Holy Cr*p! I'm in Switzerland, With My Dogs!

August 22, 2010

Holy Cr*p! I'm in Switzerland, With My Dogs!

August 22, 2010

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.

Treat Jar

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30 comments on “Holy Cr*p! I'm in Switzerland, With My Dogs!”

  1. Woooo how very exciting a new country to live in. Welcome to Europe. I hope you enjoy it, you have some great mountains for walking in.

    Khumbu

  2. Oh Oh Oh! I am so relieved to read this post you cannot imagine! I was all worried about your big trip and keeping my paws crossed that you arrived OK. Nice to see both of you (OK, and mom too).

    I am sure they heard Loki's yapping all the way across the alps. And Miss Juno the celebrity, eh?

    Great post! Can't wait to see your new adventures.

    Slobbers,
    Mango

  3. Yayyyy! I knew you were about to leave but seems like you 'about to' forever and I guess I missed the last few posts. Horrray! So glad you and the hounds made it safely and not tooo stressed. Yah, customs guys are totally humorless, best to keep you head down and get though there with minimal fan fare! I am not surprised Juno had fans waiting to meet her he he...
    Lots of hard work to get there but hopefully the fun begins now! Can't wait to see more.

  4. phew.. furry wagging my tail that woo made it safe & yappers!
    loki- paws khrossed- no secret therah!!!

    scratchies,
    tula

  5. Are you wearing VB socks?!

    I thought that pets had to be in isolation for observation for 30-days?

    Glad to hear everyone made it over happy and healthy.

  6. Glad to hear your travels went well. Sorry we didn't get to say goodbye, but I look forward to reading about your adventures!

  7. Glad to hear you made it safe and sound. You will be totally spoiled with so much dog freedom in Switzerland! Your house is still standing and since I drive by it every day I will always be keeping an eye on it for you !
    Hugs to the pups !!

  8. Wow, sounds like they had a huge adventure and happy that everything went well with the move and you are all there safe and sound. Funny that she only wanted her photo with ONE dog...how can people do that? Like oh, I only like one of your dogs. LOL

  9. WOW! All that and you still had time to take pictures. You get my (made-up) AMAZING BLOGGER OF THE DAY Award!

    And what wonderful pictures they are.

    I hope you enjoy your new life. I can't wait to see all the pictures!!

  10. Wow! I'm glad you all arrived safely and without much problem! The pictures you took are great, too. I can't wait to hear more about your adventures over there!

  11. Wow! You made it, and then some! I can't believe you guys are actually there, living La Vie Suisse! I miss you and the kids already, but LOVED seeing the pictures and hearing the adventures so far. Big hugs to you all!
    Dogtorhil

  12. Loose in the airport?

    WAY
    TO
    GO
    JUNO

    Woo gone and done us Sibes proud!

    Of khourse, I envision an OJSimpson Hertz khommercial!

    What a great post - MERCI fur taking khare of it so khwikhkly fur us -

    OR did woo have this staged prior to departing Les Etats Unis?

    Hugz&Khysses,
    Khyra
    PeeEssWoo: HOLY KHRAP!!! WOO ARE IN SWITZERLAND!!!

  13. It looks like you had a great trip! Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad both dogs arrived safe and sound. We would prefer ice cream to mountains as well, for the record.

    When do we get the pictures of the pups swimming in that crystal clear lake?

    Kat

  14. Overall, it sounds like things went pretty well. So glad to hear that the four of you arrived safe and sound. And now with this little preview post of Switzerland, we look forward to sharing your time away from home.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  15. Wow, what an adventure. You must be so proud that the pups handled the whole airport thing so well. Switzerland looks so beautiful and dog-friendly. I'd be jealous if not for the fact that it is a gazillion miles away.

    Hope you are all having fun!

    (Dennis the Vizsla, you are hilarious!)

  16. What excitement! I'm glad that you ALL made it safe and sound. Are you really *driving* all the way to China and Japan? It must be quite a car...

  17. Way to go!

    I am green with jellyC thinking I, too, could have my european adventure if only the Maman weren't such a chicken and didn't refuse to even think about flying me... I am very impressed that you were allowed on lead within the airport; in our sorry neck of the woods, one has to be crated even BEFORE leaving the house, I swear... 🙁

    Bienvenue en Europe. Enjoy!

    PS: Nom d'un chien, vous etes en Suisse!
    Can't wait for those trilingual posts.

  18. Woo hoo! ALL of you look GORGEOUS! (and I know Sugar recognizes the crossed-leg message from her studly dude Loki-- don't try and deny anything , you hussy-sibe)

    Congratulations on a successful journey! Simply fabulous!

    Luv,
    Karen and Sugar

    p.s. SFO has an enclosed relief area for dogs-- remind me to let you know where it is, for your return to the states, in many, many eons...
    😉

  19. Woos & a-rooos to yous across the ond & up the mountainside! Did wooo see our little husky furiend Geneva over there? She must be around if they even named a lake after her! glad to hear efurrryone arrived safely, and look furward to hearing more adventures from woo!

  20. So glad you all made it safely to Switzerland! Way to go with crate training in advance! It looks like you could have a second career in pet relocation. 😉 Keep us posted on how the pups do in their new home!

  21. Holy Cow, what an adventure, and you guys were able to get all those photos?

    I have enough trouble walking my two guys or just getting them to the Dog Park.

    Thanks for sharing, what a story. Is this the beginning of a book or movie?

  22. Hey Julie,

    I'm so behind reading your recent blog entries. Anyway, YOU MADE IT! We are glad everything went smoothly for you! I bet the dogs are going to LOVE Switzerland.

    Drop us an email when you have settled down. Perhaps we can do something together?

    Kisses,
    Vanessa aka. The Missus

    PS: A BIG WELCOME TO EUROPE!

  23. Glad to hear that everyone made it safe and sound, and that the kids are taking it in stride! We can't wait to hear about all your European Adventures (if you run into Chevy Chase, please let us know... *grin*).

    *kissey face*
    -Fiona and Family

  24. Oh my God - I can't believe I've totally missed all th excitement!! I'm so sorry I've been the most useless blog friend (and email friend!) recently - I have been thinking about you, actually - but just didn't have much time or energy to be on the computer much since Paul came home last weekend.

    Anyway, this was the coolest post - it was great how you photographed and described each stage in the journey - such interesting info! I sort of wish now that we did Honey ourselves too as we would have been so much more involved with her - but in our case, since we needed to come over to Australia first to look for housing and she was following later by herself, we sort of had to use the pet relocators. I did look into things by myself but to be honest, most of the cost of Honey's transport was in her custom-built crate and her actual transport (calculated on the volume of her ENORMOUS crate) so I don't know if it would have made much difference cost-wise.

    Anyway, am so glad you made it through safely - sounds like a relatively smooth journey overall! And hooray for obedience training - that Juno recall sounded very impressive, especially in a strange airport! I'm not surprised everyone loved the dogs on first sight! And your new home looks so gorgeous - just imagine all the amazing walks - I'm looking forward to hearing all about them!

    Hsin-Yi

  25. Loki's face in the last picture of him so reminds me of my German Shepherd I had as a kid. Same markings and gorgeous eyes.

    Looks like you guys are going to love it there. It sure is beautiful. And everyone seems so dog friendly. That's one thing I hate about where I live right now.

    Do you have to drive on the opposite side of the road? And is the steering wheel on the opposite side? That must be sooooo weird to get used to. 🙂

  26. I just remembered you were going to be moving abroad, so I went to this site to get an update. (To refresh you memory, we talked a few months ago--I'm also in marcom and live up in the Santa Cruz Mtns. and I told you how much I love your sites and writing...)

    So thanks, now I've been distracted for around 1/2 hour reading about your new adventures! I guess it's better than taking a lunch break. 🙂

    So how did the dogs do on the airplane? I guess it's hard to know. I always wonder what the hell goes through dog's minds when riding an airplane.

    I look forward to getting distracted some more with your writings. And thanks, really.

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