Monday, May 16, 2011

Railey's Inter-continental Adventure

Sydney Australia

For those of you who have been following my almost daily facebook posts this week, you'll know that our little dog Railey has finally arrived in Australia! It's been a stressful and long process and still 25+ days to go before I can safely say he is a free dog.

This is worth a read for any of you who are thinking of importing an animal or just want to know how it all went down.

When deciding to move to Australia we were faced with the serious question of what to do with Railey? For me frankly there was never a question and thankfully Dean has been very supportive with the decision. Initially the process seemed daunting and at times impossible but after many weeks of research with government consulates, airlines and vets we figured out the process (a long, elaborate and expensive process at that.)

The conclusion:  If it’s possible than it will be done. There is no price that can be put on Railey, he’s a part of this family. Come on, look at those eyes.. how can you not love this dog?

So I started the long and involved process of importing an animal into Australia. Thankfully the quarantine rules had relaxed a few years ago from 6 months to min. 30 days (HUGE difference) and Railey was a young and healthy animal so the risk of sickness or complications on the flight was minimal.  

It began way back in December 2010 tackling one obstacle after another from government paperwork applications, finding a trustworthy pet exporting company to expensive vaccinations and blood tests. Gratefully Railey passed each stage with ease.

I left for Australia in mid-march leaving Railey in the care of my Mom. There is no place Railey loves more than my mom’s. With her huge backyard, long walks at Clair Ville ranch, her constant love and his big bro Turner the golden lab to harass, he couldn’t be happier staying at Grandma’s.  The day I left she stood on the driveway with Railey in her arms and made his paw wave goodbye to me as I drove away. I cried the entire way to the airport knowing it will be two months ‘till I see him again and three months ‘till he’s safe here in his new home.

Two months later on Friday May 6th his inter-continental adventure began. 10:30am Petflight (the pet exporting company) collected him from the safety of my Mom’s home and brought him to an Etobicoke dog kennel where he was kept for four long days. My mom says he was reluctant to go with them, which makes me sad as I can only imagine the confusion he felt. At this point I was really concerned about his wellbeing during the next stages of the process as he’s used to constant companionship and care and has never experienced kennels or plane rides.

Tuesday May 10th, 8pm EST– Departure Day.  We were able to track Railey's flight on the Aircanda website with the airway bill number they provided.  It was a anxious 24 hours, with texts back and forth between Dean and I whenever the site was updated "Railey landed in Vancouver, step 1 done.", "Mr. R is en route to Sydney!!", Then Thursday morning "Little r has landed in Sydney. He's finally here!"

It took most of the morning for the quarantine representatives to collect all the animals from other arriving flights and get the dogs checked into the station at Eastern Creek Quarantine in Sydney. Once Railey had arrived I was able to make an appointment to visit him the following day.

Friday morning we were allowed a short 1/2 hour visit. The Quarantine Station is like a high security penitentiary for criminals with barbed wire fencing around the entire premises. Each dog is given their own cage but not allowed contact with the other dogs. It was quite funny actually as we walked through the grounds all the other dogs, big and small, came running to their gate, pressing their faces or paws up against the fence like prisiors waiting to be released.

I was worried that Railey wouldn't remember me after so much time apart but he was ecstatic to see us! He jumped around uncontrollably for about 10 full minutes then rolled over on his tummy for a belly rub.  This was a great relief as it showed us that he was not traumatized by the flight.

Happy and relieved to have our dog in the same country as us we left for home feeling that the final stretch was in sight.  But it couldn't be this easy could it? ...

Saturday evening, we get an email from the on-sight vet saying there are some questions about Railey's blood work. Apparently he was NOT eligible to be exported and required another blood test in Toronto.  Emails start flying around to our vet and the transport company in Toronto.... How was this missed? Explain?  I'm still waiting for an explanation but there is nothing I can do about it now.

Railey was moved to the isolation section of the quarantine and scheduled for yet more blood work on Monday.  We are told Railey must stay in isolation until the blood results are back.. this could take anywhere from 10 - 14 days.  SIGH.. so once again we are left waiting in angst to hear the fait of our dog.

Tomorrow I will visit him in Quarantine (isolation ward) but will have to wear a martian jumpsuit and cannot take him for his bath or walks as previously planned. What happens next will have to wait and see.

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