The process of shipping a pet internationally, especially a large one that can't fit underneath the seat in front of you, is very tedious. It involves many visits to the vet, paperwork, flight reservations, more money than I care to mention, all sorts of regulations - from import, to export, to airline, to veterinary, a visit to the USDA, and some very OCD preparations of a kennel.
This morning Angie, and I woke up before 5am and started our 2+ hour trip from Columbus to Cleveland in order to get General to the airport 3 hours prior to his 11am flight (as required by the airline). He had to fly out of Cleveland vs. Columbus because the size of the planes that leave Columbus. Larger jets, that can therefore accommodate larger cargo leave from Cleveland.
After all the effort listed above and countless checking and double checking that everything was correct and accounted for, we arrive to United Cargo on time and are greeted by nothing but issues. As the cargo men loaded General and his kennel onto the scale, they cracked the kennel and proceeded to tell me that it was like that when I arrived. The crack, although it didn't affect the structural integrity or the security of the kennel, was too severe for them to allow us through.
It constantly amazes me how quick people are to tell you no or to greet you with issues vs. cooperation. Angie said it best this morning when she said "Its frustrating to me that they are treating this like you woke up this morning with this crazy idea to ship your dog to Germany!".
We then went through a litany of issues: First they had us try a kennel they had on hand that was one size bigger. We spent 30 minutes transferring all the stickers, markings, paperwork, etc. onto this new kennel - only to be told that the plane we booked can't accommodate that size kennel after all. Then we were told we had to go find a pet store and buy a new kennel and that he'd have to fly out on a later flight. Next they started to question whether or not I had the right paperwork with me (I about lost my cool at this point because I KNEW that I did). Then it changed to Oh... Opps.. we actually have the exact same kennel that you brought in available here for you to buy after all - sorry we just wasted 2.5 hours of your time and now have 30 minutes to rush and get him ready for the flight...
In the end it was an overall stressful experience that I don't wish on anyone. I pulled out all the stops too, like a good military wife should. I took off my coat to show my pregnant belly, I teared up, and started playing the military dependent card.
I'm happy to say that General has landed in Newark and is hopefully being well taken care of by their on-site vet before his flight to Frankfurt this evening. My level of anxiety is slowly returning to normal. Poor baby (real baby, not dog baby), I worry about the affect of stress on the pregnancy!
I know I kind of mentioned this in my last post too, but as we drove back to Columbus, I was reflecting on this experience, and just thinking about life as a military spouse. There are such highs and lows that are so hard to put into words! Days like today I find myself thinking "Normal people don't have to deal with this kind of crap!", but then there are such highs as well, such as all the opportunities the military has opened up for us - from Jason going to grad school, the many benefits of having Tricare, the sights and places we've been able to see, etc. Its a very unique path that we're on.
Fingers crossed General's flight plans continue to go well, there are no issues when Jason receives him in Frankfurt, and that the poor guy's mental state stays as happy-go-lucky as he usually is.