Ten Days In June

Last month (June 2014) our pet transport service was a ten (10 ) day trip covering Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, England and Scotland.

The way the schedule worked (we had 10 pets transported from UK to Spain booked on) meant I had 10 days driving in a row. Three of us drove to the UK and back, and we certainly made good use of the kennels we have at our house in the UK, our field at the back and the local canal as we had a lot of dogs staying overnight which needed walking.

For those interested below is a snap shot of life on the road of a pet transport company.

Day Zero

Routine is the same the day before any transport: lot of rest, a bike ride (or jog), complete the paperwork, prepare the van, eat pasta or rice, drink a lot of water but no alcohol.

Once we set up there should be no changes to the schedule or the paperwork.

Day One

We go to Portugal to collect pets about three times a year. It is basically a 12 hour drive each way and involves an overnight stay in a hotel, so to keep the costs down for clients we try and ensure that we have a number of pets to collect.

Unfortunately a couple of days before the transport a client had cancelled two bookings. As we had booked a third pet we still had to drive to Portugal, still had to incur the same costs, and still had to deliver to Scotland, so as we share these ‘extra costs’ across the bookings for the same locations (Scotland and Portugal) itvis unfair to expect the remaining client to pay more, and as we had no time to find replacements it wasnt possible to refund.

With a 10 hour drive ahead of me I planned on 4 stints of 2.5 hours, and set off looking forward to a relaxing drive: no animals on board, no deadline to meet, all the paperwork in place.

Within the first hour I had request to re-home a kitten, advise on transport from Romania (we wont do it until they can sort out TRACES), and notification that a booking form was incomplete and was being resent.

Stopped for breakfast after 2.5 hours as planned …

Back in van noticed that resent booking form had a second rabies vaccination date only 5 days before the transport date, so quickly sent email saying ifvthat was the case the dog wouldn’t be able to travel.

Best laid plans and all that, drove for 6 hours, stopped for fuel and ice cream, then cracked on arriving at the Ibis Hotel just in time to watch Portugal eliminated from the group stages of the World Cup. Happy atmosphere in the bar ….. not!

Quick bite to eat then settled down to sort out above passport issue (got photographs of new passport confirming all OK), and made sure everything was ready for the next days collection.

Day Two

Arrived at first pick up on time, only to find the road had been dug up. Called to explain only to be told they knew, had been like that for weeks! No thoughts of telling me in advance then? So large van, one way system, small town, lot of commuter traffic …. perfect conditions to be sending messages and trying to re route the GPS.

No issues with the dog or paperwork so slightly behind schedule set off to next pick up in Spain.

Made good time. 45 minutes before pick up received a 4 paragraph email with some details of the dog I was about to collect that they had forgotten to tell me. What exactly I was meant to do with the information I don’t know. Nothing I could do about fact dog didn’t like thunder or fireworks (not sure what they thought we would be doing! )

No issues with paperwork so off to third pick up.

Bit of background: they had said GPS coordinates I had sent through didn’t make sense to them, so they sent me coordinates to meet at, and motorway junction exit.

Exit didn’t exist! Coordinates didn’t take me to garage they had suggested. Spent 30 minutes driving up and down toll road only to get back to same spot. Phoned to be told I was in wrong place, which I reckon was pretty hard to achieve when I had driven to the GPS coordinates I had been sent.

Suggested they might like to come to where I was! Filled up with fuel and waited. Issue with passport as they had done the clinical examination and worming 5 days ago, so no longer current. Meant a trip to the vets for me next day.

Day Three

Left Malaga early in order to have half an hour extra at home to sort out revised paperwork.

First pick up, one dogs paperwork incorrect. Remember the booking above with the second rabies date? Well the other dog had the exact same date, but the vet doing the TRACES had signed it off! Bit of debate around this with the rescue, who have never taken a dog through pet passport, telling me it would be ok! Sorry but it is simple: 21 days have to have lapsed since the last rabies vaccination.

Sad and unfortunate, but the details are all on the site: one dog couldn’t travel.

Rest of pick ups OK until last but one when the time of worming treatment hadn’t been entered, even though had been signed off for TRACES. Should have leftvthe dog but was confident that could get to a vet en route and still be within the 1 to 5 day limit, and agreed with rescue that any issues would kennel dog in Calais and collect on way back.

Day Four

Nailed every drop off, and got to Calais early. Couldn’t get Shuttle straight away, but did get one a couple of hours earlier. Always mixed blessing when this happens: good that potentially the animals have less time on van, bad in that have to spend time rescheduling and hope people actually read the site and the
conditions when they booked!

Day Five

Got to Stoke mid afternoon in time to give the overnight guests a good long walk along the canal before food and a kip.

No rest for the wicked: time to tidy the van and prepare for next day.

Shower, food, last walk for the dogs and bed.

Day Six

Early start to walk the dogs then a full day delivering: Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow.

Home late with a take away curry and bed.

Day Seven

On the road again, this time collecting a dog and cat coming back to Spain.

Home mid afternoon in time for Tesco, BBQ with parents, walk the overnight dogs, prepare the van and …. bed.

Day Eight

Another early start as 8 pets to collect on route to Folkestone.

Day Nine

Nailed every drop off on the way back home, arriving in Almerimar in time to have a couple of hours up on the roof with our dogs and the three overnight guests.

Day Ten

Another day, another drive: Almerimar to Seville to Marbella to Malaga to Almerimar.

Ten days straight driving, everyone delivered safe and sound and on time.

Three weeks at home and then off we go again ….

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