From Lassie to Cujo; a Love of Dogs in Budapest

 From Lassie to Cujo

I read as  many articles as I could find about living  in Budapest, yet none of them described the phenomenon I encountered my first day in Budapest.

Dog

 I discovered that dogs launch themselves at their fence as you walk by.  It’s anxiety inducing to experience their snarling, barking, frenzy. These same dogs (when  their owner is near) will be as gentle and sweet as Lassie. It’s astonishing. I’ve never experienced anything like it

Dog

A Hungarian Kuvasz.

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwarts/3635859420/

A Love of Dogs

 In my neighborhood there are many dogs. Dogs are well loved in Budapest, it’s one of the many things I love about living in Budapest.  I read an article recently from Easy Jet magazine called Doggie Style,  it stated that Budapest has 400,000 dogs and that almost one quarter of Budapest citizens own a dog.  When you see and encounter dogs in Budapest on the street or on public transportation they are well mannered and gentle.  

My Neighborhood

When I walk through my neighborhood and speak to my neighbhors I try to get to know their dogs.  Across the street from my house there is a gorgeous Kuvasz. A Kuvasz is a large Hungarian breed dog, and is pictured above. It is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever encountered. It’s similar in size and stature to my own dog, but pure white. When I met the owner he told me to only pet his dog when he’s at home. Otherwise he is not friendly, and he may bite. That was a little daunting.

 The Beautiful Kuvasz

Over the months since I’ve been living in Budapest I have pet this Kuvasz many times. He is a sweet, beautiful dog. But, one would never know that if they were a stranger walking by. He goes into a barking frenzy like every other dog on the block when strangers walk by. We’re now become buddies of sorts. He no longer barks at me when I leave the house and he actually seems to look forward to seeing me. He wags his tail sometimes and always craves having his head and back
stroked. 

Hungarian Dog

My neighbor’s dog, who is gentle and friendly IF you know him. If you don’t, he is fierce.

Well Mannered and Gentle

The dogs we encounter on the street or at festivals are friendly to Tanner and I. It seems to be only dogs within their own yards which turn into Cujo as we walk by,  setting off a snarling, barking pack mentality in the neighborhood. I love dogs, so it’s bothersome when Tanner tries to go up to the fence and make friends and is twarted in his attempts at doggie friendship by barking, growling, snarky dogs.

 It confuses Tanner and it’s been a learning curve.  Frankly it annoys me to have to remember not to walk too close to fences so that I’m not facing another heart pounding moment when yet another dog lunges at me and slams against his fence. It’s Cujo to Lassie every day living in Budapest; a city that loves their dogs.

Living in Budapest; The First One Hundred Days

Each overseas post is a little different; but one thing remains the same, there’s an adjustment period for each of us. This time around in some ways my adjustment was easier, but in other ways it was just as crazy as usual. We often hear people speak of a president’s first hundred days in office. Well I’m taking that phrase and using it to highlight my adjustment to Budapest, and my third overseas job.

Touch Down

My arrival in Budapest was a little intense. It took a few minutes after ALL the passengers had departed with their luggage for me to find my dog. STRESS!! Then the driver sent to pick me up didn’t speak English. Not a happy moment for me, not with a dog in tow.

As we rode into the city and I saw all the beautiful bridges and historic buildings I was enchanted with Budapest. My dog was next to me in the van and I was feeling excited to start a new chapter in our overseas life. Here is a link to my photo impressions of our first week in Budapest.

Living in Budapest and Finding A House

house hunting in budapest

One of many houses I looked at, but decided against. This one I liked but the landlord wasn’t willing to remove their art or furniture.

Everyone has questions and wonders what it will be like to find a house in a foreign country. I can happily share with you that house hunting in Budapest is a great experience. The houses will not disappoint you. I was shocked at the amenities offered and the beauty of the houses. (This is Eastern Europe after all.) I was not expecting the fantastic options I found.

Also keep in mind I’ve lived in Berlin and house hunted there. Berlin was a little different. I didn’t have my dog then, I had cats. So I opted for an apartment right in a shopping district of Berlin. This time around I needed a BIG yard, for a BIG dog. I needed a spacious house with space for him to be comfortable. Take a look at My House Hunting Budapest Experience

Getting Settled

Getting settled into my house was pretty straight forward and a good experience for us. I’m living four blocks from shops and public transportation. Tanner loves our yard and as an added bonus for Tanner and I we were asked to care for our landlords cat when they moved to Austria. Now Tanner has a new buddy, and they get along very well.

My Shipment Is Here

household shipment

This part of my experience was more difficult and complicated this time around. When I moved to Berlin my shipment came by air and arrived within days of my arrival. This time, that wasn’t the case, due to some confusion with the shipping company. Because my employer was paying for shipping costs there were certain guidelines. (Just like in Berlin.)

To err on the side of caution (because I didn’t want a big expensive bill for excess weight) the shipping company had to send someone out twice to double check the dimensions and weight of my shipment. The problem stemmed from the fact that I was departing the US within days and shipping company was overbooked with appointments and couldn’t send someone back out to check my shipment.

Plan B

My shipment was departing from Florida, and fortunately my aunt lived only 8 blocks from the storage facility where I was storing my household belongings. Most of which remain in Florida, with a small shipment to Budapest. Because my storage was filled to capacity I worried that the movers might take the wrong boxes. So I loaded my rental PT Cruiser and made multiple trips to her house in Florida’s 100 degree summer heat. Fun stuff!

I stored my 24 boxes, my bike and two paintings being shipped to Budapest in my aunts garage. Though my shipment was coming by air, there were multiple delays :-(. The moving company whose price quote I’d accepted was fully booked for pack outs and when they had a free day to come my aunt was unavailable……ahk it was a vicious circle for a bit. Finding a date and time that worked. At last my shipment arrived, cleared customs and was delivered in September; six weeks after my arrival.

Figuring It All Out With A Lot of Help

living in Budapest

My first real shopping excursion and the small and expensive bags of dog food, that would never work for a 140 lb dog.

It took me a bit to figure out the daily details of life in Budapest. My employer and colleagues were fantastic. Seriously, fantastic. If I needed to know how to find something someone, many someones were there to help. That was a godsend. We forget until we’re overseas that we have to figure out every little detail to begin our life…. Where to shop, where to find hard to find products and spices, and where to find dog food in bags larger than say five lbs. Yes, that clearly wasn’t going to work for us. There was also finding my way around, and navigating the city transportation. I wanted to learn where my colleagues and friends were living, and where to find my favorite ethnic restaurants.

It was a process; even with substantial help, it took a few weeks to really feel like I had daily life in Budapest under control. I’d say I finally felt like things were in control around Halloween. I’d settled in, I had my household goods and I’d had a weeks vacation. That was 96 days in to my adventure of living in Budapest. That’s why I say it really takes about a hundred days to feel like you have a handle on living life overseas.

Old School Services Offered in Hungary

Old School Service

delivering milk

One of the many things I love about Budapest is its option of old school service. Here in Budapest services are offered that keep life simplier and more convenient. For example companies still offer at home delivery for milk and other products. I hear them before I see them, with their whimsical music playing as their van pulls up.

Vet Services

vet medical records

I seriously love that my vet comes to my home. A simple phone call is all it takes to schedule Tanner’s at home appointment. My vet has now visited the house twice and given Tanner his heart worm prevention medication, his tick prevention medication and trimmed his nails. She is gentle, friendly and efficient. Tanner and I both like her and best of all her services are convenient and affordable.

A Break Down of the Vet at Home Services

Tick Prevention Medication
Heart Worm Prevention Medication
Nails Trimming

Total Cost 9,800 Hungarian Forint which converts to a total of $45.37 US dollars for the services listed above.

Dog Food Delivery

pet food

Through a friend I learned that a local pet store provides home delivery for purchases of large quantity dog food. (I ordered three huge bags, 15 kilo each. Which comes out to 99.2 lbs of dog food.) The total cost 21,600 Hungarian Forint, which converts to $104 US dollars. By US standards that is expensive, but pet food products are expensive here. For example, I regularly buy Pedigree can dog food to suppliment Tanner’s dry food. It costs me the equivelent of $1.72 for a single can I would pay 75 cents for in the US.

The fact that Hungarian businesses offers these old school services is a blessing. At home delivery and pet care help keep my life simplier. They also offer a window of insight in to life long ago.

Living in Budapest: Our Journey to Budapest

Moving overseas with a pet requires organization, USDA paperwork, patience and sometimes multiple leg journeys by car and air. This is the break down of how my dog Tanner and I arrived in Budapest.

Miles Driven 1,822

Rental Cars (4)

Miles Flown 5,518

Flights (4)

How Do The Miles Break Down?

1,140 miles, driving round trip from my family’s home in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Bethesda, Maryland to the Search Associates Recruitment Fair.

682 miles driven alone with my dog Tanner from Fort Wayne, Indiana to North Beach Maryland to my cousin Cindy’s home, and on to Dulles Airport to depart for Budapest.

jeep liberty
Our ride to Maryland

Our Flights

931 miles flown from Fort Wayne, Indiana to St. Petersburg, FL to complete the transfer of my household goods to a smaller storage unit.

Flights Missed (1)

Leaving St. Petersburg on a 6 am flight, I overslept (sleeping through two alarms) and missed my flight.

Cost…don’t ask.
An additional same day flight to a nearby city.
A one way rental car.
An additional 101 miles driven.

Flying with Dogs; Doggie and Mom Flights (2)

Lufthansa Budapest

pet airline ticket

4,587 miles flown by Tanner and I together from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Budapest, Hungary. Layover time: 12 hours to make certain Tanner got his pet rest stop for potty breaks, food and rest. (5 hour minimum required by Lufthansa Airlines.)