One of the hardest decisions we have made to date is whether or not to bring our dog, Coco. We actually had two dogs, a Golden Retriever named Nala & Coco, a black lab mix. We didn't consider it an option to us to bring both, and out of the two Nala had more health concerns and loved people a little too much for your typical Chinese. We love our dogs, but we didn't want our Chinese friends to not want to come visit because our dog would maul them with love at the door (which is Nala's forte). We easily found a great home for Nala and we know she is happy and healthy and with the perfect family.
Coco is a different story. At first (back in January), we thought we would bring her. Many people who move overseas bring their pets. Since it's not uncommon, we figured it would be possible and didn't really look into the different options or cost. In March we started doing some research. Apparently, many people who bring their pets with them when they move overseas pay a lot of money for it. To bring a pet yourself actually doesn't cost that much. However, you have to fly with an airline that will allow you to bring your pet as "checked luggage", which has restrictions on what time of year you can travel. Also, in China, when you land at the airport, you have to take your pet through customs and transfer them to a quarantine facility. From what we read it's doable, but definitely a hassle. Basically, you have to really know what you are doing. Also, we are looking to fly in the summer which rules out most airlines for bringing your pet as checked baggage - it's just too hot.
|Coco just being herself - a little weird|
So, we started looking into other options. The option that seems to be the most widely used is to hire a pet travel company which specializes in transporting pets around the world. Sounds awesome, right? They tell you what paperwork you need, how to prepare your pet for travel, take them to the airport, put them on a special "cargo" plane, have their representatives meet your pet at each layover and the final destination, take your pet through customs & the quarantine process and basically deliver them to your door in your new home. The catch? It's expensive. We're talking $5,000 expensive. Yikes! We do not have that kind of money to bring our dog with us. We definitely weren't planning on it and hadn't budgeted for it, plus that's a little steep for us to justify bringing her. Don't get me wrong, we totally respect people who pay that. But I'm going to go out on a limb and assume most people are maybe working for a company who pays it for them (as a moving expense) or they were better prepared than us and actually budgeted for the cost.
In light of the $5,000, hassle-free price tag, we processed through all our options. One that we did consider was an option at about $3,000 where we still use a company for once we land in China but we put her on a cargo flight ourselves (kind of an in-between the other two). However, we just didn't see it fitting well with our timing or our budget. All in all, in the end we decided that as much as we love Coco, it just wasn't going to work out to bring her. It was really sad to come to the realization that Coco wouldn't be coming with us. We had really hoped to bring her, to take a piece of home with us. It was a hard call, but a necessary one.
|Nala with her favorite toy - a tennis ball|
Fast forward past our road trip and we came back home thinking that we possibly had a new home for her. My aunt & uncle had been watching her and she was livin' life on the farm chasing things and playing outside, basically every dog's dream...however, this wasn't exactly Coco's dream. As much as she loves to be outdoors, she loves to be indoors even more and it wasn't fitting with her new "farm dog" lifestyle. So, back to square one! It was really stressing me out to have her back with us at my parents' house. They already have three dogs & adding Coco to the mix was just a little bit too much. One desperate email later and the clouds parted, angels sang and the perfect home was found! A family adopted her who had been looking for a dog for a few months now. It is the perfect fit as she gets to be indoors most of the day, go for walks and play outside with their six year old son. I'm also pretty sure she sleeps on the bed. :-)
The silver lining of saying goodbye to our pets is knowing they have great homes. There are many things about transitioning to life overseas that makes leaving hard. Selling all our worldly things was, in part, freeing. Having to adopt out our two dogs we had for several years, not so much. Knowing that they are each in a family who loves them and is spoiling them rotten as I type this is a blessing. And the Hubby? He's already talking about what kind of dog he would like to adopt in China. I say, let's give ourselves a few months before jumping back on the pet-ownership wagon. But those adorable little fluff balls in the pet market? They are really cute...