Written by Paige-Ruby
It’s circa 2021 and covid is at an all-time high. It seems like just yesterday with the memory of it forever engrained into my core memory. Maurice is barely 3 months and I’m em-barking (pun intended) on a journey back home to see my family after nearly 2 years absence. Little did I know then, the twists and turns I would take to get my puppy into the country.
Maurice's first time on the plane with his mama, Paige, during Covid
For those looking to travel with their fur-riends, it’s important to note that it is possible. Maurice is registered as my support animal, which means that Air Transat still allows him to be out of his carrier and in my lap on certain travel routes. This is great for those who need that extra support and are worried about leaving their beloved family member for the duration of the flight. I was nervous to fly at the height of covid, with all the restrictions and additional tests you had to do beforehand, along with all the documentation needed for your pup to fly. I flew with Air Transat, so they have a form that your therapist can fill out and sign, and then you have to sign off on their behaviour. It’s important to note there are things like weight limits and I recommend calling and booking your flight (you might be online for quite some time) as you need to make sure you can fly on the flight you’ve chosen.
If I can offer any advice, it’s to book in your appointment with the CFIA well ahead of travelling, as they are very strict on the forms (from the color of ink used-blue in case you’re wondering) and it’s important to make sure you have ample time, should you need to go back to your vet (I had to do this twice) to get the form right. It’s also important to note that vets are not trained in pet travel, so it’s up to you to speak to the CFIA and make sure everything is filled in correctly. After going back and forth twice, making friends with additional dogs and even a parrot (you see all sorts at the CFIA), I got the right forms filled in for travel. Next step is making sure the trip is stress free for your pup. There are lots of options, CBD oil (although remember you can’t travel outside of Canada with this) and medication prescribed by the vet (worked wonders for Maurice), as well as calming collars (Adaptil) which can make the process much better.
From Airport Celebrity to Border (collie) Adventure:
Once arriving at the airport, be prepared for your pup to be the superstar of the year with many people asking for cuddles, pets and even pictures in Maurice’s case. Unfortunately, you won’t get much attention yourself, but for introverts that’s not so much of a problem. If your pup is anxious, I recommend getting a harness or leash that shows your dog is in training and not to approach them.
Maurice and I have been lucky on each flight that we’re always next to pet friendly people, so when I needed to go to the washroom I had them watch him for me. But be prepared, this may not be the case! Each air hostess is different, some have been more lenient while others are much stricter. Your pup may have been insta-famous in the waiting room but remember not everyone loves dogs (can’t relate).
Snoozing away, traveling is quite tiring for the pet too
If you’re travelling from Toronto, each terminal lists the dog potty areas available, but I recommend no food and water a few hours ahead of travel and make sure to let them lift their leg up one last time, before going inside. To get to the UK we flew to Paris, and from there took two trains to the border (Calais) where my friend had crossed the border to pick us up. There are pet taxi services that do this too, if you don’t have anyone that can meet you, but be prepared to pay heavy to get you and your pup to the other side. For the UK you’ll also have to make sure you travel within 72 hours of giving your pup their tape worm meds, so if you plan to do more travelling before getting to the border, I recommend booking a vet appt ahead of time in Calais (your pup’s records will be checked thoroughly before boarding the euro tunnel).
Once we crossed the border to my homeland, all anxiety slipped away, and I was finally looking forward to seeing my family. Maurice and I still had two trains to take from London to get to Bristol (where my mum would meet us) and I remember the tears of joy (and relief) running down my face as we embraced (in untypical brit fashion); a huge queue had formed behind us, with grumpy mumbling brits too “polite” to ask us to move. “Ah home” I thought, it’s good to be back.
Paws for Thought:
Preparation- give yourself ample time to do the forms with CFIA, at least two weeks before.
Timings- make sure you know how long you’ll be spending in Europe before going to the UK, to ensure the dog medication needed is still valid.
Stress free- make sure your pup is used to their carrier (will be used for take off and landing sometimes), so feeding their meals in this ahead of travelling will help them to acclimatize.
Budget- getting to the UK with a pup is costly, so make sure you’ve saved enough money and booked what you can ahead of time to avoid being lost in transition. This includes vet forms for proof of vaccinations, tape worm medication, forms signed by CFIA and pet taxi to cross the border.
About the author:
Meet Paige-Ruby, a 31-year-old with an unbridled passion for travel. For the past five years, she's called Toronto her home, having journeyed across the Atlantic from the UK. Her days are often filled with watching the latest films at TIFF, delving into captivating fantasy novels, and seizing any opportunity to attend music festivals.
She opened her heart and home to Maurice, her beloved dachshund, upon her relocation to Toronto. Since then, she's embraced the dachshund breed with unwavering affection, solidifying herself as a lifelong enthusiast. With a curious spirit always seeking new experiences, she hopes to explore writing for enjoyment and connect with fellow dog enthusiasts.
Connect with Paige-Ruby and Maurice through Instagram at pagination1992 or Maurice_the_menace.