Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Airline Travel Updates

After lots of research, it looks like AirFrance or Delta are really the only airlines I can fly from Texas to Europe with Seymour. AirFrance teams with Delta for the USA portion of the flight and Delta allows pets in the cabin. Delta limits the number of pets in cabin to 4 for overseas flights and charges the same as AirFrance - $200 each way. It makes me realize what a smoker goes through. If you have a habit, you will be charged big time for it! Two hundred dollars to put my dog in a carrier under the seat seems excessive, but we are stuck with it if we want to keep our pets with us.

My next problem was trying to figure out the cheapest days to fly. One day difference can cost you an extra $1000. Since my dates are flexible, I found that Continental is a great place to put in your travel destination and the length of your trip and you can bring up a calendar that shows you the cheapest days to travel. After you look at Continentals site (sorry, they don't allow animals onboard for overseas flights) you can go to the airline that does allow animals and put in those same dates. I found that they are pretty much the same for all airlines. Doing that, I cut the cost of the flight on AirFrance from about $2500 to about $1250 (not including Seymour). You have to remember that they have limited seats for the lower prices so booking early is critical.

But the tricky part is that I have to first book my flight and then call the agent and give them my booking number. They will check to see if there is room for a pet. They have 24 hours to get back to you - and you have 24 hours to cancel your flight (from the time you booked it) without a penalty, so timing is everything. I haven't booked the flight yet since I won't be going until late summer and I have a few more things to figure out, but I know I will need to do it soon.

I am now leaning toward going to Italy - and when I checked flights, it was actually cheaper to go to Rome than to Paris - even though to get to Rome you have to stop in Paris! I know airlines frown on it, but why wouldn't one just book a flight to Rome even if they were going to Paris and as long as they just had carry on bags, get off and save money. I'm not advocating it, but it makes sense to me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Traveling from the USA to Europe with Seymour

I have been researching how I can take my dog Seymour to Europe with me. Many of the sites I've found have inaccurate information as to which airlines allow pets in the cabin. For example, sites have stated that American Airlines and Continental allow small pets onboard. I called both and looked at their pet policies and it isn't true. I got excited with Continental and found a pretty good deal on a flight to either Spain or France and then called the airline - and it was a no go for pets in the cabin.

So far, the only airline I've found that allows pets in the cabin is AirFrance but the cost of their flights were over twice as expensive and they say it is an additional $200 to have a pet in a carrier under the seat. They also limit the number of pets onboard so you have to make a reservation for your pet separately and check in frequently to remind them of your pet reservation.

An example of the difference in flight costs: I could fly round-trip on Continental to Paris at the beginning of Sept. for about $1000; the same trip on AirFrance was over $2500 - and neither of those prices included the cost for Seymour. I'm not giving up because my goal is to go to Europe for 3 months this year with him. And I do not want him to fly with the checked luggage. I don't think my little chihuahua-mix would survive.

The alternative travel plans would be to drive to Canada or fly to Costa Rica. Although I want to visit Canada again, I don't want to deal with the cold weather. And I have been to Costa Rica but I would need to figure out the bus system - because I would never drive there - and figure out where I would want to stay.

For those of us who feel that our dogs are part of our family, it's one thing to find a place that is considered "pet-friendly" but another thing to try to get there!

I'm still working on it and will write updates as I get more information.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Learn About Your Pets' Past

If you, like me, adopted a rescue with an unknown past, you have to figure it out by watching your dog in various situations. Seymour was 2 1/2 years old when we adopted each other. He was heart worm positive, had kennel cough, had much of the hair rubbed away on his neck and was malnurished. Other than that, I had no idea about his past life. We have been together for over 4 years now and I continue to learn- or think I am learning - more about his life before me.

The way he stops and tries to chase larger pick up trucks leads me to believe that he was dumped or dropped off by someone in a pick up truck. It's a bit heartbreaking to think that as abused as he was, he still misses his old owner.

He could not be more loved now, by me and most adults. He sometimes stays with my friend who has known Seymour since the day I brought him home. This sweet friend worries about Seymour not eating and blames himself "I didn't heat up his food". Seymour eats like a king there and I think he has learned that if he holds off from eating his dogfood long enough, some bacon or pieces of steak will magically appear.

Seymour goes to daycare when I work and when I drop him off in the morning, the wife comes out to the car, and cuddles him and loves on him as she carries him to the house. He has never once not been excited to go in the mornings. Did he ever know this kind of love before?

We were eating in an outdoor cafe one Sunday morning and some musicians were coming in carrying their equipment. As they neared our table, Seymour started growling and barking and trying to nip at one man's feet. I noticed that the man was wearing work boots. This has happened twice before and leads me to believe that his previous owner may have worn boots, and possible kicked him. Just a speculation.

What does this have to do with travel? I know to be aware of men wearing boots coming near us. If they are brave enough, I ask them to just put their hand out to let Seymour sniff it and he is then OK with them. Even though he is only 7 pounds, his bark can scare a grown man and it's not easy to convince them that he is harmless. He has never bitten anyone and is a real people pleaser. He would much rather be around people than other dogs. But he does seem to get along with female dogs. Actually, he loves women in general. He also loves children and worries when an infant starts to cry. Did his previous owner have to give him up because they had a child?

To get him to stop barking, I read that a dog whistle hurts a dogs ears and that can distract him. So, I purchased a whistle, he started barking, I started blowing, and he came to me. Obviously his previous owner whistled to get him to come. It didn't work as anticipated, but I'm happy he comes when I whistle. On a trip, that is important information if he ever gets loose.

So, as you learn more about your dog, use those lessons to improve the travel experience for your and your pet.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A New Travel Gadget

We haven't been traveling much lately, but Seymour still goes just about everywhere with me around town. Often Seymour gets thirsty from leading me around and if I carry water, it's usually only a water bottle for me. I pour water into my hand to give him a drink - not very efficient and pretty messy. And, for those of you that have kept up with my blog, I still use the Gulpy Pet Water Dispenser but I've taken to leaving it in the car because it is a bit bulky. I found a great new product called "Popware for Pets". It's a collapsible bowl that easily hooks onto his leash or fits in a small purse.

When you pop it open, it holds about a cup of water. It probably is best for small animals up to 15 to 20 pounds or so. But, Seymour is 7 pounds and when he is done drinking, there is plenty of water left to share with his friends.

This has become one of my favorite things since it is so easy to carry with us. Often when I take him to an outdoor restaurant, I will ask for water for him, but sometimes they forget - since he isn't actually a paying customer! Now, I just ask for a glass of water for myself, pop over his cup and pour water into it. Easy!

I found this cup online for $7.99 but they might sell it in pet stores. I wish I had invented this great little travel idea. I can't wait for our next trip in our camper. This will be perfect to pack.