In the late stages of 2014 I made the decision to move from the leafy outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne to Warsaw, Poland to live with my girlfriend who already lived there.
It was a romantic idea that I’d pack my life up and go move to the other side of the planet to be with my partner – but what about my other partner, my dog Kelsey?
When I adopted her from the animal shelter, I promised us both one thing. That this was the last time she’d meet her new owner for the first time. No matter the situation, I couldn’t break this promise.
My girlfriend and I decided that I would move there in early 2016. This gave me a little over 18 months to get my stuff together, practise my Polish language and figure out how to get Kelsey there with me.
Luckily I came across a Brisbane based company by the name of Aeropets who can take care of all the handling for me.
Before sending a dog out of the country, they must have a certificate of a rabies vaccination. Canine rabies doesn’t exist in Australia, so you can imagine that the Australian Department of Agriculture are pretty determined to keep it out. Even if Kelsey was not to ever come back to Australia (she will), she needed that vaccination certificate. That process is long and expensive – a tale best saved for another day.
I left Melbourne in March, 2016. My plan was to get myself settled and then fly Kelsey over in early June. She would be well looked after for those few months by my parents.
One of the hardest things in my life that I’ve ever had to do was to look in those beady brown eyes, tell her to be on her best behaviour and that I will see her soon.
So I get settled and Kelsey’s big day arrived. She was picked up by the friendly Aeropets team from my house and taken to their Vet clinic at Melbourne Airport. There, she was checked over and given the OK to fly.
She was then put into her large crate. She had a blanket, a toy and an ample supply of water that wouldn’t spill during turbulence. Her lead, collar and leash were all attached to the outside of her crate.
She started her 24 hour flight to Warsaw via Dubai in the heated cargo area of a Qantas A380.
I had asked a lot of professionals how will the dog feel? and How would she handle it? I was relieved to hear some calm, logical explanations.
When humans fly, we know what’s happening. We can see outside, we can see the ground getting smaller and we have a visual reference as we can see outside. You don’t get that in the cargo bay. She would have been a little scared during takeoff and landing, about as scared as she is of thunder, or the vacuum cleaner (yeah, she’s a sook). All that time in between, she would have done what all good dogs do when they’re bored.
I was notified via email when she arrived in Dubai. She had a full 24 hour layover in Dubai where she was taken for a walk, fed, had a good stretch and a good play with the handlers. My dog has spent more time in Dubai than I have.
She was loaded back into the crate for the quick 6 hours flight from Dubai to Warsaw. Once she had arrived, it was a matter of signing a few papers and a final vet check. She was mine again.
She slept very well, her first night here. I do think though that I was more stressed about the process than her.
Kelsey enjoying her first white winter, and her 3-legged friend, Leeloo
Life is a little different for all of us now. We’ve gone from a ¼ of an acre property to a 40m2 apartment. I’ve had to become a better father, too. I can no longer just open the door and let her go play. I have to take her out for a wee at least 4 times a day. Instead of chasing possums at night, she now chases hedgehogs. She also has 2 cat friends to keep her company.
At the office I work at, we have ‘piesek piatek’, or puppy Friday. Kelsey will come into the office, hang out all day and make friends with everyone there.
European attitudes toward dogs are a little different. They are everywhere. Any time of the day in the middle of Warsaw, I’ll see someone walking a dog. A Jack Russell, a Doberman, all kinds of dogs in the city centre. Can’t say the same for Melbourne’s CBD.
In hindsight, Europeans encourage dogs to be social and they are a lot more predominant in day to day life.
For those interested, this whole process has cost me a little over $3500. Getting here her, along with buying the crate and all associated tests.
That’s a small price to pay wake up next to your partner one side and your other partner, wagging her tail on the other side.
Thank you to Phil for sharing his & Kelsey’s story with us.