Introducing the four-legged family

Poppy is the dog, Jack’s the cat. They’re going to live with me on the lava, but getting them there is a real challenge.

No rabies in Hawai’i – none, and the authorities want to keep it that way. You can’t blame them: after a few centuries of introduced catastrophes (everything from illness to mongoose) they are wary. Used to be they tossed your pet in quarantine for 120 days, quarantine being a cage in a kennel, but things have become a bit more enlightened since then, and instead the pet owner has to go through a complicated and precisely timed gavotte: the pet has to have had a still-active rabies vaccination, then within x days of the most recent vaccination blood is drawn and sent to a specific lab in Kansas where a titer test is performed; the results are communicated to Hawai’i Quarentine, then 120 days after the Kansas lab receives the blood you are allowed to bring the pet in if you can produce a current certificate of health and the pet is free of fleas and ticks. Flying the pet to the island is another issue (here’s where cats lord it over dogs, because Jack’s carrier can fit beneath my seat during take-off and landing, but poor Poppy has to travel in the pressurized baggage hold). Then there’s the vet waiting at Kona Airport to check the animal over and provide a second bill of health, and then, only then, are your pets free to call themselves Hawai’ian.

It’s  an expensive process. There are fees to the vet on the mainland and fees to the Kansas lab, and the cost of suitable approved pet carriers, and government fees, the cost of airfare, and the Hawai’i vet’s fee – I figure it’s going to cost at least a thousand bucks to bring my furry four-legged family over. But I can’t imagine doing any of this without them. A diet consisting of the Hawai’ian equivalent of beans is worth it.

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