This is the second of a three part blog about a little puppy named Evie and the story of her life thus far, told through the eyes of a young woman with a big heart. Part two tells the tale of Evie and Cynthia's long trip back from Moldova to the United States. We could not be more proud of Cynthia or more honored to have been allowed to play a small part in making this journey possible. Although Tim Shiffer is listed as the author of this post, the story below was written by Cynthia.
Evie's Story Part 2: The Long Journey
At the airport in Moldova, I had a quick back and forth with the veterinarian on staff. He was starting to say that I couldn’t take the puppy, but it turned out he was only looking at the first leg of my itinerary. It is more difficult to bring a puppy to Western Europe/Vienna (where my first flight landed) than it is to bring a dog to the US. I’m glad my Romanian was proficient enough for me to realize the confusion, and quickly I explained, “Oh, no. We’re going to the US!” And stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp! All good.
I kept offering her passport and papers but they were hardly looked at.
I had to take her out of her carrier and carry her through the metal detector. On the plane, I sat next to a young woman who was originally from Moldova and had been visiting family but immigrated to the US as a child. She talked about she was tempted to feed and help all the animals she saw on the streets in Moldova too. I told her how I was familiar with some of the animal immigration paperwork (so Evie’s paperwork wasn’t hard for me), because I had managed to find families and send 11 dogs to France, Switzerland, and Belgium with the help of Datcha France organization. Maybe she’ll take an animal back with her next time she visits.
The first flight was smooth, and Evie was a quiet and good little puppy. In Vienna, I got turned around in the airport of where I needed to go for my next flight and finally found my way upstairs to head towards the gate where I needed to be. We had a 4-hour layover, and our gate wasn’t on the boards yet, so I had to ask where to go. When I went through customs and security I was asked to wait and that their veterinarian would come meet me for additional screening. Thankfully, they all spoke English. I was a little nervous, because I knew Western Europe was stricter with animal immigration, but we weren’t staying, and all my research said we should be fine. The man was very nice and ushered me to another room. I had to take Evie out of the carrier again and she had to walk through a scanning machine on her own. I had passed her to the veterinarian and I went to the other side and called her through. He was surprised that she walked straight through to me so easily. Very good girl. He offered us both cups of water and we were done. They were very nice people and although “additional screening” had sounded intimidating, seeing her walk through on her own was adorable.
I set us up a little corner near a bathroom with pee pads and gave her food and more water. We had tons of time, so I let her stretch and play with her chew toy and use the pee pads several times, before I went to find a lunch snack for myself. When we left our corner, that is when I started hearing the periodic gasps. Everyone loved her, and she was getting tons of attention. I started chatting with strangers because they had all said something about how adorable she is.
Finally, the boards showed exactly which gate we were at and I headed in that direction. A woman in a yellow vest, working at the gate freaked out and came straight up to me. “I just need to spend some time with your puppy.” I laughed and passed her off. The woman then proceeded to do a photoshoot with her and have me take pictures of her with the puppy, before she finally said she should get back to work. I was sitting around about five other people and we were all chatting about the puppy. They were very nice and watched the carrier and the pile of puppy stuff while I went to the bathroom with her or got more water for us. A college aged girl took some good pictures of Evie in my arms and sent them to me on Facebook.
Our flight from Vienna to Chicago was 9 hours. The first 8 hours, Evie was basically silent and just slept. I kept sticking my hand in the carrier to make sure she was still breathing normally. We’d already had about 12 hours of travel/waiting, during which she hadn’t slept much, so I’m sure she needed it. As the last hour approached, she got loud… People realized for the first time that I had a puppy on the plane. I was sitting next to the same girl from my first flight somehow, so we laughed about it and she was nice about the puppy whines. Evie was whining to be let out to poop but I knew that according to airplane policy I wasn’t really supposed to let her out at all. I held her for a little bit because she was getting really loud but soon realized, as she started squirming, that she wasn’t whining for attention but to use the bathroom, so I put her back in the carrier with the pee pads. She made some big stinky poops… I had been feeding her wet food because I knew with other animals I’ve sent on long trips, they don’t drink water very well. I was trying to keep her well hydrated but the wet food did seem to run through her. She very sweetly tried to dig and bury it in the corner of the carrier, but she just made a mess.
We stood in line for customs in Chicago for 2 hours. I couldn’t take her out because I knew she was covered in poop and I didn’t want to lose my place in the mile-long line. People kept trying to skip the line and old men were cursing at the women controlling the line. They were assuming there had to be a shorter line for American citizens but we were all waiting in the same line together. At least half the people around me said they were missing their flights. I was glad for another 4-hour layover then. I went straight to the bathroom as soon as I could. Evie got a bath in the sink and her carrier cleaned out. I tried to keep her out for a little bit, because I felt bad that she had been in the carrier for so long but I got yelled at by security. I had to recollect my two big bags and check them again, transfer terminals (which seemed like a long enough bus ride to take us to another city) and check in and pay the pet fee for her US travel. The woman checking me in handed me some soap, as I realized too, that there was still a slight odor coming from the cage...
When we went through security again, somehow something in my bag or the pet food was suspicious I got my hands bomb tested and something set off an alarm. I thought about telling them I probably still had dog poop on my hands… They thoroughly searched my bags and wiped everything down and kept checking the results in their computer. Nothing else set off the alarm so the first test seemed to be a false alarm. I usually have bad luck with TSA so I was not surprised.
I had to keep Evie in the carrier on the belt when I got a very thorough pat down. She threw a fit. She did not like this woman patting me down from head to toe. She kept barking at her and shaking her carrier. It was becoming clear that she had grown very attached and protective of me.
We only had about half an hour before our flight by the time we got to the gate. I got a prepackaged dinner and she had some more of her food. When people just reached out and started petting her, she barked and growled sometimes. Either she was fed up with how much attention she had gotten from strangers that day or she was being protective. She was always putting her paws up on my legs and insisting to be held when I tried to have her walk through the airports some, so I think it was more about being protective of me because she seemed to want all the attention.