Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And Here’s Where it Falls Apart

We’re pretty good at this moving thing by now, right? I mean, sure, it’s stressful, but you know it’s coming and you can plan for pretty much everything (unless you’re Shannon over at Cyberbones – you can’t plan for stomach flu on packout day).

So I went to the dog place yesterday. I got there 30 minutes early, so I sat in the hallway and texted a friend – maybe I would have time to meet up with her, after all. When the office opened up, I showed the guy my slip of paper. Not here, he explained, you need to go back downstairs and get a different piece of paper. Not a problem. I retrieved the other paper and brought it back to him. He gave me another form to fill out, so I did. Then he asked for another 100 RMB – about $15. I handed it over. Okay, he said, you’re all set. Come back tomorrow for the papers.

Ummm…. Tomorrow? I thought I was here for the papers today.

Nope. It turns out I had to drive 45 minutes downtown in order to take a piece of paper and hand carry it from the first floor to the second floor. NOW they’ll start my paperwork.

(I should explain here that there is a guy who runs a clinic down the street from my house who offers to handle this whole process for a fee of just over $100. I opted to do it myself because $100 is a lot of money to me. I am beginning to regret this rash decision of mine.)

So I drove home, cursing and swearing and generally lamenting my inability to fork over $100 in order to save myself from this nightmare of wasted time.

And then my husband called.

Ready for the bad news?

(Keep in mind that we are leaving here in 4 days.)

Well. He discovered that our flight from Seattle to DC has a 30 minute layover in Detroit. It will be impossible to get all of our kids from one flight to the next in time, and there’s no way the baggage handlers will be able to get our luggage and dog onto the connecting flight, so he tried to change to a later connection. And that’s when someone finally let him in on a little secret they were keeping from us:

The dog is not allowed to fly from Seattle to DC. We are required, for reasons relating to USG bureaucracy, to fly on Delta for this leg of the trip, and Delta won’t take the dog.

Also: we are required to take Delta from DC to Jordan. And – can you guess? Delta won’t take the dog.

Also: we are taking United from Beijing to Seattle, connecting in San Francisco. And while United happily agreed to fly the dog, they are now promising to take him only to San Francisco. After that, they reserve the right to kick him off the flight. No word on what they do with him, or with our onward flight.

Remember awhile ago, when I posted about the fact that every single time we’ve travelled with an animal, something has gone wrong? Yes, well, I thought that something in this case was the Chinese bureaucracy. Apparently, though, that is going to be the laughably easy part.

So now we are scrambling to find a solution. Take the dog to SF and take a chance that they’ll let him continue on? And then…? Kennel him somewhere in Seattle while we continue on, and then have him shipped to Amman, at a cost of several thousand dollars, through a pet transport service? Or leave him here in a kennel for several months, hope he stays healthy enough to make the journey and then, again, have him shipped to Amman, at a cost of several thousand dollars, through a pet transport service? Change his name to Paddington Dog and leave him in the San Francisco airport? (just kidding about that last one.) (sort of.)

So now I will spend my morning researching shipping companies and cursing Delta to the skies. Then I will spend my afternoon driving back to the vet in order to pick up those papers – the ones that will be worthless if we decide to kennel him here, because they have to be done one week before departure, so he’ll have to go through the whole process again before being shipped to Amman.

I will not spend my morning hanging out with friends, talking about how much I’m going to miss this place. I will not spend my afternoon getting a massage, or cooking dinner, or attending Secret Agent Training Camp at the school (another story).

And I am very, very, very grouchy.


David L. said... [Reply]

Good luck with that, and keep the rest of us who are too lazy to offer useful advice posted on what you find. The only one I've heard of is Pet Airlines, but I don't think they do international.

Jill said... [Reply]

Oh Donna, you can't hear me, but I'm cursing LOUDLY!!! And I'm shaking my fists in the air and using lots and lots of hand gestures.

Why on Gawds green earth are you instructed to only fly Delta? There isn't a United flight from Seattle to DC? And you can't fly on Lufthansa from DC to Frankfurt to Jordan?

I can't believe at 4 days out they're just telling you this. Don't fret about being angry... I'm doing it all for you!

globalgal said... [Reply]

Taking a cue from your comment on my blog, Seriously!? I'm sorry you have to deal with this added stress! That just sucks.

Jen said... [Reply]

I am so sorry you have to deal with that now of all times. Will be thinking of you and hope it all works out!

Stephanie said... [Reply]

Are they not taking the dog in-cabin or as excess baggage, or not at all? Continental wasn't going to take my cat as excess baggage, but they took her as cargo on the same flights I was taking. It cost a lot more and they couldn't guarantee she would make one of the tight connections (but they did guarantee that if she missed the flight, she'd get on the next one a couple hours later). I was also apparently the first person who ever asked if my cargo pet could be on my same flights, because they kept telling me, "No we don't take pets" and I kept saying, "Yes you do, as cargo. I want her on these flights on these days. Just pretend it's a coincidence I'm on the same flight."

The cargo is an expense and it was a hassle having to retrieve her from baggage claim and recheck her in Brussels, but it was worth it, especially when I was boarding my last flight and caught a glimpse of her cage being loaded with the rest of the luggage. I was so relieved.

I don't know if it's Brussels Airport or Continental that contracts the pet shipper for pets-as-cargo, but they helped me with all the arrangements. Maybe you can contact some airline or airport cargo departments to help you find a shipper?

Sara said... [Reply]

That sucks!

fsowannabe said... [Reply]

Ugh- I can imagine the stress. It will be over with soon!

Emily said... [Reply]

I cannot believe the hassle of having a dog. What a stressful situation.
I have been reading for awhile, and was looking at all the places you have been, and thought that you might have been in Russia the same time as my parents (the Dexters). I asked my dad if he knew your family, and he said of course he did. He said that they left around the same time you did. Small world.
I hope the rest of the move goes smoothly.

Bernice said... [Reply]

Hey ... we're going to be going thru this procedure the last week of June ... my husband needs to do it, and he has no language skills ... can you email privately regarding the person you can pay to help you?

Bernice (in Qingdao)
bdb at telus dot net

Kami said... [Reply]

Man, that blows. I feel awful for you! What a pain in the butt. Have you considered letting the dog go free? I keep threatening to do that with my effed up night of the living dead cat...(I joke, of course! Sort of.)

Connie said... [Reply]

We HAVE used the terribly expensive pet transport services. It costs, but it is tax deductible as a moving expense (right here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p521/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000203509 "You can deduct the cost of shipping your car and your household pets to your new home." Not sure if costs assoc/w roaming around on home leave would be deductible (I think not) but arriving and departing are, as that's your move. We used Dulles Executive Pet Service once, and (o what was it?!) Springhill something?? Both boarded our cats, got all of their paperwork and shots, groomed them and spoiled them, then when we arrived at post, shipped them to us, safe and sound with no delays. It was so worth it for our ease, but better yet, I really felt that the cats were safer and better handled by 'the pros' from start to finish. We have only 'shipped out' never 'in' to the US,

Connie said... [Reply]

um... as I was finishing up my comment.. the cat hit publish, teach me to fill in the word verification before I finish! Anyway, meant to say, we've only gone out, not in, to the US, but it's what I'd prefer to do. It's worth the cost. Good luck!!

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