It’s a Dog’s Life in Berlin

Ich liebe Deutschland

Ich liebe Deutschland

If I had to be reincarnated as a dog, Germany has got to be the place to live.  It’s not so much a question of where we’ve been able to go with our little Phalene, Duke,  but where we have not been able to take him along.  In the past 10 days since arrival, there are really only two times that we have not taken him along.  Both times were the swimming pools, where understandably, dogs are not allowed.

No worries at Sanssouci

No worries at Schloss Sanssouci

Other than that, Berlin has been worry-free when it comes to man’s best friend.  Sure, there are stores that don’t allow dogs and usually have a little sticker indicating that like smoking, drinking, and bikes, patrons should leave them outside, but for the most part one can assume that dogs are allowed practically everywhere.

Just waiting on a train

Just waiting on a train

Duke rides the U-Bahn, comes to the local markets, strolls the Ku’damm (Berlin’s equivalent of the Mag Mile) and eats at restaurants with us.  He came on our 4-hour boat tour of Berlin, accompanied us on numerous school visits, and has gone house hunting with us.  Dogs are truly welcome in Berlin and treated like another member of the family.  Many stores and restaurants set out a bowl of water for dogs, and on the boat tour Duke was offered treats along with his water.  At first I was fairly apprehensive about whether or not we should take him to all the places we’ve gone, but now it’s just like bringing along another kid – you wouldn’t leave your 3-year old at home alone would you?

Audrey and Duke strutting their stuff at the markets

Audrey and Duke strutting their stuff at the markets

And it’s been great for Duke as he’s learned to be a bit more social and friendly among so many other dogs.  He still gets a little protective when he meets other dogs, especially large ones (it’s his Napoleon complex), but he’s gotten good enough that he walks the city without a leash most of the time (which unlike in many American cities, is  how most dogs are walked in Berlin).

So along with the satisfaction that our move to Berlin is going well for Vivian and myself and our four children, I’m really pleased that Duke will get to live in a city that welcomes four-legged citizens as well….which reminds me that we need to register him as an official resident too after we’ve moved into our apartment.

German family out for a stroll

German family out for a stroll

Ich bin ein Berliner

Ich bin ein Berliner

Navigating the U-Bahn

Navigating the U-Bahn

Getting a little help from a friend

Getting a little help from a friend

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Starbucks for Kids

We’ve now been on the ground in Berlin for 3 days, and life has been full speed ahead.  Lillian and Audrey had to take an entrance exam and interview on the morning after arrival for the Nelson Mandela School, we’ve toured a few schools for Emilia and Josephine, and we’ve explored the areas in and around the Schöneberg neighborhood mostly on foot.  On top of keeping everyone fed, engaged, and happy, Vivian and I continue to research Grundschulen (elementary schools) along with housing options that will strategically allow us to send our kids to these schools while maintaining the balance between good schools for the younger two, affordable housing, walkability, and an easy commute for the two older girls to and from their school.  It reminds me a little of our World trip and trying to find good places to stay for our little army of 6, but the stakes are much higher.

German playgrounds are awesome

German playgrounds are awesome

The kids have been terrific and appreciate being involved in the process of considering schools and neighborhoods.  And luckily, there seems to be a playground around just about every corner to provide a pick-me-up for the younger ones.  In Berlin it is actually quite difficult to walk more than a few hundred meters without stumbling upon a playground and some green space; and these aren’t your everyday playgrounds.  Maybe because people tend to take more personal responsibility (less litigious than Americans) the slides are built higher, the spans are wider, and there are features like climbing walls, zip lines and rope bridges.  In America, we’d probably have to sign a 3-page liability waiver to let our children roam these “dangerous” places, but in Germany it’s just how they roll.

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In Germany, not only can adults satisfy their caffeine fix with an excellent cup of coffee no matter where you happen to be, but your children will have the kids’ equivalent of a Starbucks around every corner too!

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Life is a playground

Life is a playground

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