Island Bound 3: Plan A

view from our lanai

view from our lanai

So now we owned two homes: one in Issaquah and one in Kula. But we lived in Issaquah, we had jobs, friends, family reasonably close by. It was comfortable. But those dual mortgage payments were highly motivating: we had to decide next steps. 

Plan A was pretty straightforward: make sure the Kula house was ready to rent (some repairs were needed) and get someone in there on a 6-12 month lease, and pretty much defer all other decisions for a while. In the meantime, get our dog (Beast) in for his Rabies Titer test.

Beast Transport

Taking your pet with you to Hawai'i is far from a simple thing. They don't have Rabies in the islands, and they're determined to keep it that way. For a long time, the only way to bring your dog with you was to fly him out, then wave goodbye as he goes into The System for 4-6 months' quarantine. You could visit him daily, but he had to stay at the quarantine kennel facility - and you had to pay for that. This rule was inviolate. Now, however, the rules are a bit more flexible (my suspicion is that had something to do with that wacky heiress bringing her giraffe - I am not kidding - with her and negotiating with the authorities to let her "pet" do the quarantine at her mansion). These days, if you jump through all the procedural hoops, you can actually meet your dog as he comes off the plane, go through a bit of paperwork, and take him right to his new home. That procedure starts with a blood draw, which goes directly to Kansas State University or to the CDC. Results are sent directly to the Hawai'i Department of Agriculture, who then informs you (by allowing you to search for your pet's chip ID in a 300-page PDF that's published weekly) of your dog's "eligibility date", 120 days from their receipt of the test results. A four-month wait - but then your dog is eligible to arrive anytime after that waiting period for three years. So getting Beast in sooner than later didn't have a down side.

from IATA

from IATA

The other thing about getting our pet to Hawaii is that they have to fly. For smaller to medium-ish dogs, most airlines will take them in checked baggage for a couple of hundred bucks. No so our boy: he is a Malamute, an Alaskan Malamute, and big for the breed at 105 pounds. The International Air Transportation Agency (IATA) has rules about pets on planes. They actually have an acronym for it: LAR, for Live Animals Regulations - IATA LAR. They also have a Pet Corner.  The carrier ("container" in IATA speak) has to be big enough that the dog can stand, sit, turn around and lie down comfortably. All makes sense. But a fine point is that, while sitting or standing, their ears cannot touch the ceiling of their container. Period. For our boy, his stand-up ears make him about 37" tall. That meant taking an IATA 700 "Giant" carrier (35" high) and adding a 4" spacer. It also means all bets are off for baggage compartments since the carrier is now 39" high. Welcome to the world of Air Cargo, Beast.

Titer? Check. Container? Check. Paperwork? I'm used to wading through bureaucracy: check more or less. Flights? Whoa. Whole other story. As a 100,000+ annual traveler, I've seen some insanely-complicated travel arrangements and connections. But trying to get any understanding of how to get Beast on planes to Maui defeated me: the plane, the airline, the time of year, the phase of the moon (okay, I made that last part up). So Plan A [pet sub-plan 1] was to find an outfit to do all this for me.

All seemed good: get the Kula house rented and see where things are something like a year from now. Solid plan.


[next: Island Bound 4: I Love it When a Plan Comes Together]