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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Had to Return a Dog Crate for the Third Time

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Had to Return a Dog Crate for the Third Time

Always the bargain shopper am I. My 105 lb German Shepherd hasn't needed a crate for four years...he's such a good doggie. I knew I couldn't buy him a seat on the plane to Germany, so I started hunting for a good, solid crate. Dumb me started looking at price first. Do you know there are crates all over the internet? My first purchase was a Furrari pet crate, in their Giant size. It's the biggest that brand comes in...he'll fit then. You should've seen him in there after I closed the door....once I finally did get the door closed. His feet were hanging over the end when he was lying down and when he did sit up, he was hunched over and made a face like he does when he gets into something he maybe shouldn't. It's a good thing I ordered that one from Petco.

At least the return process was easy. I had originally done some googling and found a coupon code for 20% off, so I wasn't worried at all that shipping was non-refundable. I printed off the return form and took it to my local Petco, no questions asked. Now for Round 2.

I decided to stick with Petco. Petsmart didn't have the really big crates at all. I ended up calling Petco's 1-800 number and actually talked to someone knowledgeable about crates who just happened to have a big dog herself. The next purchase was a run-of-the-mill Varikennel. Their Giant size was really giant, not like that European-sounding crate I had just returned...why can't all this be standardized? Crate #2 arrives, and it was truly Giant. It's a good thing I have a minivan...you can forget getting that thing in a car. Everyone fit and everyone was happy.

Then my dad visited, an ex-airline employee. He said, let's check what the airline says on its site. I said I had already been there. Well, somehow he found a page I hadn't found. We went down the list...yep, yep, got all that, good to go...uh oh...international flights, that's us. The kennel must have ventilation on four sides. I ran to the crate and counted, then re-counted again...and then one more time, because I didn't want to believe it....only three sides...no airholes in the back. God da**....I screwed up again! My dad called a friend to verify, and yep, that's right. So now what? Petco didn't have any other choices, and neither did Petsmart.

We trolled around the internet and found Dog.com...wow, lots of crates. There was a 700 series Sky Kennel ...it looks just like the Varikennel...wait, it is the Varikennel with extra airholes in the back. It's a new upgraded kennel that meets international requirements. We called the airline back and asked if this would even fit on our particular plane, a Boeing 767? After being on hold, the guy came back and said is this a series 700 kennel? Yes! Yes! He said when he checked the configuration for the aircraft, this particular kennel was actually listed as the largest size crate they will take...and oh, it's called an extra-extra large by the airlines. Again, no standardation. I had friend of a friend email me that day from Germany, lamenting how their friend had to send their two Great Danes via airfreight, cause no airline would take them, at the tune of $1500....ouch. So, I dutifully had the airline rep note it in the record that we had a Series 700 and to expect it on the plane. I don't know if that will help, but we felt we had to do something to ensure our big doggie some kind of spot. I also asked my dad if he was prepared to keep Argos, should some baggage snafu happen at the airport. They are new best friends as of now.

What do we do now along with the usual worrying when you have all these moving parts during a move?....we keep our fingers crossed til hit time...we assume that the cat will be okay in a smaller version of the crate. I'll let you know how it goes from the other side. If you have any lessons learned you can share about traveling with pets, please do post a note.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had no issues with the varikennel enroute to Brussels either PCS. Just drill holes in the back. NP.

June 15, 2008 at 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

First I want to say that your blog has been very helpful during an extremely stressful time for me. I guess you could say I'm a newbie, only niether my husband or I are soldiers anymore. I never had to move as an Army wife but my husband is a DOD civilian and now we are moving to Germany with the Army. I feel completely inept but your blog has really helped a lot. Now my question: I have two siberian huskies, I know what size crates I need, I know the paperwork I need for the German government, but I have no idea how to go about moving them, will the travel office explain once we get our orders? Not only how, but once we get there how do my dogs get from the airport to our post? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

June 21, 2008 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Congrats to you guys! You very well may be on your own with your pets. We used a friend's van and another vehicle to transport our two pets and luggage to the airport (arrival earlier than usual). On the other end, my husband had made arrangements for us to be picked up in an SUV and a cargo van! Our huge dog crate was too big for most German vehicles.

I don't know if civilians have sponsors, someone at the other end, who helps you before you move by sending you literature and info and once you get there, he/she arranges for your transportation to the hotel from the airport.

We flew into Frankfurt and were met after we picked up our bags and pets. Thankfully, the three luggage carts held everything. After getting thru security, our sponsor met us, with another driver and took us to the vehicles. Our kids drove with the pets in the van, while my husband and I rode in the other car.

We are now in a hotel and will be here two to three weeks while we wait for our housing to be ready. Germany is VERY pet friendly, and our large dog has gone almost everywhere (except the PX and places on post) with us. WE love it!

June 21, 2008 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I am new to the army life. In fact my husband has not even left for BCT yet! My question is: What is the typical process for moving pets to a new ("first" in my case)post within the CONUS? Will the army give any extra help with the first move due to our lack of knowledge and experience? If not, do you have advice for this newbie army family?

July 19, 2008 at 2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog! I wish I had read this awhile back. We had a nightmare of a time using a pet travel service that screwed up our pet's size so that British Airways wouldn't accept her in the crate they gave her, and then the gentleman we were dealing with went on vacation during her travel and was unavailable to help(!) I really recommend people do things themselves. Here are some helpful links for traveling to and from the US.
This helped us with picking the right crate size:
http://www.britishairways.com/travel/pet/public/en_us
This helped us get the right paper work: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/index.htm

July 20, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
OpenID wardogmarine said...

Interesting blog, I have referred a couple of my friend's wives to what you have written on here.

August 2, 2008 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Ultra.High.Fidelity said...

It's TOUGH to find pet supplies for a big dog like that! They just require so much MORE! I find this pet supplies blog to be pretty useful. It's got lots of great info for pet owners.

January 30, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

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