The story of my experience of importing two Cirneco puppies...
I am writing this story of my experience of importing two Cirneco puppies so that others can learn from it. I hope you also find it rather entertaining. It was a hard trip but you have to find the humor In it.
When I first contacted Julia and Ivan in Belgium about their Cirneco puppies, my intent was to import a bitch and close family friends would take a male and co-own with me. When they changed their mind, Gloria and I decided to import both anyway. Gloria is a partner with me and the Cirnechi and we currently co-own four including these new puppies.
After an incredible visit with the puppies' breeders in Belgium, it was time to take both puppies home on the airplane back to Atlanta GA in the U.S. I had packed two different sized pet carriers, knowing that bringing two home required both to fit in one carrier...and it had to be regulation size. One of them was larger than regulation but knew it might be necessary to fit them both in one. I was told by the airlines that they sometimes do allow slightly larger carriers depending on who you dealt with so I came prepared.
At 10 weeks (the earliest we were allowed to fly them) these two puppies were already substantial and we knew it would be a very tight fit to have them both in one carrier. We were able to cram them into the bigger one and hoped for the best as we walked to the check in counter. We were quite the sight in the airport with Ivan, Julia, Olga and me with these two puppies and all the other carry ons. We were all nervous because if the airline did not allow both puppies in one carrier, my only alternative was to pay someone to say one of the puppies was theirs and was flying with them. Of course none of the paperwork matched so slim chance of that working. And, of course, as luck would have it, the counter attendant wouldn't authorize them in one carrier so we had to go to a higher authority.
Luckily, we knew this could be an issue so had made sure we left early enough and luck was on our side with no accidents as we were over an hour away from the airport driving in rush hour to Brussels. We were escorted to another area for a final opinion and the answer was a definitive NO WAY would they allow both puppies in one carrier. Our only chance now of bringing both puppies home was finding someone going to the same destination willing to be paid to take a puppy. Julia and Ivan's face showed sheer panic at the prospect of keeping Otto in Belgium.
I then ran back to the line at the check in counter in the hope that I would find someone willing to take part in this craziness. The first person I chose to talk to was a young girl whose around the world trip was ending at my same destination. She agreed to take $50 to say the puppy was traveling with her. So far so good.
Now it was Ivan's turn to convince the woman in charge to allow this to happen. Off he went but returned rejected again. It was very tense and stressful with all of us sitting there feeling helpless. Then off Ivan went to try to talk to the woman again. He was I joust determined. I have no idea what happened in that meeting but he came running back with her approval. The girl I had approached was already at the counter and when I ran up to finalize the deal, she decided not to go through with it.
At that point I had nothing to lose so just begged her. She finally agreed on the condition that she wouldn't have to even carry the puppy. Of course we were told the puppies had to stay with each passenger and our seats weren't together but I figured I would worry about one thing at a time.
So now we all waited in line...the now five adults and two puppies....to get through the first security. It wasn't long before the young girl and I were saying our farewells to Ivan, Julia and Olga. Awkward situation to say the least. The girl was not friendly and held fast to her wish of having nothing to do with the puppy. So I somehow carried a puppy on each shoulder...along with my other bag with cleaners, towels etcfor the puppies...the entire long walk and ordeal through two security checkpoints. I then gave her the money and she ditched me cold.
I had another line to wait in before boarding so found the nearest family restroom to allow my "family" to relieve themselves before the 9 hour flight. I put down the potty pads on the floor and let the puppies out. They immediately pottied and peed. I quickly cleaned up the mess but not quickly enough for the people with kids in line outside who now realized I was using the room for puppies. I'm glad I'll never know what names I was called in several different languages as I rushed to get in line but I at least knew I had cleaned and disinfected the room before I left so didn't feel guilty. They were my "kids" after all.
As I gave the attendant my ticket To board the plane I was relieved that no one even questioned me about the puppies. I just did my best to bring as little attention to my self as possible, even though at only 4 feet 10 inches and in my 60's, it was obviously a struggle carrying everything. I would see people quickly look away as they watched me really struggling to carry my charges. No one cared.
I finally got to my seat and carefully crammed both puppies side by side in their respective carriers under the seat in front of me. I knew they both had to both fit and thankfully there was room. The original counter attendant was charged with following me to make sure I complied with their regulations and prior to departure showed up on the plane standing next to me. Thankfully, he decided this outcome was better for the puppies than forcing the young girl to take one and authorized them both to stay there together. I can't tell you how relieved I was to finally be on our way.
It turned out there wasn't an empty seat on the plane and while I occupied one of the two outer seats of a middle section, I was fortunate that an accommodating cute young and extremely tall man got the middle seat. While the puppies made hardly a sound or movement the entire flight, he was so sweet about it all. The best part was that his legs were so long that he could get out of his seat to the aisle without disturbing me by stepping right over me. Quite convenient.
I didn't sleep the entire flight, worried I would miss something happening with the puppies and watched an entire season of Downton Abbey. By the time we landed I was totally exhausted but no way to alleviate the stress of the next few hours getting the puppies through U!S customs. Besides, I was in the home stretch and had no choice.
As soon as I got off the plane, Otto started barking adding to the stress. I quickly found a secluded family room again and freed the puppies from their carriers and let them move around a little. They were so good through this whole ordeal but they were hungry and over it by now...yet we still had to get through customs. It wasn't as easy to get them back into their carriers this time, not to mention it was also warm in the area we had to wait. So let me just say that "the natives were restless" to say the least making the next hour the most difficult part of the trip. Over an hour later and lots of red tape we finally made it outside where our ride was waiting for us. They quickly settled down for the drive be home.
You ask if I would do it over again? Absolutely....but only with ONE puppy.