Gratuitous Cody/Layla photo
Dogs have been on my mind a lot lately. When we first learned that Chris' job would send him to Australia for 8 months, I knew, I just knew, that we couldn't bring Layla and Cody with us. For one thing, the Australian quarantine period is six months. For another thing, it is ridiculously expensive to get one dog overseas, let alone two. So it was with a very heavy heart that I shipped Layla to my parents in Boston and drove Cody down to Denver to live with her new temporary family (Amy, Adam, Diesel, and assorted felines - who were probably not fully prepared for "The Full Cody", and for that I say, bless you for what you've done to help us out). I might have shed a tear or two. I tried not to dwell on them too much, because it made me sad.
Then, when I got to Melbourne, I saw dogs everywhere! Trotting down Chapel Street, romping with children in Victoria Gardens, guarding baby carriages, lazing next to their owners' chairs at outdoor cafe tables... it was like a kind of torture. A very adorable torture. I have tried to resist the smiling doggy faces - I can't really bear to pet them. Chris takes the opposite approach and fondles every dog that crosses his path (it's getting a little disturbing, actually). Basically, it's been difficult to avoid them. If something's on your mind, then you tend to see it all the time. Like when I bought a Jeep a few years back (the Cherokee, NOT the Grand Cherokee, thank you very much), I suddenly started noticing how many Jeeps there were in Boulder. Same thing, only furrier.
So, despite my best efforts, since we found out that we're moving to Singapore, I've been forced to think about our own dog situation: like, how are we going to get them to Singapore? Is it too expensive? Would it be cruel to make them travel that distance? Would their quality of life be better with us in Singapore or with friends/family in the states? These are tough questions that I've struggled with. I feel a little selfish in admitting that, yes, I want them to come with us - whatever it takes. So we've started that process.
Although not quite as stringent as Australia's, Singapore's quarantine rules are still pretty strict - it's an island, after all. I've been doing a ton of research on import rules, figuring out the timing of getting the dogs vaccinated and blood-tested, scoping out pet-moving companies, etc. There's a lot of red tape involved. Picture Lady Gaga in the "Telephone" video - only except for yellow police tape, it's red. And instead of her being naked and strategically bandaged with said tape, writhing around sexily in a jail cell, picture me wearing pajamas and screaming silently at the computer while trying to Skype at 1am Melbourne time with unhelpful and cranky Masshole veterinarians. OK, maybe that analogy doesn't work. But it's the same general experience: profoundly weird, kind of demented, and mostly just confusing.
One thing I quickly learned about Singapore is that it is not the most dog-friendly city. Although there are many parks and beaches, they don't all allow dogs, and they all require dogs to be leashed (there are dog parks around, but they seem few and far between). Most cabs will not allow dogs, so you have to either (1) have a car; (2) walk everywhere; or (3) hire a special "pet taxi" to deliver you and your dog to your destination (yes, they have pet taxis). Not only that, but certain breeds have to be muzzled when they're out in public, even if they are on a leash. Then there's the cobras. Shudder. Anyway, bottom line: leashes will be mandatory about 99% of the time for Cody and Layla. The good news is that there is a beach where they can play in the water (that's the rumor, anyway). They (read: Cody) should like that.
The funny thing about all this leash business (and btw, are leashes really a metaphor here for a lack of freedom or feeling somehow prevented from doing what you actually want? Discuss!) is that here in Australia, leashes don't really seem to exist. I mean, I've seen them in pet stores, but it's actually pretty rare here to see a dog actually attached to a leash. Those touching scenes I described earlier? All those dogs were off-leash. As in, trotting down the sidewalk of a busy street with no leash. And sometimes, apparently, with no owner. I'll see a dog wandering aimlessly and look around for its owner: nowhere to be found. Then a block later someone (the owner?) will stop and look back to make sure the dog is still following. Or there will be a dog waiting patiently just outside a 7-Eleven, staring intently inside, so close to the entrance that the automatic doors don't close. It was a little strange at first, but now I'm used to it. It's extremely entertaining to see a Pomeranian and a Pitbull wandering down a sidewalk, the smaller dog taking about 8 steps to match the bigger one, both following some phantom master like lost baby ducks.
I'm pretty sure Cody would never sit still (or follow) for that long. She'd either be off playing in traffic or pop in to the local butcher shop (yes, they allow dogs in some of the markets). Since Layla is perfect, I'm sure she'd do just fine.
I'm hoping we can get a house/apartment with a yard in Singapore (minus the cobras). If not, i think the pet taxis are gonna be making a lot of money off us. Maybe we should just start our own pet taxi/portable dog park business. I need a business model, stat.