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Ask VMW: I have four dogs & a parrot and want to move overseas, advice?

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Ask VMW: I have four dogs & a parrot and want to move overseas, advice?

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.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ask VMW: I have four dogs & a parrot and want to move overseas, advice?

Today I received a question that deserved a really long on!

Hi so I don't really know where to begin.  My husband is up for reenlistment and we have heard rumor of there being some openings for his MOS in the Netherlands, I think Schinnen or Germany.  We  have a baby, 4 dogs and a parrot all of which we could not part with.  We are unsure how this tour will affect us financially.  We both really want to go overseas but are not sure how this will affect us bringing our pets and vehicles.  Will I be able to take my pets?  My husband is an E4.

Schinnen is actually a very nice place to be stationed...centrally located and a nice base in the NATO environment (which is a bit different than everyone else over here at US bases).  We are at a NATO base too and just love all the international interaction!

Wow, you have your hands absolutely full and spilling over!  I'm going to be honest with you, as I don't beat around the bush.  I blame my German ancestry...again, there is never any right or wrong answer when I respond to people's requests.  Four dogs and a bird will be a HUGE challenge.

Some things to think about....the will have to get them all health checked within 10 days of travel, and since only a certain # are allowed per plane, you gotta make sure they are listed in your flight record (I always recommend United Airlines) and if you fly in the summer you could be faced with travel restrictions.  You didn't mention the size of your'll need to purchase the correct crate size for EACH dog (that can get pricey if you don't already have them) and look at spending about 100-200 euro PER dog to travel.  You would be flying into Amsterdam (for the Netherlands) and could possibly face more fees, as sometimes people are charged for extra items, such as vet checks and "holding" the pet while they wait for the vet and that kind of you could be waiting around all day.  It usually doesn't happen, but I've seen it happen.  The good thing is that if you go to a military vet for the pets 10 day check up, it'll be free...otherwise, you'll pay for that.  Read my article on that whole process.  Also read this quick post on pets and being in the military.

I''m not sure what the lodging facilities are like on Schinnen.  If they have onpost lodging they will probably not have pet rooms or will have limited pet rooms (our lodge only has six I believe and they book up fast).  On post, Army-wide, you are only authorized two pets, if you have anything over that, you'll be looking off post.  The Netherlands is a pricey country...housing is also the smallest out of any of the European, just so narrow with steep stairs and small yards.  As an E4, you could face some challenges finding something large enough, close enough to post (the farther out, the cheaper usually) AND finding a landlord that will accept that many pets.  Please visit Head Over Heel's blog.  The author chronicles her journey from Germany to the US in a PCS move with four large dogs.  She shipped three at once I believe and the fourth one at a later date.  She prepared herself as best she could and still hit quite a few roadblocks.  But, I think she was able to finally work something out where she and her dogs...and her soldier husband are happy.  So, it can be done if you are persistent and patient.  The Europeans, particularly the Dutch LOVE their dogs, and you'll see them just about everywhere, so that is a good thing!

As for your parrot, I had a friend who had birds, and she would find a home for her bird before PCSing overseas.  Birds are just so sensitive and many don't handle the stress of going by plane.  Don't even get me started into talking about the baby birds they bring from outside the US to sell as pets...meaning the ones not hatched in the's criminal how many die on the journey.  I personally would not want to take that risk.  Your bird would also need the necessary health certificates, and you'd need to find an airline or pet shipping service that even handles birds.  You'd also have to check what the import requirements are for the Netherlands for birds.  I don't know them.  Obviously you can see I am biased on birds...sorry.

Bottom line, you would have to have a lot of research and paperwork...and money set aside if you plan to take your animals!

As far as being an E4 living overseas....sometimes it can be daunting at NATO bases, because most tend to cater to higher ranking officers and E4s sometimes get lost in the shuffle!  But, that doesn't mean we don't have any.  I have a few friends whose husbands are is struggling a is not.  It is much more difficult to find housing off post in your price range, that is a fact.  Check Schinnen's housing office online and see if E4s can automatically live on post, and if they even have on post housing and also what is the wait time to get into housing.  You need to know this stuff before you and the rest of the family comes over.  Deferred orders may be better.  He could come with half of your animals, while you come later, when he finds a house and gets settled in with the other half as an example.  If you live on post and only have two animals, perhaps there is a trusted friend or relative who could watch the other half while you are overseas.  Overseas assignments don't come as often as they used to, and they can be such an enriching part of your life...I would obviously do it over and over again if given the chance:-)

I just checked and an E4 would get 1250 euro per month max for housing.  Go to and using a .mil email address, see if Schinnen lists their rental housing...I know our area here at SHAPE just went online there.  You will get an idea of what is even out there.  You'll get 613 euro for utilities, which will mostly go to cover gas/oil, water & electric.  That should be enough if you get an energy efficient house.

Sorry I couldn't give you an easy answer, but you are on the right track, researching and asking questions ahead of time!  We need more military spouses willing to take responsibility to look out for themselves and their family!  Good luck in whatever you choose to do!  Talk it over with her hubby, and see what will work best for you!

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Blogger debra said...

When I moved to Germany from the USA in 2005, I had an akita. Her vet records had to be translated into German. (don't know if that still holds true today) Make sure your dogs have a microchip, too. The airline has to know in advance that live pets will be on the flight. Our flight was slightly delayed which sent me into a panic about my dog, but all was ok. I have to say it was stressful, and you need to know exactly to the T what the other country expects of you to do for your pet because they have the right to not release said pet to you if all paperwork isn't in order. However, German's love their animals and should you do this, once there and settled, a nice place for a pet to live. I used a German Vet while over there and they were absolutely fabulous!

April 8, 2011 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading you blog. Reading this article raised a question. you said:
"You'll get 613 euro for utilities, which will mostly go to cover gas/oil, water & electric. That should be enough if you get an energy efficient house."
NOW, is that 613 Euros a month, every quarter, every 6 month, yearly? How does that work? Thanks.

April 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger debra said...

this website has a lot of info on moving pets to Europe (includes things even I've forgotten)

April 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

You're welcome! Yes, the 613 euro is per month...don't compare it to stateside....utilities are more expensive over here. Thanks for the compliment!

April 9, 2011 at 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, there are restrictions on what TYPES of dogs can be taken to germany, and strict rules on their care. Look into those before you commit- we had to give away our very well behaved, much loved family dog because he was a pit bull mutt.

April 9, 2011 at 10:57 PM  

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