The smart service saving the day for dog owners living abroad

Moving to a new country is an amazing experience, but it’s not without its challenges. Particularly for dog owners who have no-one to look after their precious pooch if they plan a trip. Enter DogBuddy, an app and web-based platform connecting dog owners with dog lovers so both you and your pet can get some R&R.

The smart service saving the day for dog owners living abroad
Photo: Michael Rosizky, Katie McConnell and their dog Kona

It’s something you don’t think about until the time comes, but one of the toughest tasks is finding someone to dog-sit when you take a trip. That task is even tougher if you’ve just moved to a new country and don’t yet have a support network to call on in times of need.

So, what happens when you go away and can’t take Fido with you? The Local spoke to dog owners living abroad who have found the secret to balancing their international lifestyle while making sure their beloved pet is well cared for when they go on vacation.

Sign up to DogBuddy and find your perfect dog sitter

The McVeys and Bo

Back in 2016, Nicole McVey moved from Miami to Paris with her husband John and their Golden Retriever Bo. It was while living in Paris that their son Milo was born.

Photo: Nicole McVey, her son Milo and Bo

“Moving to Europe comes with its advantages of being able to travel and experience new cultures and we definitely wanted to make the most of that, so we had to find a service that would take care of Bo while we travel,” she explains.

The family was no stranger to dog sitting services, having used one when they were at home in the US. Moving to France, however, presented them with a unique set of challenges. Not speaking the local language, Nicole and John felt apprehensive about finding a dog sitter online.

Nicole says her fears were soon put to rest when she found DogBuddy, a dog sitting service active across eight countries, including France, the UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. You pay securely through the website or app, so even if you haven’t quite mastered the local lingo yet, there’s no need for any awkward conversations or confusion when it comes to paying the sitter.

Nicole explains she felt comforted knowing she could browse through dog sitter profiles with pictures and profile information, as well as ratings and reviews left by other dog owners.

“I just look for profiles where I feel the person looks friendly and accommodating. Our dog is large so it’s important to find a sitter that has the room. I stay home with him and our son most of the time so it’s important for us to find someone who has help from a partner because he’s used to having us around,” she says.

Photo: Bo McVey

These requirements have not been a problem for Nicole who says her family has used three to four different sitters from the site and they have all worked out perfectly.

Looking for a reliable dog sitter? Check out DogBuddy

Bo even gets a holiday of his own, when his owners go away.

“He mostly stays in Paris with a DogBuddy sitter while we travel, but once he travelled to Normandy with his sitter and her Golden Retriever. He was able to swim and had a great time,” she recalls.

Sophie and Maurice

Sophie Miskiw and her partner have a similar story, after moving from the UK to Sweden in 2016 with their dog Maurice.

Photo: Sophie Miskiw, Josh and their dog Maurice

“We didn’t know a single other person in Stockholm. We were going on our first holiday and when you don’t know anyone, it’s quite restricting. You feel like you can’t go anywhere, but DogBuddy allowed us to feel like we had a support network.”

Sophie says her dog is like her child, so safety and security are key concerns when choosing a service and a sitter.

“He’s my baby and you wouldn’t leave your child with someone you didn’t feel comfortable with. You want someone that you know is going to look after him and give him love while you’re away,” she says.

It’s not only the sitter that Sophie felt confident with. It was also reassuring, she explains, knowing that Maurice was protected by DogBuddy’s vet coverage and liability insurance.

“It’s a relief knowing that if something happens to Maurice while he’s with the sitter, he can immediately see a vet.”

Looking for the perfect dog sitter? Try DogBuddy

Photo: Sophie Miskiw and Maurice

It wasn’t just Maurice’s owners who took a well-deserved break. Sophie recalls while she was away she received a photo of him living it up in the Stockholm archipelago.

“The dog sitter asked if she could take Maurice to her mother’s country house in the archipelago. It was really nice because I felt like he had a holiday as well. He’s been to places with dog sitters that my boyfriend and I would love to visit. We’re kind of jealous!” she laughs.

Sophie adds that knowing DogBuddy has photo and video messaging features, as well as GPS updates built into the app, gives her added confidence as she can be sure Maurice is getting enough exercise and having a good time with his sitter.

Michael, Katie and Kona

Couple Michael Rosizky and Katie McConnell had always wanted a dog. After moving from Canada and settling in Spain, they decided it was time to make that dream a reality.

DogBuddy made it possible for the two lifelong dog lovers to adopt their puppy Kona.

Photo: Michael Rosizky, Katie McConnell and their dog Kona

“We understood the way DogBuddy worked and we knew that by moving here there would be travel involved, so we knew there was a solution out there for us if we couldn’t find a sitter. That was taken into consideration when we were deciding to choose a dog,” Michael says.

After unexpected travel plans arose just six weeks after getting Kona, they called on this support system for the first time.

“It was really easy. She was very flexible. We also went to her flat, so we could see where we were leaving him. She was also a dog trainer so that kind of made us feel more comfortable as well,” Michael adds.

Make sure the whole family is looked after next time you go away with DogBuddy

DogBuddy not only caters for overnight stays, but also offers doggy daycare and dog walking.

“There was a day that we were going to be gone for over five hours and it was really simple and easy to find someone who could just walk him and take him for the day,” Michael recalls.

Although Katie and Michael have now settled into their new home and made friends, they keep going back to DogBuddy.

Photo: Michael Rosizky, Katie McConnell and their dog Kona

“When you get here you realise that you don’t have your safety net of family and friends around you, but we knew we had DogBuddy and actually we’ve used it every time just because it makes us feel safe,” Michael says.

Moving to a new country with your dog doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Check out DogBuddy to help you breathe easier while you travel, knowing your fur-baby is safe and well cared for while you’re away.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by DogBuddy


Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey

Distant locals and a difficult housing market are among the factors resulting in a poor ranking for Scandinavian capitals in a survey on life for internationals in major cities.

Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey
Copenhagen and Stockholm. Composite: TunedIn61, mdurinik/Depositphotos

Copenhagen was ranked 54th and Stockholm 69th overall in the Expat City Ranking, based on a survey conducted by InterNations, a worldwide community for expats.

The Danish and Swedish capitals both ranked in the bottom 10 for finance and housing in the list of 72 cities, placing 63rd and 71st respectively.

Although Copenhagen in particular fared far better in the work-life balance category, rating in 1st place while Stockholm was 24th, that was not enough to save the overall disappointing ranking for the two cities.

Difficulty in settling as a newcomer was a further element of the survey in which the two cities did poorly: Copenhagen was found to be 61st and Stockholm 69th most difficult city in which to settle.

The ranking, based on survey responses from 18,000 people living and working abroad, is “one of the most extensive expat studies in the world”, InterNations wrote in a press release issued with the publication of the results.

Graphic: InterNations

The survey ranks the 72 cities by a variety of factors including quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, and finance and housing.

The top ten cities on the 2018 ranking are Taipei, Singapore, Manama, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Aachen, Prague, Madrid and Muscat.

With its 54th place overall, Copenhagen landed in the top ten in for urban work life and the bottom ten for finance and housing.

Quality of life and work-life balance were both rated highly by respondents: more than four in five respondents (84 percent) were satisfied with this aspect of life abroad (compared to 61 percent globally). Almost half (47 percent) said it could ‘not be any better’ (compared to 20 percent globally).

The same is true for working hours, with Copenhagen placing second worldwide, beaten only by German city Aachen. More than four in five expats in the Danish capital (83 percent) rate their working hours positively, compared to 62 percent worldwide.

READ ALSO: Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance

Copenhagen boasts the highest job security out of the Nordic cities included in the ranking: 67 percent of expats are happy with this factor, followed by Stockholm (62 percent) and Helsinki (61 percent).

Copenhagen is the best Nordic city for income in relation to living expenses, although it ranks only 43rd out of 72 cities worldwide for this factor. In fact, more than three in five expats (62 percent) are unhappy with the local cost of living, compared to a global average of 37 percent.

Not a single respondent said that it was ‘very easy’ for expats to find housing in Copenhagen (18 percent globally), while more than two in five (41 percent) consider it extremely hard (11 percent globally).

Copenhagen ranks 68th worldwide for housing, only ahead of Geneva, Munich, Dublin and Stockholm.

The Swedish capital is the worst-rated of the three Nordic cities included in the survey and was placed 69th overall, ahead of only three other cities worldwide: Rome, Jeddah and Riyadh.

Stockholm shows a particularly poor performance for getting settled (69th) and finance and housing (71st). More than four in five respondents (81 percent) said that housing is not affordable in Stockholm, compared to 44 percent globally.

Continuing a trend for housing to impact the overall ranking, 79 percent said it was not easy to find housing in Stockholm (compared to 30 percent globally).

The majority of expats in Stockholm (65 percent) also rated the local cost of living negatively (compared to 37 percent globally).

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to rent in Sweden?

When it comes to urban work life, respondents in Stockholm are happy with their working hours: seven in ten (70 percent) rate this positively, compared to 62 percent globally. However, Stockholm is still the worst-rated Nordic city for this factor (15th), ranking behind Copenhagen (2nd) and Helsinki (5th).

While expats are happy with their working hours, they report a lack of socializing and leisure activities to pursue in their free time: more than two in five (41 percent) rate them negatively, compared to less than one in five globally (19 percent). In fact, just 32 percent of expats in Stockholm are happy with their social life, compared to 57 percent globally.

This might be due to the lack of friendliness perceived amongst Stockholmers: the Swedish capital ranks 71st for this aspect of life abroad, outperforming only Riyadh.

When it comes to the quality of urban living, expats are not only dissatisfied with the leisure options but also with the weather in Stockholm: less than one-quarter (24 percent) rate the local climate and weather positively, compared to more than half of internationals globally (55 percent). On the bright side, Stockholm comes in second place for the quality of its urban environment.

In total, the responses used for the city ranking represent 11,966 people living as foreign citizens living in 55 countries. For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2018, a sample size of at least 45 survey participants per city was required; 72 cities in 47 different countries made this threshold in 2018.

READ ALSO: Sweden's housing shortage an obstacle to integration: report