PCSing with a Pet and the Start of Goodbyes

March 21, 2016

Last Friday Alex took our dog, Buster, to the vet to begin the process of getting him moved overseas. The microchip Buster had in him when Alex first adopted him was not the one he needed. That one only had a ten digit serial number and ISO chips (the international ones) have a fifteen digit code.

All pets entering Germany require that specific microchip, because there will be an inspector at the airport who will scan the chip and make sure the animal is up to date on his/her rabies vaccine. And their scanners only recognize the ISO chips. (Fun fact: if you really don’t want your pet to have 2 implants, you can purchase a scanner yourself and bring it with you, but goodness only knows how much that’ll cost you.)

The process makes sense; Germany doesn’t want to let potentially rabid animals into their country. It just meant we had to put poor Buster through another injection along with a new rabies vaccine.

New microchip = new vaccine. The vaccine had to go right along with the chip.

Needless to say it was a rough afternoon for our poor puppy dog.

(Another fun fact: a pet’s rabies vaccine cannot be less than 30 days and more than 1 year old. They have to make sure the vaccine has had time to take effect and not been expired.)

I had also read on another military blog that TMO will ship canned food, so I had Alex go ahead and pick up a case of Buster’s wet food. We’ll use a couple cans between now and when we leave and the rest will be shipped ahead of us. This will really come in handy when we first get over there, because Buster’s on a prescription diet and we don’t want to have to worry about immediately finding the German equivalent of his brand food. The less we have to stress about, the better.

Our next step in the pet situation will be figuring out if Buster can ride in cabin with us or if he’ll be stuck in cargo. I’ve done extensive research on flying with pets and from what I have learned Buster is borderline. It’s going to come down to the agents on duty and their opinion on the matter.

An airline approved pet carrier for carry-on is about 19 inches long, 13 inches wide, and 9 inches high. Buster is good in the length and width department, and he only weighs 15 pounds so he meets the max weight guidelines. The issue is with his height.

From shoulder to paw, dogs really can’t be longer than 12 inches. And that’s for a large sized carrier, which doesn’t always get approved by the airport. (The guaranteed dimensions mentioned above are equal to a medium sized bag.) Alex and I will have no choice but to buy (no stores around here carry them in stock otherwise we’d try first) a large sized carrier and see if Buster can even fit into one.

It’s a fine line between making it work and not being cruel to him. As the owners, we know he’ll have such an easier time if he’s in the cabin with us. We’ll be able to talk to him, put our fingers through the air holes, take him out for a walk during our layover, keep him on the floor where the kids’ feet would go if they weren’t in carseats, etc etc. But to him, we’re going to be shoving him in this tiny little bag where he has to crouch and turn around with care. He won’t know it’s only for 3 flights and that the alternative would be him separated from us, being potentially manhandled by baggers, and being alone with luggage during a terrifying experience.

Traveling with pets is fun, ya’ll.

In other news, this past week Alex’s younger sister came to visit. She got to meet Evie and spend time with Landon and catch up with us all. Despite Alex having to work for half her trip, we all had a really great time. She helped me out a ton by playing with Landon, giving him baths at night, and even getting him in and out of his car seat whenever we went somewhere. I really appreciated the break, and it was such fun having her around to watch Grey’s Anatomy with and put makeup on together.

My family had a great time hosting Jessica, and I believe all of us were extremely sad to see her leave this morning. As I was driving her to the airport, the realization hit me: 

This was my first goodbye. 

The saying farewell to family and friends, not really knowing when I’ll see them again. Best case, a year. Worst case, 3 years.  It was a sobering thought.

Walking into the airport brought its own set of emotions. I’d been in our local airport several times before, the last being when I picked up Alex from his deployment. But as I carried Evie through the entrance, it hit me that the next time I’ll be there will be when I’m leaving. 

For good.

Not for a vacation. Not to drop someone off. Not to turn around and get back in my car and leave. I’ll walk through those doors and not be able to go back.  There’s no telling what’s going to be waiting for my family on the other side of that security checkpoint, at the other airports, at our new base, but we’ll have no choice but to press forward. There won’t be any turning back. It’ll be straight on to our new life. Not for a vacation. Not to drop someone off. Not to turn around and get back in my car and leave. I’ll walk through those doors and not be able to go back. 

Our new adventure.

It’s funny how one can think about whats to come and feel so scared and so excited at the same time.

Author: Alicia W.

Hello, I am a military spouse and mother of two. Together, my family has lived in three countries and traveled to dozens more. Combining my love of adventure with my passion for writing, I hope my website helps others create their own "awfully big adventures."

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