A Second Journey: Why I’m Missing my Little One with Wings, Part II

Totaled, it was a solid cumulative three hours on the phone over about six hours in all, and I was beyond frustrated by the end.  Wednesday morning, we had received a response from the Scottish department of agriculture, and we exchanged further emails over the next few hours.  Our correspondence soon revealed two things:

1. Guide dogs are allowed to fly into Glasgow through other airlines, only US Airways lacked some approval or did not themselves approve it.  I haven’t quite figured out what the issue specifically is with that. Either way, there is no Scottish or EU regulation saying guide dogs cannot travel through Glasgow airport, and he did say that one could fly through Edinburgh on US Air, so clearly most of the US Airways people I spoke to were wrong about that.

2. I sent him Oleta’s paperwork electronically to make sure that everything was in order for her to enter the country the next morning.  To my horror, he emailed back saying Oleta’s tape worm treatment was no longer valid, because of the visa delay, and getting a new treatment that day with a doctor’s note would not be sufficient.  Not only did the tape worm treatment have to be within 72 hours of arrival in the UK, it also could not be within 24 hours of it.  We would have to get another treatment, schedule an appointment with the vet to complete a fresh set of paperwork, drive 8 hours to Richmond and back to have it restamped by the department of agriculture, oh, and reschedule my flights… again.  That was impossible… all of it, for so many reasons, and I knew it.  As soon as my Dad read the email to me, I burst into tears and tried to keep myself together long enough to make some phone calls to my guide dog school.  I needed somewhere for Oleta to stay for 4 weeks, and I hated it, but it had to be done.  I wasn’t together at all.  I sobbed my way through the various necessary conversations, then majorly broke down on my floor for a while.  I basically didn’t stop crying until I fell asleep on the plane that night, alone, without Oleta by my feet for the first time in four years.  I have never had such a distressed slumber, and I haven’t slept well since.

So there you have it.  My best friend/soul mate/partner in completely legal activities has been forced from my side.  I want to continue with a discussion on the legalities and a better system of international travel for guide dog users, but after another hour of crying (the first since arrival surprisingly), I don’t have the energy.  Make your own judgements, and if it frustrates you as much as it does me, share this (and the previous) post.

Until then, I know that God is providing for us even now, with a loving family and a Guiding Eyes puppy raiser to care for my Little One with Wings in the best way possible while I’m away.  For me, He has provided purpose in our missions work here in Scotland, reunion with precious friends, and a team of some of the most compassionate and generous individuals there are.  Thank you Lord for your comfort in these difficult days.

Scotland Trip: T-3 Days: Preparation, Panic Attacks, and Traveling with Puppies

Greetings!  It has been nearly a week since I last wrote.  I apologize, especially since I did wish to post each day, but (excuse alert) life got busy, and I’m still working on making blogging a habit.  So, this is going to be a long post.  Buckle your seat belts.

The weekend was full of activities, kicked off by my brother’s arrival home from army technical training, and my frantic cleaning and organizing of the house as I prepared for his home coming and my friend’s visit on Friday.  Among all of the scrubbing, vacuuming, and putting away, I somehow found time to call the vet and USDA to schedule appointments and ask questions about Oleta’s paperwork, ensure I had all of the paperwork, print and label the paperwork in braille, and have periodic anxiety attacks about whether everything would go smoothly with Oleta’s information.  Okay, not actual panic attacks, just, “Oh dear, is this actually going to work out?  Do I need to call someone to take care of Oleta for four weeks?” sort of attacks.

Our vet appointment Friday afternoon went fairly well.  Oleta currently ways about 54 pounds.  The kind, USDA accredited doctor at our home vet gave Oleta the once over, declared her healthy, and filled out most of the information regarding Oleta’s background and current state.  It asks questions about her breed and birth information, place of origin, current residence (with me of course), recent vaccine history (especially rabies), and micro chip details, among other things.  We could not fill out the rabies information, as I had forgotten her original rabies certificate, given to me by our vet in Nashville, but she assured me that as long as I brought the certificate to the USDA appointment Monday morning, things should run smoothly.  The appointment didn’t last too long, and soon we headed out with signed papers and a bone-shaped tapeworm treatment tablet for Oleta to take the following week (one of the EU’s many precautions).  That evening was relaxing, spent with my dear friend from high school summer camp, and with my family.  Saturday morning was our neighborhood garage sail (I made 7 dollars… yes!), and my friend and I entertained a few of our potential buyers with improvised renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Christ be Our Light”, with she playing beautifully on violin, and I on guitar and vocals.  It was a lovely time.

After her departure, I resumed my search for the rabies certificate, which, no matter how many dorm room boxes and bags I sifted through, did not show itself.  I became progressively more concerned and agitated, which culminated in a brief crying session in my room, due to my pure frustration that I hadn’t put the rabies certificate somewhere safe enough that I could actually find it when I needed it.  It wasn’t a good few hours.  Let’s just say that.

I eventually forgot my troubles in a nice lunch, and a spontaneous evening rafting trip with my brothers, Dad, and Uncle, and decided that I would contact the Nashville vet on Monday to see if they could fax the certificate directly to the USDA that morning.

Sunday however, the negative thoughts returned, and I began berating myself all over again.  How could I possibly be responsible enough to go on a mission trip of all things if I couldn’t even keep track of a piece of paper?  What if they don’t accept a faxed certificate from the vet’s office?  Will I have to call Guiding Eyes and find a place for Oleta to go for four weeks?  Why couldn’t I have just put that certificate in my binder right away?  I’m such a failure!

The thoughts were paralyzing, sickening, and they were stopping me from concentrating on the more important things—putting my faith in Christ and preparing for the trip through study and prayer.  It eventually came to me that perhaps these thoughts weren’t all coming directly from me.  I’m being attacked, I realized suddenly.  Since my salvation, I have always experienced serious spiritual warfare, but they have always been very frontal attacks.  This was something more subtle, and it had caught me off guard.  Still, I know well that the only weapon against spiritual warfare is the Word.  I gritted my teeth, googled bible gateway, and read until I could read no more.  By the time I shut my laptop and let it slide gently to the floor, my faith was restored,; I could forgive my mistakes, and place the situation in God’s hands.  I’m ever so glad God led me to do that, because it made the events of the following morning all the sweeter.

We left for our appointment at the USDA bright and early, and got there a good amount of time before the scheduled 9:00 Am.  I used the extra time to call the Nashville vet, and request that they fax the rabies form.  Upon signing into the USDA office, it became fairly apparent that the appointment would, in fact, be successful.  The doctor there was perfectly accommodating with regards to the missing rabies sheet, and amiably waited the thirty minutes or so that it took for the fax to arrive.  Finally, I gave Oleta the forward command, and headed out of the federal building with a bundle of stapled, signed, officially stamped papers in my binder.  Praise God!  And I mean that with all the sincerity I can muster!  There’s the scoop!  Oleta’s paperwork is complete, and we are headed to dear old Caledonia on Friday… together!