The Search for Expats and Their Pets

No Lolas Allowed
As we prepared for our move here to the Netherlands, I spent most of the time worrying about getting our pets into the country safe and sound. Two cats and a big dog required their own crates and their own multiple copies of paperwork, as well as a drive to another state so that we could avoid having a layover.

It was all worth it, though, as there was no way we would have left any of them behind. In fact, I was always shocked when people asked us if we were taking our pets when we moved overseas. Of course! If we had human children, would you ask that question? To us, our pets are our children.

We’re not the only ones who can’t imagine leaving a pet behind. Although there are times when expats do have to leave a pet behind, it’s usually with a trusted family member and it’s a difficult decision. But many expats do take their pets with them. I’ve come across quite a few, and now I’m looking for more.

You see, I’m fortunate enough to have been asked to participate on a project about expats here in the Netherlands and the pets — expets — that they brought with them. Dutch photographer and journalist Robert van Willigenburg had the idea for this project and I’m going to be helping out, interviewing my fellow expats about their expets. He will be photographing everyone. He has already written, photographed, and produced the book Kat in de Stad (Cat in the City), a look at some of the well-known shop and neighborhood cats of Utrecht. Our very own neighborhood Sheriff is included!

So, we’re now looking for other expats and their pets here in the Netherlands who would be interested in participating. Your pet needs to have made the move with you, rather than having been adopted here, and still needs to be alive, of course. If you now have a mix of expets and native pets, that’s fine. We’re also interested in Dutch nationals who were expats themselves and adopted a pet while abroad before returning back to the Netherlands (with pet in tow).

If you are an expat with an expet or know of any, please get in touch with me or Robert. We have a number of people interested in participating so far, but we’d love to find more. You can share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and any other places where you think you can reach expats in the Netherlands. Please help us spread the word!

Cheese, Sausage and New York

File this posting under random thoughts and observations.

I’ve noticed this year that I’ve seen a LOT of people here (usually student-age) wearing the famous I [Heart] NY t-shirts. It seems too prevalent and too much of a fashion thing to be just the result of a lot of tourism to NYC. The other night, while pointing out to G yet another person sporting one of the shirts, he reminded me that the Dutch do have a special connection to NY. I guess those early Dutch expats were sending back t-shirts to their relatives here in the Netherlands with an I [heart] NA(msterdam) logo, the same way American expats now send back wooden clogs to the family members back home.

Yeah, the whole conversation was much funnier in person.

Speaking of jokes getting lost in translation …
Going through my Twitter feed this morning (I finally got the new Twitter!), I saw a link to this humorous “grilled cheesus” t-shirt. Funny stuff, but I realized that I kind of missed the joke about “The Goude News” upon first reading. Sure, if you pronounce Gouda the English way (gooda), it makes sense and it’s funny. If you pronounce it the Dutch way, you miss something. (If you go to the Wiki page for Gouda, you can listen to the Dutch pronunciation.)

As the famous saying goes, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I know just enough Dutch now to ruin certain jokes for me. Don’t even get me started on this season’s first episode of The Simpsons and their references to Den Haag (The Hague) and such. I guess it was a bit like the Flight of the Conchords‘ joke in that episode when they referenced the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Sometimes jokes work best when you’re not so well-informed! (And in the case of this whole paragraph, if you don’t know what the person is talking about, the whole thing gets confusing. Apologies.)

On the other hand, Dutch pronunciation, when heard by an English-speaker, can be both eye-opening and amusing. We learned about Vocking sausage/meats/liverworst the other night. One of our Dutch friends had a bit of fun with us on that one. Let’s just say that the V in Dutch often has more of an F sound, and leave the rest to your own imagination. I do try to keep this blog somewhat clean. My parents might be reading. ;) That said, I do recommend Vocking if you’re here in Utrecht. Very tasty! I gather it’s only really available in the Utrecht region, though, as the owner wants to keep it strictly an Utrecht thing.