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Reader’s report: Traveling to England from the Continent via pet chauffeur

It’s not straightforward to get into the U.K. with a pet dog, you’ll recall from a June 2013 post — and you may recall, too, that one reader’s approach was to hire a courier or chauffeur on the Continent who would take her and her pup through the Chunnel on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Reader Tammy wrote to me after her trip to let me know how it all went, and kindly agreed that I could pass the information on to you.

The pet chauffeur she engaged is named Denise Brown, and Tammy found her reliable and easy to work with. Tammy and her pup Bruno arrived in Amsterdam, and while Denise offered to pick them up there, take them to a Dutch vet to get a pet passport plus the tapeworm treatment the U.K. requires, and then drive them to London, Tammy opted to meet her in Paris: “I felt it would be too long a car ride from Amsterdam, given also that we are doing a v long flight from Singapore.  + I also thought I could manage a vet trip by myself, and did not mind a side trip to Paris.”

That sounded good on paper, but in retrospect, Tammy would have handled it differently:

“My mistake was I should have waited/rested a few days before simply pressing on. We took the Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris, and Denise picked us up from Gare du Nord. We had arrived in Amsterdam 2 days before this, from Singapore. It really took a toll on us. Also, long distance driving isn’t exactly the same as interstate driving in the US (where I learnt to drive, and have lived for about 10 years). The freeways seemed smaller! There is also v miserable traffic in Paris and London. I think what I would do next time if I used her again would be to rest a few days before doing this journey.”

Alternatively, Tammy might have opted for renting a car and driving herself (not every car rental agency will let you take a car one-way into the U.K., but Hertz does, and others might). The cost savings of engaging a pet chauffeur (over renting a car and paying the gigantic one-way surcharge) ended up evaporating: The basic fee Denise charged for driving Tammy and Bruno from Paris Gare du Nord to South Kensington was 500 €, but “there was also a VAT fee I had to pay.”

Tammy noted, too, that Denise was “quite strict with having the dogs crated — so post-international flying Bruno was really pissed with being in a crate, and not on my lap, and protested ALL the way — something he did not do at all on a 13 hr flight. For some reason, that also strained me!” [Editor’s note: I can certainly see Denise’s point, especially given that her livelihood depends on keeping her charges safe. But I can also sympathize with Tammy (and Bruno!) — in their “own” car, Tammy could put down a sheet to protect the seat, and give Bruno some room to sprawl (while securing him with a harness and strap “seat belt”).]

Please note that the next time Tammy makes the trip, she will not be driven all the way into London: “Ideally is to drive myself across the Channel, and then leave car there, and get on train to London. The drive into London is ridiculous.”

She had nothing but good things to say about Denise:

“I would have no qualms recommending Denise, or Den as she prefers to be called. She was waiting for me at least 30 mins before we arrived at Gare Du Nord, she knows the deal, v good driver — sharp, alert, and really just hand-held us through pet control etc. She was v professional, warm, and easy to be with for the journey. Her van is well-equipped for dog travel.”

As I mentioned, the cost of the trip Tammy took was 500 €, plus VAT. Tammy paid Denise a deposit of 250 €, and the balance when they met in Paris. The price of the alternate trip Denise suggested (picking Tammy and Bruno up in Amsterdam) was “slightly more.”

Tammy wrote about the trip herself, it turns out, on her own blog. Here’s the link — her account has a picture of Bruno vigorously objecting to traveling in his crate, and more details about the actual drive. Thank you, Tammy, for your feedback about Denise and the service she provides, and for your thoughts on how you’ll handle future trips!