One of the most complicated parts of our relocation to Taiwan is moving our beloved canine companion, our four year old, three legged, German Shorthaired Pointer, Westley. (We are big fans of The Princess Bride.)
We adopted Westley when he was 2 1/2 years old. He’d been hit by a car and lost his front left leg. Rejected by his original owners, he was looking for a forever home right when we were looking to bring a dog into our lives. It was a perfect match. At the time, we didn’t know we’d be moving overseas and when we found out, we had to make the decision of what to do about Wes.
For housing, we were given the choice of living in the city, in an apartment; or up on the mountain, in a house with a yard.
Taiwan considers itself to be a rabies free country. I guess the dogs are rabies free but other wild animals do carry the disease. So, I was a bit surprised when we found out, three months before our departure, that dogs need a rabies titer test six months before they can be verified as rabies free for their import into Taiwan, and upon their arrival in Taiwan, they must endure a three week quarantine. (Too soon for Ebola jokes.)
A wonderful friend and coworker stepped up and offered her family to keep Wes until he was medically cleared to travel to us.
I took Westley for his test on April 7. I know that vet visits and tests are never inexpensive, but when the receptionist at the veterinary office said the cost for the test was “286,” it gave me pause. I thought, “286? It can’t be 2 dollars and 86 cents, so it has to be $286.00.” Whoa. Let the money bleeding begin…
Here we are, 6 months later, and I’m in the midst of the head spinning process of getting Westley cleared to fly and on his way. We need a customs broker in the US and another one here in Taipei. This, of course, translates to more costs.
The shipping specialist at Horatio’s office here told us last week that the shipping window for Wes is October 10-16. If we cannot get him here by the 16th, he can’t be imported until January due to restrictions of capacity at the quarantine facility here.
I booked Westley onto the same United Airline route our family flew in July, only to find out that his crate size, due to his 65 pound size, is too large for the first leg of the flight. The earlier flight, which could carry his crate, leaves DC at 8:30 in the morning and dogs have to be at the cargo area 3 hours prior to flight. The agent I spoke with informed me that the cargo facility does not open until 6:30, so we could not book him on the flight, and offered no other alternatives. Wait. What? That makes no sense.
At this point in the process, I decided to turn the flight booking over to the customs facilitator, whose job it is to know the routes and the most pet friendly airlines. (Are your pupils dollar signs yet? We are just getting started.)
The wonderful folks at Animailers, out of Millersville, MD, know what they are doing and do it well. Before I knew it, Westley was booked on KLM, via Amsterdam, where they have a facility for a comfort layover for pets. Animailers handled the purchase of the airline compliant crate and accoutrements for the journey. I wanted to leave no room for logistical mistakes.
The next step in the process was to get Wes to the vet for his pre flight check-up, which must occur no more than 10 days prior to arrival at the destination and must be certified by the USDA, which is a three hour drive from where Wes was staying. I lay awake at night, fretting over the process, until I decided to turn that step over to Animailers as well. (cha ching.) Sometimes, throwing money at a problem to make it go away, is the only answer. They picked Westley up on Monday so that he can stay with them until flight time.
They will take care of all of the details from this point forward. Now I can lay awake worrying about other things… (see below.)
I got word today that Wes passed his check up and the paperwork is on its way to USDA, via FedEx. He is scheduled to fly out on Saturday and arrive in Taipei on Monday. Because he will arrive after noon on Monday, he must stay at the airport to await transport to the quarantine facility until Tuesday morning. He will be cared for by the import facilitator until he can be driven to the quarantine, which is located some distance away. (At a cost, of course.) We must pick up his crate within 24 hours of his arrival, or they will donate the crate. We don’t have our car yet, so I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but I guess we will figure it out.
We can visit Westley two or three times per week during his three weeks in quarantine. I don’t know how I feel about that, though. Won’t he be confused, after he sees us, about why the heck we are leaving him there?
I’ve been keeping a running tally in my head and we are approaching $5000 US to ship our beloved rescue dog here. If I don’t laugh about it and think about how happy we will all be to be reunited with him, I might cry. Especially when I think about repeating the process, in an even more complicated way, in less than two years when we move to our next posting.
For now, I’ll dream of the upcoming joyous reunion with Westley the Wonder Dog. That is, if I can sleep!