Well, here we are! Six months since the world turned upside down and while we all try to adjust to this “new life”, the path to normalcy has not been laid the same for everyone. At CocoChew, we saw so many stories involving folks who could not see their loved ones for months on end and it broke our hearts. What we did not hear about were those separated from their pets. What happened to those who got stuck traveling and were locked out of their home country for months?? Well, Steff and her beloved dog Olive experienced just that. We followed their story on Instagram (@dingoatemyticket) and were dizzy from the rollercoaster of emotions both Steff and her pup experienced after being separated for three months.
Can you please introduce yourself and give us a brief background of your relationship with Olive?
Hi! I am Steff, I'm 29 years old and currently live in Greece where me and my husband bought a small 2 acre farm. In my daily life I am a graphic designer and I love spending time in our garden, traveling (we recently lived in Iceland, The Netherlands and Cambodia), or anywhere in nature really, just like Olive. Olive is my dog, and muse, and the most awesome dog ever (in my opinion). She is 4 years old on the 20th of September, and is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. Me and my husband found her when we were living in Cambodia, she and her family were living in the mud under an abandoned building and she was barely 6 weeks old when we took her (don't worry - the other parts of the family also got taken care of, although most of the pups passed away from Distemper.) I did however have to get my husband drunk to get him to say yes to taking her, he hasn't regretted that decision!
Can you please give us an idea of the situation you found yourselves in that kept you and Olive separated? Where were you? What were you told? Can you describe the scene for us and what happened?
Yeah, Covid was a bit of a mess for us. Will's (my husband) best friend was getting married, he lives near Tel Aviv in Israel. We bought our tickets in January at the start of Covid, at that time it was still only in China so we weren't too worried. When times got closer I discussed with my boss and Will all the options, we were travelling through Poland, to Israel, both countries where Covid was not really a thing yet so we didn't think it was a huge problem to go. We got to our destination fine, Olive was safely with my mom in Iceland, and we had a great time the first week in Israel until the wedding. One day after the wedding our flights got cancelled the first time, and honestly I wasn't too worried around that time and still thought it would be all fine within a week or so.
How long were you two apart from one another? Can you describe what was going through your mind during this period of separation?
In total, it was 3 months. Too long. The thing that made it hardest was that there was simply no flights, but instead of being clear, our airline chose to be an absolute mess and kept on rescheduling our flight. Every week we checked, and got met with another big yellow banner saying "Cancelled". It was really difficult being away from family, living in a hostel, and then also being locked in, without Olive. In the end the people in the hostel is what kept me going, I picked up playing the Ukulele, threw myself at cooking and baking, and we luckily had great company and ridiculous entertainment (there were a lot of rather strange people staying in the hostel, I can tell you that much!) I was lucky Olive was in a safe space and my mom kept me updated, but I did realize I never want to not have a dog ever again. Life was just not the same without her, so boring! I think however the hardest part about being in Israel was that my grandfather fell ill, he is one of my closest family members, and he passed away while we were still in Israel, so I missed his funeral and was not able to see him before he died. Oh man, that definitely was the moment I just broke down and all I wanted was to be home, with Olive, and my family. I don't think I have ever felt this alone in my life.
Can you describe for us when you found out you would finally be able to see Olive? What were you told? What were your emotions like?
Our flights were cancelled again, when Will found a different flight, through Moldova (the Moldovan president literally said "drinking vodka will keep Moldovans healthy and strong" so didn't close the border) to The Netherlands, so not even to Iceland. I was rather okay with this though, since I got to see my grandma before flying back to Olive. We got to catch up, reminisce about my granddad, cuddle, and I had some time to prepare all my paperwork, since I decided to pick up Olive and bring her back to the Netherlands again. The flight itself was beyond strange, masks everywhere, a way too full airplane, and our layover in Moldova was just plain weird. The airport was empty, everything dark and closed, just two employees making coffee and breakfast. Luckily all went well and we got to the Netherlands safely.
What was the first thing you and Olive did after you were reunited?
Hike. Hug. Buy her too many treats. I was so happy to see her and my family, it was such a relief!
What kind of support did you receive from friends, family, or fans from Instagram to help support you while you two were separated? Were you surprised by how many people reached out in support of you and Olive during that time?
Our friends in Israel were amazing, they felt so guilty we got stuck and came to bring us food nearly daily. We also met some people in that hostel that I'll never forget and will always be friends, they were so supportive, so kind, so welcoming. My friends at home supported as much as they could, but were themselves also very much busy with the corona situation and all that surrounds it. What I was most shocked about was when we started a go fund me to get home asap, we raised so much more than I thought they would, and it helped us so much, it is how we bought our tickets to the Netherlands and I'm beyond grateful for that! In the end, the biggest support was all the kind messages though, people were so understanding, loving, and just there for us.
Can you describe to us what you and Olive are doing now? We see you guys traveling all over the place and would love to know what is in store for you guys next!
Well! We just arrived in Greece about 2 months ago. We bought a farm here about a year and a half back, and this summer was our start of remodeling it all. The house itself was only an empty shell really, all the windows broken, no doors, and such a mess! Our plan for now is to stay here, build up the farm, and perhaps in a year or two head to a new location. We don't intend on selling this though, I totally lost my heart to Pelion mountain!
Olive and Steff continue their adventures of traveling around the world today! Give them a follow on Instagram @dingoatemyticket! Thanks for reading!