Exploring the opportunities and challenges of bringing along pets for the MBA program at IMD.

“Dogs are men’s best friends” or so the saying goes. However, for many (including some in our batch at IMD), dogs are an integral part of their lives – companions, friends and possibly even family members. Hence, it is no surprise that despite all the procedural difficulties in bringing pets into Switzerland, I have colleagues from Russia, South Africa, China and Brazil who have gone the extra mile to ensure they are not separated from their pets.

And although this may not be one of the top questions MBA aspirants ask, it is a relevant one and I have been asked exactly that on more occasions than one. Since I chose to leave my dogs in India, I decided to ask my colleagues their motivations and the challenges they faced and overcame when they brought their pets to Lausanne.

A colleague of mine, whose dog Pippin is literally the batch pet said “I have never left Pippin alone for a moment since I adopted him 8 years ago, so the question of not bringing him to Switzerland never arose. Moreover, Switzerland is a heaven for dogs and dog owners with its trails and hikes”. Having Pippin around is not just a mood elevator for her, but for all of us as he enthralls us with his antics … like this one time he got locked in our study rooms late one evening and we had to request the campus security to come and rescue him. Or another time, when he jumped into the Lac Leman along with the rest of us because he enjoys a good dip in the water too … the stories are endless.

Another colleague, who brought both her dogs to Switzerland from South Africa shares her sentiments, “Basically it wasn’t a choice whether we should bring them or not – when we adopted Leia from the dog shelter, I promised I would look after her for the rest of her life. Our dogs make our tiny apartment in Lausanne feel like home and we have enjoyed taking them on hikes and adventures in Switzerland.” That is not to take away from the fact that bringing the dogs here was a challenge for her. She arrived first, followed by her husband a week later and the dogs arrived the same day but on a separate flight … a direct flight that cost three times as much as his flight ticket!

Yet another anecdote I could lay my hands on came from my batchmate from Brazil who got into arguments with his wife over his pet dog – Petit. Due to the insane amount of paperwork needed to bring dogs into Switzerland, he decided to leave the dog with his mother-in-law in London. While the dog seemed to be enjoying itself, the owners were debating who the dog missed more! They then concluded that they wouldn’t be able to get through the year without the dog and brought her here. And now she wakes up the whole building in the middle of the night when he goes home from school to show her happiness – but her puppy eyes have won over even the sternest neighbours who can’t resist her charms.

While we appreciate the efforts my colleagues made to bring their pets here, it is a challenge to look after them with the tight schedule that an MBA brings. As such, we owe them heartfelt gratitude for making the whole MBA experience so enriching for those who either had to leave our pets back home or never considered owning them. The pure, unadulterated joy of playing with a pet after a long day at work is in its own right, cathartic.


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