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Bon Voyage Lyla!
Lyla is a 32 pound beagle/boxer mix who is currently recuperating from a major case of jet lag and an equally exhausting case of culture shock. After eight years of life in a rural section of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, moving halfway across the globe to Paris is the true definition of a life-changing experience.
We lived in what the realtors described as an artist's retreat hidden in the tree tops. Lyla's excitement was found only in the occasional visit of a squirrel at the window or a rabbit on the deck. Her mangled childhood before being adopted left her frightened of the most mundane things, a paper flying off the desk to the floor, the noise of a bottle cap being opened. Her only sign of bravado was at night when not unlike Don Quixote attacking windmills, Lyla charged the garbage bag in the kitchen. Today, she resides in a third floor apartment on the oldest street in the Marais. On a daily basis she is learning to deal with an elevator only Alfred Hitchcock could have designed, the constant barrage of the world's loudest garbage trucks, and the trials of walking on wooden floors.
Robert and I had been coming to Paris and the French countryside for many years. And as the years blended into each other, our desire to move to France became a passion. We always imagined Lyla with us, sitting at cafés, walking through Park Bercy and making new friends. When passion became a plan, we of course expected Lyla to be with us aboard our Air France flight.
Unfortunately Murphy's Law can strikes at the cruelest of times. Through a combination of bad information given to us by our international shipper and a woman from the airlines, Lyla did not receive her rabies vaccination 30 days before departure. When we were notified by Air Cargo that she could not fly for another 2½ weeks, we were crushed. The idea of Lyla flying alone in a pet carrier from Los Angeles to Paris was horrifying. Unfortunately we had no choice.
Our home was sold. The apartment rental in Paris started on the 1st of the month and they firmly requested a walkthrough on the 3rd. Lyla would have to spend her last weeks in Los Angeles at a kennel. Let me clarify what a kennel is in Los Angeles. It is actually a "Club" with everything from pool time to doggie ice cream made with soy. Needless to say, we knew that she would be well cared for emotionally and physically and that our bank account would be duly diminished.
We had read every horror story of animals missing their flights, going on the wrong flight and carriers being placed upside down on the baggage truck. I purchased a carrier and immediately marked it with five different signs all supplying Lyla's name, flight information and our contact number and address in Paris. The next step in getting Lyla to Paris was contacting a pet transport company. Recommended by the kennel, we were immediately impressed with the transport people we chose. They showed great insight and professionalism as well as compassion for their four-legged clients. The young man who was assigned to bring Lyla to the airport made daily trips to the kennel to acquaint himself with her. He assured us that our dog was not quite
the emotional basket case we had portrayed her to be and that the journey would not be as traumatic as we feared. We had visited our veterinarian who suggested and prescribed a mild tranquilizer for Lyla to ease the trauma of what would be over 17 hours in a carrier, along with the noise of trucks and landing gear etc. The animal transport company was adamantly against this. The reality is that at a high altitude, tranquilizers affect the temperature of a dog's body, causing breathing difficulties as well as other adverse effects.
Sedatives were no longer an option. Lyla would have to be courageous. As the days plodded on without her, our anticipation of her flight was colored with trepidation and our nights were sleepless.
Three days before her flight Lyla was off to the veterinarian again for her final checkup and international certificates. Along with her daybed and favorite stuffed animal, she was now ready for the trip of a lifetime.
It was 3:20 in the morning in Paris when her flight took off from Los Angeles International Airport. I was in contact with Air France Cargo all day and they constantly reassured me that she would be receiving the very best of care. Thankfully, her flight arrived at De Gaulle exactly on time.
A cab ride later, we were waiting for our dog in the huge cargo warehouse. There is no possible way to express the kindness and consideration of the gentleman in charge of AIR FRANCE AIR CARGO. Apparently, after my numerous phone calls on her behalf, everyone at AIR CARGO was well aware of the "chien" from Los Angeles. Remarkably, 15 minutes after showing both my papers and Lyla's to Customs and receiving an official stamp, Lyla was now legally in France. In the midst of a cavernous warehouse sat one s mall pet carrier which was promptly brought to us. As we called her name, the sound of a waging tail hitting the side of the case was music to our ears. Her plastic security ties were still intact, reinforcing the lock on the carrier.
One quick snip from my scissors and Lyla took her first steps on French soil.
She arrived at De Gaulle exhausted but in wonderful condition. Our new friend at Air Cargo immediately offered her his personal bottle of mineral water while we waited for our taxi. As she sat on my lap wearing her new winter coat, the driver turned and smiled at the "bebe". We were finally on our way home.
Totaling all of Lyla's bills for coming to France, she could well have afforded to sit next to Woody Allen and Sun Yi if the Concorde was still flying. Weeks of worry have left all three of us drained.
Nevertheless, the circle has been closed. We are a family again and we are in Paris where every day is an adventure.
The statistics state that there are 500,000 dogs in Paris. Today there are
500,001. Lyla est arrivée!
Copyright © Carlyn Snell