Saturday, December 7, 2013

Why is traveling with a dog like painting a house?

Why is traveling with a dog like painting a house? Because preparation is everything.
We're about to embark -- figuratively and literally -- upon our most challenging journey yet.  Tomorrow, we will board the Azamara Quest at the Port of Miami for a 12-night Colonial South and Caribbean cruise to Charleston, South Carolina, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turks and Caicos. This will be interesting.
The first challenge is making sure Xingxing can come ashore to participate in the land tours that I'm taking in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turks and Caicos, none of which have Service Dog legislation. The Dominican Republic simply asks for an International Veterinary Certificate dated within 30 days of arrival.  That's easy.
Turks and Caicos (part of the Bahamas) is more complicated.  Naturally.  They're British, and the Brits are sniffy about animals.  You have to fill out a form and mail it to the Department of Agriculture in Nassau, with $15 cash or a money order.  (No checks) I did that, back in September.
Haiti is tricky.  They also want an International Veterinary Certificate, but it has to be dated within 7 days of arrival.  We set sail on December 8th, and get to Haiti on December 15th.  Ooops!  As there is no veterinarian aboard the Azamara Quest, we'll have to get the International Veterinary Certificate in Charleston, South Carolina.  I find a veterinary practice that seems to be located reasonably close to where the ship will dock, contact them, make an appointment and arrange for Xingxing's veterinary records to be faxed to them.
By late October, I still haven't heard back from the Bahaman Department of Agriculture.  So I telephone.  Yes, they received my application.  It should be processed within a couple of days.  In mid-November, I call again.  Progress has been made. The application has been approved, but they can't fax it to me. They've mailed it, instead.  It eventually arrives, with my money order stapled to it.  It is definitely a permit, signed and sealed.  But why they didn't cash the money order?
 I don't know what this means, but decide to think positive.
The next step is getting permission for Xingxing to accompany me on the actual tours.  Being allowed to come ashore doesn't necessarily mean he'll be allowed to board the tour bus.  Luckily, Azamara Club Cruises has a special department to handle such matters -- all permissions granted!  So that was easy, but you can't just assume things will be easy.
D'you see what I mean about preparations?

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