Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking a Dog From Naples to Capri

I was told that when we are in Italy, I need to go to Naples and then take the ferry or hydroplane to the Isle of Capri. So, I did my internet search and found the company that has the ferry and hydroplane and wrote to see if I could bring a small dog.

They wrote back and said "It is possible to bring a dog". Yipee!
Actually, it's not a hydroplane but a hydrofoil. The cost is 11 euros for the ferry one way and 17 euros for the hydrofoil.
There are so many things to see and do in Italy that I don't think we are going to be there long enough to see them all. Of course I'd also run out of money if I stayed longer, so I guess we'll just enjoy what we can while we are there.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Can Pets Walk on a Leash in an Airport? (Updated 6-20)

I'm planning ahead and checking to see if Seymour will be allowed out of his crate between flights. I haven't checked with the airports in Paris or Rome, but since they are very dog-friendly in Europe, I'm just going to let him walk on a leash there. In the USA, things are a little different. This is what I found out about the Austin airport.

Austin Airport Rules about pets state:
"Pets, including dogs and other animals, are not allowed in the terminal, as per City Ordinance § 13-1-33 Restrictions on Animals except for:

an animal used by a law enforcement officer in the officer’s performance of duties;
a seeing-eye dog escorting a visually impaired person, or other service animal being used for assistance by a person with disabilities; or
an animal that is being delivered to, or picked up from, an air carrier for transportation
Visitors who are not ticketed passengers may not bring their pets inside the terminal, including bag claim and the ticket lobby unless it meets one of the above exceptions.

Ticketed passengers with pets or a person responsible for an animal being shipped by an air carrier must:

restrain the animal by a leash or carry the animal in a cage approved for airline use;
take the animal directly to the air carrier for shipment; and
Remove the animal from the terminal as soon as delivery of the animal is taken from the air carrier.
A traveler carrying an animal in the secure area or through a screening point onto an aircraft must at all times keep the animal in a cage approved for airline use. Service animals are not subject to these rules.."

So, basically they are saying that pets have to be in their carriers after they go through security.

Since we will be transferring to another flight in Atlanta, I wrote to the Atlanta airport to see if I can walk Seymour on a leash or if he has to stay in the crate. I sure hope he can get out and stretch his legs! I'll let you know.

UPDATE 6-20: Response from Raj Nayar from Atlanta International Airtport: "While transferring the flight, the dog must be in his crate." DANG!

It seems that most airport websites don't automatically cover this bit of information. I've read that even if an airport has a policy that you have to keep your dog in a crate, they are sometimes flexible and won't say anything if they are walking on a leash.

Those little guys need to stretch their legs as much as we do!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seymour's Least Favorite Traveling Item

I read that you need to bring a muzzle to Italy just in case it is needed for your dog. Seymour tried on various muzzles in the pet stores but I couldn't find any that fit. Last week we were at Pucci's, where Seymour gets his nails trimmed regularly. Although they do a great job, it's not his favorite experience. I asked them what types of muzzles they use when they need them. We tried one on Seymour and it fit, so I ordered it. This is the muzzle I ordered. Sorry about the blurry picture.
It's a size 0 which is also an XXSmall. Although it fit him, he hates it. When I tried to take his picture he was rolling around so much while trying to use his front paws to take it off, that I had to take 4 pictures before I was able to get a picture that wasn't blurry from all of the movement! Here is Seymour in his muzzle. I think that if he does cause a ruckus, just showing him the muzzle will straighten him out!
I ordered it from Amazon. I think he now has everything he needs for the trip except for his new microchip and health certificate.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning Italian in Italy - With a Dog

I just sent in my deposit for a 4 week language class with Il Sasso in Montepulcaino, Italy. Here are a couple of pictures previous students took of the area - very pretty.

The city is between Rome and Florence but so far, I haven't found it on my basic map of Italy.

I have signed up for their Standard course, which is 3-4 hours of language lessons 5 days a week. The 4 week course is 600 Euros. I also asked to do the homestay with the single woman with a dog. I sure hope Seymour will play nice. This is also the place that said Seymour could come to class with me. If you want to read more information on this city and language school, their website is

Since I will be flying in to Rome, I plan to stay there for a couple of days before I head out to my language class. They give directions on how to get there - take train, then bus, then walk. Oh boy, that will be interesting for someone with no sense of direction and little Italian. I am taking that 7 session course on Italian for Travelers before I go, so I hope that will give me a few good words to use!
It's getting more real -

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flight Reservations Have Been Confirmed - I Think

Today I had to pay for my flight reservations so I called AirFrance - one more time - to be sure that Seymour was confirmed on all legs of the trip. They said he was, but I didn't get the name of the person I talked with. I'm going to trust this time. I hope these aren't "famous last words".

When I got online to pay for my flight and put in all of my credit card information, I got back a response saying that their Reservation service wasn't working at this time. Great! I signed out and back in and it said that my reservations were confirmed but I haven't received a receipt yet. Do I believe that I am confirmed or do I call and check -one more time? I have three more hours that my reservations could be on hold so I will wait another hour to see if I get a receipt. If not, I'll call. I should know that 1-800 number by heart by now.

This week, I will make Seymour his first appointment with the vet. We will probably need to go 2-3 times. First, for the new microchip, then for any immunizations he needs and then he might need to go back to get the health certificate signed before I hand deliver it to the Area Veterinarian in Charge with the USDA to be endorsed approximately a week or so before we leave. The health certificates/Pet Passport are good for up to 4 months for travel in Italy, so we should be covered for getting back to the USA.

Some airlines require a separate health certificate signed by the veterinarian within 10 days of travel but I did not see that requirement on the AirFrance website. We might get it done - just in case.

My biggest worry is that we will get to the airport and Seymour won't have all of his paperwork in order - but then I am an excellent, practiced worrier.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The "Trying Times" Have Started

I called the AirFrance/Delta customer service line today to see if they had approved allowing Seymour onboard and found that no one had put in a request. Lesson 1 - get the name of the person you talk with and get specifics on how AirFrance will be notifying you about accepting the pet.

I found that although AirFrance and Delta work together, they have 2 different computer systems. They were able to get the AirFrance approval while I was on the line but could not get the Delta approval (which I was told had already been done last Monday) because the connecting flight was "not a valid connection". AirFrance stated that when you have a pet traveling in cargo, you need at least 2 hours between flights. Since Seymour is traveling with me, we don't need that much time, but the Delta system would not allow them to put Seymour on the flight.

After over an hour of being transferred from one person to another, one airline to another, Quincy from Delta said "Not to worry, he is confirmed on all of the flights - but I can't give you anything in writing". For some reason, I'm still worrying. Especially since I am purchasing non-refundable tickets to save money. I don't pay for Seymour until I get to the airport to take off. I know I have to show that I have all of his paperwork and microchip information up to date before he can get on the flight, but I am still questioning if Delta and AirFrance have actually figured this connection stuff out. It doesn't seem that I would be the first person to fly with a pet having connections between Delta and AirFrance, but it sure feels like it. I will probably call back on Monday (the last day I have to pay for my tickets) to be sure he really is confirmed.

So on Monday, I will cross my fingers and pay for my airline tickets and then get Seymour set up for his health exam. I also need to start working on getting Seymour used to being zipped in his crate for 8-9 hours at a time. Hopefully our first hurdle has been jumped!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Italy Plane Reservations Made - Almost

OK, now this is feeling more real. As I have been doing for the last month, I went to the AirFrance website to put in different dates and check fares. Last week, the fares for the date range I had been looking at increased $200! I was about to kick myself (not easy for an older woman to do that, I must say) when I checked another website for the best days to purchase airline tickets. They said Friday was the worst day and midweek was the best. Just for the heck of it, I checked airfare today and found the price went back down to the original fare so I booked it - sort of.

As I mentioned previously, you have to book your flight before you can call to book your pet. You can delay payment for a flight for up to 24 hours but unfortunately AirFrance has up to 72 hours to let you know if there is room for your pet on board. So, luckily they have another option where you can pay $20 to hold your reservation for 1 week. I paid the $20 to hold my reservation and am now waiting to hear from AirFrance. Delta has already stated that there is room for Seymour on their flights that I will be taking to and from Atlanta. They agreed with a previous Delta person I talked with, that I can bring another carry-on so I should be able to travel without checking luggage. That will make our travel so much easier and quicker.

Now it's a waiting game. Once I receive an answer from AirFrance I will make my reservations at the Language school in the Tuscany area.

I'm getting nervous and excited! Seymour is sleeping.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Emergency Room Trip

In the midst of my travel preparations, we had an emergency last night. I took Seymour out for his last walk of the night at about 10:30 pm. Just as we were coming home, I heard him yelp and then saw him with his leash wrapped around his legs and his front paw was bent up close to his chest. I couldn't see anything wrong but he couldn't walk. When I carried him back into the house, he started coughing like he had severe kennel cough and still couldn't walk. All my research about where I would take him if he needed emergency care had never been written down so I had no idea where to take him.

Holding Seymour while Googling "Emergency Vet Clinics", I found names of clinics where you could call in case of an emergency and a 24 hour clinic. I finally called the 24 hour clinic, which was quite a distance from my house. They were exceptionally nice and gave me the names and number of 2 clinics closer to me. I called one, got directions, put Seymour in his crate, and headed there. It was about 40 minutes away. I have never been so frightened for Seymour as I was then. I prayed that I wouldn't get stopped for speeding or going through yellow lights. I was thankful when I heard Seymour's constant coughing because I knew he was alive. OK, I'm a little dramatic but he is very important to me.

We finally found the clinic and luckily no one else was waiting. After I filled out the paperwork and gave them Seymour's symptoms, they said that it sounded like he had been stung by a scorpion. Three other animals had been in that night with the same symptoms, and one had an especially severe reaction to the sting.

They took him back to the exam room, without me, and said they would give him a shot of Torbugesic, which is a pain killer and sedative. I had given him some Children's Benadryl earlier because I was afraid he might have been bitten by something. The doctor said (and don't quote me here because I was a bit stressed) that you should give an animal 1 mg for each pound of their weight. So Seymour weighs about 7 pounds and he should get a little over 7 mg of Benadryl. I need to see if I have a dropper with mg or ml on it. I really want to be better prepared in case this happens again.

So now I have the name of the Emergency Vet clinic, the address and phone number. They were going to send my vet a copy of the records for their file. I was very pleased with the customer service at this clinic and will go back, if needed. It is called the Emergency Animal Hospital NW Austin, although they have 2 locations and the one in South Austin was closer to me.

Seymour is much better today but still coughing a little. The only good to come from this was the I finally used the crate Seymour will be using on the plane to take him to the clinic. I zipped it up so he was confined for over an hour. When we got home, I kept him zipped in the crate and put the crate next to me on the bed, so he was in it for a few more hours. He started whimpering and I kept telling him "no" until the whimpering got loud and steady. I then took him outside and the poor guy really had to "go". So, I will need to figure out when he is whimpering because he wants to get out versus when he need to "go".

What a night!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

More Pet Travel Updates - Updated

I have to admit that I've been slacking off a bit in my planning for our trip to Italy. I have finally printed the right forms that need to be completed related to Seymour's health status. I called my vet and found out that he is an accredited vet through the USDA. That is very important - make sure the vet you go to is accredited - not all are since accredited is different than licensed. When I called my vet, they told me that when I make an appointment, I need to let them know to which country we will be traveling because they do their own research on what tests, etc. need to be completed. They won't rely on the information I have. I like that.

I'm still concerned about the microchip. One piece of information I read said that the pet MUST have a 15 digit non-encrypted microchip operating at 134.2 kHz. Seymour has a 10 digit microchip. But I also saw that if they don't have the 15 digit microchip, you must bring your own scanner. I hope the latter is true because it will be easier than thinking about putting 2 microchips in him. Other information (besides the microchip stuff) related to bringing a dog to Italy includes:
1. Dates must be written in the DD-MM-YYYY format on all forms.
2. Dogs over 3 months must have had their rabies vaccination more than 21 days prior to departure.
3. Inoculation record must include name of vaccine, manufacturer of vaccine, batch number, date administered and expiration date of the vaccine. (I sure hope we have all of that information somewhere because I did change vets)
4. Only the rabies vaccination is mandatory but the follow are recommended: Distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parovirus and parainfluenza. My vet was telling me about the parainfluenza vaccination but I opted not to get it; I might have to change my mind.

After the vet fills out the EU form 998 within 14-21 days of the date of departure, then I have to take the form to the area UDDA/APHIS/VS office with a check for $36
to get the form certified.

I also found a farmstay website where you can stay on a farm in Italy I emailed them to see if Seymour could stay and they promptly wrote back and said "yes, but he would need to stay outside." That won't work for me since Seymour is not an outside dog, so I'm glad I asked.

UPDATED: I just received an email from Antonio at farmstay and they said that since Seymour is so small that if I rented a private room, it would have an outside door so Seymour could stay in the room. BUT he shouldn't sleep on the bed. I appreciated their flexibility with this and said I would get back with them when I made a decision.

Wow, getting Seymour ready for this trip is much more work than getting me ready! I am gathering clothes and necessities to bring with me. I am purchasing some quick-dry clothes so that I can wash things and have them dry overnight since I am planning on bringing very few items. I'm sure that by the end of 3 months, I'll be sick of the clothes I brought. I have heard that people have left the clothes they don't want where ever they were traveling but others have said that it isn't proper. I'll just make that decision when I'm there. I'm also planning on bringing some inexpensive bracelets to give as gifts to people we stayed with. They will take up little space in my backpack and I hope will be a nice gesture. Of course,I know that money is always accepted as a thank you.

Next step - getting those plane reservations made. I found the cheapest dates to travel but I will need to call AirFrance to be sure there is room for Seymour on those flights. Once I have those reservations made, this trip will be more "real" to me.

UPDATE: In one day, the cost of the flight increased about $200. Now I'm going to wait until next Wed or Thurs to see if the price goes down. I read that the worst time to buy an airline ticket was Friday or Saturday, but I have a feeling it is probably going to be the same price (and hopefully not higher) next week. Another lesson learned!