From the pampered pooches of London, Paris and Rome, to a Sunday mass walk of the Greyhound Club of Florence, or the street dogs and cats of Turkey, my recent travels confirmed attitudes to animal welfare and ownership varies from culture to culture.
Needless to say, after my long absence my own beloved animals were ready to welcome me home, having been tended to with flair, by their in home Pets and Plants carers.
Despite this, my moggy and whippet boy have not let me out of their sight since opening the back door some hours ago. Nor have I wanted to leave their sides. Seven weeks is a long time for us to be apart, but all my darlings have been ably cared for in my absence by my dedicated Pets and Plants Care team. Whippet boy has had regular walks, my elderly moggy had his arthritis jab and is looking fit and happy and one of my chooks was rushed to the vets when it was unwell and was still here to greet me when I arrived home.
So what kind of things did this animal lover document for her blog readers whilst abroad?
Follow my blog for stories on 'Dogs of Howarth', Dogs in London and Walking in Hyde Park, getting Whippet Boy a ritzy new handmade collar and lead bejewelled with crystals that catch the light, stray cats in Rome and the street animals and Anatolian Shepherds of Turkey.
If that is not enough, I worked my camera hard, capturing images of dogs, cats, horses and other animals in art galleries and archeological sites throughout my travels.
Prior to my departure I had planned to maintain my blog whilst away, via an ipad and hotel wifi connections. This was about the only element of my travels that did not meet my expectations. Wifi prooved erratic and though ipads may be great for downloading photos, loading up with online reading, emails, researching destinations and simple computing tasks, they still lack the capability of more robust computers. Largely my ipad added weight to my luggage and little more. Next time I would rather bear the extra kilo or so of my laptop for the sheer convenience of maintaining my "home office"!
One thing I truly love about Europe, is a way more relaxed attitude to literally accomodating animals in hotels, restaurants and on public transport. In Forence, a dog along with its owners joined us for breakfast in the hotel. In Australia, this would be breaching health regulations!
My trip also confirmed animal owners love having their animals admired in any culture. Animals served as ice breakers to interact with the locals everywhere I went. Even the words of Turkish I managed to learn and remember are "gul"/come and "otto"/sit around which I was able to build a rapport with the engaging often well cared for local "street dogs" that were a fascinating point of difference between our cultures.
I also made a donation to a restaurat that serves as a shelter for stray cats to help enable a desexing program and also ensure one lovely moggy could receive eye surgery that week.
Watch the Pets and Plants blog for these stories in the forthcoming weeks.
Fiona Ludbrook is the Client Services Director of Pets and Plants Ballarat. Now, entrepreneur and blogger, she was born and bred in Ballarat, but spent many years as a teacher in Melbourne’s