Friday, August 12, 2011

International Assistance Dog Week: Never to be Left Behind

Here we are just six days away from mine and Mr. K's adventure across the big pond. It has been an interesting, exciting and stressful process to get us, all of us, ready to enter the UK. Almost six months ago, we headed into our vet's office and had them perform the preliminary work to prep the dogs to enter England. This included an International microchip, a Rabies vaccination and a blood draw. The blood sample was to be mailed off to the University of Kansas in order to be tested for the boys' levels of Rabies antibodies present in their bloodstreams (AKA a Rabies tider test). It is imperative that steps are taken in order and performed correctly. If one element is not present or was done incorrectly, our dogs would not be granted permission to enter and stay in the UK.
Tuesday of this week, we had Glacier and Roscoe checked over by their vet, had the paperwork we needed stamped and signed and then took it over to the USDA office. Luckily for us, the USDA office is right in the city we live in, so that was one thing that went smoothly for us. However, it was at the USDA office that we realised just how fragile this process really is.
"You won't be able to get in."
That phrase rings in my ears even three days later. Sitting with Glacier sprawled at my feet, unaware of the chaos ensuing around him, I felt like I was going to throw up.
"Well, you could go," the vet amended "they just wouldn't let the dogs enter."
I felt the tears coming. I forced them back. Getting all emotional and having a breakdown wouldn't fix the situation. The problem was that the  Rabies vaccination the boys received nearly six months ago had not been documented. The USDA vet said he had spoken to our vet's office and they were adamant that they had not vaccinated the boys. Without this vaccination, despite them having received the shot just two months prior, they would not be allowed to go to Scotland with us. It didn't matter that their Rabies Tider test came back stating that they did not have and could not contract Rabies. None of this mattered. It only mattered that the vaccination had not been given on the correct day. Do you ever wish you could turn back time? Just grab a hold of a huge handle and turn it, watching a clock's hands flying in reverse?
All I could say was,
"she did!" over and over again. I knew she had because I had been holding Glacier on the waist high, stainless steel table trying to keep him from jumping off. When you have a 75 pound dog trying to lunge off of a table because he is not happy about being poked and prodded, you remember.
Mr. K said he'd call her and insisted that they had vaccinated Glacier and Roscoe. He told her that he remembered because he kept telling them what order to do the different procedures in because we were paranoid; turns out, we had a right to be.
I also remembered them giving the vaccinations because at that point we were taking Aria and Baloo with us. Baloo always has reactions to Rabies vaccinations and so we had taken some medicine home with us to make sure he wouldn't swell up. Aria is also quite vocal and let us know that she did not like getting poked with a needle; poor little peanut that she is. Mr. K called the vet's office and, of course, they were out to lunch. He told the receptionist the issue and that we needed to talk to the vet right away. She said she'd get a hold of them and within fifteen minutes, Mr. K's phone rang. It was one of the longest fifteen minutes of my life. The whole time I kept running my hand over Glacier's side, willing them to find the vaccination record.
How could I possibly move to another country without a guide dog? How could I possibly move away without this dog I had worked so hard to form a good working relationship with? How could I possibly leave this dog behind that I am completely in love with?
I'm not sure what we would have done if the vaccination record had not been found. We may have just stayed in the United States. I could not leave Glacier behind. He is not only my working partner, but my safety net, and we have bonded in such a way that is difficult to explain.
Thankfully, after some assertive talking by Mr. K, the vet Tech remembered the vaccination did happen. They had not charged us for the shots, which we greatly appreciate, but because of that, they had not been recorded; bad time not to record things. She set about making new vaccination records and faxing them over to the USDA vet so that he could put his stamp of approval on the documents. The only slightly worrisome thing is that this particular Rabies vaccination is not recorded on the Tider records from the University of Kansas because it had not been recorded before that document was sent off. We have spoken to Animal Reception in England and explained the situation and have also made them aware of the discrepancy on the paperwork. We are not trying to fool them. The woman Mr. K talked to at Animal Reception in London, assured us that everything should be fine as long as everything was there. Guide dogs are kind of a special case as well, so all we can do now is pray that everything goes as planned and that we will be leaving next Thursday; all four of us.
To me, leaving these guys behind is not even an option. They are such an integral part of our lives that I don't know if my heart would ever recover if we just decided to go even if they couldn't. I know we've sunk a lot of money into this move, but you can make more money, you can't replace the guide dogs you have been working  with for nearly three years.
This experience lends itself well to  our celebration of Assistance dogs, since it is International Assistance Dog Week. These dogs will do anything for you , and you as a handler, will do anything for them; including canceling your plans of moving across the world. That said, let's hope that will not be the case.


pattib said...

Oh no! What an obstacle. I hope there is nothing more to challenge your move. Hugs to you and Mr. K and of course, your four-legged partners!

L^2 said...

Oh wow! I hope everything else goes smoothly for you in these last few days. *hugs*

Jen said...

That must have been a nightmare! I hope everything goes well from now on.

Kolchak Puggle said...

Oh my! You gave me QUITE the scare there! I saw the whole trip falling apart before. My eyes and I was devastated. Why, you ask? Because I intend to live vicariously through you as you move to Scotland! Hopefully, everything will go smooth!

Torie said...

Oh god Jess! I really do hope you do get to go. Don't you just hate breakdowns in communication?