Saturday, May 23, 2009

The trip to LA is on!

It’s been a long time coming but finally the big move to California is on! But aside from the (comparatively minor) issues of finding somewhere to live, packing our lives up, moving continents and starting out in a new country, our primary concern has always been moving our nutty army of pets over there with us. That includes cats Loulou, Mini Me, Jeffrey and Curtis (and George and Hilary in spirit of course), and dogs Bertie, Roxy, Louis and Daisy. Still open for debate is what to do about Spencer and Finlay, the young tabby brothers who recently moved into our garden (on George’s recommendation, we are sure) and now hang out there a lot of the time, although still (technically at least) being strays. If we can’t find a home for them of course we cannot leave them to fend for themselves. So I guess they will come too!

First up, we are trying not to think about how enormous the bill is going to be to airfreight eight (and possibly 10) animals thousands and thousands of miles. Cats are small, so fairly ‘cheap’. Dogs not so much. Time to go on a diet guys! Kidding, it doesn’t even go on weight but on the volume of the box. So Daisy the long dog and Louis the tall dog are gonna cost extra. Hmmmm…. Anyway, we knew that sooner or later we would have to do this, so have kept money aside for it over the last few years. Some folks think we’re mad of course. Do we care? Of course not! Leaving them behind/rehoming/surrendering them to a shelter (or worse) is just not an option.

We had a trial run last year when we rescued four dogs whose days were very numbered at the local shelter (long stayers/supposedly aggressive behaviour/’unhomeable’/whatever) and sent them over to live with our friends Alison and James and their very own Barmy Army consisting of rescue dogs Snowy, Ashe, Willow, Wilbur, Blue and Archie (and Arthur in spirit) in New Hampshire. It went incredibly smoothly (huge shout out to Janet at DKC who arranged it all for us), so we are encouraged and feel ready to do it all again. It’s gonna be nerve wracking, but it’ll all be over within the space of 24 hours, door to door. Surely we can all manage that!

First step is to make sure all their vaccinations are up to date. Louis and Daisy are due on 1 July, and Curtis on 15 July. Spencer and Finlay need to get their second vax done at the beginning of June. The vaccinations have to be less than a year and over 30 days old at the time of travel. We aim to ship them mid-August so that should just about work out. We’ll probably get them done a couple of weeks early just to be on the safe side.

We always dread taking Louis and Daisy to the vet. Both are rescues and show signs of having been abused, and tend to freak out whenever they think you might be about to hurt them ( especially if you approach them with objects in your hands, as vets tend to do regularly). Louis tends to put the brakes on and refuse to go in altogether, then screams the place down if you manage to get him inside and even attempt to get anywhere near him. Daisy cowers and gets very growly and snappy. Both have to be muzzled and both are terrified. It’s such an ordeal for them (and us) but our vets are great, and used to us with our nutty bunch so they take it in their stride. Both dogs have made massive improvements behaviour-wise in the last 12 months, so let’s hope this year’s vet visit will be marginally less painful than last year’s. It really couldn’t be any worse. But that’s another story

But moving on, all we have to do after that is book the flights, get them measured for their tailor-made dog boxes (cats can go in standard cat travel boxes), get them vet checked for screw-worm within five days of travel, get the local health certificate issued, and drop them off at the kennels (again, the awesome Janet at DKC) who will keep them for a night to settle them a bit, then take them to the airport and take care of all the paperwork the next day. All we have to do is fly to LA the day before they do and be ready to greet them when they arrive. Simple! And yet so so scary. To help us vent a bit, we’re going to chart the progress of their journey here. After all, a home in Malibu (or thereabouts) is really not such a bad way to end up for this motley crew of rescues and strays, many of whom were plucked starving from the streets/bins!

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