Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — At first glance, when you hear the story of this duo, two veterinarians who travel the world with their dog in an ambulance, you might think it’s the plot of a movie.
But it is a reality for the British duo, Lawrence Doody and Rachel Nixon, who spent about a year on a world tour through more than 50 countries, in an attempt to set a new record, in the Guinness Book of Records, for the longest journey in an ambulance.
When the pair set off on their trip in October last year, the pair attracted a lot of attention as they traveled from country to country in an ambulance, a white Land Rover Defender with yellow and light green stripes that was previously used in horse racing.
Dodi explained that they were not previously asked to stop for medical assistance, noting that the ambulance they traveled in was not actually similar to the emergency vehicles used in any of the destinations they traveled through.
However, the duo encountered a lot of stares, especially at a time of heavy traffic, as they said, “Everybody’s looking at us.”
Vets Dodi and Nixon were looking for a car to convert into a camper van to travel the world when Nixon came across an ambulance, which was for sale on eBay in 2018.
“The initial plan was not to buy an ambulance, or try to set a world record, or anything like that,” explains Dodi. “We were looking for a practical vehicle to drive in, and we fell in love with the ambulance and its aesthetics.”
After purchasing the car, which still had all the ambulance equipment and paraphernalia inside with a stretcher, Nixon came across an article about a group attempting to set the record for the longest distance traveled on a fire engine .
When Nixon learned that no one had officially attempted such a record with an ambulance, the couple reached out to Guinness World Records to ask if they could try.
Nixon and Dodi were told that they had to meet the list of specifications, such as ensuring that the vehicle retained the ability to function as an ambulance, even when not being used as an ambulance, while maintaining its appearance as an ambulance retained.
The duo took these specs into account while working on the car’s interior, and were able to stick to the guidelines while making room for an oven, refrigerator, and all the other camper goods.
Although they had already completed the minimum distance of 20,000 km initially set by Guinness World Records, the pair decided to “continue the journey to record the highest possible distance”.
The duo take their Springer dog, named Peggy Sue, with them, who has a European pet passport, in addition to the necessary rabies vaccination, and the blood test required for animals to travel within Europe, and the couple say she was “living the best phase of her life”. during their time on the road.
“She may be 10, but she thinks she is two years old, she can walk all day, and if she has to sit in the car all day, she can do it,” explains Dodi.
Despite having to skip some non-dog activities and enter some less dog-friendly countries, Dodi and Nixon have absolutely no regrets about taking Peggy Sue with them.
Sharing excerpts from their travels on their blog, Dodi and Nixon initially planned the trip to be a “real world cruise,” including traveling through Central Asia to Russia before the ambulance was sent to North America.
Due to various factors, such as the war in Ukraine, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the nationwide protests taking place in Iran, and the fact that some borders in Central Asia remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the duo was however, forced to change their course.
The couple plan to return to the UK early next year, before the ambulance is sent to Halifax, Canada, and travels down the Pan-American Highway, the world’s longest motorable road, down into Argentina.
Their final destination will be Liverpool FC, a soccer team based in Montevideo, Uruguay, named after the famous English club in their hometown, United Kingdom.
Although the duo originally planned to spend two years completing the challenge, they extended it by another six to 12 months.
The duo raised money for two charities, Anthony Nolan, a UK charity that connects people with leukemia with voluntary donors, and another independent charity, Vet Life, which provides emotional and material support to the vet community.
According to a 2020 study by Merck Animal Health, in collaboration with the American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians are 2.7 times more likely to die by suicide than members of the general public.
Dodi and Nixon say both have lost colleagues and friends in the field to suicide and are eager to raise awareness of the issue.
Although they discovered some fascinating sites, including the highest peaks in Kosovo, Montenegro and Armenia, they emphasize that the people they met along the way and their experiences were the highlight of the trip.