Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Never Know if You Don't Ask

I am starting to get responses back on my doggie questions.

Scanner and microchip - I don't think anyone has ever asked this question to the animal shelter. They have responded with a lot of information and it appears that they have a scanner that scans both USA and International chips, but it looks like Seymour's chip is not an international one. It needed to be 13 digits and Seymour's chip is only 10 characters. Dang - another thing to purchase and carry in my backpack. Now I just have to figure out what kind to buy!

I also contacted a very nice person named Heike at Il Sasso, a language school in Montepulciao, Tuscany. There were very good reviews for this school and it is pretty reasonable. I've never been to Tuscany so I thought that would be a good place to visit while learning some Italian. I wanted to do a homestay while I was there so that I could be around native speakers - and because it is less expensive than a hotel or apartment. He said there is one single woman who allows dogs in her house, but she has a small male dog. If it didn't work out between the 2 dogs, I'd have to move to an apartment. Heike also responded that I could bring Seymour to class with me. I plan to take a 4 week course and hopefully I will learn enough basics to get me through the rest of my trip. Right now I'm trying to read a sentence in Italian and I can't figure out any of the words. "Segnala questa attraione agli altri viaggiatori". I'm in big trouble!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trip Planning Odds and Ends

There is so much to plan for this trip to Italy. I'm slowing getting things done - or at least started:

1. Emailed the Animal Shelter where Seymour was adopted from to find out what kind of microchip they put in him. I hope I don't have to purchase a separate scanner.

2. Signed up for a class "Italian for Travelers" that will be held in July. I decided I better get some early practice, before I take my language class in Italy. It's like someone who cleans their house before the cleaning people come. I would totally do that if I had cleaning people!

3. Wrote to a language school in Italy (It's in Tuscany) to see if they would accept me with a dog, and if one of the homestays I want to stay in for a month would also accept a dog. I haven't heard back yet.

4. Found a pretty good website that has a lot of good information on traveling with a pet overseas. I ordered the Pet passport from them. It comes with all of the paperwork and list of health records I will need to get filled out before we go. They have a forum and I posted a question about how to get a Pet's Health Certificate translated into Italian. Supposedly I need to get that done. No response yet, but five people viewed my question. Maybe it was too dumb to answer!

5. Seymour is beginning to spend more time in his new carrier. Because he likes his sling, I put that in the carrier as a blanket and he has really taken to it. Unfortunately, I haven't started zipping it up yet! He is an expert un-zipper so I'm not ready for that challenge yet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Carrying Less on Walks

Seymour and I take long walks every day. Sometimes we end up passing a place where I'd like to buy a coffee or drink and I have no money with me. Or we walk to the pet groomers to get Seymour's nails clipped and I have to hold my money in my hand or bring a purse. Most of my pants or shorts don't have pockets and I don't like carrying a purse during walks. I may be the last to realize this but I always have the poop bag bone dispenser attached to Seymour's leash, and figured out that was a good place to keep some extra money. I took out the roll of bags and stuffed 2 bags back into the bone dispenser. I then put in some bills and some change - and even a Kleenex, and it all fit. One word of caution is that change will fall out of the hole for the bags so it needs to be kept behind the bills and poop bags.

I was thinking that this would be a good place to keep some extra money and a folded copy of my passport when we are in Italy. I doubt that anyone will try to take Seymour's poop dispenser and screwing it open takes a little effort. I can't see where I'll ever need more than 2 bags on a walk, so I should always have extra room for my stuff. The dispenser has never come off of the leash but I think I will use an extra tie, as a precaution. Another problem solved - I hope.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seymours' Sling

The new sling I bought came yesterday and I've been carrying Seymour around in it. It feels like a lined sweatshirt material, thicker than I expected, but the layers make it more comfortable. The strap is pretty comfy across my shoulder. It is basic; no pockets, but it does come with a strap to hold him in. He seems to like it. Mostly he sat it in, which is why he looks big in the picture, but when he would lay down, you couldn't see him at all. I won't be able to sneak him in anywhere in this sling, but I think it will work great to take him in places where pets are allowed and have both hands free. It is smaller than the previous one I purchased, so I think it fits him better. I bought it on eBay and it says it was made by Outward Hound but I couldn't find it at other places. It cost $16.50 with free shipping, so I was pleased with the price.

Next I want to see how this sling works when I ride a bike because I expect to do that in Italy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Still Planning for Italy with Seymour

My current planning steps include getting everything I need lined up for Seymour's Pet Passport and getting the travel gear Seymour will need. What I've done so far related to his Pet Passport:
1. I downloaded the paperwork I need to take to my vet from the USDA website:

Part of the paperwork is in Italian so I think I have to get it translated but I haven't gotten that far in the process yet.

2. I updated Seymour's chip information because I hadn't done that since I moved and I wanted to add an emergency number.
I now have to contact the Animal Shelter that put in the chip to see what type of scanner they used. If they don't have an international one, I have read that I have to bring my own. I have to say, that doesn't make sense because if he does get lost in Italy, he won't have the scanner attached to him. Again, I need to do more research on this.

Then I started looking for Seymour's Travel gear. I think I'll be able to start my own Pet Travel Store with all of the stuff I'm getting and probably won't use. Hopefully, I'll save others from making the same mistakes.

My first concern was finding a carrier that is airline approved and is the right size. I went to Pet's Mart and also checked on and eBay. After reading great reviews about a rolling pet carrier, I purchased one similar to the attached picture

The chihuahua in the carrier looks a bit like Seymour, but Seymour wasn't as happy as that dog when he tried it. He was willing to go into the carrier and have me roll him around, but he was bracing himself because the carrier was at a 45 degree angle when rolled. I then unzipped it and left it on the living room floor to get him used to it - and he wanted nothing to do with it. Although it was for pets up to 15 pounds, he looked gigantic in it. It was also not very comfortable because when it's laying down, the metal handle is folded under it.

I then checked on the carriers that the different airlines sold and decided to get one similar. It's a Sherpa carrier, size medium with 3 mesh sides and a back pocket. It is a little bigger than the rolling carrier.

Seymour seemed to like this carrier a little better because he would go in by himself but wouldn't stay in long. It has a nice Sherpa pad but when I pushed on the bottom of the carrier, there was a very hard floor under it and the pad is very thin. I couldn't see Seymour being comfortable in it for 8 plus hours. I took out the floor and put him back in the carrier, zipped it up and carried him around. His body weight made the bottom droop a little, but overall, he seemed satisfied with it. I plan to make another Sherpa-type pad that is a little more cushy for him and will zip him in it when we are in the car so he gets used to being confined. This is the carrier I plan to use - I just hope I don't have to put that hard floor back in it. The other thing I do like about it is that I can make the strap long enough to be able to carry it across my chest - so it's hands-free.

Next I checked on carriers I can use when I take him in stores. etc. but it needed to be very fold able since I am only carrying one small carry on suitcase with me. I found a Outward Hound Sling that said it was for pets up to 15 pounds. I purchased it and tried it out while we walked around an outdoor festival last weekend. He was pretty comfortable and I did like that there was a strap inside that I can connect to his collar and a Velcro strap that goes across the opening. He felt pretty secure in it.

But, the bad news is that it is bigger than I expected - it really is for pets up to 20 pounds so Seymour swims in it. It is sturdy and folds up but is a little bigger than I wanted. Luckily it was only $19.99 because I decided I needed a different one. This trip is getting expensive and I haven't even purchased our airline tickets yet!

I found a smaller Outward Hound sling. It fits in a small pouch - included - and is for pets up to about 7 pounds, which is close to Seymour's weight. It hasn't come yet, so I haven't been able to test it. I really hope that this one works because it would take up minimal space in my suitcase. The only thing that makes me a bit nervous is that they show the carrier with a stuffed animal in it!

If it doesn't work, we will go back to the larger one.

The other thing they mention in the pet travel site regulations is that dogs are supposed to have muzzles, in case they need them. Now, I tried a muzzle on Seymour and he hated it. He is so little, I am hoping no one will say anything because I just can't see putting his little snout in one!

As to other things I will bring for Seymour, he will have a couple of sweaters, a couple tee shirts, a raincoat and a harness. He is just about packed and ready to go!