Monday, August 31, 2009

At the airport. Right now

Just got a call from Andrew at DKC to say all 10 have been delivered safely to the airport and are now waiting in the 'live animal holding area'. Bet they love that. Apparently there was some drama getting Louis, Daisy and Roxy into the travel boxes with some snapping going on. In the end they had to corner them a bit. Hope they weren't too stressed. Andrew said they had now settled down in their boxes and were all coping well, both cats and dogs.

Earlier, he called to say that Finlay had damaged his claws a bit in his frantic efforts to get out of the box. Poor Finlay, must be so terrifying for him. Not so long ago he was a semi-feral street cat and is still quite skittish around us sometimes. He ran out the front door this morning and I had to wrestle him to the ground and hang on for dear life so he wouldn't get away. Once he's up the tree and over the wall, that's it, he's gone for the day. Of course, he bit me for my trouble. Can't say I blame him though.

I just checked the airline's website, which says that "10 pieces have been received from shipper". They refer to live animals as 'pieces'?! One hour 45 minutes to go... Safe travels all.

And they're off

We tried to keep things as 'normal' as possible right up until the time when the cats and dogs were collected by DKC, so got up early as usual, fed the cats and take the dogs out. The cats were very unhappy at not being allowed to go out, but we obviously couldn't risk them disappearing for the day! At 8.40am DKC called to say they'd arrive for the pick up in about 30 minutes. The moment we'd been dreading. So I started to get the cats into their boxes which went faster than I thought it would, but was highly stressful for them. Finlay tried to rip his way through the metal grid door, and joined Spencer and Curtis crying his head off. Jeffrey was rudely awoken from his cosy slumber and shoved into his box, and joined in the chorus. Loulou was easy to handle as always, but very scared, and Mini Me had figured out something was going on and was hiding on top of a cupboard. I had to coax her down and grab her, quickly stuffing her into her box. Amazing how strong those little cats can be!

Of course, at all the noise and commotion, the dogs were barking and howling which didn't help the cats' stress levels. Then the DKC guy arrived and started loading the dog boxes into the van. Luckily the dogs were so hyper it was easy to get them outside and on their leads before they had a chance to think too much. I started with nervous boy Louis who, amazingly jumped straight into the van and straight into his box. Next was Daisy, who put the brakes on, as expected. She was so scared, poor thing. In the end I took her back from the guy, walked her past the van, and then back the other way and got her to quickly jump in before she had a chance to think properly. Next was Roxy who was surprisingly easy, and then Bertie who was also easy, predictably. Next it was time to load the cats and before I knew it we were done and they were off.

They were so bewildered, it was heartbreaking seeing their little faces. Poor Louis was shaking like a leaf and they were all so overwhelmed. The house is so quiet and empty without them. I see and hear them everywhere, even though they are not here. By now, they should have finished their vet check at the Ministry Vet and be 'relaxing' in the kennels. They go to the airport around 11pm, i.e. in about nine hours time. Anyone reading this, please send positive thoughts!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Look, no screwworms

We took the four dogs to the vet this morning to be checked for screwworm. Of course, we knew they didn't have it, but we need a certificate saying so that is dated within five days of their travel to the US. Daisy did not appreciate having the microchip scanner waved over her head and went for a bit of a nip which was a shame. We should've known better. She was the first one and we were more careful with the other three, and there were no problems. Roxy behaved extremely well given that she usually barks at strangers and snaps at vets. Louis was much improved too, although quite nervous. Much better than a few months ago though. Bertie was the best behaved, as usual, although he did bark at the water delivery guy and scare him half to death! Back home with four tired, hot dogs now. Twenty hours only now till they get picked up by the kennels. Hard to believe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The breakthrough

Finally! Tonight we led Louis into the box first, distracted him with treats at the back and quietly closed the door behind him. He trembled a little bit, but not nearly as badly as yesterday and he sat there quite calmly and quietly while we led the other three in, one at a time. Major result, and right on time too! We are so relieved, six weeks of training pays off in the end. Just 36 hours till pick up now. The countdown is really on...
(left to right: Daisy, Bertie, Roxy, Louis)

Heading for California

In honour of the 40 Year Woodstock Anniversary, our good friend @ShawneeShep turned the five cats and four dogs into hippies. Very apt considering we are about to head for California!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three out of four with three days to go

Major result! Roxy, Bertie and Daisy (l to r) are now all going into the boxes and waiting calmly with the doors shut. No luck with Louis yet though. When we tried to lead him in he started trembling violently and got really scared, so we didn't push him. He went in later of his own accord but we're still not at door closing stage. On Monday when they are picked up, their boxes will be loaded into the van first, and then the dogs are supposedly going to jump up into the van and go into the dog boxes. That's so not going to happen! Poor cats, we'll keep them in the house till the dogs are sorted, then quickly load them. Then it's goodbye as all 10 head for the Ministry Vet to get their health certificates, on to the kennels for the rest of the day, and then the airport around 10pm. Cannot believe we are nearly at that stage!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Assistant packers

Loulou, Mini Me and Jeffrey always love to help with packing. Maybe we could send Loulou by UPS instead? The dogs are a bit annoyed that their beds are going in the container and they'll have to do without them for a while. 50-60 days to be precise. Going to bribe them with some cream cheese (with herbal calming pill thingies 'hidden' inside) now.

It's on!

Just arranged for all 10 barmies to be picked up around 9.30am next Monday. They will go straight to the Ministry Vet to get their health certificates and then on to the kennels, where they'll stay for about 12 hours, then it's off to the airport. Not quite sure how Louis and Roxy are going to take to being shoved into their boxes in a van with a load of cats. It's going to be traumatic for everyone, to say the least. Karina at DKC has been awesome, not only assured us that everything will be okay but was convincing enough that we believed her! The only thing now is that we may have to split the air waybill into two to avoid some outrageous vet check fees in Amsterdam when they're not even entering the European Union. If they can't avoid it, they are talking about changing the flights to another airline. Trying not to even think about that until it becomes a reality.

Meantime, we have started them all on herbal relaxants prescribed by our friendly homeopathic vet, Hilke. Managed to pill all 10 of them in less than 10 minutes this morning. Let's see how easy it is tomorrow, now that they're wise to the fact. The pills are quite big, and smell vile, so it's a straight down the neck job. The cats just love that! Loulou has got an abcess in her mouth, so is on antibiotics too. She seems a bit subdued. They can all sense that something's going on, but we're keeping it as normal as possible to try to minimise everyone's stress.

At the other end, our cat enclosure is ready, but the dog run will not be ready till a week after we arrive. That'll be straight out onto the hiking trails and into the dog parks then. So watch out canines of LA!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two down, two to go

The more confident Bertie and Daisy are first, as usual, to master the task. Both are finally going into the boxes and staying without panicking while we shut the doors. Roxy and Louis have got another eight days to get to this stage also...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Packing commences

It's so great when you have Curtis and Jeffrey on hand to help (aka hinder) you when you're trying to pack...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cats in the box

The flights have been booked. No going back now! Luckily the dog box training is going great. We had to 'incentivise' (aka bribe) them with sausages in the end as they wouldn't go in for their boring old biscuits. Smart dogs will only work for something if it's really worth it! Bertie and Daisy have been going right in from the start, but Roxy and Louis were a lot more reticent, not liking to put their paws on the red stuff. But now they are both going all the way in too. Result! This weekend we are going to see if we can briefly shut the doors and hope that Louis doesn't completely flip out.

Meantime, Spencer and Finlay love the dog boxes, whether they're in them or on them. Daisy doesn't seem to mind either.
Mini Me, ever the individual, has her own ideas about the kind of box she'd like to travel in.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to basics

Last week we made great progress with the dogs learning to love their dog boxes. This week we've gone backwards. They'll just about go near them to eat breakfast/supper but that's about it. So it's time to go back to basics. I'd noticed that some of them, Roxy in particular, was very wary of putting her paws down on the red 'snug rug' stuff that lines the boxes. So today we took it out and put it in their beds...

Roxy remained unimpressed and Daisy elected to use the floor instead. But Bertie and Louis (surprisingly) had no such qualms.

Meantime, Loulou shows them all how it's done, while Jeffrey continues to pour scorn on the entire packing process!