Taking Dogs To Thailand
Dogs Travelling to Thailand.
When we decided to retire to Thailand we had a major quandary about our two beautiful Field Labrador bitches, Pippa and Tessa. They were 4 and 10 years old respectively, so not skittish puppies. They’d been part of our working life on the farm and in the shooting season. Both worked incredibly hard, Tessa either working alongside my husband when he was shooting, or in the ‘picking up’ team; and Pippa was invariably in the ‘beating’ line with me. Should we take them to a tropical climate when they were temperate climate animals? There were so many unknown factors to consider and we knew of no-one who had done the same. Our one friend in Thailand with Labradors did not take them there; they were bought from a breeder in Phuket, so needed no acclimatization.
Disease, heat and bugs, how would they cope? Were we being fair to them? What if they became ill, what could we do? Did they have ‘proper’ vets in Thailand? Did they have proper facilities for sick animals? What if they got bitten by venomous snakes or scorpions? The soul searching and questions were endless and not at all helped by our concerned parents, all of whom loved both Pippa and Tessa to distraction. Particularly the respective Fathers. Both had taken Tessa shooting and were devoted fans because of her working ability. She never lost a pheasant, partridge or pigeon; she would search them out with that famous Labrador nose, and invariably find the quarry without fail every time. She never seemed to get tired and by her last shooting season she was 10 years old. Hence, both wanted us to leave one or other with them. We knew too, that they would be cared for with love and great affection.
To take or not to take was not a question we pondered for long though (loving parents aside). Internet research; talks with our own vet and talks with the good people at DEFRA, (that much maligned government department who seems unable to do anything right in the eyes of most people that have to have contact with them), soon put our minds at rest. We found DEFRA remarkably helpful and once we’d managed to navigate round their abominable phone system, soon found the right department and the right person to phone or email. Needless to say, there were many forms to fill in and vets to visit. Vaccinations for rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, and canine hepatitis were just a few of the needles they endured stoically.
Some of the most knowledgeable people with regards to knowing how concerned people are about their beloved pets, were the cage manufacturers from a large establishment near Bristol. Just ordinary, but very kind people with a wealth of experience behind them; they had an empathy with our concerns and fears and talked to us at length about the many pets owners they’d talked to over the years. They really should write a book on it, it’s such a personal thing and people such as themselves are a vast reservoir of first-hand knowledge, essential to calm the fears of apprehensive owners such as ourselves.
The decision was made. They were our pets. Pippa was Tessa’s daughter and we had bought Tessa from our local Game Keeper when she was a 2 month old pup. We had consciously purchased her and later, allowed her to produce a litter of 6 gorgeous pups – named collectively, ‘The All Blacks’ after the famous Kiwi rugby team and because they really were ‘all Black’. She had been my husband’s constant companion throughout his working days at the farm and actually believed she was a human I think! We therefore had an obligation to her to keep her with us until the day she would finally die. AND of course, we LOVED the both of them dearly. Life would not be the same without them. They had been our constant companions for so many years that the thought of parting with them was unthinkable in the end.
Once our traveling date was set, we commenced the lengthy preparations for Pippa and Tessa’s journey to a new and totally different life. The following is to help any of you out there who may be contemplating the same journey. We’ve been living in Thailand now for three years and have had no regrets ever in bringing our dear old ‘faithfuls’ here. They took a little while to acclimatize, especially to the heat, but so did we.
We’ve had a few ups and downs but that’s another story, and I can honestly say, the vets here in Thailand are as caring as anywhere in the world. We’ve reason to be especially thankful to our little lady vet and her brilliant team. I say ‘little’ not to be patronizing, but because she really is knee high to a grasshopper!
Our Dogs, Tessa and Pippa
Where to start:
If you’re planning to take your pets to Thailand here are some of the steps to start you off on the road: You won’t regret it.
COST. First and foremost, contact your chosen airline to estimate the cost of the journey for your animals. This is an expensive journey and is based on the weight of the animal. Our two Labradors tickets cost over £4,000! But worth every penny! (We did ask if they got the same first class treatment as the human passengers but the query was met with a blank stare. And I was not joking when we’d had to pay that much!)
BOOKING. You must book a place prior to the journey but the payment cannot be made until you actually arrive at the airport, because the weight has to be established.
SEPARATE TRAVEL. To date, animals cannot travel on the same airline as you, they go by freight, which means………
You will have to collect them when they arrive at the Bangkok airport.
DEFRA. Get all of the forms. Some of them take several weeks to process.
VET. Talk to your vet and see what vaccinations your dog will require. Tell him that you’ve been in touch with DEFRA and that he will need to complete one or more of the forms for you.
CRATE(S). To transport your animals you will need a crate with the dimensions and requirements as specified by DEFRA.
CRATING REQUIREMENTS. Contact any reputable animal crating company near your home. Pay them a visit and talk to the staff; they will be able to answer most of your queries concerning the journey of your pets. They will take the size of your animal and construct a crate to DEFRA specifications. The crates were around £100 when we travelled in 2006. It can take several weeks, so again, ensure you do NOT leave it until the last minute.
SEDATION: Under no circumstances use tranquillizers on your animals. This is very dangerous and can kill! Instead, use an excellent spray and plug in application named DAPS (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). This is a synthetic pheromone which mimics the pheromones given off by a nursing bitch to its pups. It calms them naturally. This must be started several weeks prior to your journey so that it can work effectively.
USE THE CRATE. 2 weeks prior to departure, start to accustom your pets to the crate. Start off with 10 minutes in the crate. Increase the time daily. Always do it at the same time. Sensibly, the time they will be leaving home to go to the airport. They’ll get used to it then. The time they are encrated should be increased daily until you have approximately half of their travel time. ie: for Thailand, about 12 hours travelling time, plus the time from your home to the airport, so encrate them for at least 6 hours + travel time.
TREATS. Entice them into the crate with their favourite treats.
WATER. Ensure they have water.
SCENT. Place one of your own items of clothing in the crate so that they have your scent with them. BUT you cannot do this on the actual journey or they may become entangled in it.
BEDDING. Buy shredded paper bedding for their crate. It soaks up any urine and makes a comfortable bed for the journey. This can be bought at any pet shop.
HARNESS. Most dogs are used to a collar and lead. Your dog will want to be walked at the airport so it pays to buy a harness for the journey. They cannot slip out of this (with the ensuing chaos and dangers that can cause). A harness really is useful for walking your dogs in your chosen country of residence because of the aforementioned problem.
NAME TAG. Ensure your dogs name tag is on his harness.
MUZZLE. Your will also need a muzzle. Your dog may be a gentle creature, but confronted with crowds at an airport it may well become agitated and bite someone!
TRANSPORT. Book your transport before the day of departure. A crated dog takes up a lot of room and you may find Dad’s Honda Civic is not big enough for the job in hand.
THE DAY of departure. All of your preparations have been leading to this day, not only are you going to take up a new life in a different country, so is your pet or pets. Make it as comfortable as possible for him/her. Remember he’s as nervous of this strange environment as you are. Give him lots of cuddles and reassurance!
FOOD. Do NOT under any circumstances give your pet food prior to the journey! 24 hours without a meal will not kill it. But ensure it has water at all times, it can dehydrate very rapidly.
WAITING. There will be a lots of waiting around in the airport, so go prepared, not only for your pet but for yourself. Take some food and plenty to drink. You will find the airport staff extremely helpful, but remember; they have a job to do and can’t take time out to dog sit whilst you go off for dinner! It’s really a great idea if you do this with someone else. Don’t undertake the work on your own!
INSURANCE is another costly but essential part of the process. Check out all the websites for the best deal.
Pet and sitters if you want or need to go away.
LASTLY. Remember though, the same as at home, if you want to go off for any length of time on holiday or back to your home country, you will need someone very reliable and an ardent dog lover to care for your home and pets. Of course, many people will want to do just that for you, but the idea of having a home in the sun, is that you want to be with those very people, so that won’t work.
Our daughter came up with the solution:
HOUSE-SITTERS! What an easy solution! And there are some really good and reliable internet sites out there where you will find caring people, all with verifiable credentials. The wonder of this incredibly simple idea is that it costs nothing! The sitters get a free holiday (apart from their fares) and you, the house and pet owners, get good people to look after your home and pets! It’s a huge relief and takes all the stress out of leaving the pooches behind. And they don’t have the stress of being put into kennels, not knowing when you’ll be back for them.
Apparently this idea has really taken off amongst the retirees of the world. It means that with a limited budget they can enjoy a holiday in a lovely home in any part of the world, with all the home facilities and comforts.
Sites do require ‘sitters’ to pay a fee for registration, but the advertising home owner pays nothing. The sites we’ve used are easy to navigate and with plenty of helpful hints and tips.
But that’s another Hub subject I’ll be writing about soon……………
Look at some of the websites for information on the subject though: www.mindmyhouse.com (NZ based), and www.houseCarers.com a UK based site, are just 2. We’ve had some excellent sitters, honest and trustworthy people. The first time we used the facility within 36 hours we’d had 83 replies from people as far distant as Australia, Canada, Holland and Britain. It was difficult to shortlist believe me, they all had such good credentials. We finally settled on a retired couple from Humpty Doo (Humpty who? I hear you say)! Look it up, it does exist and is about 30 miles south of Darwin in Australia. They were a fabulous family and loved Tessa and Pip to bits. We’ve kept in touch too and have an invitation to visit any time we want!
There are doubtless many more good sites out there, but I leave it with you to try.
Once again, good luck and happy days!!!
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Dogs travelling abroad
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