Here’a rundown of the preparations we made for when the Flomeister and I went travelling…
I’m not one for making lists – sometimes I think I ought to so I start a list and then I just ignore it – HOWEVER, given my recent scattiness I made a list of things I needed to do to prepare for travelling with a dog and added things as I remembered them.
I did a bit of internet reading to get an idea of what was recommended and then used my own common sense and knowledge of Flo Flo to get ready. I decided not to give her a sedative. It’s not recommended by the freight companies plus Flo is fairly cruisy when faced with new experiences.
Firstly, when I booked her flights, I also booked her crates. As she is a big dog, it isn’t possible to buy a crate which satisfies the airline’s animal transportation requirements. Crates have to be a certain size depending on the dog’s size, plus they have to be non-collapsible and that makes the larger ones impractical to transport in an ordinary car. The company who provide the crates ensure that the correct size crate is delivered to the freight company. The night before we travelled, I stuffed and froze a Kong and a small water bottle to put in her crate with her. I’m not sure if a frozen bottle is the best way to ensure that dogs have a constant supply of water throughout the flight because condensation stops after a fairly short while, but it’s the least messy way to go about it, and the flight wasn’t going to be that long.
As we were due to arrive after the shops closed for the day, my friends got Flo a supply of ground chicken carcasses and sardines. It wasn’t completely altruistic; they feared that Flo might otherwise eat their dog on the first night.
I packed a few of her blankets, a (somewhat chewed) padded crate liner to use as a mat/bed once we arrived, a towel and her own metal feeding bowl. Her enormous metal bowl isn’t ideal from a weight standpoint, but she can’t help but
throw about and ultimately chew and destroy play with plastic feeding receptacles. I also took a supply of her glucosamine tablets, the cream for her rash and her own medicated shampoo. As I’m still feeding her some dog biscuits once a day I packed enough of them to see us through our trip. I actually bagged them up into individual portions to make it easier and took a couple of extra bagfuls just in case. I got her a stuffie to take with her too, though that was new.
The flight left in the middle of the day so I didn’t feed Flo dinner the night before we travelled; knowing the speed of her digestive system, had I fed her she would have either been very uncomfortable during the trip or she would have had an accident in her crate.
The morning of travel I gave her a small breakfast of biccies. I wanted to keep her on the go so that she was tired for the trip in the hope that she would just sleep on the plane, so I took her with me when I went to drop the cats off at the cattery. After we’d done that we went down to the beach for a walk and then I took her to visit the freight depot; I wanted to check the paperwork was all ready and it meant that she was familiar with the sights and sounds.
I couldn’t keep Flo with me all morning because I had things to do as well, so she had a bit of time at home chilling in the garden while I ran my errands and packed my own things in the teensy weensy bit of space left in the case.
The airline stipulates that animals must be lodged 90 minutes prior to their flight. This was the part that I was least comfortable with because I didn’t like the idea of her being stuck in the crate in a strange enivronment for any longer than she had to be however, I don’t think it was as bad as I imagined (from my point of view, can’t speak for Flo). There was another dog being booked in when we arrived, so by the time she was actually put in the crate it was only an hour until the flight. At first she didn’t want to get into the crate even though I’d put one of her blankets in and her Kong was in there for her. It wasn’t the best set up as everything has to be weighed together which meant getting her into the crate while it was on the scales – the scales were meant for smaller crates and were raised about 30cm or so off the ground. Consequently her crate was balanced (safely) but it meant that she had to jump up into the crate itself. She did get in after a bit of encouragement. The water bottle was attached to the door using cable ties and off she went. The combined weight was 55kg. About 1.5 – 2 kilos of that was Kong and water bottle. I’m not sure how heavy the crate was but I doubt it was much more than 10kg – that means fatty fatty boomba must be up around the 40kg mark. Tsk tsk.
I didn’t see the animals being loaded onto the plane because I was
kicking back in the Qantas lounge partaking of some much needed sustanance for the journey. I did see them being offloaded though and Flo didn’t look particularly happy. The tail was firmly clamped between the legs. She didn’t see me, which was a good thing because I think that would have made her feel worse as the pick up depot wasn’t in the airport building. My friend had towels and water for her in the car and when we collected her from the depot I took her for a walk to let her go to the toilet. She didn’t. I don’t think she’d had an accident in the crate because her blanket was dry though she did have a bit of poo on her backside – I’m not sure if that was because she’d found it all a bit scary. 😦 Anyway, she was happy to be reunited, as was I. So, it was in to the car and down the road for a further 2 hours. She actually settled down fairly quickly and went to sleep, so I suspect that she hadn’t slept. She also hadn’t touched her Kong which makes me think that she hadn’t been terribly happy down there in the livestock hold. Because she settled so quickly to sleep we didn’t stop on the way down to let her out. She didn’t actually raise her head again until we arrived at the front door.
Once we arrived at our friends’ we went about introducing Mackie and Flo. There is a bit of open ground in front of the house so we put them together out there rather than in Mackie’s territory. They hit it off straight away, tearing around after one another. Flo also stopped and went to the toilet which was a relief for both of us, I think! We moved to the garden and Mackie got stuck in to Flo’s Kong while my friend and I sipped some vino and gave Miss Fab’s back end a bit of a freshen up.
Inside, we put her mat in the living room, moving it through to the bedroom to sleep. I put it in the same position in the bedroom in relation to the bed as it is at home. During the first night she was a bit restless and was up a few times. Each time I would take her outside, where she promptly sat at the door back inside looking at me as if to say… WTF?? It’s freezing cold out here – why have you brought me out here – it’s the middle of the night… are you crazy??? It took me a while to cotton on that the reason she was restless was because she was, actually, cold. Thereafter she slept under a towel and didn’t get up again until the morning!
The journey back was less stressful for her, I think. She was a kilo heavier at the weigh-in. She hopped straight into her crate and she seemed altogether more relaxed when I picked her up. Again she hadn’t touched her Kong. As the freight depot is right by one of our usual walks, I just took her for a walk and let her jump in the creek to cool off before heading home.
So, would I take her with me again? Yes. Whilst she was a bit more clingy while we were away that hasn’t continued since we’ve arrived home. In terms of cost, because we weren’t away for very long, it was twice as expensive as putting her in kennels. It would be a cost effective thing to do were we to have stayed away for another week. But it was still worth it. It was great being able to give her all the different experiences and to just have her there with me. It gave her a break from being overwashed – she didn’t have a single allergic reaction while we were away. I think she enjoyed her holiday with her buddy too. 🙂
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