Sally in France Part 2

A few more thoughts

Additional thoughts and remarks from Anne & Jack Loader since first publication of Sally in France plus some extracts from an email recently received from Jack

Here are a few more random thought which may help you to have a trouble free and enjoyable trip to France with your dogs.

If you are using Eurotunnel the dogs have to remain in the car during the trip. But if there was an emergency you would want to get them out as part of the evacuation so, if like us you have an estate car, make sure that the attendant leaves sufficient space between your car and the one behind so there is room to open the tailgate if neccessary. On our April trip this was done when I asked. On our August trip the attendant explained that they were instructed to leave no more than 20cm between the vehicles to discourage people from standing between them during the journey and to minimise damage if the train has to make an emergency stop and vehicles move. She agreed we had a legitimate point and said she would feed it back to management - and gave us a generous 20cm.
Keep a bowl and water handy and offer it at every break. Three dogs can drink a lot and we have now moved up to a 2 litre bottle, which we fill up at every opportunity. We are tending to stop at most about every 1.5 hours.
The Campanile motel chain allow (well behaved and quiet) dogs to stay in rooms with their owners at no extra charge. You do, of course, need to take their bedding and ensure that they keep off the beds.
As you are going to take the dogs to the vets within 48 hours of your return home, you will soon be thinking about clearing the fridge. Why not take some of that remaining cheese that won't survive the journey home to ease the administration of the tablets. Instead of a reluctant dog having tablets pushed down its throat we had three dogs lined up saying "Can I have another?"
Goldie is alergic to fleas so we regularly treat all the dogs with "Frontline". I think we have only ever had one tick in the UK on any of our dogs - and we have had dogs for over thirty years - but in France we have had several in the three trips. We have found that it is necessary to check for ticks after every walk or run in the field. We check Goldie particularly carefully because although the "Frontline" kills the ticks after a bit, he begins to be unwell not long after he has picked one up. In fact on one occasion we noticed he wasn't happy, did another check and found one attached to his private parts! Sally and Ziggy don't seem to be affected to anywhere near the same extent and we have removed a dead tick from Sally, who was completely unmoved.
From our UK Vet we got a set of two tick removing tools - ridiculously expensive for a couple of small pieces of plastic - which are for different sized ticks and are very effective. Don't forget that you have to turn the tick anti-clockwise to get it out without leaving any bits of its jaws in the dog.
If the tick is engorged (we had one which had reached the size of a coffee bean) when you have got it off don't squeeze it too hard - I did and it burst, spraying blood over an area of the terrace which then had to be scrubbed to remove it.

The following comments are extracts from a recently received e-mail from Jack Loader.

Dear Alan

I think the dogs' experiences may be now too out of date other than as an historical record. I think you should point people at the Defra site in case there is a change in the rules, you don't want to be blamed if they can't get the dog back into the country.. Here are a few thoughts about our proven system which you can use if you like.

The system has changed anyway since we wrote that and now Goldie and Ziggy have their passports like us and it is great deal simpler than the original files of papers for the dogs and for the car as a carrier of dogs. Basically though, you still have to get the same things done but most vets are now familiar with the system and it is a great deal better organised.

The first time the dog has to have the rabies injections and be chipped then wait until the test show the vaccination has taken and only then is the paperwork issued. This takes at least six months so planning is required and it is no good thinking "Oh, I will take the dog on the Twinning Visit next weekend". Subsequently they have to have a rabies booster injection every two years for France and if you miss it you have to go back and start again from scratch. Our UK vet said the other day that it is every year for Spain, but I haven't checked that. There is no check on the way out so no one is going to say that you won't be allowed back in because something is wrong in time to do something about it. So check everything very carefully, a mistake could be expensive.

To come back in to the UK they have to be treated for ticks and worms between 24 and 48 hours before you cross. We go to our local vet as their first appointment around 8:30 - 9 am on day one. We go armed with the remains of the cheese so the dogs regard it at a treat. The pills go in the cheese and straight down. A great deal less trouble than trying to get pills down the throat of a reluctant dog. Now we have known one of the partners for a long time and the time Anne forgot the cheese she went to the boulangerie just down the street and bought them a croissant instead!

We then complete the packing up, leave between 12:30 and 2 pm and drive to Amiens, where we stay overnight in the Campanile motel - the standard is good (get an air conditioned room), the breakfasts particularly are good. They allow and don't charge for dogs and there is a large area with rabbits where they can run. Something they need as the whole journey takes around 30 hours. We carry a large sheet to put over the bed in case one of them jumps on the bed when we aren't in the room and we take their beds with us.

Day 2 we try to leave Amiens around 8:15 am and stop at an aire for them to stretch their legs. We call at Auchan in Calais to fill up with diesel and then go to the Tunnel where you get the dogs processed first. The dog check-in is on the extreme right with its own car park and enclosed exercise area before the vehicle check-in. We find the people there very nice but they are French bureaucrats so all paperwork must be absolutely correct. Recently they have started to pass you the microchip reader and ask you to read the dog's microchip yourself and pass it back for checking. Is it a case of once bitten twice shy, I wonder? So it is a good idea to know where it is implanted to avoid panic when you can't get that reassuring bleep as it's read successfully.

There are stupid people about - we have been approached in the car park and asked if we know a good vet in Calais; which means the enquirer is going to have to wait at least another 24 hours before they will be allowed re-entry. All OK, then we just load the dogs back in and check in the vehicle as normal. Once we have been stopped after UK passport control by a MAFF inspector who was checking the Tunnel staff had done their job properly.

We hope to catch a shuttle about 11 am and arrive back in the UK 35 mins later. It is worth telling the on-shuttle parking attendant that you have dogs and ask them to leave a larger than normal gap between you and the vehicle behind so you can open the tail gate to get the dogs out should there be an compartment evacuation. They like the inter-vehicle gap to be small in case the train stops suddenly and the vehicles move - the closer they are the less the damage would be. I have always found them to be OK about leaving a bigger gap when you tell them why. We do have a Ford Galaxy and always have a roof box so we go in the high section with the buses, which is always nearly empty so it isn't a problem.

We then drive back to Cheshire with 3 or 4 stops for wees and leg stretching. Now the UK traffic is so bad this can take up to 8 hours and makes you long for the lack of traffic in deepest rural France.

It is worth noting that there was an outbreak of Rabies in South-West France in 2005 - as a result of a puppy being brought illegally from Morocco - so it is essential to keep strictly to the rules. The dogs need to have their tick/flea treatment kept up to date - we use Frontline. Living in the country they get ticks virtually daily unlike here were they perhaps get a couple a year, if that. It is essential to check them at least daily - we just run our hands all over them every time they come for a cuddle. If you have been walking in woods and wild areas it is an extremely good idea to check yourself - or get your partner to check you, all the nooks, crannies and creases, which is more fun! - as you can pick them up too and the effects can be very unpleasant. On one walk with another couple in Summer 2006 in an area of the commune rarely visited by humans, where we were searching for a mill destroyed in the revolution, both our friends picked up ticks.

Poor old Goldie even had one on his private parts which was a bit delicate to remove! You can get a plastic hook from the Vet or a good pet store to get them out - you hook it under the tick and then rotate it anti-clockwise which gets the tick and all its jaw-bits out. If you leave bits in, the bite can get infected. Although Frontline kills the tick in a day or two and it will then fall off we find that they make Goldie ill so if he looks a bit unhappy we immediately do a very thorough search and usually find one we missed. Ziggy, on the other hand, isn't troubled by them so they are often dead when we find them. Having got one off don't be tempted to squash it - particularly if it is engorged to the size of a coffee bean. I did once, it burst, the blood went everywhere and took ages to clean up!

There are also particularly unpleasent fleas which UK dogs haven't resistance to and one of our readers had one of their dogs die of blood-poisoning as a result. These are mainly found in the South-west, so if you are going there ensure your anti-flea treatment is up-to-date. They aren't found in the Creuse but we still treat the dogs every month as this ensures maximum effectiveness against the ticks.

Best wishes


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