Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Fernando Fiasco

Warning: This post is really more for me to remember this crazy series of events; it’s pretty long and overly detailed so feel free to skim.

Fernando is our cat. He is destined to go to Costa Rica because, well, his name is Fernando. Way before we had plans to actually move to Costa Rica we used to joke that Fern was bilingual in Spanish. So he just has to come with us. But even though he is small and easy to take care of in comparison to our dog Dawson, it has been a BIG hassle getting everything in line to “import” him to CR.

First, we had to get a rabies shot for him – this has to be more than 30 days before your departure, but not more than a year. That was pretty easy. Task completed in August.

But then the time schedule for things got a little more confined. (For being a country with stray dogs running rampant in the streets, Costa Rica has awfully strict guidelines for bringing in pets that have been meticulously cared for. It’s relatively easy compared to other countries like England or Japan (no quarantine required for example) but still, what we’ve been through to get Fern ready is SO annoying knowing we will see stray animals all over the place.)

So the schedule: Fern had to have a check up at the vet within 10 days of our departure, get a special form – the Aphis 7001 – filled out and signed by the vet, then send it off to the USDA office at the state capital to be endorsed, stamped, and signed by the state vet, then sent back to us, all before we depart on Monday the 10th. It was a tight schedule. 10 days is just not enough to comfortably get all this done.

The appointment was at 2:30 on Monday. Everything goes fine, except the vet fills out the wrong form (I have a hunch while we’re at the vet). I speed home, drop the cat off, and print off the correct form, and then speed off to the vet – again. I start to sweat because I have to get to the post office by 5 to send off the forms so we will get them back in time. It’s 4 o’clock at this point. The form is filled out and I race to the post office just in the knick of time. Forms are sent, but because it’s after 4, they won’t get there until Wednesday. It takes 1-2 days for the USDA to process them, then they will be sent back overnight, which means we could possibly get them on Friday, but for sure by Saturday. It’s all going to be okay.

But then Friday arrives. Nothing comes in the mail. We start to panic after realizing I threw away my receipt with the tracking number on it. After calling the USDA office we find out that they had in fact mailed out our paperwork on Thursday. Then why isn’t it here? Is it lost? Did I write the wrong address or zip on it by mistake? All we can do is wait and pray that it will get here on Saturday.

Meanwhile, we have been running all over town getting Fernando properly equipped for the 12-hour trip on Monday. We buy a soft case cat carrier from Target because it’s cheap. We try shoving Fern into it, with Joe zipping him up with his back leg still sticking out. The cat does a quick about face in the case and manages to leap out before we can quite get it all the way zipped up. It’s just not going to work. So we go to Petsmart and buy a bigger, nicer case with a top-loading door – the only way we really will get him in with ease. It’s much better. Later, Joe goes to Fred Meyer to get absorbent puppy pee-pee training pads (as Joe calls them) that we can use to keep any cat pee at bay on the airplane and in the airport.

Then Saturday arrives. The papers must come or we can’t take Fernando and we’ll have to start this whole process over again in March when we come back to get Dawson. The mail is delivered early at 9:30 a.m.

There is nothing from USDA.

At this point I feel like throwing something across the room. But instead, Anita, my wonderful mother-in-law, offers to look through the trash with me to try to find the post office receipt with the tracking number on it so at least we can figure out what went wrong/where the forms are. We don gloves and start digging through nasty chicken bones, coffee grinds, and dirty diapers. After 15 minutes or so, we finally find the remnants of the receipt – we think – with a tracking number on top, but with a few numbers rubbed off. Right at this very moment, there is a knock at the door. A postal worker from the Washougal post office is on the porch with our critical documents in hand.

Thank you Jesus. We went from Plan A (cat comes), to Plan B (cat stays), and back to Plan A again, all within 30 minutes. Who knew the mail could be delivered twice in one day?

So Fernando will be accompanying us to Costa Rica, crammed under the seat in front of us, and hopefully we will all make it safe and sound and Fern will finally get to use his native language.

Epilogue: Joe found out today that we have to take Fernando out of his carrier to get him through security, so we had to run yet another errand to get him a harness and a leash. Because God knows that if we take him out of his carrier he will run. Can you imagine? My father-in-law Bruce said, “Now that would be a reason to cry. I mean, I would cry if that happened.” So hopefully the harness will stay on and he won’t wriggle free and be running wild through the Portland airport. And both Joe and I are wearing long sleeve shirts to protect ourselves from cat scratches. We also packed some litter and a box lid so we can create an impromptu litter box in a family bathroom in the Atlanta airport (there is no pet area inside the secured area – can you believe that?) Needless to say, we will need your prayers tomorrow. It will be an adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I am cracking up just thinking about y'all going into a family restroom in the Atlanta airport to set up a litter box so that Fernando can roam, look around and then decide to use it, with all of you standing around watching. Too good. Travel mercies for you all. We are praying for you!