Did you ever feel that a series of events wasn’t real? Like the day I picked up Kali. I was so focussed on task, the next day I could have sworn the day before didn’t happen.
But of course it did, as evidenced by herself happily snoozing away in her crate when I opened my eyes after a fitful sleep.
Kali had flown from Heathrow to Halifax the day before. And I could only imagine what she went through at the beginning of her journey … and of course as I drove to the airport, I imagined the worst … What if they let her out and she runs away?
Noon, 14 July 2017. After a Tim’s tea and a muffin fortified with chocolate, I launched into unchartered waters. First stop Air Canada Cargo.
I was greeted by Owen “Oh you’re the one, we’ve been waiting for you?”
“WHAT? I’m 2 hours early” I think to myself.
“The flight is on time, ten to two.”
“Well no, I just checked the flight status, its ten minutes late”, immediately regretting that my anxiousness sounded like a know-it-all.
“Oh, you have better information than me.”
“Great”, I think, “I am the know-it-all.”
“I have a Border Collie, he’s eleven. I can’t wait to see your puppy, I’ll make sure she’s taken care of.”
We continued to chat for a few minutes about the virtues of owning a border collie, while delivery drivers lined up behind me. He explained the process: crew drive a van to the plane as soon as it lands and bring her to AC Cargo, I bring papers to Customs, Customs stamps them, I come back, provide said papers, pay a fee and get my dog. Too easy.
Tip number one – scope out Customs location. In this case, they resided obscurely in the main terminal. Calculate time to drive, park, walk (or run in my case).
Tip number two – ask questions until you feel comfortable with answers.
On the Customs recce, I found out that a team of agents would inspect the puppy either as she deplaned or at AC Cargo. A team? I imagine a dozen armed agents swarming the plane to … to do what? I watch too many movies, shaking off the image.
And there’s an inspection fee. This I knew since I read the website info 20 times. And by the way, make sure there is no food brought in, they don’t like that.
And of course ensure vaccinations, waybills, all that sort of thing is in order. All on the CFIA website.
Back to AC Cargo. All the window views from the waiting area provide little information. I wander around impatiently hoping to catch a glimpse of something, the 767, the AC van, anything.
Sit. Distractedly surf Facebook.
2:25 pm. Papers in hand.
I race to Canada Customs. Like Amazing Race. Drive, park, run, take stairs (faster), dodge travellers, compose self before flinging open the Canada Customs door.
Approach service counter, put sunglasses on head – read somewhere that you should show your eyes. Prescription, crap, now I can’t read fine print.
Female agent sternly looks through the papers.
“No”, I say with confidence.
“12 weeks.” Refrain from stating that the birthdate is in plain sight. Don’t be a know-it-all here.
“Uh, I don’t have one.” Wondering how the heck I missed that detail.
“Why not? I have to calculate the duty.”
“I didn’t get one, but I will have one emailed now.”
“What did you pay?”
“In pounds or Canadian?”
“Doesn’t matter.” She’s irritated by my response.
I blurt an amount.
“Ok, get me a receipt.”
Knowing Alison, Kali’s breeder, is on pins and needles some 3000 miles away, I text her. She sends an email receipt in minutes.
I give the agent my phone.
Much less pleased than me with the speed of the receipt’s arrival, she says, “Well anyone coulda wrote that.”
I stare blankly at her.
“How did you pay?”
“Do you do online banking?”
“Yes.” Keep cool.
“Log in to your account and show me the transaction.”
I stare in disbelief.
“I don’t want to see your finances, zoom in on the transaction. Take a seat until you get it.”
I do as I’m told. Hit the bank app button, flip on my prescription sunglasses preparing for the tiny font that will appear from my chequing account. The bank home page reflects a kaleidoscope of polarized colours back at me. Good grief.
After a moment of panic where I forget my password – there is the distinct disadvantage of having your home computer remember all your clever passwords for you – I get into my account with huge cheers going off in my head. I did it! At this point, a reason to celebrate. I find the transaction. 75 pounds more than what I had just said. Uh oh.
“I have it.”
“Wait a minute.”
Finally, I present my phone to her, my recent joy being stifled by the necessity to explain the cost difference. “There was a 75 lb vet charge for a vaccination”, I say.
“Well I should charge you duty on the whole thing, since it’s in the dog.”
“Thank you”, trying hard to sound appreciative, but hung up on the ‘it’s in the dog’ part. Duty is chargeable on the vaccine if it’s in the dog? I was too stressed to rationalize it.
Long story short, the first agent went off to deal with a man, who was standing by gritting teeth in obvious irritation as he waited for his firearms to be released, while 5 female agents in training attempt to process my payments. Training day, realizing I too was gritting my teeth, through what I hoped looked like a smile …
Race amazingly back to AC Cargo, where Owen rapidly processes the handling charge. Because it was late on Friday afternoon? Or maybe he saw I was about to lose it.
3:45 pm. Let her through he says officially. And there was the crate sitting in this gigantic warehouse, with a tiny, shy, sweetest faced puppy huddled in the back.
Snap off the zip ties, open door, try to coax her out. Not having any of that.
Bang! Forklift that has just buzzed by, drops its load. Not helpful. Why wasn’t she taken into their offices? I think, peeved.
Ok, we’re out of here. Finally able to take charge, I grab the crate and head for my truck.
She was too afraid to pee, but seemed happy to take food. I did my best to comfort her, but quickly realized that the best thing was to get her home. Her new home. Three hours away.
Welcome to Canada, Kalisto. Your adventure begins.