Well, we made it. We left on Thursday afternoon from SFO and arrived at our home Friday evening. The only direct flight to Switzerland from SFO is Swiss Air to Zurich. We chose direct because we didn't want a layover with the dogs, otherwise we'd have chosen to fly into Geneva which is only 40 minutes from our Suisse home. From Zurich, it's about a 4-hour car ride to our home in Tolochenaz.
We were still moving last minute items out on Thursday and by then, the dogs were ready. I mean really ready. They knew we were going somewhere and tried several times to get in the car earlier than they should. They even didn't want to go for a final walk knowing that their new adventure was just ahead.
"Come on MOM! We KNOW we're going somewhere FUN!"
Mr. Wild Dingo and I looked into use pet relocation services, but the costs were so high. Services ranged from $4,000 to $9,000! On the one hand using the pet relocation services would take the hassle out of handling the crates plus your baggage at the airport, on the other hand, it's kind of nice to not have to pay those fees. Mr. Wild Dingo's contract only included about a quarter reimbursement for pet relocation so we opted out. And instead, we used these low-budget pet relocators:
"Hey can we come to Switzerland and be your doggies?"
Sure, they look a little unprofessional, but for the price of a few beers and a sushi lunch, you just can't go wrong!
Seriously, we asked our good friends to send us away and help us out. They drove a van to take the crates while we drove a rental car to drop off at the airport. While waiting for Mr. Wild Dingo to get back from the rental car, they hung out with me and they also helped out handling the crates and luggage while I "handled" the lunatic.
All those crate games really paid off and both dogs willingly hopped into their crates to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport while waiting for Mr. Wild Dingo to return.
At the airline desk, the attendants wanted to meet the dogs. Loki and Juno obliged with big kisses to the ladies.
Loki was his usual talkative self and pretty much drew a crowd.
"Big Boy, MUST you always keep your pie hole yappin'? It's embarrassing my cool husky reputation to be seen with such a yak!"
One of the airport employees walked by and let us know where to walk the dogs in an enclosed fenced area before they were loaded. But our customs agent told us that there was no such place and that they had to be crated and wait in the holding area until boarding time. Next time I'm insisting on a potty/running break before loading. I'm sure they would have appreciated that.
The customs agents check the crates for anything illicit. All they found was Loki's copy of PlayPup.
"I have NO idea where that magazine came from Mom."
"Ya, sure thing there Big Boy. Everypup knows you're all about the ladies."
At boarding, we asked the airline attendants to check to make sure our dogs were boarded. All they told us was that 60 kilos of dog was boarded, but they couldn't confirm if the dog/s were ours or not. Not exactly the most pet friendly service. Especially since I've heard most airlines are required to confirm pet boarding with their passengers. Each airline has different policies. Again, the price you pay for handling pet relocation yourself.
The flight was uneventful and long, especially sitting in coach. (I've been spoiled by Mr. Wild Dingo's frequent flyer miles, flying business or first class on most flights.) When we got to Zurich, we passed through immigration, then on to baggage claim. We didn't wait more than 2 minutes and our baggage was out and the dogs close behind.
I wish I could have captured the look on Juno's face. If looks could kill... Oh my dawg, I'd look like one of Beatrix Kiddo's victims in Kill Bill. Loki on the other hand was his usual "Oh my dawg! I'm so happy, but I'm so scared, get me outta here" high-pitched yapping self. He causes a scene where ever he goes. But nobody seemed bothered by it. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
At the Zurich airport, attendants were helpful with information, but they wouldn't let us use a large flat-bed rolling cart for the crates. Instead an attendant offered to push our bags if we pushed our crates with dogs inside to customs. After about 30 seconds of this, they broke down and let us use a flat-bed rolling cart. This is that part that is so difficult because without help, it's nearly impossible to get your baggage PLUS both dogs and both crates (whether dogs are in the crates or not). While we had a driver meeting us at the airport to help us, they're not allowed in baggage claim from international flights.
When we got to customs, both dogs were let out to be scanned for their ISO chips and their health certificates reviewed. Thank dawg for all the obedience training we've done in the last 2 years. Juno had jumped out of her kennel as Mr. Wild Dingo reached in to get her and as huskies are apt to do, slipped her collar and ran toward baggage claim. A quick "Juno come" made her turn her head, turn around and come to me. One of the reasons we use a prong collar is for this very reason. Slip collars are too dangerous for mouth wrestling dogs so I only ever use breakaways which she easily slips. I didn't make them wear the prongs in the crate for obvious reasons and they were packed away so they wouldn't be confiscated during security checks with carry ons. I had expected her to slip her collar at some point during all of this. Obedience training paid off!
After that incident, I immediately made a slip collar noose (like a choke chain) out of her leash and used it so she couldn't slip out around the airport. Damn Sibe.
This shot is as close as I could get to "when their feet first hit the ground in Europe" for Khyra. There was too much comotion in customs, so we took some shots while we waited for our car outside the airport.
While we were waiting a German Swiss woman came up to us and asked us to take her photo with Juno. I shit you not. The woman in this shot seriously had her photo taken with Juno.
Juno's celebrity spans internationally as she is instantly recognized and asked for a photo and a pawdograph. Being their manager can be difficult when it comes to handling adoring fans.
I am thrilled to report that I did not have to resort to narc-ing the lunatic for the 4-hour drive from Zurich to our home. He was so fatigued from the stress that all he could do was be quiet, except during rest stops and potty breaks. Then his yapper drew attention once again from truckers and road travellers who commented in French "he's got a loud mouth." Really? I hadn't noticed.
Juno had jet lag too. She pretty much konked out the entire 4 hour drive home. In fact, I still think both dogs have jet lag.
So our first day here was Saturday. We took two long walks. One in the country, where Loki got his first look at horses close up. (That's another post. He was really well behaved.) The photos below are from our walk Saturday evening in Morges and Sunday morning in Morges.
It's dusk. The Swiss Alps, Mount Blanc are behind us. But we're all looking at the Movenpick Ice cream vendor. Who cares about stupid mountains when there's Swiss ice cream?
Here I am having one of my many "Holy Crap! I'm in Switzerland! With My Dogs!" moments.
Lake Geneva is behind us at this beautiful garden and dog park. Morges is a 12 minute walk from our house. It sure sucks to be here.
There's dog walking everywhere. It's encouraged as there are tons of dog stations with clean up bags and dogs are allowed everywhere.
"I don't think we're in Los Gatos anymore Princess."
"Really Big Boy? What gave it away? The big lake, or the funny language everyone is speaking to us?"
Lake Geneva is so clear many people swim in it. The water is refreshing. Not freezing but not warm.
Here's a sculpture of dancers by Milo Martin, a Swiss artist that seems synonomous with images of Morges.
"Princess, would you like to dance?"
"Stud, there isn't any music. Besides, there's some big geese and swans over at the other end of town. Lets go watch them hiss at you!"
Juno was instantly in love with the new adventure and new walks. Loki, being the naturally protective dog, remained suspicous for a day and is finally beginning to relax.
"This pose is for my favorite chick back in the states. You know who you are!"
"Big Boy, you don't fool anyone. We all know that there are at least a dozen chicks who dig your cross legged pose!"
We're still establishing our computer equipment. Internet is up but we are working on wireless set up and more. We'll try to keep you updated this week with new adventures. Mr. Wild Dingo heads off to Japan and China tomorrow and I have to drive him to the airport. That should be adventerous enough for me. Or at least for the other Swiss drivers on the road.