Canines in Conical Hats: Lucy Does Vietnam

In the spirit of remembering Vietnam this week,  I thought it a good time to remind you about my Maltese Lucy’s having traveled the country from one end to the other–how she loved Vietnam, how Vietnam loved Lucy.

In short, Lucy is a dog with wanderlust.  She loves to go just about anywhere.  And though she looks the part of precious pup–

Lucy at a park in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, district 1

–my seven pound “princess,” in fact, behaves badly anywhere other than her black, backpack carrier—

Very badly!

Lucy does not possess anything remotely resembling a sweet disposition.  Her bark–loud, high-decibeled, and persistent–is her best weapon in an arsenal of ways to get what she wants.

But John Grogan, author of Marley & Me, insists that all dogs are great, and bad dogs–“the greatest of them all.”

And Lucy is indeed a great traveler—

Lucy is such a perfect companion on the road, that Sara and I have trotted the globe with her in tow—if for no other reason than she’s at her best, her most charming and well-behaved in planes, trains, and automobiles.

And on our world-wide odyssey to find canine obedience and tail-wagging good manners, our first stop with Lucy was Vietnam—a country Lucy traveled top to bottom, bottom to top.

Lucy behaved beautifully during our grueling 24 hour trans-global trip to Saigon.  Honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.

However, day-to-day living with Lucy in Vietnam proved more challenging, since, for the first several days, I couldn’t locate a blade of grass within a 10 block radius of our apartment.   There was a park a 15 minute walk away, but it was so far that even getting there involved rehydration stops along the way:

And once we finally arrived, it turned out dogs were not allowed on the lawn.  I kid you not!

One morning, a security a guard reprimanded me, “Not dog on grass!  Not dog on grass!”  When I showed him the pink poop bag with which I intended to pick up any excrement, pink poop bag I had brought purposefully all the way from the US—biodegradable and environmentally friendly—he seemed not the least impressed and repeated his demand with all the more irritation, “Not dog on grass!  Not dog on grass!”  But Lucy refused to pee or poop on pavement.  What was an environmentally conscious, dog-toting-to-the-Far-East American to do?

What I did was find this lonely square of grass in front of the Indonesian Consulate:

But once she adjusted to only a tiny turf, Lucy was off to places like the Reunification Palace:

She visited famous fountains:

She even participated in a student survey:

She insisted on praying at Notre-Dame Basilica:

Lucy traveled the 1,100 miles from Saigon to Hanoi by train—a nearly 30 hour trip.  She loved lounging in our compartment and mooching meals from Sara:

In Hanoi she visited the Temple of Literature by back pack:

She enjoyed Sunday brunch at the world-famous Metropole Hotel:

Lucy took us shopping in the Old Quarter:

She made friends at a model build for the Jimmy Carter Work Project:

Then Lucy insisted on having a hat of her own, and she bought the smallest conical hat in all of Southeast Asia:

Lucy continued to turn heads even when we lived in Haiti,  but she still insists no well-mannered Maltese would do Vietnam without a millinery consultation.

Hats off to Hanoi!

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family.  (This post is not part of that series.)  To read one of my mafia-related memoir posts,”Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

70 thoughts on “Canines in Conical Hats: Lucy Does Vietnam

    • Thanks so much for reading. Glad to think the photo is funny. I still laugh when I look at it! The Temple of Literature was essentially the first university in Vietnam and Temple of Confusius. It was built during the 10th Century AD.
      Hope you will come back soon.


    • Oh, thanks so much, Beth Ann. The fact of the matter is that she is “perfect” inasfar as she is dear to me–cute, loving, etc. However, she also has a deafeningly high-decibled bark that is very off-putting to most people–and rightly so. I guess she is a mixed blessing–a blessing for sure, but not without her flaws.


  1. This has got to be the cutest damn thing I’ve seen in long time. That little hat! You are so lucky to have a dog that will let you put that stuff on her. Rosie gives me the stink eye if I even put neckerchief on her. The only princess thing she has going on is her dislike of going potty in the rain. She does not enjoy getting her paws wet so she walks around with two paws held in the air and looking pitiful. She will hold it ALL day if it’s raining, no kidding.


    • OMG–I know exactly what you are saying. Lucy does a very similar thing. Often, if it is raining, I have to pick her up and carry her to far corner of the lawn to force her to walk across the grass to get back in the door. Then, usually, in the process of getting back inside, she finds the motivation to pee along the way. But then again–can you blame her? That’s what I ask myself–would I want to go out side and pee in the rain. In some ways, I think this makes her more human to me.

      (Yes, I know that this is probably nuts. I know I love this little dog too much for my own good.)


    • She is, indeed, well-traveled. And the good thing about that is that she is on her best behavior when on the move. If I put her in her black bag, she associates that with going somewhere, and she is quiet and well-behaved.


  2. LOVE it! Lucy is quite the traveler. She’s so cultured. Reggie doesn’t like leaving the couch.

    How did she do with the heat in Vietnam?


    • She didn’t seem to mind the heat in the least. I kept her hair short, took her for long walks early in the morning before it got quite so ungodly hot, and only took her out later in the day for brief “potty breaks.” Otherwise she was in air conditioning.


  3. What a fun post about Lucy! You could even do a series of posts called “Where’s Lucy?” I am still amazed at the poop/grass scenario. I’ll bet you never once thought this would be a cultural challenge. Sounds like you all adjusted though. Like how you made this so fun to read.


    • Gosh, isn’t that the truth? I would NEVER have anticipated the pooping on grass would be the cultural challenge. However, that kind of became amusing to us. We ended up laughing at how absurd that felt to us, but how real it felt to the Vietnamese. It reinforced our understanding of how much culture plays a role in establishing differences in various parts of the world. It taught me that I needed to be more open-minded in my thinking–and that I had SOOOOOOOO much I needed to learn.


    • Sorry, Kathy, I forgot. Sara has suggested I write, not only a series of posts, but also some kind of children’s book about traveling with Lucy. I just wish I had thought about that more at the time–taken more photos and notes about what it was like.


    • I know. It’s a hoot that she loves to travel so much. Who would have ever anticipated that? And I love that you appreciate the photo of Lucy and I on that patch of grass–as I just became so damn bewildered about my struggle to locate grass, that when I found it, it felt like I wanted to get down on my knees and kiss the green stuff. It actually really cracks me up now.


  4. I recall reading this post before (if not exactly, then something similar). That conical hat still cracks me up! 🙂

    Hope you are enjoying your visits this week, Kathy.


  5. I love this! I love that you take Lucy everywhere. I’d like to take Arthur traveling with us but haven’t had the courage to try it yet. He used to have a travel container very similar to Lucy’s without the back straps that I used to use in the car. But he outgrew it.

    The at picture is absolutely too much!


  6. As Lucy was having a great time in Vietnam, where was Ralph, or did he not enter the picture until after you returned? I greatly enjoyed these pictures of Lucy visiting far off lands, but I kept wondering about Ralph!


    • Great question. We brought the dogs over in stages–Lucy first, Ralph on my next trip home. For the most part, Sara couldn’t get away from work and I couldn’t handle bringing both dogs in one trip. Lucy was in Vietnam for a couple of months before Ralph came. He was home with our house-sitter.


  7. Terri’s Lucy started my puppy fever, and your Lucy is going to totally do me in. Especially since Maltese is the breed of dog I have been looking into. They are sooo adorable.
    I’m happy that she’s such a great travel companion for you! The fact that she can adapt to different “bathrooms” is helpful! I remember having to pee in a few holes during my traveling days as a kid. I fought it for a while too, but eventually you do what you gotta do, and go where you gotta go!
    Great story!


  8. I love that last picture especially, but oh! The biggest impact this has on me is that I now feel my sense of wanderlust has been dusted off and kick-started. I’ve gotta take Li’l D somewhere soon! (My dog, sadly, will be stuck with the grammas.)


    • Thanks so much for thinking about us. I’m assuming “the Nose” and family are okay. Please give your sister our best. It was, indeed, bad. But this is the maddening difference between Sara and me—-I went to the basement, and Sara went out on the front porch “to watch the storm.” I could have killed her, if I didn’t love her so much.


  9. I love your blog and this post! I once got yelled at for having my dog on the grass at Millennium Park in Chicago! So stupid! I really enjoy stories about dogs thinking they are human…and being treated as such! Good for Lucy!


  10. Really enjoyed your post. We brought our dog with us to Hanoi, despite being told it wasn’t a good idea for various reasons… But most of the Vietnamese are charmed by her and she has settled in to all the hustle and bustle so well, only missing the ability to speed around off leash… Most Vietnamese look at me quizzically when I pick up after her and many try to encourage me to put it back…. I too have been tempted by the small conical hats, but feel Tala’s ears may not be as accommodating… It must be nice having such a small dog though for those occasions where dogs aren’t allowed (Temple of Literature? I haven’t tried there, although Tala does come in to art galleries and many restaurants…)

    Hound in Hanoi:


    • Oh, I am thrilled to hear from you, and can’t wait to check out your blog. I read some of those recommendations not to take dogs to Vietnam, but we simply couldn’t go without ours. Where do you live in Hanoi? Old Quarter? Tay Ho? I’m delighted to hear Tala has done well! Thanks for reading!


  11. This is really cute!
    I am actually getting ready to take my dog on her first plane ride and would love to hear about any tips, etc. to help her along with the flight. She is small enough and has a carrier so she can be on the plane with me.
    Can’t wait for more posts!

    When you get a chance maybe you can check out my site:
    has information on fun dog products as well as specifics to the area that I live.


    • So glad to hear you enjoyed this post. My Lucy loves to travel. My biggest piece of advice would be to start taking her out in her carrier and associate it with going fun places. Build up ultimately to the amount of time she will have to be contained for the trip–time at the airport on either end, as well as the flight itself. I’ve never sedated Lucy since her first trip, as she just doesn’t need it. Your dog likely won’t either, if she can learn to enjoy being in her carrier. Hope you all have a great trip.

      Can’t wait to check out your blog!


  12. So gorgeous ! I love that you can pack her into a little back pack that’s so handy ! Great post Kathryn , love the pics … actually making me think about heading over soon myself ! 😉 Looking forward to the next installment of Little Lucy s travels


  13. Pingback: The Far Side of Sanity and Back Again: An Evolution in Thank You « The Monster in Your Closet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s