So you’re moving Abroad? Your basic essentials might look a little something like this…
Clothes – Check!
Shoes – Check!
Other random crap you definitely don’t need but bring anyway for sentimental value – Check!
Your pet/best friend/life long companion? – Chec..eh, not quite as easy as you expected!
Ok, so I couldn’t leave Ireland and not bring the most important thing in my life, could I?!
Anybody who knows me well knows that I’m crazy about dogs. In particular, my own (for obvious reasons). I have two; Ollie, a Shichon/Lhasa Apso/We’re not entirely sure what mix he is (who happened to turn five years old YESTERDAY!) and my giant Koda bear, a Samoyed, who is just 2 and the most lovable dog you could ever meet. He’s not the brightest spark, but you can’t help but laugh and love him beyond belief.
When I set out on this journey, the most important thing was taking my pups with me. I knew I couldn’t afford to bring both with me at the same time and I chose Ollie first because he’s better trained, he’s more attached and well Koda would most definitely take a plane down with his barking/howling. It wasn’t easy leaving Koda behind for a few months, but he is a lot bigger and therefore transporting him would be a lot harder and more expensive. I’m getting him trained soon so that he’ll be a lot calmer and I’d feel comfortable knowing he’d be ok on the plane.
Anyway, enough of the rambling. Here’s what I did…
Choose the Airline Wisely
An important thing to note is whether you need a pet transport company or not. The flights on my graduate visa were booked for me. USIT deal with Delta, so I had to fly with them (I love that airline anyway), however, this meant that Ollie could not come on the flight with me. If he was able to, he would just be considered ‘extra baggage’ and I’d pay about €200 max. Delta do not allow pets to be transported with them from Ireland so that was the first problem. If I flew with Aer Lingus, I would have had no problem with having him on the same flight as me and it would also be considered an extra baggage cost. I wasn’t on that flight, so that’s where the pet freight company came in and the €€s started increasing.
I’ll be honest, it was pretty expensive. For the transport company alone I think it was about €700-800 as far as I remember. That included all the paperwork, the cage, flight costs etc. But then on top of that, there were additional costs that I hadn’t really factored in. I had to get Ollie checked by a vet, he got some vaccinations and letters outlining his health and another cost for a pet passport. I needed to meet Chris at the airport at 8am – I live in Kerry and I didn’t want to drive for 4-5 hours and then put Ollie on a flight for another 6 hours, so I had to factor in a hotel stay & pet charge to stay near the airport the night before, along with the petrol it cost to drive up and down to Dublin from Kerry. Essentially, it cost in and around €1100 for everything. So do your research, and take everything into account.
I had contacted a few companies for different quotes but in the end, I ended up choosing the one I felt most comfortable with in protecting Ollie and guiding me in the right direction to ensure he got here safe and sound. The company I chose was Pets On Board, who are based in Dublin. I dealt with Dean and Chris and found them really helpful. Dean sorted everything from the booking side of things and then Chris met me at the airport on the day. I had researched a lot regarding the restrictions, vaccinations, paperwork etc that I needed but ultimately Chris was very helpful in telling me exactly what was needed.
A bit of a no-brainer, but it’s really important to choose the right company based on you and your pets needs, not just based on price. Like I mentioned, I felt confident that Pets on Board would provide me with a good service, so it felt right to choose them. Dean gave me lots of advice and ensured me Ollie would be fine. Whenever I had a silly question (and believe me, there were of those), Dean would respond really quick and put my mind at ease. All I had to do was fill in some information about Ollie, give them his measurements and they took it from there. What also helped was Pets on Board allowed me to pay weekly. I hadn’t quite set aside enough money all at once because I thought I could take Ollie on my flight with me, so I paid them off weekly with whatever I had and they were really great with that side of things too, which I appreciated a lot.
Dropping Ollie off at the airport on that Monday morning was possibly once of the most stressful things I’ve done. Ollie is my life and yes, I’m one of those crazy dog ladies who considers their dog to be like a child, but I was so scared thinking of him on the flight. What if he was too afraid, became ill, or worse?! Every possible scenario went through my mind. When I met Chris at the airport he could tell I was really nervous, but immediately put my mind at ease. They deal with this every day of the week, so there really wasn’t much for me to worry about. Ollie is well-behaved and he’s a pretty chilled out dog, so once I thought about all that and calmed myself down, I felt a lot better.
Prepare your Pet for the Flight
I made sure not to feed Ollie that morning and I walked him before I dropped him off because I knew he’d be sitting in a cage for most of the day. As for sedation or relaxants, I didn’t go down the traditional route. Many people get ‘doggy Xanax’ or something relaxing to calm the dog down, however,Ollie had a bad experience before where he nearly died so I really didn’t want to chance it. I did, however, purchase a natural relaxing spot on treatment to give him. It was made from all natural ingredients and I applied it to the back of his neck an hour or two before I dropped him off. To be honest, I don’t think it did anything, but I felt better knowing I had at least tried to give him something as natural as possible to help him on the flight. I’m certainly not opposed to using something stronger like the doggy Xanax, but with his previous history, I just didn’t want to take that chance.
Most of all, just enjoy the excitement of a new beginning with your pet. It’s a crazy emotional, pull-your-hair-out, burst into tears randomly, kinda experience.. but it’s so worth it.