Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Family's Back Together

      In mid-February I finally went on a trip I had been excited about pretty much since we arrived: back to the States to bring our girl to Austria. "Our girl" being a 10 year old Cairn Terrier that I've had since we were both puppies, and Dr Husband loves and accepts as his own. Family had been taking care of her so that  she could avoid the necessary chaos of  setting up our new apartment, lives really, in a foreign land. So I had the pleasure of visiting the US for two weeks, eating the food, visiting friends and family, and getting Hundie's last minute paperwork ready.
     Since we are living in Austria which is part of the EU, the requirements for our dog to enter the country were not extensive, but they were still stress-inducing and a pain. She needed a microchip, a rabies shot (after the microchip and >3 weeks before arrival) with certification, and a health certificate signed by our vet and stamped by the USDA no longer than 10 days before arrival date. Naturally, in order for the health certification to be completed in time there was very little wiggle room for vet visit/signature and sending the paperwork for the stamp. In fact, it ended up taking me two visits with the dog and one visit without her to make sure everything was in order for our trip. Luckily, we received the stamped paperwork 3 days before we were scheduled to depart the US.
    On top of the paperwork, I had to get Hundie acquainted with the travel crate she would be in for her flight. Unfortunately, she is a sturdy girl so flying her in cabin was not an option. She had to go in cargo. Dr Husband and I did our research and ordered her a really nice crate as well as bowls for food and water. Saying Hundie wasn't a fan of her travel crate at first is an understatement. She refused to go in the thing even with 7 treats and 3 pieces of deli meat thrown inside right in front of her. Since I didn't have tons of time, I ended up putting her in the crate the first couple of times to prove to her it wasn't going to eat her. Once she started to make the connection that crate = food/treats it became less difficult to get her inside.
    On the day we departed, Hundie was extremely upset when she saw me dragging out my suitcase, but she calmed down a bit once she realized that she was going in the car also. To get to the airport we were using requires about 4 hours of driving time. Then we had to check in with an attendant, and I had to take Hundie to the 'over-sized' baggage area. She went into her crate with no problems, I said my goodbyes, and I went through security. Unfortunately for me and my dog, our plane was delayed in boarding and departure for over an hour. Luckily we were flying with Lufthansa, which has an excellent reputation for shipping animals, and it was late February in the South so I wasn't too worried about Hundie over-heating or freezing.
     Once we boarded and were underway, our pilot assured us that because of our tail winds we would still make our original arrival time despite our tardy departure. 'Tail winds' must also mean 'plane shakers' because we had turbulence pretty much the entire flight to Germany. While I wasn't too upset about limited service from the flight attendants and the baby across the aisle from me screaming because she wanted to be able to get up and move around (like the rest of us), I was extremely concerned about the result the ' James Bond-esque martini-effects'

would have on my dog. Fortunately, the tail winds did allow us to land more or less when we would have without the delay, and I was off to find and rescue my dog. I asked a couple airport personnel where I should pick her up, and I was told that she would be in the over-sized luggage pick up area.
    I was able to rush to baggage claim as going through customs in the EU took maybe one minute. I got my suitcase and found the over sized luggage section with my whining crate waiting for me. I peeked inside and told her she was ok and we were almost done. She cried more. I wasn't sure where to present her papers or if she needed to be claimed. The cries in the crate grew louder, and I decided I would just take her. If anyone stopped me I had the paperwork on me. No one stopped me. I got her out of baggage claim, and Dr Husband was there in less than a minute to help. He claims he was led to us, much like a mother to her baby, by the cries of his young. This doesn't surprise me because she was getting pretty loud. We took her outside and let her out of her crate. Once out of her travel crate, her cries stopped. She was so happy to see us and walk around.
    We took her on a short train ride from the airport to the Frankfurt train station. Then we walked her to our hotel in Frankfurt where we basically spent the day in bed trying to recover and taking her for walks. The next day we had to take a train from Frankfurt to Munich, and another from Munich to Innsbruck. She slept on both train rides and barely made a sound. We were both very impressed/proud. Finally, after two (or three?) days of cars, trains, and a plane we were back home with our dog. She happily explored our apartment and went on walks around her new city.
    She is now officially registered with the city, and she has grown accustomed to her new home. We are still working on getting her completely transitioned but overall it has been very good. It helps that Innsbruck (and I think most of the EU) is very dog friendly so she can go most places with us. She also sometimes helps Dr Husband with writing and research at work, but I guess she isn't a very good typist and naps for a good portion of the day. As for me, I still get the warm and fuzzies whenever I look at her and think about her being here. It just finally feels like the family is back together.