Moving Chronicles: Yellow Dog Blues
(Note: Mr. Logical has been eating Indian food and hiking and shopping and photographing sea slugs at the fish market. I think we can agree that these topics are much more interesting than microwave repair and Live Animal Transport, but it's all I've got. Work with me.)
This past week, the gathering forces behind our move to Seoul have begun to come together with volcanic intensity. The house (on the rental market), the car (needs repair, but who has time to get it to the shop?), the microwave (broken by the housekeepers and awaiting one rare and expensive part), and of course, there's my pesky job that requires me to be there every day, doing actual work.
What I have observed in this maelstrom (when I'm not thinking longingly about wine) is that nothing - nothing - is straightforward anymore. Take, for example, the matter of Transporting The Yellow Dog.
Those of you who regularly read the blog know that our dog is being sent by air to Alberta, Canada, where he will live with my Cousin S.while we are overseas (sob.) This would seem like a fairly simple undertaking: Make reservations. Put dog in cargo kennel. Deliver dog to airline. Pay fees. Dog flies friendly skies and is duly collected on other end.
Ah, but - as with everything else - nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Apparently, shipping an animal by air these days is an activity that requires only slightly less regulatory oversight than, say, transporting toxic waste across state lines. Let me be clear: I know, it's all for the good of the animal, and I'm certainly in favor of my dog being treated well, but at some point the sanity of the owner really has really got to come into consideration.
When I called to make the dog's reservations, I was connected immediately to a 'Live Pet Transportation Counselor', who began our session by interrogating me about the size, structure, and ventilation of the dog kennel we presently own. It was swiftly established that our existing kennel Would Not Do, and, in order to use their services, I would need to provide a new one that met airline regulations. Apparently, the kennel we have used for the past 6 years is woefully inadequate for air travel, because it didn't provide ventilation on four sides (ours only provides three) and, according to their calculations, the dog does not have adequate space in which to turn around, stretch out, and (presumably) host a dinner party. My argument that the dog likes his kennel, frequently does turn around and stretch out in it, and often voluntarily goes there (usually to get away from the boys) held no water for the airlines, who clearly thought I was some sort of animal sadist. No, the airlines would help me establish the right-sized kennel for my dog's needs. In order to assure his traveling safety and comfort, I would need to take some simple (ha) measurements and perform some calculations. Not being a math person, I approached this task with some trepidation, but since Son #1 is still taking calculus, I reasoned I had help close at hand should I need it.
In order to calculate the proper kennel size, I was directed to the website's Kennel Sizing Chart and its accompanying kennel-sizing formulae. Yes, really. Should you doubt me, I herewith provide as evidence the schematic taken from the airline's website:
Just like everything else this week,, measuring the dog was not as straightforward as it would seem. As it turned out, doing the calculations proved to be the easy part of this exercise, right after I recovered from the nasty flashback to high school Geometry.
In the first place, my dog rarely stands perfectly still in his 'natural stance' (for the record, the only time he ever stands in that position is when he is listening alertly for the sound of the garage door going up.) In the second place, when you try to put the measuring tape by the dog's tail, he - quite rightly - turns around to see what you're doing back there. Add to that the fact that dogs don't come with clear lines of demarcation (do they mean the top of the elbow, or the calloused part underneath?) Not to mention that I have always thought of that as his shoulder, anyway, not his elbow - but I digress. In any case, it quickly became clear that measuring the dog was going to be more of a challenge than the schematic artists had led me to believe.
I have to admit that I got a certain bitter satisfaction out of the fact that, every time I told him to 'stop' he did exactly what I'd trained him to do since puppyhood, and sat down, so at least I felt like I'd succeeded in something. But this, of course, prevented me from measuring him from the ground to the tip of his head in his 'natural stance,' and led to me trying to heave him up onto all fours because, while I've assiduously taught him to "sit" and "stay" and "lie down," I neglected to teach him to "stand up."
Now, heaving a 90-lb dog to a standing position is no easy task, especially since the dog naturally interprets this sort of action as an invitation to wrestle, which results in me shouting, "Stop!" which, of course, leads to the dog sitting down again. After a certain amount of unladylike language (on my part) and a certain amount of wagging and sitting and wiggling (on the dog's part) I completed my task, scoured the online pet suppliers, and ascertained that we would be needing the Air Flight Carrier in Size XL, to the tune of $102.97, which has been duly ordered. From my estimation, I would say that it is less than 1 inch larger in each direction than the present kennel, which doesn't seem like it will make much difference, but at least the airline will be appeased.
I suppose the consolation prize in all of this is that there is no doubt in my mind that the Yellow Dog will travel in great comfort and arrive safe and sound at his new home. In fact, after all this, I have a sneaking suspicion that the amount of space the Yellow Dog will have while traveling to Canada is significantly higher than the amount of space that will be available to us during the 24-or-so hour flight to Seoul. I'm willing to bet they don't even have a schematic for measuring people.