Stick a thumb out Peg, we're hitchin' a ride!
Okay, confession time. I don't drive. I know, shock horror. But surely, you say, surely you have your licence? Well, kind of. I got my L's six months ago but got it purely for identification purposes so don't put me behind the wheel. I would like to say in my small defence, before I lose your respect entirely, that I have lived in the city my entire life and driving was never a necessity! Poor excuse, I know.
As you might also know now (see the Pet of The Month section of our newsletter) I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Peggy. She is the light of my life and also my little shadow. She comes with me everywhere so we have become quite accustomed to using a mixture of walking, lifts from friends and family (shout out - thank you all!), public transport and Uber Pet to get around. When I tell people this they are usually shocked, most people don't know about the options that are available to non-drivers like myself so I thought I would share.
Walking is often the easiest way to get around when you have a dog but no car. Peggy and I walk to and from work together every day, we walk together to do our grocery shopping, grabbing a coffee on the weekend and to family and friends houses that live near by. No need for a gym membership, Peggy has my cardio well and truly covered.
Rule of thumb: If the destination is 5km or under, walk.
Lifts from Friends and Family
There is nothing better than jumping into the car with my four legged buddy and singing along to the radio with a two legged buddy. Offers of lifts from friends and family are never expected but are always welcome.
I am lucky that Peggy goes well in cars and is more often than not lulled to sleep by the gentle hum of the motor as I belt out John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' with the driver.
Rule of thumb: Never plan for someone to offer to give you a lift, but if they offer and you accept, always find a way to thank them. Things I have done to thank people for small trips are buying them a coffee or flicking them a bit of cash for petrol money, for longer trips I have paid for the petrol entirely, bought them a meal or gifted them a nice bottle of their favourite. Use your best judgement, just make sure they know you appreciate them and the favour they did for you and your fur baby.
Absolute life saver. Admittedly I do use this service sparingly (it costs a pretty penny) but it is invaluable when you're running late or traveling to somewhere kilometres from the nearest train line. The drivers who opt in for this service are always so friendly and I feel like having a dog in the car brightens anyone's day.
Rule of thumb: Be prepared to pay a premium for this service and keep in mind this service is not offered by all drivers so leave enough time for yourself to wait for your ride to be accepted.
To prepare Peggy for life catching public transport I started taking her on rides with me the week that I got her. It is important to familiarise your pet with traveling on public transport during its critical socialisation period (3 to 12 weeks of age), this is the time your pet is learning about its environment and what they will know as 'normal' for the rest of their lives.
Making sure to use positive reinforcement (such as treats and praise) to create a positive association with going on public transport sets your pet up for success. If you plan on using public transport frequently it is essential to teach your pet the correct manners and etiquette so as not to disrupt anyone else around you.
The rules of Melbourne trains:
Small animals can travel with you on trains in a suitable animal container
Rules to follow if taking your dog on a train:
Must be on a leash and wearing a muzzle
Clean up any mess your dog makes
Make sure your dog doesn’t sit on seats, or block aisles and doors
Keep your dog under your control at all times
Avoid travelling on weekdays between 7am and 9am or 4pm and 6pm
Animals that are not dogs or able to be put in a suitable container are not allowed on trains
The rules of Melbourne trams:
Small animals can only travel with you on trams in a suitable animal container otherwise they are not allowed
The rules of Melbourne buses:
Small animals can only travel with you on buses in a suitable animal container otherwise they are not allowed
The rules of Melbourne V/Line Trains
You can bring small animals on V/Line trains in an suitable animal container however it is subject to the approval of the conductor. Suitable animal containers must:
Allow your animal space to comfortably stand up, lie down and turn around
Provide suitable ventilation
Be easily accessed to provide food or water during the journey
Be clean and secure to contain the animal for the duration of the journey
Only one container is allowed per customer
You must clean up any mess your animal makes
Please avoid travelling on weekdays between 7am and 9am or 4pm and 6pm
Do not bring any dangerous animals on board
You can put your animal container in the luggage van of Loco-Hauled trains or inside the passenger cabin or bike and luggage storage area of VLocity and Sprinter trains
Suitable containers are not allowed on seats or to block doorways or passageways
The rules of Melbourne V/Line Coaches
Animals are not allowed on V/Line coaches, including rail replacement buses, unless they’re an assistance animal with correct document proving such
Once you get the hang of it, going on public transport with your furry friend is actually quite a joy. I cannot count the amount of smiles and yarns I have shared with strangers over my darling Peggy joining us on the ride. There is something endearing and fun about seeing a pooch on public transport that always manages to brighten peoples day, and I'm grateful to be apart of that.
Assistance animals (such as guide dogs and hearing dogs) are welcome to travel on all public transport, and regular non pet specific Uber services, so as long as they have an Assistance Animal Pass or interstate assistance animal accreditation
Always remember to travel with your seat belt safety harness adaptor