INTERVIEW and EXCERPT
Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds
Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds
by Lisa Fleetwood
Australian author Lisa Fleetwood joins me today for an interview about her travel memoir, Destination Dachshund. She also shares an excerpt from the book.
Destination Dachshund offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with remembrance for those who have been loved and lost, at the heart of one family’s extraordinary journey through Turkey, Russia, the Baltics, Europe and the United States.
With teenage children and in-laws in tow, the Fleetwood family embarks on their adventure just days after the tragic loss of their beloved dachshund, Coco.
When two miniature dachshunds in smart winter coats are spotted in Moscow, it’s game on! A riotous, often hilarious dachshund spotting competition for the lovable, long-bodied dog ensues across 15 countries.
This funny and heartfelt true story will resonate with travel and dog lovers alike as well as history and war buffs. Through the wonder of travel, this remarkable travelogue explores the bond of extended family, the abiding love we have for our pets and the grieving for loved ones, both human and hound.
‘You’re travelling for three months with your parents? Really?’
This may come as a surprise to my mother and parents-in-law when they read this, but when my husband, Anthony, and I told people we were travelling abroad for three months with our parents, they thought we were crazy.
‘People do this,’ I kept telling everyone, ‘They do—people take long trips with their families—it isn’t uncommon.’
Anthony and I were confident it would work. We all got along well; there was no firecracker amongst us, no loud talker, no know-it-all. We had well-behaved parents is what I’m saying, and we knew it would work. They’re family. We could spend three months with them, surely.
A short trip has its advantages, but if you can swing it, whether it’s caravanning, hiring an RV to drive across the country, or overseas travel, a long trip offers valuable extended time with your family, even if it’s only once in your life.
To the astonishment of a lot of people, we were also leaving the lovely Australian spring and summer to journey to the Northern Hemisphere and venture into the cold. Were we skiing? No. Were we visiting family? No. So why go then? Why not wait and experience the Northern summer?
It was simple. The holiday coincided with the children’s end of year school holidays (long summer break over Christmas). But there were added advantages: there are fewer tourists at that time of year, and there is just something so magical about Europe in the lead up to Christmas. I’m a sucker for Christmas markets. And if it happened to snow lightly, while I ambled with a mulled wine, past gable-roofed stalls selling Christmas ornaments, then, joy to the world!
The holiday had been two years in the planning and started out with just the four of us—Anthony and me and our two children, Samuel and Holly. But because my father passed away unexpectedly of pneumonia after being diagnosed with lung cancer, we asked my mum, Patricia, along and soon after, Anthony’s parents, Maree and David. And although this multi-generational journey would not have come about if Dad hadn’t died, the fact he wasn’t there to enjoy it with us was heartbreaking.
In travelling with three generations, the children would have extra time with their grandparents, valuable time, time I wished they could have had with my dad. And Anthony and I would have more time to spend with our parents and children, relaxed time spent exploring and seeing the world.
But there are downsides to three months of travel—leaving our pets. And for us, it was our two-year-old miniature dachshunds, Coco and Charlie. The thought of leaving them caused many tears in the weeks leading up to the departure. We knew they’d be well cared for by good friends who were house and dog-sitting, but it didn’t make leaving them any easier as we’re a little obsessed with dachshunds and always have been.
Dachshunds are big in my family, you see. My grandparents owned one, my family had them, and then so did I.
I met Anthony when I was twenty, this man who would soon become my husband. I viewed him as a perfect match for three reasons. He had the full trifecta. He was cute, he was funny, and he loved dachshunds. And not only did he love dachshunds, his family had owned them for years too. Seriously, it was kismet.
After marrying my dachshund-loving man, of course we got our own fur baby—a cheeky, brown miniature dachshund, and two years later, we got another. But time passed and our puppies aged, like they are supposed to, like we are all supposed to. They lived long, full lives but to our great sadness they died in 2010.
It was too quiet though, I’d had dogs my whole life, and this was my first time without any since I was a very young child. Dogs fill my day with endless joy and share unconditional love that never wavers, so within a month I was searching for puppies. Eight weeks later, we had two new miniature dachshunds, Coco and Charlie. We loved them, and they loved us—and if we thought we’d been mad about dachshunds before, looking back, I realise this was when our true obsession started.
Our three-month journey was to be one of excitement and adventure, exploring the world and spending quality time with our children and parents, but little did I know that the trip would be about so much more than family, our human family anyway.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"What a wonderfully captivating read! Destination Dachshund is a humorous, yet moving memoir of a three generational family’s journey through Europe and the USA. As the family deal with the grief of death, there are moments that tugged at the heartstrings as well as a whole load of hilarious anecdotes, a bit of history and of course, the dachshund spotting! This book is a well-paced read and the rich descriptions captured the sights, smells and flavours of Christmas time in the northern hemisphere. We learn of the trials and tribulations of travelling with extended family, yet there are lots of special moments that make this book so complete. Destination Dachshund will make you want to grab your family and hug them tight … if only to make sure they don’t spot a dachshund!" ~ 5 stars, Melissa, Sydney
"Destination Dachshund is a truly delightful read with many laugh out loud moments. And it isn't just a book about travel - even though the extraordinary array of travel experiences captured between the pages is epic. The author unpacks with warmth and humour the intricacies of family relationships, our love of pets, and the joys of travelling with dodgy-kneed grandparents. And then there's the hilarious dachshund spotting competition. I now find myself scanning walkways and parks for these spunky little dogs." ~ 5 stars, Vanessa, Sydney
"As a traveler, animal lover, mom, journalist, and voracious reader Destination Dachshund really captivated my interest. Lisa's accounts of her family's travels, experiences, interactions, and feelings were all relatable. Sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, we as readers were introduced to all the family dynamics and the places traveled with a very descriptive, relatable writing style. Recommend the book to all who travel or who just like to read of travels." ~ 5 stars, Terri from San Diego
"A truly engaging read that is so much more than a travel memoir. Not only does Lisa take us on her 3 month trip of a life time- she also takes us into the heart of her family. While the Fleetwood's travel through Europe, they must also navigate their own grief. Destination Dachshund is a remarkable book- filled with honesty and humour, and the sights, smells and sounds of amazing locations. It will make you want to hug the ones you love, then book a flight somewhere!" ~ 5 stars, Sharyn, Springwood
Interview With the Author
Lisa Fleetwood joins me today to discuss her memoir, Destination Dachshund.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
From teenagers to adult.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The book was inspired by a travel blog I wrote during a "trip-of-a-lifetime" my family was lucky enough to share with three grandparents a few years ago.
As a writer, blogger, dog lover and keen traveler, writing a memoir combining all of these elements seemed like a natural thing to do.
We are all crazy about dachshunds yet, little did we know, that our competitive search of the loveable sausage dog in each of the 15 countries we visited would leave such an indelible mark on all seven of us.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The emotional parts - the discussion of loss and grief was difficult.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope my book inspires others to write their own stories about the places they have visited and about those who mean the most to them – both human and hound.
How long did it take you to write this book?
What is your writing routine?
I write most days, but tend to work better with a deadline. I set myself a goal to finish this book and publish it in a certain timeframe.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published this book, as I had joined a motivated team of people in a self-publishing school. I chose not to pursue traditional publishing for my memoir, as I wanted full control of the process. And I wanted to move forward with my publishing journey at my own pace - I didn’t want to sit around for months and months submitting to traditional publishers.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
For me - I had already spent years writing and submitting to traditional publishing houses and, by all means, I recommend others do the same but, at the same time, it was a very rewarding journey to self-publish. You just have to make sure you have a good team around you.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Reading, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
Happy, lots of reading and playing outside.
So, you liked reading when you were a child?
Yes - a lot!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In my mid-twenties was when I started to do some short writing courses when my children were babies.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes, in part, but every day since has as well; the people I have met, the things I have learned and experienced all go into the writing.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I read mostly fantasy growing up - so J. R. R. Tolkien, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and C. S Lewis.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes I do! They love dachshunds but also travel, and many mention how much they connected with the story.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Another travel book very soon and, in the future, my fantasy stories might see the light of day!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Lisa. Best of luck with your future projects.
About the Author
Lisa Fleetwood is a writer, blogger, book reviewer, and keen traveller. She lives in Sydney with her husband, two teen-age children, and three cheeky dachshunds.
Destination Dachshund is her first book.
Become part of Lisa's global #dachshundspotting community by sharing photos of dachshunds you discover in your travels on social media. Visit Lisa's website and blog or join her on Facebook in the discussion of books, travel and dogs.