Thursday, July 5, 2012

Flying with Raja

I love my dog. He's a small mix terrier about 6 years old. I have had him for 5 years. I have never flown with him because I have always found someone to take him for the summer or to watch my house. I knew I was going to take Raja with me but I was really worried about taking him in the cabin with me. He is small enough, but a pain who makes horrible noises when I put him into a kennel. Bringing a pet to Japan is a pain. The first thing I had to do was start the FAVN test - the FAVN is a rabies antibody test. I started the process back in March because I didn't know where I was going, but I was going somewhere and Japan was the most likely place I would be sent to since hubby didn't want to go to a boring school/base in Germany. Most the bases are in the middle of nowhere in Germany. With my time in service, I would not likely get Spain, Italy, or Belgium. He will be done with the 180 quarantine by September so we are good to go. To get Raja ready for the 10 hour flight I started with buying an airline approved carrier. I went with the Sherpa from Amazon. I would put him in the carrier for just 10 minutes then gradually move up to two hours. I know two hours isn't ten hours but I felt that it was good enough. I would always praise him and give him treats before, during, and after captivity. I decided it would be a good idea to take him on a trip in the car. It was a horrible experience. Raja had been fine in the carrier at home but he started wailing as soon as I picked it up. He hated moving with the carrier. My flight to leave Korea was in less than a week and I had never taken him on a trip on the carrier. All the preparation and for nothing, at least that is what I thought. I went to the vet and asked for some medication to help with his anxiety. I was given some pills to help him through the plane ride. We decided to try the pills out on our mini-trip to Ulsan. It worked but took an hour to start working as he cried for the first 30 minutes. How is this going to work in the plane? On the train Raja actually did very well. He hated it the whole time and I felt so guilty. I am sure he feels like he will be in that carrier forever. The pills work from 5-10 hours for Raja. I think it's very strange how it can be such a huge difference for such a tiny dog. One try he was normal after 5 hours but on the way back at 10 hours he was still woozy and walking around like he was drunk. I hoped that when I took him on the plane it would be the 10 hour range. After our weekend in hubby's home time it was time for me to leave to the US. I think hubby wanted to stay longer, not to hang out with his family but to avoid this trip with Raja. :-) I wasn't going to give Raja the pill in the cab on the way to the airport because I wanted it to last. He didn't cry or anything. I was really proud of him. 70,000W later we arrived at the airport and went to the animal quarantine/export office. It was easy and cost us 10,000W for them to review our paperwork to have Raja ready for the plane ride. It ended up being an easy trip from Spokane to San Francisco. Most people didn't even realize I had a dog with me. It wasn't until about half-way through when I let Raja poke his head out to drink some water that the neighbor knew that I had him with me. San Francisco has a great pet relief area outside. The only bad part is that United didn't give me a receipt for my dog so when I tried to go through security they didn't believe me that I had paid for Raja's flight even though I showed him all the export paperwork from Korea. I had to go to a United counter to get a copy of the pet receipt. There was a huge line so having elite status was worth it because I was able to get into the first class/elite status line. After 17 hours we finally made it our final destination. It was success. I am glad I had prepared ahead of time because it would have been horrible if I had just assumed that he would do well. Next up - Okinawa, Japan trip