Monday, November 08, 2010

Carly Can't Fly

Carly can't fly on Continental Airlines. Maybe I should say I won't let Carly fly on Continental Airlines from Mexico to Houston, Texas. And if some of you are wondering who the heck Carly is, Carly is the little dog we rescued in July. She is a cute little thing, dark gray and white. Maybe a poodle/Lhasa or poodle/cocker mix. Who knows. She weighs about 15-18 pounds and is like a fluffy teddy bear curled up in your lap.

Three weeks after we adopted her, we left her for five days to go to Mexico City. And then our lives turned upside down and we were back in Houston for seven weeks. She stayed in San Miguel. Back home for three weeks and then we left her again. All of this time she is being left, she is in a good place but it wasn't with us.  The poor little dog was getting traumatized with having a home and then not having a home. She needed to be with us and we needed her.

I thought it would be simple. I had read Continental's website about traveling with dogs and I bought a crate that complied. She is just a little too big to fit under the seat so I knew she would have to go in cargo. But then I called Continental to book her. It wasn't going to be simple. They gave me numbers to call at the Leon airport because they could not book her out of Mexico. The first number didn't work. It "no existe." Then they gave me two more numbers to call. "No existe." Finally I reached someone who told me I would have to get a customs broker to get her on the flight. That number worked.

Between my poor Spanish and the custom brokers poor English and the bad connection, I was hearing that I had to come to their office which wasn't at the airport and fill out the paperwork several days ahead of time. There was something about they had to have the dog so many hours before the flight and I never could figure out what their address was even if I went over to Leon to fill out the paperwork.

I was so frustrated that I asked a friend of mine to help me. Darlene was amazing. She was like a dog with a new bone and she wasn't going to let it go until she had it all figured out. She made phone calls to Continental in DF and the Customs brokers in Leon and it all came down to was that to fly Carly from Leon, Mexico to Houston, Texas was even worse than what I had understood and it would take two or three trips to Leon to set it up (a three hour round-trip drive from San Miguel), it would probably mean leaving Carly overnight with the customs broker and it would cost almost as much to fly her from Leon to Houston as my round trip ticket from Leon/Houston and back again.

The wonderful thing about San Miguel is how friends rally around when someone needs help. Darlene made some phone calls and found someone who would bring Carly to me. Kelly with Save a Mexican Mutt also found someone who would bring her. Neither of these people who said they would bring her had ever laid eyes on Carly and one of them did not know us at all.

I flew into San Miguel to take care of Carly and also to take care of some business but I had to get Carly ready to go the next morning. As soon as I reached the house, I went to pick up Carly and took her to the Vet. Another thank you to Darlene for getting me a quick appointment on a Friday afternoon. I got her health certificate just in case anyone asked for it at the border although that has only happened to us one time in all the times we have crossed the border. Early the next morning I took Carly to meet her driver and off they went. I wonder what thoughts were going through her little head. First she is here and then she is there and then somewhere else.

I flew back into Houston Sunday afternoon and Carly arrived in her "car" about an hour later. The whole family is together again and other than a little separation anxiety when we leave her, Carly seems to have survived being left here and there.

Don't ask me how we are going to get her back to San Miguel. I'm going to be like Scarlett O'Hara and I'll worry about that when the time comes.

UPDATE: There may be some hope for flying a dog that is too big to go under the seat out of Mexico in Cargo because American Airlines has announced that they are going to add some more routes into Mexico. And Southwest has also announced some flights into Mexico. BUT American will be flying a Queretaro/Dallas/Ft.Worth route and Southwest will be flying to some Mexican locations from the West Coast. Not much help for Carly but it might be good for some of you other doggies owners. From what I have heard they are not sending the dogs through Mexican Customs when leaving the country and their charges for a doggie ticket is much less than on Continental. Of course, just like anything else in Mexico this can change without notice or vary from official to official, or location to location.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

We drove down to Merida instead of selling our car because trying to ship Mr. Dog was just too hard. I am glad that Carly is now with her family, she looks like such a happy dog. I'm sure something will come up when it time to return to Mexico. If you do fly her down, make sure she has certification of being free of external and internal parasites because apparently some customs offices (ie Cancun) are making a fuss about that. They conveniently have the name of a vet who makes airport calls for $500 pesos and gives wormer etc. It may just be Cancun but why go through the delay and extra expense.

Billie said...

being free of parasites is also an issue in Leon. Don't know how we will get her "home" but it will work out somehow.

Gloria said...

Oh poor little Carly. I remember when you first got her and now look at her. She is beautiful. At least right now she is with her mommy and daddy. It's hard to leave a dog, they don't know where you are or if you're even coming back. I have learned from all these family pet members that I've had is that I can't leave them. I just feel too guilty almost as if I deserted them. I suppose it comes with the responsibility of having a family pet member. They become a part of your life and you theirs. Good luck in getting her back home. She's awesome. arf arf

Chrissy y Keith said...

Just a thought. I suppose having a larger dog mean more risk of hinding drugs in the doggy gut. I am just thinking about why the stupid regulation.

Billie said...

Chrissy, This is more to do with Continental than Mexico. Co has started a new pet plan that puts the dogs in as cargo instead of luggage. Not too bad in the States but when you do that in another country then you have to deal with customs and brokers and all kinds of "stuff."

deb did it said...

awwww, poor puppy pooch...we must have been on the same flight Sunday (Continental)

Sam and Bob said...

Glad to hear the family is back together. Carly is way too cute. I can't wait to meet her. Hope all is well with you and Ned.

tlorenz said...

We'll be driving down around the beginning of December with our 3 dogs--always room for one more little one!

Let us know if we can transport Carly for you--we'd be happy to do it.

Billie said...

tlorenz, thank you. That is such a nice offer but it will be about the first of the year before I'm ready for her to head back to SMA.

tlorenz said...

We're good friends with Kelly--if we can be of any assistance just let us know. And have a wonderful holiday season close to your family!

Cynthia said...

To all: Never fly a pet in cargo/luggage except in cool months. (from an ex-airline employee here!)

Will Carly fit under the 737 seat? I wondered if this problem resulted from Continental's equipment being so small into BJX these days. I noticed when checking for some select January dates that I saw a 737 on the route for the morning flight.

Glad to hear that Ned is doing well!

Billie said...

Cynthia, American will not fly the pet in cargo if at either end of the trip the temperature will be above 85 degrees. Unfortunately Carly will not fit under the seat. Continential will not fly pets in cargo on the small planes only on the 737. I'm glad they have added 2 737's back on CO's route. I've flown them and they are FULL....mostly of Mexicans.