Thankfully there was no snow outside my train window the last weekend of September… Photo by: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se
Last weekend my Dog, Rabbit, and I took the speed train (snabbtåg) to Göteborg. The speed train takes around three hours. I made my reservation a week in advance and indicated that I needed a “pet allowed” seat. What a privilege to be able to travel with my pet at my feet!
After work on Friday, Rabbit and I navigated our way through Stockholm’s Central Station, no mean feat since I was dragging a rolling suitcase, sporting a backpack, and holding Rabbit’s leash. The track was up some stairs, across the tracks on an overpass, and then down the stairs again. By the time we located the train, I was sweating and Rabbit was feeling nervous about how many people there were milling around the platform—everyone eating food on the go, dragging suitcases, and looking lost.
I located the train to Göteborg on Track 12 and Rabbit and I boarded the car that matched our ticket number. The outside of the car showed that animals were allowed in that section. People who don’t want to be seated next to animals can specify when booking their ticket. We waited while the other passengers in front of us stowed their luggage and found their seats. Then I stowed my bags and sat down, Rabbit sat on the carpeted floor at my feet. An announcement came over the speaker, confirming that the train was going to Göteborg, blah, blah…and OH NO! I was on the wrong train and it was leaving in two minutes! I started jamming stuff back into my backpack, grabbed the dog, pushed past the man who showed up right then to take the seat next to me, and stepped off the train. As I stepped off, I dropped Rabbit’s leash. She would never go anywhere but it scared me since there were people everywhere and the train was about to start moving.
It turned out that there were two speed trains to Göteborg, leaving from the same track within 25 minutes of each other. Lesson learned.
Have Dog. Will Travel.
We waited for the next train and found our correct seat. Across from us sat a woman with a miniature dog that I was secretly proud to immediately identify as a cross between a Chihuahua and a Chinese Crested. (Her dog came visiting and we chatted briefly so I confirmed the breed.)
Her dog was quiet and well-behaved but I must say I have been on several train trips in which Rabbit and I were forced to deal with poorly behaved dogs and their nonchalant owners. We traveled to Strängnäs during the summer and were jammed in a very small section of the train with a ferocious pit bull. On the train to Uppsala last month, a huge mastiff-looking mix was trying to get to Rabbit the whole time. He was friendly but Rabbit wanted nothing to do with him and she literally gave him her backside the entire time.
On the return trip from Göteborg, a woman with two small terriers sat behind me. The dogs were elderly and quite calm but the owner was a disaster. Like most Swedish dog owners do, she immediately asked me if my dog was a male or female. People here seem to hold great stock in which dogs will get along with which dogs but I haven’t figured out exactly what the theory is…males with females or males with males or ?? Whatever it is, I’m not sure I agree.
The problem was that the owner of the two terriers let them lie in the aisle instead of in front of her seat. Everyone who tried to pass through our train car had to pick their way past her dogs. Then the woman left her dogs behind and went to the bar car for a very long time. A woman sitting across the aisle complained to the conductor but I don’t know if he rousted her from the bar or not. After awhile she returned but then immediately began speaking really loudly on her cell phone. Our car happened to be very quiet, with no one else talking on the phone so she was really loud. The woman then left the dog again to finish her call in the section between the cars. When she returned, she instantly fell asleep and the dogs continued to lie in the aisle. When the train finally arrived in Stockholm, people were eager to get off because the train was a half hour late and people were trying to make connecting trains. The terriers were still in the way with passengers trying to pick their way over the dogs while carrying their luggage. The owner slept right through all the announcements and the arrival of the train. Finally a female passenger reached out and politely woke the woman up.
I am so careful with Rabbit. I make sure we don’t take up more than our share of space. I make sure she doesn’t “go visiting” with other dogs on the train. It’s such a privilege to be able to take dogs on all the trains, subways, buses…I hope a few irresponsible owners don’t ruin it for the rest of us!