Thank you to Joanna for sharing her experience of their first holiday abroad with Milton her 1 year old Cockapoo. Words of wisdom – check and double check!
“We sorted out the rabies vaccination and passport, as well as booking an appointment with a French vet, well in advance of travelling. Not having travelled with a pet before, obviously I wanted to made sure I did it right with time to spare. Yet I may as well have arrived at the Euroshuttle for check in back to the UK without a passport for the dog or any of the info in it at all. Perhaps even a sign around Milton’s neck saying Lock Me Up! Everything documented in the passport (that Milton was inoculated against rabies, he had had the tapeworm treatment, he was fit to travel) was invalid because the number written in the passport was wrong (the final digit had was recorded as a 0 instead of the correct 9).
The French vet had kindly/nonchalantly pointed this typo error to me after Milton had eaten the tapeworm tablets two days before and he had scanned his microchip. We thanked him, and started Googling Worst Case Scenarios… Pretty soon we realised that we were headed for Worst Case Scenario # 2: Dog in Quarantine / Mum in Debt / Everyone Having Separation Sickness for X Weeks/Months.
(Another potentially disastrous misadventure worth noting: We had originally booked the vet appointment for Wednesday – smack bang in the middle of the under five days/over 24 hrs before travel ‘window’ for the tapeworm treatment to allow for car breaking down/missing train/borders being closed post-Brexit. However, Milton was left alone in the presence of two pain au chocolats for about three minutes, resulting in actually visiting the vet on Tuesday. Vet said Milton’s stomach would be too full of butter to absorb the tapeworm treatment until Thursday so come back then. Had we left the treatment to say, Thursday, in the first place- too close to the 24 hour before travel cutoff – and Milton had been ill or unable to eat the tablets, this could have meant delaying departure by another day and paying for a new Shuttle booking etc.)
Back to Passport Dilemna. Having spoken to London Vet and patient French Vet, and felt nauseous for a few hours, Monsieur Milton had a new (French!) passport, we felt better and headed out swimming.
But the nausea returned after the last rest stop before Calais as I recalled the horror stories I had read on the internet the day before. I kept looking at the new passport thinking what might be wrong with it, and decided it really was okay. Bubble soon burst at check in when the girl handed it back after a half second of inspection, pointing at the passport’s Issue Date, saying it should be earlier than this one here (which one?! I still don’t know as I was too horrified to notice, presumably rabies?). The old UK passport was lying on the desk just in case we might need to explain ourselves, and she picked it up and asked why we shouldn’t use this one? Boyfriend and I stared blankly back so as not to have to explain ourselves, while she checks it over, we scan Milton, and hand the scanner back over. Obviously she doesn’t notice the stupid 0 that’s wrong in the passport and off we trot, sick with relief, Milton oblivious.
If French vet had never noticed the wrong number, it probably would have gone exactly the same as it did – quick and easy check in with no one noticing the incorrect number and journey home! But we no doubt would have traveled on the same passport again, unknowingly headed for eventual disaster…
How did this happen?! When our vet first met Milton, he scanned his chip and entered the number into his database – incorrectly. When he made the Pet Passport, he used that incorrect number from the database. He gave me the passport and I never checked it against my (correct) record at home. My boyfriend and the crazy dog lady we met on the ferry across the Gironde on our way home both railed passionately against my vet. I don’t feel the same way. But both me and the vet were in the wrong – boiling it down, I could have caught the mistake IF I’D CHECKED with plenty of time to have gotten a new passport, solving the whole problem. If only I’d checked. I’m responsible for Milton, and Milton would have been the one with the short straw.
Morale of the story: double-check the microchip number in the passport is right. And triple-check you actually know your pet’s correct microchip number – this whole scenario would have been even worse if Milton had gotten lost or stolen and I had reported him with the wrong number (I dread to think).
Interesting fact: French passports are very cheap, 10 Euros, merci beaucoup.
Karma/Milton clearly wanted to teach us a lesson for our stupidity and carelessness in matters relating to his safe transport: we park in the shuttle train, Milton gets his foot trapped between car and door as he jumps down to pavement, cries and panics that (presumably?) he has been captured and death is imminent, and as we free him he empties the contents of his anal gland sacs on us, just as the train pulls off for a forty minutes stuck in car. I know we deserved it. Poor Milton.
I’m sure Milton will do abroad again, but perhaps our next holiday will be closer to home, just so we don’t have to face the Passport issue quite yet. What still makes me apprehensive is that beyond the obvious to check – micrcochip number, date of rabies vaccine and tapeworm treatment – there are clearly other things that could be wrong in a passport which I just wouldn’t notice or know to check.
But aside from the pain au chocolat, the anal glands, and the passport..the rest of holiday was excellent!
Oh actually there was one final Milton escapade at the start of holiday, the day we arrived. Milton stepped in the same huge gloop of chewing gum TWICE, so two paws were caked in hard gum. Did you know that peanut butter ‘melts’ chewing gum? Milton thought Christmas had come early, it really did work well, i would recommend… But of course the French don’t ever eat peanut butter so we (in the middle of nowhere) drove to three shops and about an hour before we could even find any…
I think Milton saved up all his disasters for holiday. Seriously life back in London is never this dramatic/dangerous.”