Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Incredible Journey, or How to Get a Cat

For most of our married lives we have had a cat.  Zephyr was the most famous and long lived of them, and a world traveler.  Germany, to the US, to Okinawa, to the US with a short stay in Hawaii.  She went to live with Kelly when we returned to Germany.  She was just too old to make the trip in 2004, and died of a stroke several months after we left.  Here's to Zephyr.  **clink, clink, clink**

Chris and Zephyr, 1996

We've always had in our heart to get another cat--rather let a cat have us.  Just waiting for the right one to come around and adopt us.  It had to be the right cat--er, we had to be the right people for the cat.  We wanted one declawed, which is a little more difficult to come by in Germany since it is an illegal procedure.  I had my heart set on another Persian, or Himalayan, and we were also looking at Siberian (no allergens).  

When Lindsay said they needed to find new homes for her two Maine Coon cats (turns out Chris is allergic), and since they met other criteria (micro chipped, declawed, adults), Bob looked into some shipping options and we decided to take one of Lindsay's cats.  Initial quotes for shipping were about $600, but suddenly when we got serious so did the fees, over $2,000!!  Lindsay dad some investigating on her end and was able to find humane, affordable care and shipping for under $600. Before we knew it, "Kitty" was on her way to us.

A friend had tipped me off to the fact that you don't just pull up to a shipping dock and pick up the animal, that several stops and more than a few Euro would be involved.  So armed with some cash, and hope in our hearts we drove to Frankfurt, to Cargo "City," and believe me it is just that--HUGE!!  Our process involved both extreme ends of both sides of the runway of Frankfurt International Airport.  And I should add that the whole place is under construction so streets are narrower than usual and traffic more congested with big trucks hauling who-knows-what construction element.

We began circling the flight line looking for Tor 2, which although signage existed for it, we never did find the gate.  At gate 31 we stopped and asked.  Tor 31 sent us back to Tor 26 where the Animal Lounge was.  The Animal Lounge sent us back to Tor 31 where we would be granted passage onto the maze of cargo terminals and offices to building 537 and L.U.G.  At L.U.G. we were informed that the cat was still in Houston, that it didn't get on the flight the day before.  **WHAT??**  With very confused, unsettled, and heavy hearts we could do nothing but go back home.  The only positive out of the whole day was that we learned that Tor 31 was exactly where we needed to be for our first stop.

Lindsay took over from here, calling Continental Airlines and discovering that it was true, Kitty had missed her flight, communication broke down and no one was notified, but that Kitty was safely lodged at the Houston airport kennel for the night and next day before the 6:30 PM flight to Frankfurt.  AND a full refund will be coming!

So we get a redo.  We drove to Tor 31, got our registration and gate card and access to L.U.G. and building 537 where we paid L.U.G. 14 Euros for moving Kitty from Continental Airlines to the Animal Lounge.  Then we drove to Tor 26 (I should mention that 31 and 26 are on opposite sides of the flight line).  At least this time there was only one stop at each.  The Animal Lounge meanwhile was having a vet examine Kitty (75 Euro) and also feeding and watering and cleaning up Kitty.  Next stop:  customs (29 Euro).  

Back to the Animal Lounge, a brief wait in the parking lot and after all that I wanted to have trumpets and a red carpet as Kitty was carried out.  She was calm, poised, and grooming, (The dog that came out before her--which cost $2,000 to ship--was hyper and licking and jumping.  Cats rule!) considered us just another step in her two day inconvenience, and quietly came along with us without asking any questions.

Welcome home, Kitty.  By the way, it's Bob's birthday and this is one of his presents.

One small step for Kitty, one big step for Clinton kind.

Litter box located.

"Kennel door open--Hmmm.  In, out.  In, out.  I could get used to this."

First trip down the stairs.

Exploring the rest of the place.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"I'm sorry but our trailer is in your garden."

One morning last week I heard this awful noise/crash/bang (hard to describe).  I thought maybe one of the larger pictures hanging in the stairwell had fallen down and bounced down the stairs.  Before I could make it all the way down the stairs the doorbell rang, and the sweetest (English speaking) lady was standing at my door pointing to her trailer, which was very neatly and precisely parked in my front garden.  You can't see it in this picture, but the trailer is parked over one bush, and the wheel is delicately parked behind another.  Yet neither bush sustained any damage, nor did any of the randomly planted flowers (also under the trailer).  It looks like it was air-lifted in and dropped on the garden.

All I could do when I saw it was laugh.  We both laughed.  This couple was driving home with a load of laminate flooring when the trailer hitch on their car broke.  OK, back up a moment....  German's don't drive pick-up trucks, and their station wagons and all cars, actually, are on the small side.  But these little trailers are very popular and easy to pull behind even the smallest car.  So they were hauling their boxes, the trailer hitch broke, and from what we could see on the sidewalk, the trailer continued on it's way for a 100 feet or so, the tongue hit the little concrete barrier around my garden and catapulted over the bushes and into the garden where it came to rest, safely avoiding any plants.

The man half of this couple soon returned with another vehicle and boxes were shifted around so the trailer could be hooked up.  The very smart lady figured out that there was a jack under the tongue that could be used to elevate the tongue, which was heavy now with the load of flooring, but then the problem was how to get the trailer over the bushes.  Could drive forward - bush in the way.  Couldn't back up - bushes in the way.

This time it was my turn to have a brain storm.  I simply dug up the little bush in front of the tire and moved it to the back yard.  No sooner had I put my shovel away and washed my hands than the gentleman returned with two bottles of champagne.

I don't know, I thought it was a hilarious situation.  Thought I'd share it.