Words by Pat Eggleton

Having decided it was “now“ rather than “never” that I would make the move to Italy in 2005, I had sold my house and given in my notice at work. So it was time to make the travel arrangements and those centred not around me, but around my precious dog, Simone Eggleton de Beauvoir [Simi].
I had already spoken to our vet, done a lot of research on the internet and sought personal recommendations so I had chosen and made contact with a pet carrying company, Airpets. I knew that the process of preparing Simi medically to travel and obtaining the EU Pet Passport for her would take three months and she had had her first rabies injection. Now I had to tell Airpets to book a flight for her and, as soon as they had done so, book myself on the same flight. I asked them to book a direct flight to Sicily if possible as I thought that would be less stressful for both Simi and me.

It is worth mentioning here that I did consider other means of transport for us both but our vet had explained that, although flying is stressful, it is the least stressful means of transport for animals because it is the quickest. He had also told me that animals are carried in a special section in the hold and that vets do not tranquilize the pet as this is dangerous because of possible drops in pressure during the flight.

Airpets already had Simi’s measurements so they could proceed with making a special container for her and they quickly booked a flight for her for 2nd June 2005 on Air Malta. I immediately called Air Malta, telling them, “I have got to get on this flight – my dog’s on it” and at last, we were both booked to travel!
I’d had to give Airpets an address in Sicily and, as I would not be able to find permanent accommodation till we got there, I phoned one of my Modican friends and asked if I could give hers. “Yes, of course”, she replied.
Then I had to make another decision: Simi would need to be kennelled during the three days that the removal men would be packing my belongings, as open doors and the moving of heavy furniture would be dangerous for her. The removal men were booked for ten days before the flight. I decided that it would be better to kennel Simi in London with Airpets, rather than kennel her first in Cardiff and then move her, so I arranged with Airpets that they would collect her from my home in Cardiff on 23rd May.

On 19th May we went to see the vet for Simi’s final checkup in Cardiff – she would have to be checked again by the airport vets – and she was issued with the EU Pet Passport. It is a much more elegant document than mine! Simi is immensely proud of it. Then I booked myself into a rented apartment in Cardiff for the five days I would be there after Simi was taken to London. I didn’t want to hang around my half-empty house, which wasn’t really mine any more anyway, after she had gone.

Early on the morning of 23rd May we went on our usual walk and it was a scary feeling to think, “We are doing this for the last time”. At midday, as promised, the Airpets van arrived and a kindly lady collected Simi. Simi loves cars and new people, so jumped into the van without a backward glance, but her mummy was distraught!

Next week's Patti Chiari: Have a dog, will travel - part 2