Pet-Friendly Staycations in Singapore

Singapore is getting more and more dog-friendly but it is still a small country. One city, in fact so options for traveling with your dog is quite limited and hikes are less than fun in this heat and humidity. The oceans could be cleaner, but given the high traffic of the container and cruise ships this will unlikely to change.

Luckily, there are a few hotels that allow dogs. Both Great World and Frasier Suites allow pets. Great World charges $10/pet/day (before GST) and if you are staying a month at Frasier Suites, the pet levy is $200. Capella surprisingly is also pet friendly (cats and dogs) and with its beach access, fantastic spa treatments, and gorgeous and quiet grounds, this hotel resort makes a great choice for human and animal.

We spent a few days at the Capella recently. Having room service and taking time out from the busy Singapore daily life was perfect for everyone. We were the only ones there and enjoyed walking throughout the grounds, encountering peacocks almost everywhere, even a family with three little ones. There are a few dogs living at The Club, apartments, duplexes, and mansions that are part of Capella. These lucky dogs have daily access to Palawan Beach which is empty in the early morning hours, perfect for easy-breezy long walks and a dip in the water.

Not everyone is comfortable with animals at Capella and that’s why you get a door hanger that lets the staff know there is a pet inside. It’s pretty easy to keep the Animal House in the bathroom or on the balcony when room service comes around. There aren’t too many trash cans but you figure out where they are and include them on the walking route.

Housekeeping will also come by with dog beds, bowls, and poop bags.

Sometimes all I want to do and need is to veg out and enjoy room service!

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New Dogs on the Block

It has been a while since my last post. Almost 6 months. WOW!

Everyday something would happen and I’d say to myself that I need to blog about it but somehow time just keeps slipping away.

In this time, new dogs have moved into the neighbourhood. Two Golden Retriever puppies. In fact, their owners talked to me before their new wards arrived. One told me they were getting a second dog, and importing from Australia I believe. The other owner actually asked me where I got Goldie. I think he was happy that she was still so healthy at 11 but not so impressed that she was adopted. But before long, a fluffy rambunctious blonde puppy came bounding up to their gate to greet us on our walks. Of course he had to be quarantined until all the shots were done.

My neighbours across the street sadly moved away. They both had a dog but one sadly died from a heatstroke. The other one simply couldn’t be taken with him and last I heard, the dog was happily living on a fish farm somewhere in the lush jungle outposts in Singapore. People are always surprised Singapore is not all concrete and glass.

The papillon down the street also moved away.

Yes, there has been a lot of movement just on my one street.

Soon, our friend Darcy the beagle will be saying goodbye to Singapore and hello to Shanghai.

New friends and old friends. Happily there are more dog-loving kids with dog-loving moms. Instead of pulling them away, the moms are teaching their kids to ask for permission to touch the dog. It’s always a good idea to ask. Just because a dog looks friendly doesn’t mean she/he likes kids and just because a dog may look “aggressive” (whatever that means), he/she could be the most patient and gentle creature. You just never know! Goldie for example is so cute (people LOVE Golden Retrievers) but she’s terrible with kids! She is friendly but when she gets excited or wants attention, she rolls on her back, kicking. It’s tough for young kids who aren’t so coordinated yet to anticipate her happy kicks.

Oh yeah, my brother adopted a dog too! Good luck!

Dogs Abroad

There’s no doubt about it.

Singapore is definitely way more dog-friendly than before.

Dog-friendly places are popping up all the time. People don’t seem to scatter as much, or as quickly, when I walk my dogs. The dog community is ever growing. It’s great!

Dogs Abroad (UK)But people in Singapore may be surprised to find what really living with dogs means in other countries. Travelling on the trains in Europe. Dining with their owner in a cafe in Paris. Shopping in a mall in San Francisco.

I was recently in the UK and was reminded what it was like to be truly free to take your dog everywhere. To the market. Running errands. A stroll, for no reason at all.  No one is running away and no one is gawking or taking photos (except me, discretely, for this blog!) Dogs are simply just part of life.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole – Roger Caras

I remember when I used to take Whitey or Chich in the car, whenever I had to pick up someone or pick up something at London Drugs or run a quick errand like dropping off library books. My dogs went everywhere with me, to my friends’, to the beach, on long and short drives, on runs or day trips. Imagine a Maltese dashing through the forest trails or a Silky Terrier in a canoe, and you will picture how it was. When we visited New York, my sister even came to stay overnight with her dog. He was the star. Pampered. Having him in the hotel seemed to make the staff happy. New York is another dog-loving city.

A Lady & her Black Dog

I like my new neighborhood park.

It is clean. Very little litter. The grass is not overgrown, fraught with debris and poop.

This means that Blackspot is not always head down looking for food remnants which is always good. Easier for me.

Despite the poop-free cleanliness of the park (though I spotted some poop at the far end today) this is the home of many many dogs, from the pair of Salukis to mostly little dogs ranging from a trio of barky Schnauzers to a chihuahua and his friend who don’t venture far from the condo gate. They all seem to come out at 7:30-8 for their evening walk. In the morning I have been slack, waking up rather late, after restless nights of adjusting to a new place. By the time we venture out there is only a handful of late walkers and their dogs.

We seem to be bumping a lot last few days into this lady and her black dog. He is only a year or so and happy to play. Somewhat unsure of Goldie’s barking. Sometimes she is saying let’s play. Sometimes she is saying not now, which is usually because nature calls and she’s gotta go!

He is very patient waiting for her. Quite calm for a dog his age. And Blackspot seems to like him. She seems to be more comfortable with unaltered dogs. More natural and easier to know her place?

Aside from Blackspot this mid size fella is probably the only other mixed breed. And a black one. There is a general disliking of black dogs by the general Chinese population. Or the Singaporean population. Not sure which it is. This is what I have been told, what I heard from other people’s experiences and I have seen it walking my friend’s ULTRA friendly black lab. So bravo Chinese/Singaporean lady! And bravo on having a mixed breed.

This lady also seems keen to meet everyone and their dog. Not sure if it’s to meet people herself as well but definitely for her dog’s socialization. This undoubtedly has helped him be more relaxed around dogs, big and small.

This morning she was with a fellow walker and his (not barky but highly excited) Schnauzer. So Blackspot and Goldie have met more dogs in the last few days than the six months in our last neighbourhood.

New Friend

Labrador Park seaside promendade.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Our new friend asked where is a good place to take her dog…hmmm I had to think about that one. We have a few dog parks but without a car, it’s a pain to get to with a large dog and hers is large, no matter how gentle. There are a few fields and pitches around but it’s not always empty and you really have to go early.

 

Tonight we met a new friend, newly arrived from Texas. A beautiful young labradoodle. So gentel and so easy going. He just let Creamy bark and bark as she does, until she just stood next to him, quiet. It teaks time but she does eventually stop.

Teaching a dog not to bark is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not that she’s bored, well she could be a little. She just likes to make noise. Looking at her now, curled up on my favourite chair, arms sprawled over the cushions, deep in sleep, it’s hard to imagine that this is the perhaps the barkiest dog I’ve ever had.

But back to where to take a dog…
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Is Singapore Dog-Friendly?

Is Singapore dog-friendly?
Is it easy to rent an apartment that allows dogs?
Do I need a car?

Before we moved here in 2006, we googled about this city-state known for no gum chewing, caning/hanging for drug offences, and chicken rice. What were we getting ourselves into?

What makes a place dog-friendly? Experienced vets. Pet shops selling a good variety of high quality food. Dog parks. Dog-friendly cafes. Well-managed kennels and daycare. Dog walkers. Access to dog-friendly housing. A dog-loving community. Then yes, Singapore is dog-friendly, though not in the way that New York, Vancouver, Paris or San Francisco are.

We have all of that but we also have a young dog-ownership culture. In this urban jungle, people didn’t grow up with dogs and there are still a lot of misconceptions and fears. Parents will often pull their children away, transmitting their owns fears to the next generation, perpetuating false beliefs about dogs. This is slowly changing, due to a more active and growing dog community, where open discussion and dialogue can take place. According to the AVA, 5,500 dogs are imported annually, 85-90% destined to be sold commercially (the rest are personal pets). (Unfortunately nearly 2,500 dogs were received by the SPCA alone in 2010)

The single biggest change for us living in Singapore is the weather. It’s tropical – hot and humid with frequent rainstorms. Living in an apartment, we walk our dogs several times a day. We are just more mindful of the heat and take our long walks either early or late, with quick potty breaks in between. Before the sun rises, cool breezes make early jaunts refreshing. The quiet before the constant traffic and construction noises is also a welcomed reprieve.

We have no issue walking our dogs. We live in a neighbourhood with lots of dogs and people are generally used to it. There is a field nearby that many dogs go for some unofficial off-leash play. We even have a tradition of checking out Orchard Road on Christmas morning to see all the decorations. We are now used to people staring or running away and kids barking or meowing at our dogs. But we also meet kids who love dogs. Toddler squealing with pure joy, laughing and petting our dogs.

To the Muslims here, dogs are dirty and cannot be touched (presumably without taking a full bath before prayer). Muslim taxi drivers won’t take them. We just keep our dogs closer to us out of respect. When the Muslim moving crew came to pack up the apartment, I arranged a playdate for my dog at a friend’s.

Another interesting thing about Singapore (and Asia) is the helper culture. I have met more helpers walking dogs than owners. The upside is that hopefully more dogs get walked, rather than left caged or stuck in the apartment all day. People do complain that their helpers just congregate around the corner to chit chat. And to be honest, I see it all the time.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s unfair to expect a helper to walk your dog. These girls need jobs and of course they will say yes in their interview, even if they know nothing about dogs. They may not even like them. On the other hand, it is unfair to the dogs, many overweight, highstrung, and forgotten. At least these dogs are getting some socialization.

As far as housing goes, we did find a difference between Singapore and Hong Kong. It seems that in Hong Kong, entire estates do not allow dogs, here in Singapore, it’s more up to the landlords. Not too many overtly no-dog condos that I know of. Public housing in Hong Kong does not allow dogs and Singapore’s allows a list of approved breeds. For expats, housing is generally not a problem. We have quite a number of friends with pets.  I do want to point out that we don’t live in the heartland and our experience is a little more sheltered.

The size of the dog also makes a difference. More shops and cafes cater to small dogs.  Until recently something like dog beds was far and few for large dogs. It’s definitely easier getting a taxi with small dogs or even one big dog. Now that we have two “large” dogs getting a taxi is more difficult. Calling for one ahead of time (ie paying a booking fee) is usually fine but we’ve still had taxis come round then leave. The key is to find a taxi uncle you can call.  And a few bucks tips is always helpful. Having been here for years, we still don’t find a car necessary. More convenient, yes. Need? No.

Singapore is a green city. Streets are lined with trees. We are surrounded by nature, even if it’s a little sculpted and unnatural. It is safe and living here with a dog is easy. Our dogs love their walks and outings, especially breakfast at the Botanic Garden.