As Johnny Depp has surely realized by now, Australia has very strict rules about importing dogs. So after moving to Sydney last year from San Francisco, we put getting a puppy at the top of the list of things to do once we were settled.
We're so glad we did! Not only is our little Australian a bundle of love and fun, she's inspired us to check out so many places that we probably would have never ventured to without her. Plus, she has already become a surprise darling of the "puparazzi"!
Sydney is a great place to have a dog, so here are five things that expat puppy owners may want to consider:
1. Select your puppy carefully. Try to avoid those adorable puppies in the pet shop window, as many come from puppy mills which are often notorious for poor conditions. Instead, adopt from a reputable breeder (many of whom advertise on Gumtree) or better yet, rescue your new best friend from your local RSPCA shelter. You may want to explore some Australian breeds, like the Kelpie, that are rare overseas.
2. Take good care of your little one. Veterinary care in Australia is definitely top rate, as any viewer of Bondi Vet (one of the most popular realty shows on Australian TV) can clearly see. But like all things in Oz, it certainly doesn't come cheap. The good news is that Australia has a range of high quality and generally well priced pet insurance policies which can often provide good savings and huge peace of mind. Pet insurance is widely encouraged by vets here, as the industry is very entrenched and reputable (unlike in the U.S where there have been some hiccups over the years.) Premiums generally start at about $500 per year and benefits vary, so be sure to shop around.
3. Make sure your pup can go back home with you. If you plan on heading back to the United States or elsewhere with your pet some day, make sure you are aware of what you'll need to do bring your pooch home with you. For example, Australia is rabies-free so dogs don't get rabies vaccines here, but they will need it (and documentation) to move to the U.S. As such, rabies shots are hard to find in Sydney - our vet told us it could take a couple months to obtain one - so make sure you budget plenty of time to avoid problems or delays.
4. Microchip and register your pet. Most suburbs will require you to have an ID chip implanted in the back of your pet's neck, and for you to register them with the local council. It can help reunite you with your pet if they ever get lost, and keep fine-happy councils out of your wallet!
5. Have some fun! There are so many great places to take your dog, so get exploring! (The rocks at the north end of Bondi Beach happens to be our girl's personal favorite - and you'll probably think it's a pretty cool spot too!) Some online research will reveal tons of great excursions, though make sure you carefully study and abide by leash and waste removal laws, and prohibited areas. Many beaches and parks have rangers that are fast to hand out fines of $200 or more! From Sydney, there are tons of great road trips you can take your dog on as well, such as the Blue Mountains or Jervis Bay. It generally seems much easier to find dog-friendly rental homes here than in the U.S.