spain. Because of the service my dog mitigates I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of sleeping in my tent's rainfly and footprint, than in the hostels. I know my journey will be slower than if I was walking alone, taking one day to walk, one day to rest but this is what will help my dog do his job. The other part being that he is an endurance dog. He's a very fit, (much more so than I) who lure courses on the weekends. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their exceptional endurance, which is what they were built for. HE is not a push over type dog.

One challenge will be food for him. He is a raw diet dog, so as long as there is a butcher and/or meat markets he is good to go.
So for others who have walked the camino have you see others camp along the way, and are there butcher's in some of the smaller towns?

Thank you all!!
Kim
 

diggs

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April - May 2016
I truly appreciate those who have replied with both encouragement and caution. I've been in contact with a vet in Madrid who use to live in the US, who is willing to help with getting my dog registered in Spain. Because of the service my dog mitigates I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of sleeping in my tent's rainfly and footprint, than in the hostels. I know my journey will be slower than if I was walking alone, taking one day to walk, one day to rest but this is what will help my dog do his job. The other part being that he is an endurance dog. He's a very fit, (much more so than I) who lure courses on the weekends. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their exceptional endurance, which is what they were built for. HE is not a push over type dog.

One challenge will be food for him. He is a raw diet dog, so as long as there is a butcher and/or meat markets he is good to go.
So for others who have walked the camino have you see others camp along the way, and are there butcher's in some of the smaller towns?

Thank you all!!
Kim
HI Kim, how did your trip go? I have a service dog (Lab) and would like to take him with me. Cheers!
 

diggs

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April - May 2016
I am planning my trek for 2010 and use a service dog for a medical condition. I would need to bring him with me but am having a hard time locating anything on the internet as to what the rules and regulations are as to service animals in France and Spain, mainly as to accomodations and such.

If anyone knows or has heard of anything about this please post a reply. I've tried the ONCE group in Spain but their info is only for vision impairment and guide dogs, not medical alert or other types of service pups.

Thank you in advance.
:)
Hello Givney, did you make your trek with your dog? I would like to hear about it. Thank you.
 

elkwoman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino June 2017
Hello Givney, did you make your trek with your dog? I would like to hear about it. Thank you.


Hi Diggs and Kim,
I too have a Service Dog and would like to walk. Have either of you actually gone on the Camino? Does anyone know about the Service Dog information? My dog is in much better shape than I am:)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
@elkwoman, neither @diggs nor @givney42 have been on the forum recently, although @diggs did visit in August this year. Depending upon how their preferences are set up, if you Start a Conversation with them by clicking on their forum name, this might send them an email to the email address they have registered on the forum. I suspect that will be more certain than waiting for them to log onto the forum and see your post here.

You might also want to use the search facility to see what other threads you can find on service dogs. This particular one is actually rather old, with no posts from early 2010 until the two before yours from @diggs last year. There have been more recent discussions on this topic. Be prepared, though - there were some pretty strident voices!!

ps welcome to the forum.
pps there is a more recent discussion started by @diggs here.
 
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diggs

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April - May 2016
Hi Diggs and Kim,
I too have a Service Dog and would like to walk. Have either of you actually gone on the Camino? Does anyone know about the Service Dog information? My dog is in much better shape than I am:)


My trip was strictly walking and carrying a pack. No rides, no skipping of sections, no forward transporting of gear to next town.

After a lot of consideration and arriving in France and seeing the temperatures in Spain, I did not take my dog. During my five weeks I did see a couple other people with large elk hound dogs while I walked, but they were staying in tents and the very few dog welcoming albergues.

Some of the input I got while planning the trip encouraged bringing the dog. "Plenty of dog food along the way." This advice came from people who many, I must assume, had not traveled with a dog. Food all along the way, not so. You might go for a few days before dog food is available. Be prepared to feed your dog people food and/or carry extra food.

I was averaging 15 miles a day for 32 days. After having experienced different terrains and temperatures, I do believe the trip would have been extremely difficult health wise and would possibly kill a lesser dog.

This maybe not what you want to hear, but in my humble opinion, bringing a dog is not a good idea if you are planning on distance walking daily. If you do plan on bringing your dog, cut the distances to reasonable and be weary of the heat which can become scorching in the afternoon. Do fatten your dog up, he will loose weight. Also be aware of the hoops you have to jump through with USDA to get your dog overseas.
1) 15 digit microchip
2) Rabies shot after chip, whether dog needs it or not
3) Health certification/exam by register vet ($170) within 10 days of travel
4) Health certification sent for verification by USDA within 10 days of travel ($50 or free for service dogs)


I hope this helps!

Buen Camino
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Excellent advice from @diggs
Please please please have the microchip (one that can be read in Europe), and make sure the contact info includes a way to find you while you are traveling (or someone responsible who can contact you), and you have the same info on the dog's collar. This past year a pilgrim had to abandon her walk, and was desperately searching spain for her lost dog--said she would not return to her home country without him. Can you imagine how terrifying for the dog to be lost in a strange place, and commands people shout at it make no sense to the poor thing because s/he doesn't understand Spanish? And what if it ends up in a shelter.
also re food and water--perhaps your dog is different, but I help my sister when she travels with her dogs to dog shows, and we lug both their usual food, and bottled water (no small thing with Mastiffs)--to avoid the GI upset that can happen when there is a big change in food or water.
 

elkwoman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino June 2017
Thank you for excellent and very helpful answers. I only feed my dog a raw meat diet. He has almost died on kibble (dog food). He eats all raw meats, plus apples, raspberries, other berries, And cooked sweet potatoes and squash when available. So it is easy to find him food.

And he is microchipped and always wears a tag with contact numbers for me, his vets, my medical information, etc.

I don't think I could fatten him up though. I've tried but he stays a slim trim standard poodle. I would be the one with mileage and heat limits. I very much doubt I could walk more than 5 miles a day myself with my both 70 year old and some artificial joints:) I can take him to the woods to run full out and he is still going and doesn't want to leave hours later when I am more than ready to go home after only walking.

Hmm, it seems I will have to reconsider if I can even do this trip.....
 

diggs

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April - May 2016
Thank you for excellent and very helpful answers. I only feed my dog a raw meat diet. He has almost died on kibble (dog food). He eats all raw meats, plus apples, raspberries, other berries, And cooked sweet potatoes and squash when available. So it is easy to find him food.

And he is microchipped and always wears a tag with contact numbers for me, his vets, my medical information, etc.

I don't think I could fatten him up though. I've tried but he stays a slim trim standard poodle. I would be the one with mileage and heat limits. I very much doubt I could walk more than 5 miles a day myself with my both 70 year old and some artificial joints:) I can take him to the woods to run full out and he is still going and doesn't want to leave hours later when I am more than ready to go home after only walking.

Hmm, it seems I will have to reconsider if I can even do this trip.....

You can do it, It will just depend on how much time you have for shorter walks. I met an 87 year old walking and a 92 year old. Both were doing fine.

Regarding the micro ship, the EU has a 15 digit chip you must use or the other option is to buy a 10 digit reader and carry it with you at all times.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
a raw diet is healthy for pets...that's what my sister and I use...but it requires a refrigerator which is not always available on the camino, so you will need to stop your walk each day in time to find a store to buy him meat for dinner, then hang around town until a store opens in the morning (or walk hungry until reaching a town with an open store). Stores where you can buy meat for the morning meal may not open until quite late in the day. Something to consider
while I still urge you to consider leaving him at home for his sake, if you take him you may look into dehydrated raw, and switching him well before the trip, and carry enough to last the journey (perhaps use a transport service for the food)
edit: re the chip...you want to make sure he has the ISO chip that can be read in Europe. If the dog is separated from you you want the shelter to be able to read the chip, so carrying a reader with you won't help with that. When I thought I would need to relocate to Japan one of my boys had the right chip and one did not, it's easy enough to get the correct chip implanted.
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
... or the other option is to buy a 10 digit reader and carry it with you at all times.

What would be the use of her carrying a reader when the one who needs to read the chip is the one that found the dog (police/vet/etc.)?

The only scenario I can imagine where that would be the case would be at border control, but if they accept a reading from an instrument that isn't their own?

Buen Camino, SY
 

diggs

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April - May 2016
What would be the use of her carrying a reader when the one who needs to read the chip is the one that found the dog (police/vet/etc.)?

The only scenario I can imagine where that would be the case would be at border control, but if they accept a reading from an instrument that isn't their own?

Buen Camino, SY
TO BRING THE DOG INTO THE COUNTRY AND TO CROSS BORDERS the authorities must be able to verify the identity of the dog. They must verify that according to the vet's physical that the USDA has approved is the same dog. A reader costs around $300. It is less expensive and less hassle to go ahead and get the 15 digit chip. US chips are 10 digit, no 10 digit readers in Europe. Trust me.

Also, do have a tag printed with contact information for you, such as your email address, in case your dog gets separated from you. I had this and my sister's (lives in France, both phone and email address) contact information on a tag.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
TO BRING THE DOG INTO THE COUNTRY AND TO CROSS BORDERS the authorities must be able to verify the identity of the dog. They must verify that according to the vet's physical that the USDA has approved is the same dog. A reader costs around $300. It is less expensive and less hassle to go ahead and get the 15 digit chip. US chips are 10 digit, no 10 digit readers in Europe. Trust me.

Also, do have a tag printed with contact information for you, such as your email address, in case your dog gets separated from you. I had this and my sister's (lives in France, both phone and email address) contact information on a tag.

I totally agree, get the chip--because the other reason for having a chip is to find the owner of the animal. It is not a hassle, or at least wasn't in Baltimore when I had to rechip one of my cats when it was possible we would be transferred overseas (one had an ISO compliant chip, the other the old 10 digit). it was not expensive (certainly not 300 dollars) and was done when I took them in for their pretravel blood work.

I've volunteered in shelters...tags come off, collars fade and come off (but still, have a collar with info written on it and a tag with info because this will be where people look first)...I think having a readable chip could mean the difference between being reunited or not...maybe even life and death. So while I strongly, strongly recommend not taking an animal (service or otherwise) on the camino, I equally strongly advocate for getting a readable chip implanted, and having the contact info updated to a number where you can be reached while walking, and also someone as a backup who could reach you or at least make arrangements so the dog is not adopted out or worse until you are found. Also, if the animal is older, even if they have an ISO chip have the vet double check that it is where it belongs and working. In the cat with the old chip it had migrated and would have been very difficult to find, even if it had been the correct chip. the requirement for a chip is not just to meet border requirements, it will also make sure you are re-united with someone very important to you should the unthinkable happen.
 

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