So who is Baggy? Baggy is a beautiful, gentle Chocolate Labrador whose story begins on 23rd December 1997. He’s a perfect gentleman. He is also the inspiration for this dog walking service which is why he deserves his own page.
He was my brother’s 30th birthday present and Baggy was with him until he was 2 when my brother went to live in Australia. He agonised for ages about whether or not to take Baggy but quarantine laws were different then (6 months – yikes!). Finally – and to my eternal joy – they decided it just wasn’t feasible to take him. Dogs in my family have always been just that – one of the family – so we all knew him well.
And we have looked after Baggy since then. He became quite simply one of us. One of the family. And later in December 2005, we too decided to emigrate to Australia.
Then came the question of what to do with Baggy. Well for me, quite frankly, there never was a question. But my thoughtful and more considered husband, Rob, said we should think about it. On the plus side, the quarantine rules had relaxed from 6 months to 1 month (huge difference) and my brother and family were already there in case we needed Baggy housing temporarily until we found our own home. On the downside, Baggy was then 9 and truly hates heat. Rob, being a tad more objective than me, asked me to ask our vet’s opinion as to what would be kindest option for Baggy given his age – rehousing in England or flight, quarantine + Australian heat. Doesn’t sound like I was going to win, does it? I answered all the vet’s questions honestly and he still concluded that he would be better off with us despite the upheaval. Daft huh but I have tears in my eyes writing this just thinking back to that time.
So, we are now on the path of exporting Baggy to Australia. We had to go through all the hoops that you are or will be going through. The process of exporting a dog is all explained separately and in detail on this site. We finally get through all the paperwork and it is finally time to take him to the pet exporters who would be flying him to Sydney. We were due to fly out ourselves to be in Brisbane a month later and just before the end of Baggy’s quarantine. Due to the distance from Brisbane to Sydney, we were unable to visit him and the sooner he got to Australia, the more time he’d have to adjust to the heat before high-summer kicked in for good. He passed his vet checks and I was given his final release date which was, as expected, for one month after arrival.
In amongst all this paperwork, I was concerned about Baggy’s wellbeing during his month away. He is a family dog and was used to constant companionship and care. I began to look for people to exercise and give him a bit of t.l.c. in quarantine. The station did not have time with so many animals to do this and I spent absolutely weeks phoning and emailing. Not just me mind, my sis-in-law, in Brisbane tried. She asked her brother in Sydney to help. And all to no avail. Eastern Creek Quarantine Station in Sydney did give us a couple of names, but it is then that the seeds of the idea for Dogwalks.com.au began.
A month later we too were on a plane to Australia with a one-way ticket and 4 days later we collected Baggy from Brisbane airport* and moved all four of us together into our new home that night.
And what of Baggy now? I do declare he has got a new lease of life, is coping with the heat well (he’s often to be found sprawled out on the grass right in the middle of the day) and has settled in fantastically. He loves the dog parks, dog beaches and insists of walking Elizabeth to school every day. I wouldn’t change a thing.
* A small aside – after a month of missing my precious Baggy I was rather anxious to see him. The airport handler initially brought out the wrong dog. Of course I didn’t panic. Of course I didn’t cry. Of course I saw the funny side. Well many many months later, I am still trying – honestly I am!!
Update – Feb 2012: it breaks my heart again to write this now. I wasn’t strong enough to put it into words before. We lost Baggy on 24th June 2011. He was 13 1/2 and one day. I will always be grateful for every day I was lucky enough to know him and I don’t think we will ever stop loving or missing his gentle, gentle face. My boy.