Talk about jumping thru hoops! I didn’t expect this to be easy. But after a preliminary look at the requirements and expense necessary to import an adult dog into Kenya, I’m almost ready to give up and leave Hamlet here.
Now from the beginning, this has not been an easy decision. Hamlet is turning 12 this summer, and his sensitive nature makes stressful situations harder on him in his old age. He shakes and trembles at the vet’s office, or if there’s thunder in the air. During hunting season, he’s a mess–even a distant, muted gunshot brings him trembling to my side, delicate paw raised, head turned. He hates being apart from me. Sometime I’ll lure him into the study with food when I’m leaving, and he would rather go with me than eat.
I’m conscious of how stressful such a long trip will be. I just got his geriatric blood analysis, and the good news is that his levels are normal, and he’s doing pretty well for a 69 year old guy! (A dog his size ages at about 5.75 human years per dog year, according to the chart I got.) What do you expect from an old dog who learns new tricks in the agility ring every week!
So I’m trying to weigh the options, and neither one is good.
Option One. Subject loyal, sensitive, older dog to the trauma of a two-day flight from Dulles to Nairobi. I’m not sure how strictly the Kenyan rules for travel will be enforced, but according to their import rules, Hamlet is not allowed to leave his crate or the baggage area at any time during transit, even during a layover, to ensure that he does not contact any other animals and pick up a disease. A Captain’s Affidavit is required to document his isolation. SO . . . he’ll have to be in his crate for the entire two-day journey.
If he makes the trip successfully, he must then adjust to a different place, different environment, different food, and different cultural expectations for a pet dog. Then three years later, when he’s 15, he will have to survive the return trip!
Option Two. Leave loyal, sensitive, older dog with my good friend Brett. (Brett’s mother is Jorie, who owns Bianca, mom to Litters C and D.) I can see Hamlet moving to Illinois with Brett and Jake, a Basenji, and keeping Brett company while he earns a PHD in public health.
But I can’t see my next three years without Hamlet! Here’s the rub. Although I’ve shared my life with four kooikers, Hamlet is my “heart dog.” He came to us between boy #2 and boy #3, and has been one of the guys for 12 years. He was with me through the deaths of my father-in-law (2002), my first husband (2005), and my father (2005). He was with me when I married Bruce in 2010. I can’t imagine going on this next adventure in my life without him!
What would Hamlet want?