When it comes to canine travel, Louis has become a bit of an expert. He’s had a very exciting life since his adoption from a rescue in Brussels, and his stories of exploration have been documented in a series of children’s books by Gillian Muir.
The former geography teacher from Ayrshire loved travelling, but when she adopted the brown Cockapoo from Help Animals Shelter she didn’t expect that they would share the same interest.
Gillian says, “We adopted Louis when we lived in Brussels. He was tied to a post in a dog shelter and looking sad. We went to see another dog but Louis noticed us, wagged his little brown tail and there was no decision to be made – he had chosen us. The wonderful people who run the dog shelter warned us he was not a good traveller and gave us some towels for the short journey home.
“I remember him sitting up looking out the window taking everything in. He’s loved travelling with us ever since. He has been to the Alps, the Ardennes, many European cities including Paris, London, Amsterdam, sailed on ferries, a frequent traveller through the Channel Tunnel, as far north as the Outer Hebrides to name but a few of his adventures. It is fair to say he travels well!”
Their most recent journey took them to the Outer Hebrides, travelling by ferry between islands and dolphin watching.
“Louis was my inspiration for the books. The stories unfolded before me and I knew they had to be written down,” says Gillian.
At the time, Gillian had been writing her coming of age book Ten at Last Ted, but after meeting a young talented artist called Delphine Frantzen, the idea behind a new series became a reality. Now there are four books in the series and plans for a fifth.
According to Gillian, Europe is a dog-friendly place to explore with your four-legged travel companion. She adds, “The Channel Tunnel is so good to use with dogs as it has an exercise area while you wait for your train and Louis gets to meet other dogs. He knows the routine and eagerly awaits the picnic snacks being unfolded during the journey!
“Mainland Europe is much more geared up for pets. It is normal for us to wait to be served whilst Louis is greeted with a cold bowl of water from the waiter. Pets are accepted in cafes and restaurants, along with many shops. Although it has to be said that the UK is catching up and often cafes have doggie treats on offer too.”
Gillian hopes to inspire children to write and travel by taking Louis into school. They are also helping to raise money for dogs in need and have raised enough to sponsor a new cage for life at the Help Animals Shelter to improve the comfort of dogs awaiting their forever home.
“Lots of people have said to us how lucky Louis was to find a new home with The Muirs, but we feel we are the lucky ones.”
Find out more about Gillian and Louis’ books and adventures on their website Wee Dug Books.