Our June Pet Move of the Month features a repeat client returning to the United States after some time spent in Indonesia. Melissa and her pets (Lilly, Ashes and Cinders) learned a lot while overseas, and after this trip they can definitely call themselves experienced globetrotters.
Read on for some excellent pet travel advice and details about their great international adventure!
What brought about your move?
We moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2010 due to a job relocation. We expected to be relocated again sometime this year and wanted to go ahead and get the pets moved to our home in Alaska while the temperatures were mild.
We understood that shipping an English Bulldog could be complicated. We also knew that many airlines have banned snub-nosed breeds and the airlines that will transport them often have temperature restrictions.
What were some of your initial concerns about moving three pets from Jakarta to Anchorage or about pet travel in general?
Our main concern was whether we would be able to get Lilly, our 9.5-year-old English Bulldog, back to the USA since so many airlines have stopped accepting snub-nosed breeds. We were also nervous about shipping her due to her age and breed. Fortunately, she is healthy and not overweight. However, we were anxious about how she would handle the stress and the temperatures.
What surprised you about the pet travel process this time?
Well, since we had been through the process when we moved to Jakarta five years ago, there were really no surprises. It seemed easier to return to the USA as we only needed current vaccination records. However, the return to Alaska was made more complicated due the lack of domestic airlines willing to transport snub-nosed breeds.
Five years ago, we were able to get Lilly out of Alaska on Alaska Airlines and then she traveled on KLM to Indonesia. Both KLM and Alaska Air have since changed their transport policies and both no longer accept snub-nosed breeds. We ended up being able to get all the pets to Seattle on Lufthansa and the cats then flew to Anchorage. However, we had to ship our car from Anchorage to Seattle and then I drove Lilly to Anchorage… quite a journey indeed!
Joel was not able to take time off work so this was a girl’s’ road trip!!! And quite the logistical challenge as well. We had to reschedule the car shipping three times while we waited for confirmation from Lufthansa.
How did your pets handle the flight and how have they handled the transition so far?
The pets did wonderfully! When Lilly was delivered to my hotel in Seattle and she seemed a bit confused, but after about 10 seconds she was wiggling her stubby tail and entire body with joy. I was also able to see the cats at the hotel before they were taken to an overnight kennel. (They flew to Anchorage the next day and were delivered to our son).
Lilly was a great little trooper during the five LONG days of driving from Seattle to Anchorage. She has always loved car rides, but I’m sure she must have been thinking, “Okay…this is nice, but ENOUGH already!”
Everyone was tired after the long journey but all were in excellent condition. It has amazed me how quickly the three pets have adjusted. We have re-established our daily routine and there have been no incidents of stress or misbehavior. The cats are using their litter box exclusively.
How do Indonesia and Alaska compare in terms of pet friendliness?
Indonesia is a Muslim country where dogs are considered “unclean.” We had been warned that it might be difficult to find household staff willing to be around a dog. We found that to be totally unfounded. Our housekeeper, Karminah, who had never been around a dog, was the sweetest caregiver. When Lilly had skin issues and needed a change in diet, Karminah made homemade dog food per my recipe and she made sure the freezer was always full of Lilly’s food. Karminah did not cuddle or touch Lilly, but they established a good relationship and Karminah learned how intelligent dogs really are!
She was always talking to Lilly and the cats. She would give me a “pet report” almost every time I went out for the day. When we went on vacation, Karminah would stay at the house with the pets and we felt totally confident that they were in good care. Our driver, Agus, (also Muslim) loved all three of the pets and he did touch and cuddle them. He knew Lilly loved car rides and he would remind me everyday that Miss Lilly needed her ride.
Pet food and supplies are easily available and there are several very nice pet shops in Jakarta. The veterinary care was very good, also. We found the vets to be kind and compassionate. There are not many places to walk a dog in Jakarta, though. It is a huge, crowded city with few sidewalks or trails. The traffic is insane and there are literally millions of motorcycles.
Sadly, there is a huge population of feral cats in Jakarta, many of which carry diseases. We would recommend that people bringing cats to Jakarta keep them inside. Better yet, we would recommend adopting a cat there and helping a poor furry soul.
Alaska is a dog’s paradise! People love their dogs. At any stoplight, one can look at the car next door and expect to see a dog. There are wonderful trails and parks everywhere. The vet care is excellent and there are free “dog biscotti” at coffee shops!
What advice do you have for people who might be planning a pet move?
Do research. Be committed to your pet. Be willing to go the extra mile if things get complicated. Sadly, we saw people leave pets behind when they left Jakarta. Use a pet shipper like PetRelocation. Understand that there will be significant costs, but a family member is well worth it.
What made you decide to hire PetRelocation to assist you?
We had an excellent experience when we used PetRelocation five years ago to move the pets to Jakarta. We knew we would be in good hands on the return trip.
Thanks to Melissa and her pets for sharing their move and their story with us! Please contact us for a pet travel consultation if you have questions about traveling with pets.