A couple who wanted to share a traveling adventure with their beloved dog have quit their jobs and spent two years taking him around Europe.
Pete the border terrier, now 10, has lived the life of Riley, traveling across the continent to see famous landmarks on a tour most of us could only dream of.
He's chased balls on Spanish beaches and hiked up the Alps, chewed a bone under the Leaning Tower of Pisa and sailed on the canal boats of Venice.
His owners, Jo Partington, 54, and Natasha Cooper, 48 from Hove, East Sussex, decided to give up their careers in health and social care two years ago, load up their car and travel around Europe so they could all spend more time together.
Natasha said: “We had a friend who was very poorly and we just decided that life is too short, and wanted an adventure and freedom, rather than continuing to work long hours in stressful jobs.”
“We thought, Why are we waiting until retirement to do stuff? Pete is getting older, so why don’t we do them now?”
“He is used to travel, having been on buses, tubes and trains from a puppy, and has a harness and his bed, where he sleeps at the back of the car. He is a very chilled little boy.
"We want to give him the best adventures and we want to share them with him!
“Camping is a fine way of meeting people, and most camps are dog-friendly, so we get to meet other people who are mad about their dogs as well.
“Pete loves the places that have a beach or a piazza — he loves taking his ball to other people to play with him, particularly kids.
“It’s an adventure because we don’t have a certain agenda.
“Being able to go on the gondola in Venice was incredible, taking him on massive hikes in the French Alps was just amazing, and walking around Pompeii with Pete was great — and what’s equally wonderful is that you don’t have to worry about your dog being at home, bored.
"The only place we weren't able to take him was the Chapel of Bones in Evora, Portugal — we thought it wouldn't be such a good idea with all those bones.
“Pete is a very laid-back, chilled dog, so he takes all the traveling and change in his stride — he loves engaging other people in playing ball, so everywhere he entertains the crowds in piazzas and parks by taking his ball to them and encouraging them to throw it or kick it for him.
"Playing ball with 50 people in an afternoon is his current world record, achieved in the Piazza Maggiore, Bologna.
Natasha and Jo love the fact he makes so many people smile: Pete certainly likes to “share the love.”
Starting his adventure in August 2017, Pete has since been to France, Italy, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Wales — where Pete and his owners stayed mostly in campsites, or apartments from Airbnb or Booking.com to help keep costs low.
Pete has been hiking in the Alps, visited historical sites and landmarks like Pompeii, Italy, climbed the Asinelli Tower in Bologna, rode in a gondola in Venice, swam at the Oliva and Denia beaches in Spain, and even worked as chief guest greeter at a chalet in the French Alps where Jo and Natasha were helping out.
The couple, who have had Pete since he was only 8 weeks old, thought Italy was the most dog-friendly country and were excited to see Pete making so many new friends.
The family’s plans include a trip to Northern Europe, including the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden starting next month.
The following year, Pete is set to play ball in Central Park in New York.
Natasha added: “We are trying to avoid reality for as long as possible. We’ll come back from New York next year and possibly travel a bit more around the U.K. or head back across to Europe but we don’t know yet — that’s a year away.
"We decided we’d rather spend the money now, while we are healthy and fit and able to do things like climb Mount Etna, rather than wait another 20 years, when who knows what life will throw at you?
"Our priorities changed from planning a good retirement to living a great life.
"We also try to live within a tight budget, like anyone would living at home — we like to cook, so we love going to the shops and markets to buy local, in-season produce and eat at “home.”
"As everything has to fit in the car, we also don't spend money buying things like new clothes, souvenirs or things for a normal home life — we pretty much have the same clothes now as we packed two years ago.
"We also have done chalet maid and decorating jobs where we work for our board and food. This was a fun new experience and a chance to stay longer in a place and get to know the area and local people."
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