When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with dogs.

All I wanted was a dog.

A big dog, a little dog… any dog would do.

I just coveted the floof.

But… my parents were a hard “no,” and that was that.

I swore that as soon as I was living on my own, I would have a dog.

College came and went, post-college apartment-living-with-several-roommates came and went, and, then, along came Kevin.

We went to grad school together, got married, started our careers, and bought a house.

And throughout that entire period of time, I refused to shut the F up about getting a dog.

More importantly, I was no longer open to the idea of getting just any dog. The parents of my best friend in high school raised Fidelco dogs, so they always had German Shepherds at their house and I became enamored with them.

Anyway, Kevin was generally onboard with the idea, but he was a bit more circumspect about the whole thing. He’d had pets growing up and had experienced the joys and sorrows that came along with the endeavor. And he understood the sacrifices one had to make in order to responsibly care for a pet.

Baby Kevin and his cat, Heathcliff.

But it was one conversation we had in the early 2000’s that has haunted me for twenty years now.

Kevin: “You know, dogs can cost a lot of money.”

Laura: “What?! No, they don’t. You take them to the vet once or twice a year, buy some dog food, and you’re good to go. It’s not a big deal.”

Listen to me:

Never – EVER – in the history of mankind, has anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any circumstance, been as wrong as I was in that moment.

Honestly, if I had said the Earth was pancake-flat and paved with cheese, I would have been less wrong than I was about the cost of dog ownership.

Captain of the Titanic? “Full speed ahead, we can totally get there early and I’ll be remembered for all the right reasons!”

LESS wrong than me.

Owner of the Red Sox sending Babe Ruth to the Yankees? “I think this move is gonna be the start of some really great things for our team!”

LESS wrong than me.

The Donner Party? “Ya know, I think we can save ourselves a lot of time and aggravation if we just hang a left up there instead of going straight.”

Alas…LESS wrong than me.

And where, sometimes, you get to be wrong and then move on with your life, in this case, I have been reminded of my epic wrongness on a seemingly daily basis for nearly two decades.

Every pricey visit to the vet? Kevin reminds me.

Every order of expensive prescription food? Kevin reminds me.

That time we had to bring our dog to a high priced doggie behaviorist because she kept biting our friends and we didn’t want to get sued?

Sigh.

A History of Pricey Pups

It started with our first dog, Shasta. We adopted her at age 7 and she was just goodness and light. The sweetest dog ever.

She didn’t always make it ON to her bed, but she gave it the ole college try every time!

She’d been with the same owner or owners her whole life but then, inexplicably, at age 7, she was dumped at a crappy shelter in Richmond, Virginia with strict instructions not to contact the person who’d dropped her off. Later, she was picked up by a local German Shepherd rescue from whom we, eventually, adopted her.

For the life of us, we could not understand why she had been abandoned at that shelter.

We figured maybe her owner had died or there had been a divorce or something. We simply couldn’t imagine anyone giving up such a well behaved, mild mannered dog.

Little did we know we’d never again eat a snack in peace.

The problem was, as she aged, she developed significant arthritis, so by the time she passed at almost 14 years old, she was on quite a cocktail of medications and supplements. But the creative way she cost us a bunch of cash happened when she was about 9.

Kevin was petting her one day when he felt a lump between her neck and her shoulder. Over the course of a couple weeks, the lump didn’t go away, and we convinced ourselves it was getting larger, so we made an appointment with the vet.

The vet was perplexed, and suggested a needle biopsy to see if she could extract some cells from the growth. When she inserted the needle under Shasta’s skin, it hit an object that was so dense, she couldn’t get a sample. The vet was confused and said she thought the object might be metal, so she suggested an X-Ray. That involved the administration of a sedative and then a couple images. Turns out the object was, in fact, metal.

The vet was as baffled as us when she suggested what it was: A bullet!

A bullet?!?!

Shasta?!?!

What?????

Was Shasta not the dog she held herself out to be?

Was she a puppy with a past? Was this whole “sweet abandoned senior dog” story just a charade? Part of some doggie witness protection program???

We didn’t know, and she wasn’t talking.

We should have known better: Shasta was no snitch.

Back then, we thought the most exciting thing she would have encountered was 3 feet of snow. Little did we know…

Anyway, in what would later become a ritual, the vet shrugged, told us our dog was “weird but fine,” and handed us a big bill.*

Next up came Dixie. We adopted her at age 3 thinking she’d be young and healthy and definitely not the kind of dog that would provide more fodder for my annoying husband.

Dixie was the ultimate snuggle-floof

How wrong we were…

4 days after we adopted her, she suffered a huge seizure in our living room. Cue late night drive to a 24 hour emergency vet, cue referral to a doggie neurologist (we didn’t even know that was a thing at the time), cue MRI and spinal tap.

And then cue the all too predictable results: “Idiopathic epilepsy.” In other words: “[Shrug.] We don’t know. Your dog is just weird. Here’s a giant bill.”

Seriously… not one single snack since 2005.

In the years that followed, we took her to not one dog trainer, but two, plus the doggie behaviorist in a (not really all that successful) attempt to manage her particular brand of crazy.

And now we have Thor – another “young dog who should be healthy” who has been anything but.

Soon after we adopted him, we learned he had a belly full of worms, and either because of that, or just because he’s our dog, he’s had gastrointestinal issues ever since. We spent most of his first year with us visiting various vets trying to figure out what was going on with his stomach.

Thor in the waiting room of our 137th vet of 2019.

In the end, we put him on a miracle prescription dog food, and a twice-daily course of the indigestion medication Prilosec, and his problems have mostly resolved. Phew!

Getting to Portugal

So, what does all this have to do with Portugal? Well, as I explained previously, we had three main goals we needed to accomplish in order to move our lives overseas: 1) We had to get our visas; 2) we had to figure out how to move us and our stuff across the ocean; and 3) we had to sell our motorhome. And it turned out that #2 – getting our stuff – specifically Thor – to PT was the most expensive, most complicated, and most stressful part of the entire undertaking.

Some of the complexity was a result of the pandemic.

Pre-Covid, most airlines had companion animal transport options. Most relevant to us (because they fly direct to Lisbon from the east coast) was United Airlines, which had an entire program dedicated to safely transporting domestic pets on their flights. But with Covid, the vast majority of airlines suspended their programs. They just didn’t want to deal with it and, to this day, many – including United – are still using Covid to justify their refusal to fly pets.

That left us two options.

One was to fly TAP – the Portuguese national carrier – direct from Newark or Boston to Lisbon.

We didn’t know much about the brand but soon learned that, among Portuguese nationals and expats, it’s commonly referred to as “Take Another Plane.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Even worse, because of Thor’s size, he would have to be transported by the cargo division of TAP. He would still fly on the same plane we were on, but he would be treated as “cargo” rather than “baggage” and handled by a separate division – at an increased cost and who knows what level of care.

Hopefully not this level of care. Or, more to the point, this level of care.

Our other option was to hire a full service pet transport company who would arrange to pick him up in the U.S., kennel him for a day or two before his flight, then ship him in the belly of a Lufthansa flight – one of the few well regarded commercial airlines who still handle domestic animals – to Germany. He would then stay for several hours or overnight at Lufthansa’s facilities in Frankfurt before being loaded onto another Lufthansa flight to Portugal, where he would be picked up by the pet transport company, shuttled through the immigration process, and then delivered to us at our home. The transport company would be responsible for keeping track of him, making sure he was appropriately cared for while in transit, and completing all the immigration paperwork.

All of which brings me back to Dixie.

If you’ve been around since 2018, you know that we lost Dixie at age 9 shortly after she underwent surgery for a herniated disk. If you’re new, here’s the post. The short version is she needed surgery to repair a catastrophic injury but several days after getting the procedure, while still recovering at the veterinary hospital, she unexpectedly passed away. And while no one can say for sure that the stress she experienced during that time – being a naturally anxious dog in an unfamiliar place away from her people – contributed to her death, it certainly didn’t help. And we have carried that guilt with us ever since – even though we know there’s nothing we could have done differently and we’d make the exact same decisions today.

So when I tell you that we took extreme measures to get Thor to Portugal safely, rest assured that we didn’t make that decision lightly. Honestly, absent what happened with Dixie, we likely would have just hired one of these pet transport companies and been done with it. But after our experience with her, we were willing to do anything to avoid taking a risk with Thor – especially a risk which would require him to be alone – and likely terrified – for an extended period of time.

Not to mention, the quotes we’d seen from various pet transport companies for a dog Thor’s size were several thousand dollars, so we’d be spending a bunch of money no matter what we did.

There had to be a better way.

And it turns out, there was.

Pet Charters

Necessity is the mother of invention and we soon found out we weren’t the only people facing this issue.

Not only are there many big dog owners unhappy with their limited pet transport options, but most of the airlines now refuse to fly any snub nosed breeds (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston and Pit Bull Terriers, Boxers, Pekingese, etc.) because they can have breathing issues at high altitudes.

So, during the height of the pandemic, people who needed to move overseas started getting together via Facebook and arranging charter flights. Groups of 10 or 12 people splitting the cost of a small charter allowed dogs to fly onboard right next to their owners and avoid all the risky stuff involved in commercial flights. And, depending on the dog, the costs were, oftentimes, not much higher than going with one of these pet transport companies.

The idea took off and the flights are now happening on a semi-regular basis. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article about them.

Long story short, not only did we fly Thor (and Kevin) on one of these flights, but we actually organized the whole thing.

Groups forms via Facebook – there are currently two big pages where potential flyers can find one another: Chartered Air Travel With Pets and the US/UK Dog & Pet Repatriation Private Charter Jet Group – but someone has to take the lead in getting a group together (you need a critical mass of people who want to fly the same route at the same time), finding an appropriate plane and operator, and making sure the group has a legal agreement that protects everyone. As is often the case, no one wants to deal with any of this, so Kevin and I did it ourselves. I got our group together and dealt with the flight brokers to find a plane that would work, and Kevin dealt with the legal issues, finalizing the group agreement and flight contract (we hired an independent lawyer to oversee everything, but Kevin did the majority of the drafting in order to keep the legal costs down).

In the end, 10 people took 7 dogs and one cat on a charter from New Jersey to Lisbon.

But as much as I’d love to tell you it was some high end experience, the reality is, these flights are anything but fancy. The furniture and floors are covered in blankets, animals lay wherever they can find space, and human passengers do their best to not accidentally step on paws or tails.

And just like on human flights, while the animals start their voyages with big expectations:

Thor: “OMG, I AM just like Beyonce!!!”

Reality is oftentimes a bit less glamorous:

“I don’t think Beyonce would find this acceptable.”

Even the brightest eyed like Leyla here:

are ‘done’ with a capital D by the end.

“I’m so tired…”

At the end of the day, these are deluxe “buses for dogs,” but they provide safe, low-stress passage for the pets and peace of mind for the owners.

Once they land, all animals are checked out by the vet at the Lisbon airport before being sent on their way. (No quarantine required.)

Interestingly enough, the entire rest of our move only cost $100. I was able to pay for my commercial flight using credit card miles and my ticket included one 50 pound checked bag. So I paid for a second one – $100. And Kevin and his fellow fancy flyers were able to bring two 40 pound bags each. So, all told, moving ourselves and our stuff cost $100 while moving Hairy Beyonce cost enough that I’m going to be listening to fricken Kevin remind me of my idiotic early-2000’s comments for the rest of my natural life.

Ah, well. He’s worth it.

Next up: Getting our visas, selling our motorhome, and our last weeks in the United States.

*Shasta’s vet said she had seen a couple dogs come in with injuries from hunting accidents and opined that might have been what happened, but there was no way to know.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Ha! Not helping to convince me to get a dog lol! You forgot to mention how much Shasta shed. Copious amounts of fur rolling like tumbleweed through your townhouse. So. Much. Fur.

  2. OMG!!! Got me to laugh and to cry! The memories you shared on all your pets is heartfelt. Glad Kevin and Thor made the trip and you are able to be a family again.
    Celebrate with a Fish Taco!

    • Ugh… now you’re just rubbing it in! Maybe you can ship us some fish tacos in dry ice??? Seems like a reasonable solution to me!

  3. I grew up with pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, you name it, we probably had it at one time or another. My mom even went so far as to make friends with the local dog catcher so she’d have first pick of any strays that were rounded up. (insert rolling eyes from my dad) As a kid, I never gave any thought to the cost. As an adult, I learned pets = vets. When I finally convinced Steve we HAD to have a dog, 7 years after we got married, he had to have a pure bred pup. Yep! Pets = vets.

    The charter flight idea is amazing, at least one good things came out of the pandemic. Can;t wait to see pictures of a happy Thor at a Lisbon pup park!

    • I LOVE that your mom got first dibs on every stray. That’s awesome. We’ve never actually set foot in a shelter because we know ourselves well enough to know we’d walk out with armloads full of animals. We’ve had to intentionally be targeted about our adoption choices because otherwise, we’d be living in the second coming of Noah’s Ark. And yeah, like you said, Pets = vets and one at a time has been enough for our budget. 🙂

    • This is brilliant! Now, when I insist we bring Ziggy to Europe someday, Chris can’t argue! It’s perfectly fine to spend your retirement on Thor. I mean, that face….

      • Right? Who could say no to that face? Not us, that’s for sure! And yes, it looks like Ziggy will be getting his European Pet Passport (which really is a thing)! Tell him Thor will be happy to show him around!

    • Honestly, if we couldn’t get him here safely, we just wouldn’t have moved. I’m just glad someone thought of this idea during the pandemic, because I never would have even considered it a possibility.

  4. What an adventure! Who knew there were such services out there? Loved to read about your previous pets and Thor’s antics. Our dogs seem to get more and more expensive. Either we are babying them more or they are becoming more needy. Perhaps a little of both. Glad to hear that Thor got over there safe and sound. We are looking forward to reading about the rest of your adventure!

    • Thanks, Jim. It’s actually surprising to me that none of the bigger airlines are paying attention to this market. These Facebook groups I mentioned have thousands of members — thousands of people who are willing to pay big money to ensure safe passage of their dogs. You would think some of these airlines would try to fill that gap. There is one French airline that will allow dogs up to like 35 pounds in cabin and they are doing a good business, but none of the others have shown any interest.

  5. We called our Golden Retriever, Sydney “The Luckiest Unlucky dog”. We bought her from a “puppy store”…..the most impulsive move we have ever made in our lives. We went to said “puppy store” with one thing in mind….to show my husband what a Bichon Frise looked like, and two days later we had a golden retriever puppy that had been in the store too long so they essentially gave her to us. That “free” puppy cost us two replacement knees and endless remedies for nervous stomach…..and ultimately a surgery to save her from cancer that only gave her four extra months. Her long stay at the puppy store made her a bit subdued in personality, but perfect for helping us foster other displaced golden retrievers. She was the perfect sister to 12 temporary goldens in our home. But we loved this very “different” dog for only 9 1/2 years and they had to tear me off her body when she died. The emotional pain of losing her to lymphoma is a pain I will never forget……But now we have Maisie Daisy. The first thing my husband said to her as the breeder laid her in his arms, “Are you going to break my heart?” The answer is of course, “Yes”, because Timber, Copper, Penny, Sydney and now Maisie were and are an important part of our family and broken hearts heal and the memories made send you on the journey again and again…Our favorite Sydney story is about the fight that ensued over the subject of paying for her first knee surgery. Who was the lucky person to get all those travel miles on our credit card? Tom won but I got the second knee.

    • Yep, they break your heart, you swear you’ll never do it again, and then a minute and half later, you have another dog. I just think it’s hard to go from having that constant presence around to not having it there. They certainly cost a fortune and can clip your wings in a lot of ways, but I just can’t imagine not having a dog in our lives. It sounds like your Sydney was a wonderful pup who, individually and with your other fosters, brought so much happiness to your home. They are all special in their own ways, but some really do stand out. Please give Miss Maisie Daisy some belly scritches and snuggles from us!

  6. Oh, that clickbait headline was perfect for the trials and tribulations of Hairy Beyoncé (which I think might be his rock star name now…). Great look at how to get a dog across the Atlantic, and I agree, jet charter would be the way to go, not cargo and multiple stops. Well done, and a funny as hell story as a bonus.

    • Haha. Hairy Beyonce IS kindof a great rockstar name, isn’t it? I wonder how the real Beyonce would feel about all this. I have a feeling she would not find me nearly as humorous as I find myself. Ah, well. LOL.

  7. I enjoyed reading your story… brought up lots of memories !! We moved to Nicaragua (most stressful move ever) with our two dogs at the time, and then when we left Nicaragua to go and travel in Asia we had to get the dogs back to the US. And I said never again! Will never travel w animals. Years later I was flying w a cat rescuing him from bad owners he’s been given to in our departure and I hope to never be doing that again! Hope Thor has adjusted well ! xo

    • It’s funny – like I said in the post, this whole flight was the most stressful aspect of our whole move, but once we got here, Thor has adjusted better than we could have hoped, even better than Kevin and I. Go figure. I am with you, though. I hope we never have to do this again. It takes an already stressful process and makes it that much harder.

  8. Ok, I know I’m going to get grief over this but.. you keep getting German Shepherds! Notoriously have heath issues .. (And you know I love Thor) Just don’t get a Frenchie for the love of all that’s holy unless you suddenly become a millionaire.

    Side note: Here’s my plug for everyone to *get pet insurance* or have a savings account specifically for your pet. Vet care is expensive; in large part due to corporate greed — the vets and nurses really are there to help your pet and do really care! (And are massively underpaid while we’re at it.)

    Side note #2: It’s tough with airlines — a Frenchie died on a flight a few years ago because the flight attendant made the owner put the carrier in the overhead bin. 🤦‍♀️ What airline? United.

    • I know… we keep getting German Shepherds and they are trainwreck dogs, BUT, as a veterinarian, you know, and I know, and you know that I know, they are – indeed – the #bestdogsever and they’re your favorite…. even if you’re not allowed to say it. Right? RIGHT???? 🙂

      It is incredibly unfortunate that vet practices (along with every other business on earth) are being bought up by corporations and the only winners of that situation are the shareholders. You are right, though, the vets and techs really do care and we have always had great care. It’s just disheartening that pet ownership is becoming one more thing people can’t afford and it’s the homeless pets who end up suffering for it.

      And yeah, I heard about that Frenchie. United had pretty bad numbers overall, but they also moved more animals than the other airlines. Either way, once the pandemic happened, they had a ready excuse to get out of the business entirely and I don’t think they’re gonna get back into it.

  9. I am not one bit surprised that, when presented with the need to get a charter flight arranged, you guys stepped up and got the whole thing taken care of. At the same time, I am completely in awe of all the logistics and details that you’ve worked through as part of this move. Any one of the big three items (visas, physical relocation, and selling Barney) would be as much as a normal person could handle. How you managed to do all three at the same time is beyond me.

    While it was doubtless extremely annoying to put together, not to mention expensive, the charter flight certainly seems like the way to go for your peace of mind and Thor’s comfort. We’re so glad everyone arrived safely!

    • Thanks, Shannon. When I wrote that post entitled “A Million Moving Parts,” it was in the midst of handling all of these things and we were well and truly overwhelmed.

      Once we got through the process of planning the flight, it became the backstop for everything else. So, if we couldn’t get our visas on time, we would be out of luck – for the visa process, we had to mail off our actual passports twice – so if they got hung up somewhere, we couldn’t go anywhere and the money we’d paid for the flight would have been lost.

      If we couldn’t sell Barney on schedule, we’d have to leave our most valuable asset in the U.S. while we moved overseas… or half of us anyway. Then we might have to fly back to finish the paperwork.

      We had an agreement among the flyers that everyone would take a Covid test before the flight. If Kevin was positive, I could have taken his place on the flight, but if both of us were positive, we would have been screwed. We couldn’t just reschedule the flight, and while travel insurance would have gotten us our money back, we would be back to square one for getting Thor to Portugal.

      It just added a ton of stress to the entire thing.

      The flip side is we are proud to have accomplished this huge undertaking and we recognize our strengths as a couple getting this done. (Read: While we may have wanted to murder one another several times, we didn’t. And that’s the important thing. 🙂

  10. Awwww, that adorable face!!! Hairy Beyonce is worth whatever it took to transport him safely! I’m so glad everything went well—those other folks on the flight were SO lucky to have you and Kevin coordinating everything. I must ask, though, how did the lone kitty fare with all of the dogs on the plane? And was the bathroom carpeted in astroturf for the comfort of the canine passengers? 😆

    Our kitty who lived to almost 20 was an incredibly cheap date for 18 years, and then she made up for it in the last year-and-a-half of her life (at the beginning of our full-time travels, no less) when she suddenly needed all kinds of expensive medical support and specialized at-home care. Like you, we had a year of getting to know vets all across the country. Still, she was worth it. We swore, “No more pets while we’re traveling!!” HAHAHAHA. You know how that turned out. (And PS, I love the photo of Kevin with Heathcliff.)

    • Yes, we always joke around about these things, but honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way (and neither would you.) Pets just add so much to our lives and I can’t imagine doing any of this stuff without a trusty sidekick. As for the cat, I never saw her once. I think she just curled up in her carrier and imagined she was anywhere else. 🙂 Honestly, I think the dogs were all so freaked out by everything happening, they didn’t even have time to worry about the cat, and the cat just kept a low profile. And with regard to bathroom breaks, the flight only takes about 6.5 hours, so everyone walked their dogs before boarding with the expectation they’d only have to ‘hold it’ for a couple hours. Unfortunately, the flight was a bit delayed and one of the older dogs had an accident at the Lisbon airport, but as we understand it, that happens a lot with the dogs flown in cargo, so not a huge deal. The owners cleaned it up and everyone went on their way.

  11. And they both put their feet where they don’t belong! What can ya do, huh? They’re spoiled!

    I’d like to just cut/paste everything Shannon said. Glad you had a good, comfortable option for everyone, and it all worked out great. Before you know it, you’ll be in your apartment, and you’ll have forgotten all of us old, boring state-siders. I’m eagerly awaiting the news of what became of Barney since it’s something we’ll have to possibly try to duplicate soon. Write, write, write! 🙂

    • I’m working on it! We’ve just had our hands full recently, but things are settling down now, so, hopefully, I can catch up a bit. But I don’t think we’ll ever be bored with anything – in the U.S. or here. We’re just looking forward to settling down into our own space and knowing where things are and having a static community for a bit. After so much movement, the idea of nesting is really appealing. I know you understand where we’re coming from on that!

  12. I’m telling you that enjoying other peoples’ dogs is the way to go. Carry treats, give lots of love and petting and then send them home with the parents. It’s the best! But since this cheaper version of “having a dog” is not for you right now, I am so glad to see that Thor was treated like a King. I can’t even begin to imagine placing an animal in any baggage or cargo hold. I would have to ride down there with them. Looking at that precious face at the end of your post is worth all that it cost. Of course, I’m not paying the bill…haha!!! So glad to see Thor, and Kevin, arrived safely. Looking forward to your next post on the move.

    • Thanks, Pam. I did try the “just borrow other people’s dogs” method after Dixie passed away, but within a couple months, I missed using my vacuum every single day and felt the need to get another dog. 🙂 They certainly are a lot to deal with at times, but it’s just part of our lives at this point and we feel very fortunate to have adopted such a fun and loving dog like Thor. I just wish the airlines would get with the program and offer pet owners more options for safe transport of their animals. It’s ridiculous that there are so few good options.

  13. OMG. the crazy an expensive things dog lovers and owners do! Impressive cause Thor is all worth it! Maybe that is why we don’t have pet, oh wait we do, LT our little desert tortoise. If he gets too much we will just release him to the wild.
    Glad all worked out after all the hoops you have to go through. When all of the challenges has been overcome and you are settled in, what are you gonna do?

    • Just remember this comment when you’re building a little home with pool and personal garden for LT! One minute, you’re just throwing him some scraps of lettuce, and the next thing ya know, you’ve got a whole compound complete with butler service going. It happens to the best of us. 🙂

      As for our longer term plans, I expect we’ll be staying busy trying to learn Portuguese, getting involved in the community, working on our hobbies, and, eventually, traveling around Europe (pretty much to all the places I keep learning about from you. 🙂 )

  14. Yep, we have a $10,000 dog with two knees that required surgery, but we would do it all again in a heartbeat. Glad that Thor got the Rock Star treatment, only the best for our furry family members.

    • I know you know exactly what we’re talking about! I’m so glad that whole process worked out, though, and your girls are happy and healthy! These dogs means so much to all of us. They’re just the best!

  15. Great story…great results. I’m happy Thor is safe and sound with you guys. Every once in a while I consider getting a dog, but I’m still recovering from when my last dog died 18 years ago. It broke my heart.

    • I totally understand, Tami. One of the great injustices of life is how short our pets’ lifespans are, and they always break your heart when they go. I have a hard time imagining life without one, but can also understand why many people decide not to sign up for that emotional trauma again.

  16. I love the comment, pets = vets. So true. We had a kitty named Pixel who was a born hunter. Except that he was an indoor cat. So we had sand-filled lizards and snakes all around the house for him and at the end of the day they would all be in or next to his food bowl. It was his way of contributing to the family larder. Then he took a liking to hunting our girls spongy hair ties and we found out that when he ate one, it would get stuck as it made its way through his intestines. Off to the vet, $3k. Five weeks later (on a weekend, because somehow THEY KNOW!!!) Another $3k. I said that was it, when Pixel is gone, no more pets! A couple of years later he died in my arms (heart attack, maybe?) and I was devastated. 48 hours later we were at the pet store buying a new bed and toys for our new kitty Chloe. Squeeeeeee!! Sigh.

    • LOL… you really do just kind of have to laugh at these things because, otherwise, you’d cry your eyes out. I mean, when we had to take Dixie to the behaviorist, all I could imagine was our dog lying on a sofa, telling the nice lady in a white coat about her childhood. So ridiculous…

      But yes, as much as you may have sworn it off, before you know it, you’re surrounded by pet hair and vet bills again. Happens to the best of us!

  17. I’ve been waiting for this post! So interested to hear about all of this. I have already joined the FB groups even though we’re not actively looking yet, but it’s on the radar for us sometime in the future. For the record…what you spent on getting Thor over there is what I spent getting Nikki’s gall bladder taken out, so I think you got a better deal, lol. Also did I ever tell you that Jake has a mystery bullet too? His is in one his legs. Really makes you wonder what some of the poor dogs go through.

    • Ugh, yeah, at least we got something good for all that money. Vet care is so expensive…and the recovery from surgery is awful because they don’t understand why they’re restricted, or why they’re stuck wearing a cone of shame. Poor things.

      Now that you mention it, I do think you told us about Jake, but I completely forgot. I guess it would make sense if these were all hunting dogs. I mean, if Dick Cheney can accidentally shoot some dude in the face, anything can happen.

      As for your longer term plans, I am honestly hopeful some other options will open up in the next couple years. Compagnie Airlines out of France is allowing dogs up to 35 pounds (I believe) fly in their cabins. Hopefully, others will start offering options. There’s a lot of demand out there, so anything could happen.

  18. Holy cow, Laura! What an ordeal… You haven’t had much luck with your furry friends when it comes to their healths. I’m glad you managed to get Thor (and Kevin) safe and sound to Portugal on that charter flight. My friend Sabine from Germany recently brought up that option to fly their dog to the US for extended travels in the future.

    As we are preparing for our own “move” to South America – two adults, one 60-pound dog, a truck camper, and all our worldly belongings, loads of logistics have to be figured out. Our dog is only one “small” piece of the puzzle, but the most precious and complicated one.

    • While I’m excited to watch your guys move, I do not envy you for what you’ve now got to deal with. We are, only now, starting to feel settled in after many months of constant planning and stress. The logistics of an international move are certainly daunting, even more so when you’re doing things that are out of the ordinary. But you guys have tons of experience in these kinds of things and I have no doubt you’ll be fine. Good luck with everything!

  19. I love that you have adopted these dogs and have given them so much love and care.

    Have you ever thought that Shasta’s condition might have been the result of something more sinister? The first thing that popped in my mind due to all her mysterious circumstances was that perhaps someone in the family didn’t want her and made a botched attempt at getting rid of her. But apparently Shasta was a surviver and her nemesis eventually took her to the shelter to hide their horrible deed and keep her from whoever loved her.

    Just a theory.

    The plane ride is awesome! So cool that you organized this and shelled out the bucks for Thor. I’m am sure he’s worth it.

    And I know Kevin is just teasing you but you might want to point out next time that husbands can be pretty expensive too but you married him anyways.

    • LOL. Very true!

      As for Shasta, it was pretty clear to us that the injury must have happened many years before we adopted her. There was no clear injury on the surface of her skin and she didn’t show any indication of pain at all, even when we were pressing on the area. So, I think it had been there for many years. But who knows? If anyone did something like that intentionally, I surely hope karma gets them.

  20. My first thought is Thor is ever bit as gorgeous as Beyonce. I was wondering how you got him over there. I think the peace of mind is money well spent. I’m looking forward to your next post.

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