Moving pets – always an adventure

If a mom has said it once, she’s said it many times before…”No More Pets!”  As moms know, sometimes we stick to our guns and sometimes, well, it just doesn’t work out that way.  No criticism allowed if you have not walked in these shoes.

The familiar mantra seemed like an echo…over and over…I repeated this to my animal-crazed daughter.  This was while we were in our Michigan house during the entire first two YEARS there.  I weakened when the local humane society asked us to foster – just for 3 weeks – a litter of 4 kittens that had just arrived from local police officers who had found them near the side of a road.  They were too young to be adopted at 4 weeks.  Oh the agony in that decision!  ok, I was weak.

Next thing I know I’m setting up the spare bedroom with litter boxes, towels, and water bowls.  They were too young to jump on the bed, yet….  I managed to get the powerful two-letter word out frequently enough, but apparently only semi-convincingly, until the last minute before we packed up the little furballs 3 weeks later to take them back to the Shelter for adoption.  We packed only 3 kittens.    Yes, “Tiger” won over our hearts and I did the thing I said I would never do – bring an animal home to the Michigan house. 

Tiger was just that – a wild thing, and the ultimate entertainer.  The kids’ friends couldn’t wait to see Tiger’s antics, the likes of which no one had ever seen in a cat.  He must have been a circus acrobat in one of his prior lives.  Then, the day came that we planned to move back to our Half Moon Bay house.  He was now over a year and quite content with his routine and limitless territory.

We read up on the rules:  set up his space right away, keep doors closed when movers arrive, keep him indoors for a month.  We got him vet checked for travel,  got the appropriate carrier, had his health and travel papers, and reluctantly handed the wobbly carrier over to the airline attendant on travel day.  We picked him up at SFO and brought him back to my aunt’s house.  He was not a happy camper…mad as h***, and was not microchipped.

It happened in an instant.  In a moment of distraction one evening before the moving van arrived, the back door was briefly opened, he was loose and over the fence in a flash – never to be seen again.  Signs, ads, talking with the neighbors, nothing.  What could we say to each other at a time like that…we were in denial…he would come back…yeah, of course.  We ate dinner in silence.  I added an extra serving of guilt to my plate just for good measure.  None of the four of us wanted to talk about it.

How to Move Your Pet Safely from Humane Society of the United States.

  • Plan Ahead so as to maintain your pet’s normal routine as long as possible.
  • Notify your pet’s current veterinarian that you will be moving and tailor the list to your own pet’s needs.  Tell them you’d like to take a copy of their records with you to the new location.
  • Get the appropriate pet carrier for the type of travel ahead of time and slowly introduce your pet to it, gradually encouraging your pet to get familiar with it and even spend a little time in it.
  • As soon as you have your new address, get an updated ID tag if moving a dog.
  • Find out a reputable veterinarian in the community you’re moving to and find out their location and hours in case of an emergency upon your arrival.  (We use Half Moon Bay Veterinary on Main St., HMB).
  • Moving day is tough for a pet owner.  I can only imagine that it’s more difficult for them.  Place your pet in its carrier in a safe, quiet place with a “Do Not Disturb – Pet Inside” sign on the door.  Remember* Assign someone to check on your pet regularly throughout the day for bathroom and water/food breaks.
  • Pack a separate Moving Day Pet Kit to include the water bowl, food, pet’s medications, leash, litter & litter box if a cat, and a recent photo – just in case.
  • And something not on their list but very important…clip those sharp little nails.

* my edit.  Who has a fully functional memory when you’re moving?