Sunday, August 15, 2010
Henry was all set to go. Paperwork from the vet had come back from the USDA, signed and stamped, staying in the kennel was getting a bit easier, he had gotten a good work out swimming behind the canoe for several hours the day before, and Continental had confirmed his place in cargo. Now, we had to travel to Raleigh with all of my bags (4 large suitcases and two carry ons if you were curious) Henry's kennel, and Henry (of course!). Henry's plane leaves Friday at 5pm from Raleigh and mine on Saturday at 2pm from Greensboro. We are to meet up in Houston and get on the same plane to Buenos Aires! Sounds simple right?
So, we get to the Continental Cargo facility at the Raliegh airport 2 and a half hours early (as requested). Should I also mention it is almost 100 degrees? We are not to bring the dog into the cargo office, so we are stuck walking him around in the hot parking lot. These cargo guys are super nice, but not as well put together as they are made out to be by the Continental "pet safe" program. One guy keeps telling me that I'm going to be homesick in Argentina right away and come running home to Mommy (thanks a bunch). They also do not want Henry loaded yet, so they tell us to "go for dinner and come back in an hour". Did I forget to mention it is 100 degrees? Those of you with dogs will know the problem here. So, we drive around forever and find a nice creek for him to swim in for about 20 minutes and then head back to the cargo facility.
They strap his food, his collar, and his vet papers to the top of his kennel. They let him have his stuffed bunny and a meaty bone (his favorite) which made me feel better (I was told he wouldn't be able to have these things in the kennel with him). I say "farewell", shed a few tears, and head for the hotel to prepare for my flight.
Henry stays overnight in the Huston airport. I call through the "pet safe" hot line and they say "Henry arrived safely and has eaten dinner".
The next afternoon I arrive in Houston and again they say, "Henry's fine and he has eaten". By the way, I can't see him at the airport, only call to check in. He loads the plane with me. I ask the airline attendants to make sure he is on the plane before we take off. "Yes" he is on the plane.
Doesn't sound bad so far, right? The worst is yet to come....
I arrive at the EZE airport in Buenos Aires at around 9:30am on Sunday. I am immediately greeted by the lovely Lia from Pet's Ventura who is to help me break Henry out of cargo jail. THANK GOD I HAD LIA! This was the craziest process. We walked all over that airport from facility to facility (let me also mention it was in the upper 40's and raining). We had to pay this guy, then get that guy's signature, then go to this place to pay this fee, then go back and get that signature. So 9:30am turned into 4:00pm before I had Henry in the pet taxi. I was able to give him some food and water and let him out to relieve himself (although he was in such shock he wouldn't go). Just to put him back in to finish this cursed process. He was in that kennel for almost 24 hours! Did not make a mess either (very proud). But Pet's Ventura saved the day. There is NO WAY I could have done it alone.
Note 1: they never asked for my vet translations from English to Spanish (that would have saved me $100). But, it was very important that my vet papers were correct. Who knows how much longer it would have taken if I didn't have the right USDA stamped form.
Note 2: Continental either did not feed Henry or they didn't feed him my food because every single last kibble bit was left in that bag. Not to happy about that!
Note 3: Weekend travel with a pet to EZE isn't a bad idea. The lines are much shorter for paying fees and getting paperwork signed.
Learn from me. Beg, steal or borrow to get your pet to fly excess baggage if you are flying to Argentina. Apparently there are little fees and no where near the hassle I went through. The kennel just comes off the conveyor belt like your bags. Customs checks them out fairly quickly (maybe with a vet and maybe not) and seem super pet friendly (I've heard from other sources). I had no choice but to send Henry cargo because of the US heat embargo.
Henry snapped right back to his normal bubbly self. He was tired and backed up (if you know what I mean), but in great shape other wise. He proved to be pretty tough. I think it was me who was not.