My husband and I adopted Baxter when he was 2 years old and on death row. He moved onto our sailboat with us and became our travel companion. Sailing to new countries with him was mostly easy. We’ve sailed to Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.
For sailing, the only requirement was a certificate of Baxter’s health no older than 10 days and proof that he was up to date on rabies with no lapse between his shots. We always made sure to have all of the required paperwork. Sometimes, officials didn’t even want to see it.
Sailing around Europe was even easier than everywhere else, because of the open borders and resulting lack of check-ins.
Flying with Baxter
The first time Baxter got on a plane was on a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Seattle, WA, USA. It’s a 4.5 hour flight. Baxter is too big to fit under the sear, so he has to go in the hold. He and my husband stayed at a hotel the first night. Baxter was anxious and woke him up several times, needing reassurance that everything was okay.
The next time I flew with him was on a trip to Germany to see my family. In the USA you need to get a certificate from a vet when flying to Europe, which has to be endorsed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s important not to do this last minute, as the certificate has to be sent to USDA in the capital of the state you fly out of and then sent back to your vet for pick up. If you’re in a time crunch, you can choose to drive to the USDA office for the necessary endorsement. I found the process to be expensive, though straightforward. One of the most important things you’ll need for this endorsement is a 15-digit microchip for your pet. The older microchips have less digits, so update theirs if needed!
We flew nonstop from the East Coast to Germany. For this trip, I asked the vet if there was anything I could do to ease Baxter’s anxiety. She gave me a tranquilizer, but told me to only give him half of the pill as it can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. I gave Baxter the half, which made him tired, but not enough to fall asleep, which is the desired effect.
Baxter made it through this flight just fine, though he was very ready to get out of his crate when we arrived. We’ve since made this long trip 4 times (2 roundtrips). The second time he walked out of his crate like he owned the place, just ecstatic to see his grandparents.
When flying back from Germany to the US, we needed a health certificate from the vet authority (different from a regular vet), which was 15 € (opposed to the 200 US $ in the USA) and was a simple process.
While Baxter does okay on planes, I try not to subject him to flying any more than necessary. In the USA we always had a car and did lots of road trips. We often used Bring Fido to find dog-friendly hotels to stay at!
In Europe, I was excited to travel by train…only to find that not all countries are very dog friendly. Most countries I check allowed dogs on their trains, though many required either a muzzle or transport box. I knew that was not going to go over well with Baxter, so I usually rented cars when I took him anywhere.
The only difficulty we ever ran into with Baxter was traveling to the UK. We sailed across the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland in 2016, then spent that winter in England. Baxter stayed with my mother and stepfather while my husband and I made the crossing. When we got to England, we rented a car to go and get Baxter. In Europe, pets get a pet passport that contains all their information. To take him to the UK, he needed tape worm and rabies shots for the health stamp in his passport. When we got to the ferry and they checked his paperwork, the officials found that the tapeworm stamp had been placed on the wrong page and denied us entry. We had to find a vet in Calais on a Saturday afternoon. 25 € later the stamp had been corrected and we were allowed on the ferry.
Baxter’s travel story ends here. He’s now 14 years old and has Cushing’s Disease. Life isn’t as easy for him anymore. In February of 2019, we bought him a house with a nice backyard to spend the rest of his days in.