Thursday, August 04, 2011

Moving Mac

(psst. This post is entirely about my dog. if that's not your thing, read the very bottom for an important update, then mosey on.)

Did you know I have a really big dog?

(a picture so you can see some scale - a little blurry, but notice how his head is bigger than mine?)

Here's the set-up:

Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a soft spot for all the world's critters (except spiders), furry, feathered, scaled, slimy, crawling (except spiders). You name it, I'll probably think it's cool (except spiders).
  • One of my first dates with boyfriend I ran to the side of the road and picked up a wayward frog to show him. It did not occur to me until I saw his reaction face that this is not something a normal gal in a sundress at the putt-putt would do.
  • When I was a teen, I used to work at a petting zoo where I would routinely coerce little kids into petting the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches I was holding (actually, it was usually not so much convincing the kids as it was assuring the mother that I would make sure the cockroach did not have a million babies on their child's hands so they could go home and face an invasion).
  • I've volunteered at the humane society (walking dogs) and the wildlife sanctuary (raising baby squirrels). Once when I was an RA in College, someone let an injured Canadian Goose into my hall, and after catching it in a blanket, I spent a really awkward car ride with my Hall Director holding it calmly and telling her "It'll be okay. I'm not going to let the bird loose in your car. Just drive." so we could get it to that same wildlife sanctuary I volunteered at.
  • When I was a Hall Director, I was THE lady that students brought random strays to. Once I took in a kitten overnight who at less than a pound, managed to the entire loaf of bread I had on the kitchen counter. She pooped a poop bigger than her entire little kitten body the next day under my office chair.
  • When I was little-bitty, I would peel the street-pizza birds off the pavement that I encountered as I walked home from school and ask my mum to fix them when she came home (she used to be a Veterinary Technician). She would take them outside and throw them out, then come back in and tell me they were all better and flew away.

A lot of anecdotal evidence, yes (because I realized as I tried to pick one that there are WAY too many examples of my critter-crazy, and wanted to share my slice on insanity pie. Let your freak flag fly, as they say). A lot of anecdotal evidence drives my point home all the more: When boyfriend decided he was going to take the Mexico position, and I decided to go with him, there was no point when I wondered if Mac and Bubba were also coming along. Of COURSE they are.

The HOW is a little more tricky. There were a couple of factors that lead me to not tackle moving Mac and Bub all by myself.
1. I am nervous for Mac to fly - I've heard not great things about how dogs that aren't carry-on size are poorly treated by baggage handlers.
2. We're moving in August, the month where heat is its absolute closest to approximating the temperature of the devil's left big toe. Air conditioned opportunities needed to be capitalized upon, and I simply do not know what those opportunities are.
3. Going to another country with critters requires some serious paperwork. I've got my own paperwork to worry about, it would help me out bundles if someone else would worry about theirs.
4. I have reached my maximum capacity for being scared/ worried/ stress in this deal. This is an area that someone else can take something off my plate, and do it much more safely than I could. Know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em folks.

So I found a company that does nothing but arrange for pets to move with their owners. Bubba was easy - he's little, he's cheap and quick to make arrangements for. But folks, I wrote out the whole preface to this post because you would not believe the ridiculousness that it's taking to get my puppy south of the border.

Like I said before, Mac's not a little dog. I don't mind little dogs, but in my head, if you have a dog, you should have a DOG. Plus, if you have the ability to properly care for a big dog, help them out - little dogs move in shelters much more quickly than those big guys.

I didn't know he'd get quite SO big (he's about 100 lbs!) but he loves me, he loves Bubba, he loves boyfriend, he loves little kids. 100lbs plus doberman coloring makes him useful when door to door salesmen come around, or we're on a walk and encounter someone I'm not so sure about*. But intimidating isn't his usual style; usually he just lays on the couch upside down like a cockroach, paws twitching when he dreams up a good bunny to chase (or like right now we're sitting in bed as I type, and he's burrowed under the covers next to me with his nose stuffed into my thigh because he's cold).

The first time I talked to the pet relocator agent on the phone, she asked me to measure him. Mac sat still while I used a tape measure to figure out that he's about 10 inches across at the chest, 38 inches long, and 35 inches tall. When you put a dog in a crate to fly, they must be able to stand up without ducking, laydown without scrunching, and turn around without hitting the walls. The tallest standard crate size is only 36 inches tall. The agent informed me that his height in a standard crate wouldn't cut it with airline standards, and he would have to get a custom crate. For an additional $700-800.

I shrugged into the phone and said "Well, we have to get him there. Can you get me a quote for the whole shebang and I'll see what we can do?" Over the next week or so, I became privy to the following updates:

  • It will cost $1500 to ship a custom crate from where it's made in Chicago to the house... if you want to cut that cost you'll have to drive to Chicago and drop him off to start the journey.
  • Because it's a custom size crate he can't go on a standard plane. He'll have to go on a plane for HORSES.
  • Horse flights aren't as common as pet shipments, so they don't go to all cities. We might have to re-route him a little bit.
  • So... to get him to Mexico from Chicago, he'll have to fly to Amsterdam then Atlanta then Houston then Mexico city on horse planes.

About here in the updates was when I was like "Okay, you know what? I guess I need to figure this out myself, because there is no way I'm sending Mac on a three day plane trip across the OCEAN to get him to the same place I'm taking a 4 hour plane trip to. Not to mention, this $6300 you're quoting is a little outrageous. Thanks anyway."

Then all of the sudden we got some breaks.

  • Well, if you can check out some crates at the pet store, it's his height that's the problem, so if you find one he can lay down in, we can put in height extensions for only $100 (plus the $199 crate) instead of the cost of a custom crate.
  • We can skip the routing issues if you can find someone to drive him to Houston. We'll take it from there with paperwork and customs (which is really my biggest worry, so that's valid).
  • Maybe you should try the biggest standard crate and see if it'll work... if it works he can go on regular flights all the way.
...Well, why didn't you say so in the first place?
Thus, we've spent the last two days stuffing Mac into many crates. Which was slightly traumatizing for the poor fellow, but he got a new chew toy out of the deal, so he'll live. I bought an 800 series at Petco, which was apparently a little too small (note he is kind of ducking)

So we returned it, and with the help of some very nice people at Petsmart, we heaved this 700 series (different brand), called the GIANT, into my tiny car and drove it home.

According to the cell phone picture I texted the agent, this should work just fine. *whew*

So things are looking up for the pup. It's still a pretty pricey travel itinerary ($4400!) but less than the original quote. And we don't have to go with this, boyfriend is checking into other options next week. But at the end of the day, I know we can do this if nothing else pans out and we'll be fine. Just as soon as I sell my right kidney (The right one's always been a jerk in my opinion. Making me get up to pee in the middle of the night. Lame.)

Now, if I can just get him to stay out of the trash without having to put a damn bungee cord on it everytime we leave the house, me and this puppy will be set.

Look at that innocent face. That is the face that will straight up tip coffee grounds and rotted lettuce ALL OVER THE KITCHEN FLOOR. It will also greet you at the front door when you come home with a snout covered in strawberry bannana jello powder mix like it's no big thang. True story.

OH! Before you go:
I know, this was a wicked long post. Thanks for hanging on.
If you have accessed this blog post through, you may notice it looks different than the website. That's because I moved it onto blogger. If you're looking at this post from the url, then know this is the last post I'll be posting in this spot. Everything's been moved over, so don't worry, all previous posts are accounted for. Easier for me to network, post pictures, and tag posts. So update any bookmarks you may have!

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