Friday, July 6, 2012

American Puppies in Shanghai

Many of you have asked about how Leia and Ditka, our Dachshunds, like China.  I am pleased to report that they are healthy, happy, and hot.  They had to go through a lot to get here, however they did very well on the trip.
Here is the story of how we ended up on this couch.

To make sure the fur baby importation process ran smoothly, we hired Dr. Jenny Yu and her crew at JiaLiang K-9 kennel.  Lesson #15:  If you are relocating with pets, I highly recommend hiring a relocation service.  There are many hoops that need to be jumped through when importing pets to China, and it is VERY nice to have someone who knew the system help us through the process.  Dr. Jenny and her crew did a great job calming my nerves and caring for the pups.

Chris and I decided the pups would be most comfortable if they flew in their crates in a pressurized hold on our plane.   Lesson #16: Get your pets’ travel crates a few weeks before the trip, and let the dogs get acclimated to spending significant amounts of time in them.   We wanted to be certain they had a break during the trip, so we flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt.  In Frankfurt, the puppies would be walked and fed.  We would then fly from Frankfurt to Shanghai. 

Before the pups could get on the plane, we had to prepare them for the importation process.  In order to travel to China, dogs need to have their rabies vaccine no longer than 1 year, but no shorter than 30 days before the trip.  Within 10 days before the trip the puppies needed to have a well puppy check up so we could get their health certificates from the USDA.  (No Auntie Cookie, the Chinese government is not going to kill the dogs and eat them.  They just want to make sure the dogs are healthy. The USDA does more than grade steak.) After we had our 6-minute meeting with the USDA vet in Indianapolis, we had our puppy visas and were set to go.  Lesson #17:  Have your vet communicate with the USDA when filling out the health certificate information.  The vet at Banfield in Merrillville, IN emailed multiple drafts of our paperwork to the USDA vet.  I credit her for our six-minute appointment.  Upon arrival in Shanghai, the dogs would be whisked away to Chinese quarantine for a week.  Then Dr. Jenny’s (Shanghai vet) crew would reunite us at our apartment, and we would finally be a family again.

As we were walking into O’Hare, I felt like the most selfish doggy momma ever.  I felt SO guilty for making the fur kids ride in their crates for 19+ hours.  After they were checked in, I looked at Chris with teary eyes and asked,
            “Am I a horrible, selfish person?  I can’t believe I am putting the puppies through this.  They are going to hate the flight.  They are going to hate quarantine.  They are going to want to eat my face when we see them again.”  Chris knew he had to tame the drama queen,
            “Sweetie, we are doing the right thing.  They will be happy to see us!  They won’t want to eat us.”

My nerves weren’t much calmer on the plane.  Every time there was the slightest bit of turbulence, I wondered if the puppies were being jostled in their crates.  Chris assured me that the crates were securely bungeed in the hold. 

When we landed in Frankfurt, we attempted to see the dogs in the pet care center, however Lufthansa did not allow us to see them due to the short time between flights.  (Apparently, you can’t see the dogs unless you have an overnight layover.)

10 hours later, we landed in Shanghai and met our pet relocation agent.  While we grabbed our bags, she picked up the dogs at  Oversized Luggage area.  Three minutes later, we were greeted with two wobbling crates.  Leia and Ditka were happy to see us!   We headed to the pet immigration area where we walked, fed, and played with the dogs for a few minutes.  The Chinese government’s vet sweetly took our picture, and assured us all would be okay in quarantine. We then left the babies in the care of the Chinese government.

During the week, Chris and I got email updates on their condition from Dr. Jenny, but we could not have any contact with the quarantine center.

One week later Leia and Ditka came home!  They had been cleaned, groomed, and were very happy to see us!  They both bolted from their crates, and marked all over the house.  It was a happy, messy homecoming!
Leia does not like the hot weather, but she loves the hard wood floors!

Ditka is happy to report there are doggie treats in China.