Imagine yourself in a small box being transported and flown from Shanghai to Korea changing planes in this same box and then going from Korea to Seattle all in the cargo area of an airplane. During all of this you get no food and a small bottle of water. By the way you have to shit and pee in that same box that you’ll be in for the next 15 hours. When we got Pepper in Shanghai we knew we would be taking her to the states. As travelers we knew she wouldn’t be able to come with us on vacation to the Philippines, in China outside of Shanghai, and wherever else we decided to go. Fortunately for us during our vacation days there was always a friend or colleague who would be staying in Shanghai, thanks V and Chris! When the time finally came for us to prepare for our flight to the states we did a lot of research on how to get Pepper over, hassle free. This was a vacation we would be taking her with us.
It’s not easy being a bulldog. Pepper has a few issues, first she’s a French bulldog so her face is squished in as if she got hit by a bus. She’s so ugly she’s cute. She has a lot of anxiety issues that we’ve tried to train her out off. The main issue is her separation anxiety. She is a cuddler and a lover of people. She loves being picked up and thinks she small and light enough to be considered a lapdog. She’s more dense than she looks and is pretty heavy for her size. Also, we didn’t do such a great job crate training her so she never really used her cage. All these added to our anxiety of taking her with us from China to America.
We called various airlines that were flying from Shangahi to Seattle. We had to research which airlines would even fly with a dog and found that Delta had a direct flight to Seattle but because of the type of plane they were unable to accommodate for our request. After calling and researching more we saw that Asiana Airlines would take Pepper. All airlines that will fly dogs have regulations on when they can fly pushed-in-faced dogs (boxers, English bulldogs, pugs, etc) because of their respiratory issues. During the summer it’s difficult to fly a dog if you miss the cut-off date or if the temperature on the tarmac is too hot. The only other issues we had was that there was a lay-over in Korea. Our preference was to have a straight flight but in this situation we didn’t really have a choice.
The other hurdle with pet travel was the amount of paperwork needed. We ended up contacting a pet relocation service in Shanghai but they were charging a couple thousand dollars for airport support and to help us out with getting stamps and paperwork. We found a place that ended up charging us a few hundred bucks mainly to take Pepper to get her health check, vet papers, and a rabies verification. They also brought us to the airport and helped check us in. You have to understand that Chinese airports suck. I have nothing against Chinese but I absolutely prefer to not travel with a huge group of them. The lines are disorganized, they push and are right up on you when your in line even when the line isn’t moving. I apologize if I offend anyone but this has been my airport and travel experiences in China. Fortunately we had friends with us at the airport. Thanks Su, Reenal, Agatha and Stefania.
The pet relocation agent also gave Pepper a natural, toxin free sedative that would last 6-9 hours but given the amount of time she would be in transit it wasn’t nearly long enough. We checked in early, had a couple hours flight to Korea, had a layover, and then had the rest of the trip (9-10 hours) to the states. I imagined she would be up from the drugs before or early on in the last flight. Pepper was also only allowed one bottle of water, we had a small one hanging off her cage. The pet relocation services didn’t make that very clear so we we’re very frustrated about it. Apparently her water got knocked off but someone from the airline gave her some water from Korea. I can’t verify whether or not this is true but our ugly girl’s alive and well.
After over half a day of travel we got into Seattle and had to wait about an hour, not knowing where Pepper was. When she spotted us we could hear her yelping helplessly. We kept her on the trolley and in her crate until we got to the parking lot. She seemed pretty scarred from the trip. She couldn’t stop shaking even when we got her out of the crate and she was crazy thirsty. We let her out of the crate, finally in Washington state and drove the almost 2 hours home from Seattle to Oak Harbor. Our little girl went from a little puppy in small apartment in the big bad city of Shanghai to suburban living bully, finding a friend with my parents pekingese dog. She had tons of allergies in her first months in America having grown use to the air pollution in China. Today Pepper is happy to have another dog with her, a backyard to roam around and run, and enjoys sunbathing in-between all the Washington rain showers. We imagine she thinks of us and misses us but is enjoying her current life.
Have you left your dog to go and travel? What have been your experiences with pet travel?