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!

18 thoughts on “The Search for Expats and Their Pets

  1. How cool! I’d love to participate. I brought my cat with me, and I agree with you — I couldn’t imagine leaving her behind. She’s family!

  2. Hey, we moved here from England with our British Blue (sadly we had to leave one behind) and would love to contribute. My poor boyfriend spent 11 hours in the back of a van making sure she was safe getting here bless him!

  3. We moved to Utrecht from Melbourne Australia 5 years ago with two small dogs and a cat on the same plane as us to live here for the rest of their lives! I could Never have not taken them with us! It was a very traumatic time for them especially the dogs and the state of them was shocking! They were all soaking wet and covered in poo & wee and very shaky terrified…. It took several months for them to recover but I am so happy they are still here with us and enjoying a spoilt life in Utrecht…. Our cat has since passed away from old age and we now also have two naughty kitten join our home….. Although the moving experience was just awful I would absolutely go through it again as I am committed to look after All of my pets until their last day. Pets are for life not disposable assets

    • I’m so glad I didn’t have to deal with such a long flight. I know just the six-hour flight we took was traumatic for all of us. There was no way I could leave them behind, though. It wasn’t even a consideration. I’m glad you all survived and settled in and have added to the family. If you’re interested in participating, we’ll be getting in touch soon to sort out scheduling. You’ve certainly got an interesting story!

  4. Hi there! I read your post on the expats utrecht community on facebook. I brought my 7 year-old cat from Brazil last year and he has lived with me since then. You’re welcome to contact me 🙂

  5. Yay for bringing your pets to Utrecht. How did you find a place that allows pets? We are moving in the spring and I’m having a hard time finding a place that allows dogs. We have a small cockapoo. Any help you can offer would be wonderful!


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