Couple stranded with pug told to leave it behind

British couple who became stranded in Costa Rica with their pet pug Pebbles during round the world trip refuse repatriation flight because they would need to leave the dog behind

  • Abbey Walsh, 25, and Hugh Thomas, also 25, flew into the country on March 12
  • However, they were quickly stranded with their dog after the airport closed
  • Couple say they were offered flights via Germany – but without their beloved pug
  • They were two months into a two-year world trip with the dog chronicled online 

A British couple travelling the world with pet pug Pebbles have been stranded in Costa Rica for seven weeks after they refused a repatriation flight in case they would need to leave their beloved dog behind.

Travellers Abbey Walsh, 25, and Hugh Thomas, also 25, flew into the Central American country on March 12 for a three-week trip but quickly found themselves marooned when flights were grounded and lockdown policies were triggered.

The pair, from Newport, South Wales, contacted the British Embassy and were offered a trip home via Germany – but staff said they weren’t sure if Pebbles could join them. They refused and have remained in San Jose ever since.

The couple had been planning a two-year world trip with their dog – which they would chronicle with pictures on Instagram. However, they only got two months in before the global shutdown began.

Abbey Walsh, 25, and Hugh Thomas, also 25, flew into Costa Rica on March 12 with their beloved pug Pebbles. They have been stranded in the capital, San Jose, ever since

The pair travel the world with Pebbles and take adorable pictures for the dog’s Instagram account. The dog is pictured above on a trip to Flam, Norway

Embassy officials indicated that Pebbles wouldn’t be allowed on the repatriation flight – prompting the couple to stay in San Jose. The dog is shown in Mykonos, Greece

Ms Walsh, who runs a marketing firm with Mr Thomas, said she initially thought the Embassy was ‘joking’ when they suggested leaving the dog behind. 

‘We would never abandon Pebbles – she is a member of our family, she’s like our child,’ she said.

‘We are all in this together, and we won’t go home until we can all go together.’

She said the borders closed alongside parks and beaches a few days after they arrived in Costa Rica, and that curfews were put in place. 

‘We have been watching the daily updates from the UK and as soon as it was announced that citizens would start to be repatriated, I emailed the British Embassy in Costa Rica.

‘They called me the same day to let me know they had a flight to Germany and from there they would help us arrive into the UK but it was the following day.

They had got two months into a world trip with the dog when the lockdown struck. Pebbles is pictured above at the start of the trip in Canada

Pebbles squints at the camera at a fountain in Oslo, Norway. The couple took their treasured pet on a practice trip around Europe before the world tour


Pebbles is pictured above beaming at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, and sticking her tongue out while visiting windmills in Mykonos, Greece

‘It can take three to ten days to get pet export documents anyways but the Embassy wasn’t sure if pets were allowed in the first place so we said no.

‘We are lucky the owner of the Airbnb we are staying in has allowed us to stay for as long as we need and gave us a discount.’ 

The pair got Pebbles when she was only 10 weeks old, in September 2015 and since then they have travelled together in 28 countries all over the world.

Nations they have visited with the adorable pug include Mexico, Canada, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Lithuania, Spain, France Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria and Hungary.

They left the UK on January 18 heading to Canada for a fortnight, then Mexico, planning to travel for two years all over the Americas but after arriving in Costa Rica their trip was put on hold due to the virus outbreak.

And although they admit things for them could have been much worse, they are waiting for the lockdown to be lifted and either continue their travels or come back to the UK.

Abbey added: ‘We decided we wanted to travel long-term with Pebbles so we first did a test run in Europe to see how she coped.

‘When we got home after our trip, at the end of October she was depressed to be back at home – she absolutely loved travelling.

Ms Walsh said she thought it was a ‘joke’ when the embassy first called to say they weren’t sure whether Pebbles could join them. The trio are pictured above in San Jose

Pebbles smiles at the departure lounge in Rotterdam airport. Pugs are allowed on most flights. German carrier Lufthansa allows them to travel in the main cabin

The trio pictured smiling together during their travels. They did a trip around Europe before embarking on the two-year world tour – which they have chronicled on Instagram

Pebbles shivers on an icy bench in Canada at the beginning of their tour around the world

‘She was just sitting bored, she didn’t want to do the same route on our walk every day so I was taking her with the car to different places to keep her occupied.

‘She loves swimming, she loves going to the beach, she likes getting dog treats from strangers.

‘If we didn’t have Pebbles we would have left before they closed the borders, we would have got one of the last flights to Europe.

‘Ideally if we can, we’d like to keep travelling, maybe not the original route we had in mind- we are thinking of the West coast of Canada.

‘If travel changes significantly and we won’t be able to travel freely, we’d choose to go back home.’ 

Pugs are allowed to fly inside the cabin of planes by many airlines. Norwegian, Iberia and Lufthansa are three major airlines that allow the dogs onto flights.

On its website, German carrier Lufthansa says pugs can be transported as ‘excess paggage’ in the air-conditioned hold. They also offer tickets for the animals.

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