Monday, September 17, 2012

Sir Oliver goes to London!

After two weeks of traveling, we have arrived in London! And yes, I know you have been asking, "How is Oliver?" He is GREAT! He is becoming quite the city dog and he is behaving well {so far} to the other British puppies in the park. I am not going to lie and say it was easy moving a dog to the UK, but we did it! If anybody is reading this that is thinking about moving their dog Across the Pond I wanted to give a little advice. If you are not moving, but you just love our little Sir Oliver, well, I bet you will find the entire process interesting.  

We started the journey from Florida with a drive to Virginia to visit my parents and then to DC to catch our flight. Oliver was getting use to car rides, sleep overs in hotels and time spent running after the horses at my parents, he had no idea what was coming. 

We stopped in DC for one night to visit friends and we had to walk down to the Mall for a family photo op! Who can resist some "Oliver goes to Washington!" photos. 
After months of visiting our vet in Florida and many phone calls to DEFRA in England, we thought we had the paperwork all straight. My biggest suggestion to the entire process is, do everything in advance! Read the paperwork, read it again and re read it over and over. Once you think you have everything completed, there is probably one missing number or one missing date. Oliver had to be up to date with his shots, his microchip needed to be changed to international status and we had to buy him a larger hard crate on all sides. Once we got to my parents, 10 days prior to our UK departure, Oliver had to go in for an international exam. The catch was that the vet in Virginia was going on vacation {once I heard that I thought, oh no!} and you had to have the same vet do the exam and complete his final paperwork. As nice as they were, they ordered a mobile vet to come in complete Oliver's exam 10 days prior to departure. After this step you then send off the paper work {via Fed Ex for sure!} to the USDA to have stamped and confirmed it is a-OK. Sounds so easy, one exam, send paperwork. Ya right! Once it made it to USDA we were expecting to receive the paperwork back on Monday, September 10th, 3 days prior to our flight, once we had not heard from them and Fed Ex had no tracking for the papers, I heard from them on Tuesday, "Oh, we needed a $30 payment." Well, hello, why didn't we know this! Ugh! So on Wednesday, the day before our flight we received all of his paperwork signed sealed and delivered, phew. After the paperwork, he received a deworming pill at the vet, and then he was off to the UK!
 We arrived in DC at Virgin Atlantic Cargo. Not the best area at the airport that you want to drop off your furry love. You envision bringing your puppy to baggage check and seeing him get put on the plane, nope, that does not happen. We were told to arrive four hours prior to our flight to check him at cargo, so we did exactly that. Oliver was so patient and received multiple treats and walks while we waited. After Frans and I being patient for an hour and seeing the clock tick by, we started to get nervous about making our flight! Our flight left at 6:50pm and finally at 4:30pm we were waited on for Oliver, oh my! We had not received the Virgin Atlantic paperwork, so we had to fax this back to the vet and have them sign it and fax back {another reminder, make sure you have EVERY SINGLE form from the airline, not only the two others you were told that was it!}. After waiting, signing, faxing and paying a big hefty plane ticket for Oliver, we settled him in his room for the flight, gave him lots of kisses and told him goodbye. Your dog will need a hard crate, a blanket, some toys and a water bowl connected to the crate. 
Beau and I made friends with the oh so nice Virgin airline stewardesses who assured us that the pets had their own area in cargo, their was light and temperature control, that gave me some piece of mind. Half way through the flight I woke up to a little turbulence and definitely thought, "Oh my! How is Oliver!". I pictured picking Oliver up and him hating us for putting him through this stress! 

 We arrived at Heathrow Airport at 7:00am and were told that the dog clearance takes about two to four hours after we land. After gathering up our six suitcases, I stayed at the airport with our luggage and Beau made his way to the Animal holding area about 15 minutes from our terminal. About an hour and a half later...Beau was back, no Oliver in hand! Oh my! Unfortunately our vet had not included the rabies batch number on his form so we had to wait until later in the day to get the vet to complete this form {hello, 6 hours ahead, they were not event awake!}. We were assured Oliver was OK, he was playing with the other dogs, but we had to wait for his paperwork to pick him up. So off Beau and I went, to London to find our small little apartment in Angel. A few hours later we got back on the tube, we went back to Heathrow and after calling the vet in Florida a few times, FINALLY, had them complete the one little number, fax it back, and after waiting for three hours........ we were....reunited! 

Hi I'm Oliver and I live in London! 

So most important lesson: find a vet that will be there to complete the exam and send off the paperwork 10 days prior for his exam. Get the paperwork stamped and approved from USDA, paperwork arrives back, deworming pill from vet no more then 5 days prior, and your pet is good to go. The most important thing I learned is make sure EVERY single blank is complete on the paperwork. Make sure there is not a space empty on any form. Call DEFRA a thousand times and ask 101 questions. Do all of this in advance and after some waiting you will be reunited with your puppy also! Thank goodness we missed the quarantine time in the UK that ended in January, that would not have been fun! 

Oliver does not hate us, he is happy as a clam and right now enjoying our teeny short term flat we are living in temporarily. We have taken him to the parks and he is hopefully understanding all of the other pets accents when they bark. 



  1. Wow. Quinn will be staying stateside when we visit. -Zach

  2. First off : CONGRATS on the engagement! Your engagement story almost made me teary eyed ;)
    So cool you guys made a move to London, not so cool about the long wait for your pups Oliver. Oliver has the same colors as my pups - love it!

    I just came across your blog and looking forward to catching up and reading more of your posts.
    -Michelle {LiveLoudly}

  3. thanks for sharing your story! I'm glad Oliver arrived safely. Quick question though, if I'm temporary relocating for 2 months, should I even bother with this process? I feel like by the time I get all the paper work for the pup to get there I'll have to start the paper work all over for us to come back.


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