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Flying with Dog?

Experience which NO dog should ever make.

Flying with AIR FRANCE
YazooThis is Yazoo, my funniest, cheekiest, most characterful, most loveable and most trusting Briard. She is the only one of the gang that I believe is capable to make a flight in a kennel box in the cargo compartment. That is why I decided in fall 1999 to have her join me to my trip to Canada and the United States. In Canada I would live with friends who have two daughters of Yazoo, in the States with other puppy owners. So I booked with AIR FRANCE: Yazoo in the cargo compartment and my Yorkie girl Gizmo as dog in cabin. Planned was vacation from Aug. 4th to Sept. 1st, 2000 with some shows in both countries and with the Rassemblement and National Specialty 2000 of BCA (Briard Club of America). The trip to the States should also take place by flying.

Departure ViennaDeparture Vienna
Besides my own two dogs I took an 8 weeks old Briard girl from a breeder with me; this puppy should fly to her owners in the States.
The flight was going from Vienna to Paris, were I had to switch plane. Before taking off I was told that both the dogs had been loaded and that the were calm. Wow - FINALLY vacation!

Switching in Paris
Getting on the plane in Paris I called attention that besides Gizmo being with me as dog in cabin, two more dogs should be in this flight and that this need to be checked. Shortly before taking off I was assured twice that the dogs were on board.


Landing in Toronto
Then, after seven and a half hours the relieving words of the captain: in some minutes we are going to land in Toronto; sunshine and summer temperatures - in contrary to Europe. I was at the first destination of my long awaited vacation.


Where are my dogs
Landing in TorontoWhile leaving the plane a stewardess said to me that in few minutes I would see my dogs. But what happened then and would furtheron happen, I had never in my life expected, this vacation turned to be no vacation but a horror trip: Just at the gangway I was asked by a woman from the ground crew if I was Mrs. Friedl and I said yes, with the remark that now I would be brought to my dogs. The answer hit me like a punch: NO, YOUR DOGS ARE IN PARIS ..... Everyone will imagine what went on in me now.


AIR FRANCE forgets dogs in Paris
That also my luggage had been left behind in in Paris, did not interest me in any way, but it seemed to be the special attention of the airline, as they had only interest to hand over 150 CAD to me, so that I would be able to buy the most important things until my suitcases would arrive. Concerning information about the dogs they just ignored things after they had told me that for sure the two would be taken care of properly.


Helpful Canadian authority
The only thing I had to do before checking out was to show the paperwork of the dogs, which I had with me, to the responsible authority (Canadian Food Inspection - Agriculture Canada), so that everything would be fine for taking over the dogs that should arrive the next day with the same flight in Toronto. I went through that procedure; the employees were very considerate and assured me their regret about these circumstances. They let me know that I could count on each and any assistant on the next day, so that everything would be arranged fast.
Thereafter, I had to go to the office of AIR FRANCE to receive a "ref. number" with which I would be able to take over the dogs and the luggage. Further on a hired car was would be ordered by AIR FRANCE to pick me up at the house of my friends on the next day, get the dogs and bring me back again. A phone call to abroad was refused to me, they said that out of technical circumstances it would not be possible to make long distance calls. They just aspired to get rid of me as fast as possible. Oh well, luckily I had my cellphone with me and was not dependant on this incompetent ground crew.


AIR FRANCE does not know where the dogs are
As soon as I was out of the airport I called the breeder of the puppy as well as Yazoo's breeder in France. As well from Austria as from France people tried to get information about the dogs at the airport in Paris. Through the american Briard-List we informed and asked for help. AIR FRANCE in Paris excelled by either nobody picking up the phone or incompetent people were replying the calls. That was how it continued till deep in the night. NO information about the dogs - we did not even know where they were, at the airport, in a boarding kennel or what so ever.
The statement on the next day, that AIR FRANCE did not know if the dogs were on flight #358 made us thinking. They said there was only a telefax telling that both the dogs should be loaded. My Canadian friends and I decided to not take the hired car as we feared that this one would probably not be big enough for the kennel boxes and the luggage; they would bring me to the airport with their van and would helpfully assist me. A call at the hire company brought up that AIR FRANCE had not even ordered a car. What a reliable airline - really to recommend!


40 hours in the vari kennel!

Veterinary on call
Together with the woman who should pick up the puppy, my Canadian friends decided that we should consult a veterinary after the arrival of the dogs, to have them checked as a precaution. A friend of the woman to pick up the puppy would be on call.


Arrival of the dogs
Finally arrival of flight #358 from Paris. We were brought to the luggage counter, my suit cases were already there, but not the dogs. Then puppy barking ........ and an awful stink before the dogs were in sight. The look that was "offered" to us made our blood freeze in the veins: Yazoo was lying apathetic in her crate, with sunken eyes that stared into space, nearly no breathing, she did not know me. The puppy did not make a poor impression, it was happy when we spoke to it. The crate of Yazoo abounded completely in dirt, the one of the puppy not that much.


Veterinary help URGENTLY necessary
The veterinary was called immediately, on the part of Canadian Food Inspection we were immediately seen off the airport building, so that we could care about the dogs that were not allowed to be let out of the crates in the building.The veterinary was present fast, with an equipment as if he had suspected what would come towards us. Yazoo could not get out of her crate alone, we had to pull her out. The puppy came out of the crate happily, but seemed exhausted and panted incredibly much.