International Greyhound of Mystery: Is Vilnius Pet Friendly?
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
You know, I could probably write a whole essay about the inner workings of my dog's mind. She's such an unusual, sweet creature. (What does she really think about Vilnius's lack of squirrels?) But, the truth is that she's been a solid and resilient fellow traveler on this new family adventure. Coming from Austin - where people practically worship their pets - The Scientist and I didn't know what to expect when moving across the world. Had people in Vilnius even seen a greyhound before? (Spoiler alert: yes, but whippets are even more popular here!)
As it turns out, there are a few differences and observations between dog culture here and our most recent camping post in Texas.
Numerous pet friendly establishments. We've been surprised with the number of coffee shops and restaurants that allow dogs in the building. It may have taken months, but once we spotted a paw print sticker on a coffee shop's door, we began to notice them everywhere. And being me, y'all know I immediately searched for some sort of cumulative online list of closed-kitchen spaces our dog would enjoy. (You're welcome!) Truth be told, she's just happy to fall comfortably on the ground: Tongues out, buns out. Dogs are also allowed on the bus system here (with a muzzle!), so we've taken advantage of that - and will continue to use it from time to time. In Austin, I only saw dogs in outside eating areas and cars, so there definitely seem to be more options here, including the newer Paupio Turgus and half-price train tickets to other towns.
Mechanism to interact with new people. While pets can be a helpful tool to make new friends anywhere, Audrey has provided some of our first opportunities to interact with non-English speakers. At our previous flat, we often spoke with a sweet older woman and her pup - all in completely broken Lithuanian - about dog ages, our flat floors, what we do for work. (The patience oozing out of that woman, bless her!) And walking through Kalvarijų Turgus, countless women have come up to us to pet Audrey and tell us how beautiful she is - "Koks gražus šuo!" She's a strange cultural bridge - and she knows it! We've also joined a whippet-specific social media group, which, sure, posts in Lithuanian, but provides opportunity for Audrey to meet new dogs, and us new friends. So, there really is something to being a dog owner in a new country - and Audrey takes full advantage of the pets.
Conscientious dog owners. You've heard me talk about affirmative concern for the greater good before, but it's worth repeating: The Scientist and I have noticed that people here generally follow social and moral codes, and this respect extends to their pet ownership. They're cognizant of bathroom cleanup and typically self-aware enough to ensure their dogs aren't off leash in common areas - and even careful out in the forests. On the other hand, I've often seen dogs off leash in Austin, as well as some pretty negligent and entitled owners. This may come as a shock to some of y'all, but I'm not really a pet person, although I do genuinely like most dogs from far away. So, the above has all been a welcomed change - and Vilnius has done a good job of making our international greyhound feel at home.
I'll spend a bit more time in a future post discussing the ins and outs of bringing a pet overseas, but just know this, for now: Audrey is living her best life in Lithuania, thanks especially to some very welcoming people. If you're a pet owner and new to a country, I highly recommend taking the time to learn more about what your new home has to offer your pet. If they're anything like mine, they'll welcome any opportunity to meet new people and get some extra treats.
Viso gero - until next time!