Saturday, August 09, 2008

Travelling with Dog

Last year when I travelled with my teen daughter (see ) I opted to leave my Yorkshire terrier, Bailey, at home. Well, not exactly at home. I twisted my sister’s arm, played the ‘if you love me’ card and shipped him out to Edmonton to suffer a prairie winter living at her house.

This year, with a commitment to live in Nicaragua for at least 6 months, I opted to bring him with me. Given that Bailey only weighs 5 pounds, this endeavour is not especially onerous. Nevertheless, there were (at least theoretically) a few hurdles to jump.

Number one: Can he travel on the airplane? While dogs are welcome in the baggage compartment of most airlines, the kicker is that in almost all cases the airlines will not allow this if the temperature at any stop along the journey is projected to be above 80 degrees fahrenheit. Given that all possible routings had transfer spots far south of say, Arizona... that option was definitely out. Fortunately, TACA (the Costa Rican Airline) still allows small dogs on board aircraft, if their carriers can fit under the seat in front of you as carry-on luggage.

On the leg from Toronto to San Salvador, the crew was very flexible and did not blink an eye when I allowed Bailey to spend the majority of the trip sleeping quietly in my lap. Since he whined incessantly in his carry bag, I reckoned the passengers next to me would prefer him quietly sleeping than whining annoyingly. On the short 45 minute journey between San Salvador and Managua the on board crew were much stricter and insisted that he stay in his bag with the bag under the seat. Fortunately the flight was quite empty so I don’t think his whining annoyed that many people and the flight was short.

Number two: Will he be allowed into the country? Research (while conflicting information was found) indicated that I needed two things 1) proof that he had had a rabies shot at least 30 days prior to arrival in Nicaragua and 2) a signed health certificate (preferably translated into Spanish, which I did not do) issued no more than 10 days prior to arrival. I dutifully acquired both documents, but was (rather unsurprisingly) not asked by anyone to produce said documents.

Number three: What will I use as a ‘kennel’? Bailey is accustomed to spending his nights and all hours when I am not at home in his ‘kennel’. He feels safe in it and it keeps him from making a mess in the house. His traditional kennel is hard sided plastic and much to big to bring with me. I considered buying a collapsible kennel, but resisted spending another hunk of money on yet another dog accoutrement. My sister pointed out that we might as well use his travel bag as his permanent kennel, as while small it is big enough for him to curl up in comfortably. Not to mention the fact that Bailey has never been real good at house training and has even soiled his kennel from time to time... our thinking thus being he might stop this nasty habit if his kennel was so small he would not be able to escape from his mess.

The only problem I had with this solution was that his Sherpa Bag collapses in the centre making his ‘home’ a little on the claustrophobic side in my opinion. Using a few cut-to-fit dowels and some duct tape I had hoped to reinforce the top of the bag thus ensuring his ‘roof’ did not collapse in on him. Numerous attempts failed. Apparently about the only thing duct tape will not adhere to, is the inside of a Sherpa Bag. Finally, after arriving here and mulling the problem over I have apparently arrived at a solution. Still using duct tape - this time as a material from which to fashion and then sew into the bag little ‘pockets’ to hold each end of the dowel... I have managed to create a ‘kennel’ that he seems relatively happy with.

Number four: Will he be eaten by the half boxer / half pit-bull Nica dogs that seem to be the breed of choice around here? So far, I am happy to report, Bailey is intact. I keep him on leash when we are out, and by and large the Nica dogs seem to ignore him... of course he makes as much noise as possible every time anything, massive Nica dog or not, passes by our little house... scaring the bejesus out of the workmen, the caretaker’s children and everyone else.

By and large, Bailey is fitting in well. He certainly entertains everyone in town, as it would appear that the vast majority of Nicaraguans have seldom seen a dog so small. Yesterday we got caught in a tropical downpour and both got completely drenched. He looked like the quintessential drowned rat with ears and garnered numerous chuckles from the wise locals taking shelter under every eave and porch as we passed by.

He is, as always, an endless source of amusement to me as well. I especially enjoy watching him jump back from anything that smells different to what he is used to (which, of course, is almost everything). The other day he encountered a large plastic soda bottle, as part of the typical flotsam and jetsam washed ashore by the tide, and was completely flummoxed. Apparently he had never met a soda bottle that smelled like the sea before and was sure it was an alien creature to be approached with extreme caution and then jumped away from quickly before it might rise up to attack him.

Similarly, two nights ago he appeared to discover an insect that was also worthy of extreme suspicion as he repeatedly attempted to sniff it, and jump away from it in fear. Last night he entertained us with his repeated attempts to capture a crab (about 2 inches in diameter) that had somehow found its way all the way from the sea to the top of our hill! I imagine we are in for a few weeks of similar amusement as both Bailey and I adapt to our new home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha! Good job! Unfortunately, my dog is not a lap dog. Not that she doesn't try!