24. A man and his dog (EN)
After 23 episodes following our adventures, it seems to me that there is one member of the gang that still needs a proper introduction. Certainly, this last member of our trio does not have his driver license, spends the majority of his time sleeping and does not even help any chore ! And yet it is impossible for me to conceive a life without thinking of him. You guessed it, it's time to introduce my faithful sidekick: Dov! Because today is a big day, our little dog just turned 12!
But would you like to know how he landed in my life? It all started in 2008, during my studies in Melbourne, Australia. My mother brought me the amazing news, my little sister, Camille, had just gotten a dog. At first, adopting a little Westie seemed strange to me since I have always been used to having cats. Besides, apart from my parents' German shepherd, way before I was born, it must have been almost 20 years since we had any animals in the family.
It was only when I returned to Belgium, around the beginning of 2009, that I was able to meet the dog who would become my lifelong companion, even though neither of us could know what the future held. For those who don't know, the name “Westie” is short for West Highlander White Terrier, and this breed of dog is renowned for its strong character.
I give it to you in a thousand pieces, its reputation precedes him! From a very young age, Dov's great passion was to bark after everything that could move in our garden, a real pleasure for our neighbors.
However, shortly after my return to Belgium, I decided to start my university studies and create my first company. Suddenly, Dov would have to learn to calm down during my years in the "flat" country. Between the meetings with my suppliers, the phone calls from customers and my studies, it was impossible to be productive with the constant barking of the dog.
Gradually, I started working on his education and instead of letting him in the garden, I would take him on strolls in the neighborhood, just to tire him out. Then, I decided to put his bed by my door rather than leaving him in the living room, since the large picture window of the house served him as an ideal observation point to stand guard.
But, it was a stormy evening that got our affinity really sealed up. While I was working, I heard him cry outside my door. The poor guy was trembling and curled-up. I knew dogs could respond to weather changes, but I didn't know that thunderstorms would cause such panic for Dov. Of course, I was not going to leave him alone with his demons. Suddenly, the little one came to sleep in my bed and that is how he became my dog!
From that moment on, I started taking him everywhere with me. Whether it was at friends house or in town, people knew that I never came alone. We even decided to take him to The Alpes during our ski vacation.
All was well in the best of worlds until that fateful day: my departure for the United States. The split happened in 2012, after I was offered a manager deal with a music label in Los Angeles. At only 24 years old, it seemed impossible to me to add a responsibility such as a dog in this new life in America. But a few months after I left, my mother decided to move to a different town and unfortunately, dogs were not allowed in the building. Therefore, I decided to bring Dov to Los Angeles!
This additional responsibility was going to be difficult to assume but it was necessary to save Private Ryan, I mean Dov! However, how can you get your dog to cross half the globe? To tell you the truth, it was much easier than I thought!
First of all, we had to find a specialized company, which will take care of updating all of its vaccines, for Europe and the United States. Then, they assigned Dov a passport for the trip. In the case of a long-haul flight like Brussels-LAX, the company organizes a three-hour stopover so that the animal can stretch its legs. So, it was in Chicago that Dov took his first steps on the American soil before resuming the trip to Los Angeles. The advantage of this procedure is the authorization to pick him up immediately, without your animal being quarantined.
So, I go to find Dov at LAX and I see him completely miserable in his kennel. I decide to shout to see if he reacts: "Dov, Dov"! And in just a few seconds I see his cage jump in all directions and my sidekick with a big smile again. After six months of long distance and 15 hours of flight, the duo is again reunited to face this new chapter together!
As usual, he is welcomed as a king in my new apartment, unlimited food, dog cakes, bones to chew relentlessly, in short, paradise. My apartment in West Hollywood does not seem to make him lose his bearings and Dov will quickly find his marks.
For 4 years, we took advantage of all that Los Angeles could offer in the dog market. Because if there is one thing that we will never take away from the Americans, it is the gift of making everything profitable! As a music manager, I have often had to put him in “Boarding” during my tours with my artists.
In Europe, making the choice to put your dog at the shelter/boarding is almost like imposing a prison sentence, but in the United States, it is more like offering him a stay at the spa. We will take care of your animal as if it were a real customer, it will have its private room, sometimes a television with animal channels, and even swimming pool outings. This formula costs an average of $70 a night, but hey for Dov you don't count!
Luckily, the building in which I had installed my company accepted dogs, so I took the opportunity to offer a promotion to Dov and give him the responsibility for all the security. Besides, I was not the only one to bring my dog back to work, which enabled him to develop his network and negotiate his contracts; and I can tell you that the little one has a promising future in the business!
To celebrate his eighth birthday, in 2016, I decided to mark the occasion and organized a party with all the dogs in the building! Cardboard hat for all his friends, a dozen toys for the atmosphere and I even called the canine caterer to bring us cupcakes; a birthday without cake cannot really be considered a real birthday. Even if it is very likely that Dov forgot this day, all of us, owners, have kept a memorable memory of it and we still laugh about it today.
At the end of 2016, I left Los Angeles for Dallas, TX with Dov of course. By the way, it was around this time that Emily joined me. But no question of putting it back in the cargo of the plane, this time, we made the trip by car. So, instead of three hours of flight, we drove twenty-four hours, real Vanlifers before we even knew it!
Dov spent the whole trip with his head outside, not sure why dog love that feeling so much, but the poor guy caught an ear infection which got better after a few weeks. Despite everything, he quickly made his mark in his new city! After his ear, it was his paw that got infected and it had to be operated to avoid sequelae. I admit that I was pretty scared but fortunately my little Dov came out of it safe and sound!
Remember what I told you about the Americans and their talent? Well, know that Dov in America is considered as a tenant in the apartment. So, for him to live with us, I was asked to pay a deposit of $400 as well as an additional rent of $50, in addition to ours. But you know me, I always find a loophole to this type of racketeering...
As a result, it is possible to have your animal considered as an emotional support for your serenity, therefore, after an appointment with the shrink, I managed to obtain this privileged status for Dov and now it is forbidden to separate us!
He can therefore stay under our roof without the establishment asking me for additional payments. Also, I have the right to bring him into restaurants or shops with me, and I can even take him on the plane without him be locked up in the cargo! #VeryImportantDog
In 2020, as you know, we started our journey across the West Coast of the United States. And guess who is the only one who kept his original XXL bed? Well, he finally had to accept our conditions and use a smaller bed, but since the transition was not too abrupt, he didn't seem to care too much. Besides, the big Bertha quickly became his sanctuary and, no matter if we sleep in a hotel, an Airbnb or at friends, Dov will always be the first to get on the Eurovan! Maybe he is afraid of being forgotten?
To conclude, Dov certainly lived one of the best possible life for a dog. And, as for many dogs, he will repay you in full! This little Westie is always in a good mood, always enthusiastic to go for a walk and ready to risk his life to hunt the squirrels who seek to attack us, according to him... After twelve years together, I feel that this responsibility has allowed me to better understand the next challenge that awaits me, the greatest challenge for any man: becoming a father!
In short, now you know the whole epic life of our Dov. This birthday was celebrated in a new place for the inseparable trio, after Brussels, Los Angeles and Dallas, we are celebrating his twelfth year at Big Bend National Park!
Blog dedicated to my sister Camille Cohen