My dog, Rabbit, moved to Sweden around six weeks ago. She came in a dog crate in the cargo area of the plane. It’s big business nowadays and the airlines have worked hard to remedy various problems there used to be in pet shipping. I felt confident that it would go well and she arrived without a hitch.
Most people don’t realize that the six-month quarantine that used to be in place was dropped a few years ago as long as the animal originates from a country that has rabies under control. Some originating countries still require a quarantine in Sweden.
Riding the Rails
Because I don’t have a car, riding the subway, trains, and buses is super important for her to learn. Before she could learn that, she had to learn how to ride the escalators. I live on the blue line of the Stockholm subway system. The blue line is famous for having super long escalators because it’s the deepest underground line in the subway system. There are, of course, elevators down to the tracks but they take a long time and usually smell less than enchanting. Even parents with strollers often use the escalators.
Rabbit travels to work with me in the morning and back in the evening. She is such a calm and quiet dog that she is not a disturbance under my desk. Luckily my desk is situated at the far end of the floor, is isolated, and located near an elevator so we can enter and exit the office without bothering any co-workers who may be allergic or afraid of dogs.
Every Stockholm subway station has gates that prevent you from going too far into the station unless you have passed your subway pass over a sensor which then temporarily opens the gates. If you don’t have a monthly or yearly pass, you need to buy a single ticket or a strip of tickets called a “remsa” locally. (I’ve learned that some of the terms Kate (the other Expat blogger) uses for things are regional words from Skåne and things sometimes have other names up here in Stockholm. I don’t know what a “remsa” is called in Southern Sweden.) In any case, a remsa ticket requires you to go to the window and get it stamped by the station attendant.
First off, Rabbit had to learn to go through the gates quickly, right behind me, otherwise they would close on her. Once, early on, she balked and learned that she could get trapped on the other side if she didn’t follow closely.
I’ve seen other dogs in the subway stations travelling with their owners. They all seem pretty calm, cool, and collected so I knew Rabbit could be the same. She was a country (well, maybe a suburban) dog back home but I knew she could learn to be a city dog in Stockholm.
For the first week of taking her on the escalator, I picked her up and carried her the whole trip up and down the escalator. I wanted her to get used to how it felt. Then I began to let her walk onto the escalator but I picked her up when we entered or exited at the top or the bottom. This is because that seems like the most likely place to get stuck or have a problem.
The last step was teaching her to jump over the spot at the top or bottom of the trip where the stairs “flatten” and then start their return. I wanted her to jump over this spot for safety reasons. With treats and encouragement, she learned to do this pretty easily. (Although she’s personally much more worried about walking over floor grates—which feel weird on her feet—than exiting the escalator.)
Now Rabbit rides the escalator like an old pro. Such a sophisticated Stockholm dog!