May 8th 2008. Mean anything to anyone? To my family and friends it better. It is the day I turn 32 (gulp). It is also the day that the NAVY decided would be fitting to send this California Girl back home!
I swear I didn't plan this (although I would have if I could have). But the NAVPTO office picked that day all on their own, what are the chances?
What is really funny? My b-day will last 2 days this year. How freaky is that? Hope it doesn't mean I will age twice as fast?!!? We are due to leave Tokyo Japan at 4:50pm local time on the 8th. With the 9 hour flight and the time difference, we actually land in California at 9:15am on the 8th. Yes, we go BACK IN TIME! I love that!!!
All this good news does come with a price. And the reason why I went MIA the past week.
Meet our problem child...London.
Our 5 year old, 85 pound - freakishly long - German Shepherd mix - four legged child. London is a great dog. He deals with us and puts up with the girls. He is WAY to smart for his own good (can unlock and open our sliding glass door and windows...seriously NOT kidding). The bad thing...he really is FREAKISHLY long. This normally isn't a problem except when it comes to the size of his crate. He needs the Giant size Vari kennel, the one made for Great Danes. This is the size kennel he was crate trained in when we adopted him and the size kennel he traveled to Japan in.
Well, thanks to some screwed up policy at United Airlines, London can not travel back to the states in the manner to which he has become accustom. Ok, not true, he can travel back in the Giant kennel but to the tune of $3,500. Um yeah NO!
Don't get me wrong, I love my dog but I love my marriage more. Spending $3,500 on a dog would end it. I did it once, spending that on Bubba's knees and that I snuck in under Alan's radar until he couldn't say no! I know not to do it again. Honestly though, that is money we just don't have. With the major expense of the move itself, having to spend nearly 4k we weren't prepared for just is not in the cards (not even the credit cards).
Here is the issue. For some reason United will not allow the Giant size kennel to go as checked baggage on international flights. Makes NO sense to me since he traveled on United in that very kennel from DC to Seattle. The plane we will be flying to CA is bigger than the one we flew to Seattle, but "policy is policy" from what I am told. Mind you this all came as a BIG shock to me, since I was previously told by not 1, not 2, but THREE United Reservation Agents that taking London checked baggage would be no problem. Then the night we received our travel itinerary from the Navy, I come to find out that I spoke to not 1, not 2, but THREE United Morons before! According to every supervisor I argued with (and there were alot because I kept calling back and asking to speak to someone else higher up the chain) told me that the 700 series kennel has never been allowed as checked baggage and had to go Air Cargo.
The Japanese can't do anything easy. So I can't just book London as Air Cargo myself on the flight home. Per Narita Airport, I HAVE to use a Pet Transport company to ship a dog Air Cargo. Their quote...yup, the $3,500 I noted before. Mind you Bubba (our Rotti) is 100 pounds, but travels in a smaller crate, will only cost us $300 as checked baggage. Makes no sense.
The other problem with going Air Cargo, there is NO guarantee that London can go on the same flight we do. Air Cargo can only be booked 10 days before the day of departure, and only if the flight isn't full. What would happen in 10 days before our flight we are told there is no room for him? What would be do then? Not to mention, what ever flight he would get on, London would have to be delivered to the cargo shipment area 3-4 hours before the flight. Add that to the already 9 hour flight, and time on the other end in San Fran, and the poor dog would be locked in a cage for up to 14 hours. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
Last week one night, at about 2 am, as I am on the phone with yet another Supervisor at United and in tears by now thinking I can't get my dog home, I look down to see this:
London in Bubba's crate. Bubba's crate is 8 inches shorter in length, yet there is London curled up inside looking at me as if to say "Look Mom, I fit in here. It is ok, I promise. I can do this, I will be fine".
After finally admitting defeat to United and the NAVY, I realized that London will just not be able to stretch out and relax on his international flight. He will have to travel in the Extra Large Vari Kennel (which can go as checked baggage). Alan is right, London is too neurotic to relax on that flight anyway so it isn't like he will be stretching out and lounging around down in the cargo bay, sipping Doggie Margaritas. Basically London will have to fly Economy like the rest of the family, instead the Business Class he had preciously enjoyed.
I will admit between that and some other family issues surrounding our arrival in California, I was in a bit of a funk the past week. Then I guess in my old age I am growing up. I realized that not everything works out the way we want and some people will continue to disappoint us no matter how much we wish it different.
After wallowing in my sorrows for a bit, I took page out of London's book and adapted for the sake of my family. I put the focus back on the positive. Back on the fact that my birthday will last 2 days, that I can actually enjoy a yummy Carne Asada Burrito in my favorite place on earth with my amazing husband, my adorable kids and 2 goofy dogs!!
I did make 1 additional birthday request to Alan. For my 32nd birthday I asked for 2 hours in Barnes and Nobles (or Borders, I am not picky) ALONE. No kids, no hubby; just me, the smell of books and enjoyment that is a book store on a grandiose scale that only America can provide!