Around France

For the Love of Bentley

I moved to France and left my pet behind.

“How could you do that?” I’ve been asked by friends and others, especially by animal lovers who believe in taking pets abroad.

How could I do that? I keep saying to myself. Bentley, my Labradoodle, was the best friend I’ve ever had — or perhaps the “best” since my golden retriever, Morgan, went over the “rainbow bridge.”

I mean, it’s easy to take a dog to France. In fact, France loves dogs. All you need to do to take a dog into the country is have a current vaccination record. Or so I’ve been told.

That’s a piece of cake. “Bentley, you’re moving to France!”

Not so fast.

How was Bentley getting to France?

I could only imagine transporting my 70-pound Labradoodle from South Carolina to France by commercial airplane. In the baggage compartment. Under the airplane. Down where it’s very noisy and very scary.

The noise and darkness may not be a big deal for some animals, “give him a tranquilizer,” you say.

That might work, but let me tell you something about Bentley. He is scared to death of loud noises. He leaps into the bed with you during the night if there’s a thunderstorm. He stands on your head.

He leaves the room if someone sneezes.

He’s been known to have seizures if he gets too upset.

In other words, transporting Bentley underneath an airplane would be a death sentence.

So, what’s the alternative? Stay home because of a dog? Throw away the dream of living in France because you don’t want to leave your dog? All these thoughts certainly ran through my head. They still do. I miss Bentley every day. I can’t look at another dog and not feel guilty about leaving Bentley behind.

Bentley and I have had long conversations about this dilemma.

You see, Bentley lives with my son’s family now. He moved in with them when I left for France. He shares the family with their Goldendoodle, Maddy. He helps guard my three-year-old grandson and one-year-old granddaughter/. I visit him for months when I return to the States. When we’re back together, it’s like nothing’s changed. We take walks. He sits on my lap when we’re watching TV. He jumps on my bed when there’s a thunderstorm.

However, he knows when I pull out my bags to start packing to go away. I know.

We kiss, hug, and whisper “goodbye” when I leave the house to take a flight back to France. I get on that noisy airplane and think of Bentley as we take off down the runway.

He’s with me. We’re together. Always. In our hearts.

The good news is Bentley is happy with his new home because he has an important job. He and Maddy the Goldendoodle take turns watching over my grandchildren and the family.

taking pets abroad Guard dogs Bentley and Maddy keep a watchful eye out for backyard intruders.


I’d love to hear if you live or travel abroad and have a story about your pet. Feel free to add a comment to the post or send an email to


Categories: Around France

16 replies »

  1. What a sad post to read. I am sure he had a wonderful life with your family. It will take a while for you to get over ……

    • I feel better now and I think it’s because I know he’s crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge. He will always be with me.

  2. I moved to France in October 2015. My cat made the trip with me, in a soft-sided carrier under the seat in front of me. From Portland, Oregon to Bordeaux. A long day for her, but for the most part she was very well behaved. She got a little restless over Iceland. When we arrived in Bordeaux, I headed to the hotel by the airport for a rest. They never knew I had my cat in the black bag! The minute we got in the room she used the “box,” had a meal, and hid under the bed! She was more unhappy in the car the next day going from Bordeaux to Monpazier!

    We recently moved to different house in another village near Monpazier, and it’s taken her some time to get used to the new place, but she’s adapting pretty well. She’ll be 10 years old in June and this will be her third place to live. She’s a real champ!

    • That’s a great story. It’s especially hard to move cats, I understand. So glad it’s a happy ending. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cunard Cruiselines has a pet kennel in the bottom of boat and you can visit for hours during the day. Most ships are out of NYC and land in Southampton, UK. There are also pet relocation companies that will do everything and deliver door to door. Another thought is to buy another plane seat in the main cabin. We are moving to Languedoc with a dog and 3 cats in the next year.

  4. Oh Deborah, I am so sorry. I’m a massive dog lover myself. You may have read some of my dog related posts, on my blog. Any dog I have ever had has truly been a member of the family. They give us so much unconditional love.

    • If he had been able to last a few more days it would have meant everything to me. Now I’m just resolved we’ll meet again. Thanks for your note, June.

  5. Oh, Deborah…..what a thoughtful post. I know I am one of those who, when I read an early post about you leaving Bentley, wondered how you could do that. But, even at that time, you said he had a wonderful companion in his new home. And when I now hear about his fear of noises, and I see the photos of him with Maddy…..of course, you made the right decision and I totally understand how it was best for him even if it is heart-wrenching for you. I have just cancelled a 6-week trip to France, partly because I couldn’t bear to leave my cat for that long….she is scared of anyone but me, so I can only bear to leave her for a couple weeks at a time.

    • I’ll always question my choice leaving Bentley, but when I see almost every photo of my grandchildren that Bentley’s photobombing, I know he had a happy life. I definitely understand your reluctance to leaving your cat. It’s a tough call.

    • Yes, he was adorable in every way. I miss him sitting on my lap. Can you believe he was a lapdog?!

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