Applications invited …

I’m on the lookout for a new companion.  Must be able to keep up with a high pace of activity, respond well to instruction and be uncomplaining about the food offered and the accommodation provided.  Rather like Dr Who, the ability to traverse several time zones and juggle no end of activities all at the same time would be advantageous.  Clearly they will need to be tolerant to all manner of distractions, show interest in my constant chatter, and share a love of playing 80’s hits on iPlayer …..  In return I offer to devote my attention, tend to their needs, and provide the odd ‘treat’ or two on occasion.  It would be a rewarding position for those keen to show commitment and loyalty ….

I know.  My husband fails the criteria on many levels – but he’s handy to have around.  What about the kids, I hear you ask?  Well, they have a tendency to answer back and complain about doing the slightest bit of exercise over and above their normal activities.  Plus, try getting a teenager to part with their mobile phone for longer than 30 seconds let alone attempt to hold a meaningful conversation which commands more than a mono-syllabic response.  It’s no surprise then that I’m on the lookout for a new 4-legged addition to the family….My cat of 22 years recently departed, and it’s quietly amazing to note that she has known me longer than my husband and my 3 kids.  That’s half my lifetime.

Half a lifetime.  That’s a long time.

She truly lived a double lifetime.  Either I was very lucky, or she managed to maximise all her 9 lives … and then some.  She surprised everyone when she managed to travel without incident from the UK to Western Canada at the age of 18.  She had 2 brothers and outlived both by a long stretch.  Tolerance was certainly one of her virtues – something I can truly relate to also …. Let’s just hope some of her longevity has rubbed off on me too …But the house is quiet without her.  I miss her not being around.  I miss looking after her and sorting her food out.  I miss her sat in the front window, carefully placed to ensure she took full advantage of the sun’s rays whilst still surveying her empire.  She was quite vocal in later life albeit deaf and mostly blind.  She had an innate knack of yowling the minute I would be on a conference call or FaceTime with work colleagues.  In fact, my husband who regularly holds conference calls with colleagues in India has reflected that her presence has been notably missed as she often made more meaningful contributions to discussions than most of the attendees on the call itself …..So, now with permanent residency secured, I’m on the lookout for a canine.  I’ve had a tentative foray into looking at Bernese Mountain Dogs … I know, they’re huge.  They’re my favourite dog, but I’ve had to rule them out on the grounds that whilst they would be adoring, they’re quite reluctant to do much exercise.  They’d be happy to watch me disappear off for a few hours and welcome me back home jubilantly – but both their speed and inclination to do more than 1 mile would see me somewhat frustrated.  It certainly comes to something if I’m more active than a dog …. never thought I’d ever see the day.  Now that’s a change in the last 22 years for you ….So, applications are invited.  I’m keeping a watching brief on new puppies in the Edmonton area, but may just take time over the summer to get used to a much quieter household, plus really decide who the lucky addition to the family is going to be.  I’ll keep you posted …

ūüôā

Have cat … will travel

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Whilst some will consider moving to another country in itself a highly stressful experience, I’ve got to say, moving a 19 year old cat (who’s never been much further than the back door) across a continent has proved to be the most ‘cat’-astrophically stress inducing process by far.

For those up to speed on developments, she’s made it. ¬†She arrived into Calgary airport on a direct flight, in a purpose-made wooden crate, and was unimpressed by the surroundings and the fact that her usual warm bed had been substituted for mere strips of newspaper.

It’s been a long process. ¬†Right from the start, I was reluctant to leave her in the UK and indeed, the local vet saw no reason why she shouldn’t fly. ¬†That decision made, it was left to finding an animal transporter who would successfully get her from ‘A’ to ‘B’. ¬†And, I found an absolutely excellent shipper who solely transports small live animals across the world – usually, New Zealand and Australia; so the prospect of sending a cat to Canada for them was not a big deal in the slightest. ¬†They also kindly let her ‘board’ with them for the last 6 weeks whilst we found somewhere to live and get ourselves sorted, regularly keeping me updated with how she was and the latest news.

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My biggest concern was the weather. ¬†And by weather, I mean snow and sub-zero temperatures. ¬†It didn’t help to discover that there are no direct flights to Edmonton from the UK after the end of October. ¬†This means a round trip of 588km to collect her from the ‘local’ airport in Calgary, 3hrs driving each way. ¬†Manageable if the weather is good, but with snow now on the ground and me being slightly new to the ‘driving on ice’ experience, I was nervous about the journey to say the least. ¬†I also had to take the 3 ‘kids’ who viewed the whole saga as an adventure. ¬†Unlike me, their only concern was having enough sugary snacks to last the journey and whether their iPads would hold out for the full trip there and back in keeping them entertained. ¬†I did suggest we could adopt a more traditional style and perhaps talk and spot things on the roads (which was met with rather withering looks from all 3), and I finally conceded that virtually driving in a straight line between Edmonton and Calgary on one road, in a prairie region probably didn’t offer the full range of stimulation that would last them for 6 hours.

Anyhow, I had a stroke of luck.  The weather held for me and the journey was long but straightforward.

Having never transported a cat – or any animal for that matter before, I wasn’t sure how this was done. ¬†Travelling as ‘cargo’, they are managed by a¬†‘cargo’ team for that specific airline. ¬†Finding my way to Calgary from Edmonton was a piece of cake compared to navigating the whereabouts of the Cargo office at the airport – which was completely away from any passenger terminal or the usual entry points I’m familiar with. ¬†Reams of documentation are required and upon arrival¬†at the cargo office, you wait for the animal to be unloaded, received by the cargo team and all required documentation completed. ¬†This takes about 1 hour after the plane has landed.

Once you’re provided with the landing documentation, you physically go to Customs to get clearance. ¬†This is held with¬†a border official who requires considered responses to all¬†questions posed and checks all the papers to assess the validity of bringing an animal into the country. ¬†If they are satisfied, you’ll get clearance stamped on the papers – plus relieved of $31 dollars. ¬†Goodness knows the protocol for what happens if they refuse to sign …

Back to the Cargo office, the Customs papers with the ‘clearance’ stamp enable the team to charge me a further $55 dollars and I’m finally issued with the last piece of paper which allows¬†me to obtain (and see) the cat. ¬†Moving to another room, and what can only be described as a warehouse complete with JCB’s and mechanical equipment hoisting goods around, you present this final piece of paper and they offer over the cat.

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For the price of the shipment across the waters, you’d be under the impression that the cat is treated to first class luxurious seating and the full use of a personal butler. ¬†I suspect the reality is more along the lines of being placed alongside the passenger luggage in the hold with not so much as a touch screen TV in sight.

So, after a further 3 hours in the car to our new home, she’s now in situ, favouring a bed in the back of a cupboard where it’s warm and she’s left to herself. ¬†She’s eaten lots and been out for a quick look around and walk around the house – before taking herself back to her domain and catching up on some serious catnaps.

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It was worth it and lovely to see her back with us. ¬†However, for anyone considering doing something similar, I’ll warn you now that it’s easier giving birth …