Poppy has arrived in New Zealand.
Tuesday 1st March
After 3 weeks of being away from everyone and everything familiar, today's the day. Not much sleep for me and in the end leaving early meant killing a little time in a coffee shop! 12.30 until 3pm was the designated pick up time and I arrived at Pethaven soon after 12.30 eager to see what sort of reception I would get.
After getting a full report from Robyn, together with Poppy's release papers and passport Robyn took me to the kennels to collect her. It was lovely to hear that Jane and Robyn thought her friendly, confident and well behaved. I have also had the similar feedback from Ryslip, that she was delightful and enjoyed her cuddles! Of course I am pleased that she has been well behaved but, more than that, I am relieved and reassured that she has been extremely well looked after by Ryslip and Pethaven.
The kennels at Pethaven were very calm and quiet as we walked down the steps and I peered through the door of number 16 to see Poppy lying still. I didn't get much of a reaction when I called her and Robyn opened the door. She came out and looked at me, then at Robyn, with whom she had clearly formed a bond as she got the first tale wag. Once I called her name and bent down to her though it was as if someone had turned on a light and she started to wag her tail and bounce and run to the door. She clearly knew the way out and was ready to go. She also knew that I kept treats in my pocket! I put on her harness and she ran backwards and forwards to the door, knowing this was when she got 'sprung'!
We went back to the office and Poppy said her goodbyes to Jane. Again, quite clear that they were friends. She took no notice of the sleeping office cat whatsoever.
After thanking Pethaven for all their help we went outside for Poppy's first walk on grass in New Zealand. She was clearly a happy girl.
I sat with her in the back of the car and she just lay very still on my lap, relaxed and unusually quiet. It was a long way home and the Auckland traffic was heavy but 2 hours later we arrived in Orewa. The next step was to introduce Poppy to Buffy, her new rescue companion. We parked the car and I walked Poppy up the road. Martyn went to fetch Buffy and we met a couple of streets away. After an initial grouch the two of them settled and we walked away and met up again at the next corner. Both dogs were fine so we walked home together. A little more subdued than usual but otherwise happy to be with me. The cat, unfortunately, made a quick exit - a challenge for another day. It seems that I am also not permitted to leave Poppy's sight at present. For the moment, however, we are both feeling extremely lucky to be safely reunited and are looking forward to lots of adventures in Middle Earth!
With grateful thanks to Ian Stobart at Clarendon Vets, Liz Cartlege, Helen Heaton & team at Ryslip Group and Robyn and Jane at Pethaven Quarantine Kennels. You have all made life much happier for me and Poppy, Orewa's first Lancashire Heeler!
You can view a short clip of a video taken of Poppy's first realisation she was going home, and her first walk on grass for a few weeks as we leave Pethaven, on our Facebook page.
Thursday 3rd March
It has been a very busy first couple of days. The cat is still hiding in the garden underneath the top deck, having picnics outside instead of coming in for his food!
Poppy is fine with Buffy, who is so laid back that she only gets up to eat and have walks! Buffy is an elderly lady with arthritis but she loves morning walks on the beach always goes straight to the water. Poppy, 11 years old, has always hated water to the extent that she will walk around a damp patch in her path; except, it seems, in the Pacific Ocean!
At this point I am unsure as to whether I have the right dog. Poppy is exhibiting some strange behaviours:
She is not barking at any strange noises in the garden!
She is being friendly towards strangers, even on first meeting!
She is being extremely obedient when given commands, even new ones. For instance, when we brought the cat in for the first time she naturally tried to approach, when told to leave she came away immediately.
And... she seems to enjoy the warm Pacific Ocean much more than the much colder waters of Weston-super-Mare!
Here are a few pictures of Poppy's first excursion to Orewa beach.
Familiarisation with Charlie, the cat continues. Fingers crossed...
Moving to New Zealand is not a decision taken lightly. Even more difficult was whether to bring a much loved pet. Aside of the expense, the trauma to an animal of a 12000 mile journey also had to be taken into consideration. New Zealand's import regulations for pets are complex and stringent. Due to recent relaxing of European legislation with regard to pet travel in Europe, the UK is no longer classified as Rabies Free but instead as Rabies controlled as far as New Zealand is concerned. This means that 10 days quarantine in New Zealand is now a requirement.
Poppy has, in the past, travelled to France by means of her European Pet Passport. These requirements are not adequate for travel to New Zealand. Amongst additional requirements are Kennel Cough Vaccinations, various blood tests and more stringent rabies antibodies tests. For Europe an antibody test is undertaken after the first vaccination and then not required again as long as boosters are given and recorded within each 3 year anniversary. New Zealand insist on a vaccination booster for rabies within 12 months of travel whatever the antibody test result. The result required is a reading of 0.5. Poppy's was in excess of 70. She still required an additional vaccination. There are many other rules, regulations and required permits. Costs will include your exporter, the quarantine kennels, your import permit, all vet and test laboratory fees, and unless you have a full residency visa, Goods Service Tax will be payable for import on the value of the dog PLUS all air freight charges. Although these costs may make it tempting to attempt the process on your own I can categorically advise against it. Without the advice received from Ryslip I firmly believe Poppy would still be in the UK!
A word here in praise of Ryslip themselves. Liz Cartlege is well known in the dog world. One of the UKs top judges, she has judged the most prestigious event Best In Show at Crufts and has, for many years owned Lancashire Heelers. Ryslip were highly recommended by their previous clients and my first conversations with Liz and Helen put my mind at ease. They certainly lived up to expectations.
Having sorted out the UK end I also had to make a booking with an import and quarantine facility in New Zealand. There are only 2 authorised facilities on North Island. I visited Pet Haven. Forty miles north of Auckland Airport. The facility was extremely well presented. kennels clean and roomy. Music playing quietly in the background gave it a homely feel and the walls were lined with thank-you pictures from previous clients.
Despite all the preparations and reassurances I have to admit that I was very anxious during Poppy's long flights. A 12 hour flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles and another 12 hours from LA to Auckland. Ryslip only use Air New Zealand for transport as that means there is only one stopover for the animal. Other airlines usually involve at least 2 stops.
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Poppy's New Zealand Diary
Poppy is already well traveled in the UK and Europe but now has started her biggest adventure yet as she emigrates to North Island, New Zealand. It has been a long trip, almost 12000 miles.Regular updates and pictures will appear here with headlines from Poppy herself, via her iBone, and explanatory notes from mum, Jan.
Penny is still at home in the UK and is about to start another European tour with dad, Pete.