Garrett and Skippy arrived to Gabs this
week! HOORAY! I had been so worried about them making it since there were so
many obstacles along the way. Getting Skippy here was no easy feat!
We had been mis-informed that South Africa had
lax customs regulations for dogs…..then 2 months from departure we luckily got
the correct information including the long list of prerequisite paperwork and
tests Skippy needed. After we figured out the paperwork, we had to figure out
how to transport Skippy there. Our original plan to have him fly under the
plane in cargo backfired when we found out about some regulation that stated
dogs could not fly on passenger planes to South Africa. The only option we
could figure out for less than $4,000 was to have Skippy fly on the plane as an
emotional support animal. Getting the paperwork together for the airline to
approve this was actually easier than the customs forms! US airlines have no
problem with dogs flying as ESAs, but South African airlines would not 100%
confirm that he would be allowed on the flight from DC to Johannesburg. Since
we had no other choice, we had to just leave it up to chance and hope for the
best on the day of the flight. Luckily Skippy is so cute, we knew it would be
hard for anyone to turn him away and we were right!
Along with Skippy, Garrett
also had a 60lb backpack and smaller backpack to carry on plus four 50lbs bags
to check. From our prior flying experiences, we know its impossible to predict
how strict airline employees will be on bag requirements so we decided to take
a chance on this too. Amazingly, Garrett managed to get everything through
without any lost bags! However, they did make him totally unpack his carry on (see below) and gate check it.
Skippy had to make a 3 hour flight
from Denver to DC then a 17 hour flight from DC to Johannesburg, get through
customs, spend the night in a kennel, get checked out by the state vet in SA
and then drive 4.5 hours with Garrett to cross the border and reach me in
Gaborone. This is a lot for anyone to handle but especially a dog who has no
clue what is happening! However, Skippy did so great! He seemed to actually
love being at the airport and on the plane. He got to play in the service dog area on his layover!
Then he sat at Garrett’s feet sleeping
quietly and didn’t use the bathroom for the whole 17 hour flight from DC to Joburg!
He got loved
on by the flight attendants who took selfies with him and treated him like a
prince. Everything was all love and positivity for Skippy until they landed in
SA where people seemed to be terrified of Skippy! People would see Garrett
coming and run – yelling things like “What is this!?”, “THIS IS NOT A MAN”!!
Hilarious (I wish we had video of this!) and hard for Garrett not to laugh in spite of people’s sheer terror. He
later found out that people thought Skippy was a painted dog – which is a hyena-like wild dog in Africa that can be really vicious and kill people. We
though this was hilarious because Skippy is the most harmless dog in the world
– but to be fair looking at the pictures of painted dogs – we realized that his spots do
look similar. Someone even asked if Garrett dyed Skippy’s hair to give
I was sooo grateful when Garrett
pulled up with Skippy riding co-pilot! There couldn’t be a better site for me
after being without them for a month – it was too long apart!
They make every minute
of everyday so much better! Skippy has never been happier since he got here. He just sits and
smiles all day! We think he is just so happy that after so many years of being
left behind when we go on adventure – he finally gets to come along this time!!