Bringing a dog into Oman

Athena at the beach

Arranging Athena’s travel is, by far, the most difficult, stressful, and expensive part of changing posts.

Before M was born, a friend told me that if I thought traveling with a dog was bad, just wait until I try traveling with a baby. That friend was wrong. No matter how terrible a flight with a baby is, at least you know your baby is with you, getting its needs met in a temperature controlled environment. Whereas if your dog is in the belly of the plane in cargo, who knows what is happening. Our total travel to Dhaka was over 24 hours and during that time, Athena got no food or water. Apparently she has an iron-clad bladder because she also held it the entire time.

Our travel to Muscat was on United and Swiss Air with one layover in Zurich.  We’ve all heard the United pet travel horror stories.  A dead golden retriever, a dead giant bunny, the list goes on. When pets travel on United they travel through United’s PetSafe program, which supposedly keeps them in a temperature controlled environment the whole time, they are offered food and water, and they can be taken out of their crates during layovers. I called PetSafe, booked Athena on our flight to Zurich, and was told United “doesn’t do codeshares” for pet travel. Meaning Athena would be booked through only to Zurich and we would have to recheck her there for the Muscat flight.

Great… So now our dog is also entering Switzerland, which has it’s own set of pet importation rules. Ugh.

I called Swiss Air and they, very politely I should add, assured me that she would never leave the transit area and there was no need for all the Swiss pet import documents.  But it was required that the dog be clean and not smell bad in order to board the plane. Okay, fine, hopefully her iron bladder would hold.

One more thing about United’s PetSafe: it is ridiculously expensive. For Athena and her crate it should have cost $1194 just to Zurich, given the total weight. Instead the guy quoted me $843, which is the cost for the weight class taking into account just Athena’s weight.  I figured United would realize it’s mistake when we were checking in and we’d be taken to the cleaners at that point.

A few weeks before we were scheduled to fly out, we filled out the Omani pet importation form, and the embassy arranged for our pet importation certificate. Athena didn’t need any special shots, rabies titers or anything strange; the process was quite painless. Oman doesn’t have a quarantine or anything, although your pet does have to be inspected by a vet upon arrival and if it looks unwell it could be quarantined. We were told that Omanis like to see stamps on official documents and that it would be a good idea to get Athena’s health certificate USDA certified but that it wasn’t required. We figured we weren’t going to go this far just to get her turned away because there weren’t enough stamps, so we spent a day of home leave driving to Richmond and paid $32 for a stamp and some signatures.

Five days after getting the health certificate certified by the USDA, we were at Dulles getting everything checked in. Athena’s crate met the specifications; her food, collar and leash were taped to the outside; “live animal” stickers covered almost every visible surface of the crate; and all of our flight info was taped to the crate.  Nate took Athena outside for one last hurrah while we got everything sorted out (we got there 3 hours early and ended up needing almost every minute of it). It came time to pay and the lady mentioned that the guy had quoted us the wrong price, but that she would honor that price. I was shocked. She assured me that paying a lower price would not affect the care Athena would receive, and then she slapped the Dulles to Zurich baggage tag on her crate.

We arrived in Zurich with a 4 hour layover and Nate went to go get Athena and recheck her while I dealt with a toddler who was running (literally and figuratively) on minimal sleep. A few hours later Nate found us at the gate, and apparently he and Athena had to exit the airport. He didn’t even have to show her health certificate and Athena had a nice little layover in Zurich. She drank Evian because water fountains aren’t a thing and, after spending another $350 for her ticket, she was on her way to Muscat with us.

Having to pick her up in Zurich and recheck her was a bit of a blessing in disguise, even if it was a pain in the butt. She got food and water and a chance to stretch her legs and take care of doggy business. Plus she got to experience Switzerland. Athena has now been to five countries!

In Muscat her crate came out on the luggage belt with the rest of the bags and she looked good. She handled the flight well, passed the vet check, and we loaded her into the embassy van to go to our new home.

She’s adjusting well so far to life here. She spends most of the day inside, as do we all, and we enjoy our evening walks when it’s cooled down a bit. Athena has joined us at the beach several times and she still doesn’t quite understand that she can’t drink the water. She’ll get there eventually.

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Athena’s new bestie

The other day Nate pointed out to me that this blog is called “According to Athena,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you all about Athena’s new friend.

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About a month ago Athena met a new dog in the field that we frequent and now they are best friends.  I mean, cuddling together, lazy wrestling, just wanting to be near each other best friends.  I actually haven’t seen her get along this well with another dog in years.  Not since her soul mate, Lincoln, moved away when we lived in Alexandria.

One day Athena’s friend followed us out of the field and to the car, and our driver asked what her name was.  I said, “I don’t know.  Brown Dog?”  So now we call her Brown Dog.

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The really surprising part is that Brown Dog is also a female.  Athena is an alpha female, and most of the females here pretty much hate her.  Little do they know she’s not exactly giving them any competition, if you know what I mean.

Lately Brown Dog has been in the field almost every day, and when Athena arrives, she prances around looking for her.  I feel like Athena’s life isn’t as fun as it used to be since we can’t take her for walks anymore, so it makes me happy to see Athena having a good time!

Athena afield

Even though we can’t take Athena for walks anymore, there is an enclosed field we are allowed to take her to.

This field is pretty big.  She has a fun time running around, rolling in the dirt, sniffing everything, and trying to eat the garbage.

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From time to time, feral cats wander into the field.  The first time Athena saw one of the cats, she stalked towards it, and then barreled at it at full speed. I watched as the cat saw her coming and stood it’s ground, and all I could think was “oh shit.” Not because I was worried Athena would try to kill the cat, but because of what the cat might do to Athena.

As she came close, the cat hissed and took a swipe at her, and Athena immediately backed off.  She’s “greeted” several other cats, and most of them don’t run when they see her coming, much to her chagrin.  I suppose if you’re going to survive the mean streets of Dhaka as a feral cat, you have to be able to hold off the all the stray dogs, and, since dogs like to chase, it’s better to not run.

Sometimes Nate takes Athena to the field in the evening after work, but apparently there are five or six massive owls that fly around the field when the sun goes down.  He said one of them gave a prey screech and then dive-bombed Athena.  Luckily the owl didn’t make contact.

There is also a stray dog in the field sometimes that Athena has become best friends with.  It’s another female, surprisingly, and they are two peas in a pod.  She’s the first dog that has played tug or chase with Athena since we got here.

Even though we can’t take her for walks, I think Athena probably gets more exercise in the field than she was getting before.  I’m still keeping my fingers (and toes, and just about everything else I can cross) crossed that they will lift the walking restriction in our neighborhood.  I really miss our family walks.  But at least Athena is still having fun!

Two months in

I know I say this a lot, but time is flying by.  If the first two months of our tour here have gone by this quickly, I feel like if I blink for too long, we’ll already be packing up to leave.

We’re both busy with work and we’ve settled into our daily routines. I’ve figured out where my favorite places are to buy groceries, produce, pastries, jewelry, and handicrafts.  You know, all the important stuff.

We got a car on July 1, which has simultaneously made things a lot easier and been a huge pain in the butt.  It turns out when you buy a old SUV and drive it in pothole-riddled Dhaka, things break a lot.  I don’t know why that caught us by surprise, but there you go.  We’ve already had to replace a tire and we need to get the engine looked at.  And there was the time the car died in the DIT-2 parking lot.  Not in a parking space, but blocking traffic in the middle of the parking lot, around noon, on a hot day.  That wasn’t fun.

Really it hasn’t been that bad, I guess it just seems like it sometimes.  The ability to move around freely and go where we want outweighs the occasional car trouble.

The embassy was closed for four days for Eid festivities, and it was really nice to have a four-day weekend when you don’t celebrate the holiday that causes the time off.  We didn’t do any extravagant cooking, we had no guests, and almost everything in Dhaka was closed, so there was really nothing to do.  Most people leave Dhaka during Eid (expats go on vacation and lots of Bangladeshis go to their villages), so we were able to drive in minimal traffic and generally do nothing.  Plus it rained like crazy the entire four days, so that in itself was a great excuse to stay inside and watch Netflix all day.

Empty streets: an Eid miracle

Empty streets: an Eid miracle

Athena has made friends with lots of street dogs, and at this point she has established areas where she knows all the dogs and she doesn’t hesitate to go running up to them. We’ve given some of them names, like “black and brown dog” and “howly lady,” and some of them we refer to by the road that they live on. I’m trying to not let myself get too attached to any of her friends, and anytime I see one of them lying on the road I worry they’re not getting up.  But our neighborhood is probably one of the better neighborhoods to be a street dog.  Actually, the only dogs I’ve seen being abused are those that are out with their “dog walkers.”

Athena and her buddies

Athena and her buddies

Oh, our HHE is here!  That deserves it’s own blog post, but we’ve been busy trying to put things away, and wondering why we ever found it necessary to own so much stuff.  Our kitchen has massive cabinets that sadly do not contain enough shelves, so finding storage has been a challenge.  But, hey, at least all the kitchen stuff is actually in the kitchen, instead of being scattered in storage nooks and crannies in the study, dining room and living room! Our mentality has basically been that if we were able to find someplace for something in our house in Alexandria, we can certainly find space for it our much-larger apartment in Dhaka.

One of the most exciting things about our HHE arriving was the random consumables.  The pumpkin butter and huge chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s, real maple syrup from Wisconsin, and all of our spices have definitely made life a little better.  Given that we didn’t use even half of our HHE weight, I wish we’d stocked up more on consumables before we left, but now we know for next time.

If you live near a Trader Joe’s, please wander the aisles, savor all the goodies you could potentially buy, and know how lucky you are!

Dogwalking during Ramadan

This is our first time living in a predominantly Muslim country, and we’ve learned a lot about life during Ramadan.  Every day, the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar, which begins as soon as the sun sets.  By late afternoon, it seems that everything basically revolves around where you’re having Iftar and how you’re getting there.  Some people leave work early, and traffic is a complete gridlock as everyone is on the roads to get to Iftar.

Once it’s about 6:45 pm, though, the streets are empty.  No cars, few rickshaws, and a handful of pedestrians.  It’s a Dhaka miracle.

And that’s when we take Athena for her evening walk.  It’s a wonderful, quiet time, and I’m going to miss it after Eid.

If you head out for a walk 20 to 30 minutes before Iftar, be prepared for cars barreling down the street, with little regard for pedestrians, as people hurry to get to Iftar on-time.  There aren’t many cars on the roads, but the ones that are out have no time to waste and drive even more crazily than usual.

The solitude of Iftar lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes, and then there are vehicles and people on the streets again.  Also on the streets, you will find discarded food, which makes this time of the evening Athena’s favorite time for a walk.  She goes into scavenger-mode and will not lift her nose from the ground.  Apparently the other night Nate pulled a huge meatball out of her mouth.

We avoid going for walks after about 8:45 pm because there are loads of people on the streets leaving the mosques near our apartment, and this includes mobs of trouble-making boys.  They ask us for money and try to hassle Athena, and she gets (understandably) really uncomfortable and anxious.  A few nights ago the three of us were out walking, and I had Athena’s leash. Nate was walking behind us to make sure the boys didn’t bother Athena and me, and they threw rocks at him. Little shits.

So no more late night potty breaks for Athena, but she’d rather snuggle and sleep anyways, so I don’t think she cares.

Ramadan lasts until July 17, and we will savor the quiet walks until Ramadan starts again on June 7, 2016!

Adventures in dog walking

Having a dog in Dhaka isn’t easy.  There are tons of stray street dogs, we can’t walk Athena in any of the nice well-maintained parks, guards yell at us if she takes care of business in front of their gate/wall, there aren’t many sidewalks (and there are lots of speeding cars), and the climate makes it a less-than-pleasant experience for everyone.

That said, I am really glad we have a dog here.  Walking Athena is the best way to explore the neighborhood because people generally leave us alone. Without her, I would rarely go outside.  I work from home, and there aren’t many errands to run since we don’t have a car yet, so it’s much more comfortable to just stay inside.

Plus I’d be miserable without her unconditional love and companionship.

The best way to relax after a walk: lying on a fluffy rug on the cool tile, snuggling with a toy

The best way to relax after a walk: lying on a fluffy rug on the cool tile, snuggling with a toy

There seem to be two different kinds of off-leash dogs running around the streets of Dhaka: stray dogs who live on the street, and guard dogs who sometimes roam around freely. There are mean and nice dogs in either category, and in our neighborhood they are generally left to do what they want (rather than being beaten or mistreated).

We’ve settled into a walking routine.  In the evenings, when we are both home, I take the leash and Nate has his hands and legs free to scare away the mean street dogs. Some people walk their dogs and carry and big stick to scare the strays away, but we haven’t needed to do that yet.  There are some nice stray and guard dogs that Athena has made friends with, and when she comes by, they come running out to greet her.

The dog interactions are a lot less complicated here than they are in the U.S.: if a street dog is barking at you, stay away, and if a street dog seems nice, you have a new friend.  Because many of the street dogs have never been on a leash, their behavior is much more natural and less strained than that of dogs in the U.S.  When street dogs greet Athena they come up from behind rather than running straight at her, which is definitely what she prefers, and they are quick to submit to her.

Apparently yesterday morning, while Nate was puzzling out a billboard, a stray snuck up on them and by the time he noticed the dog, there was a lot of happy butt sniffing happening.  Athena and the stray ran around and played together, until some other strays a block away start barking and Athena’s new friend scurried off.

I think Athena is happy here.  Each walk is an adventure, whether it’s meeting a friend, human or canine, or encountering new things, like chickens in the street or hoppy bugs in the elevator.  She’s made lots of doggie friends, including her new best friend, a reformed street dog named Reggie.  Her quality of life will improve when we move into our permanent housing next week, which has a huge roof terrace with lots of grass.  There’s even a faucet where we’ll be able to fill up her puppy pool!  Apparently there’s also an undeveloped area about 20 minutes away where expats take their dogs to run around on the weekends.  We’re excited to explore that once we have a car.

Athena knows her crate is her safe place, and she's started taking naps in it.  In this photo you can also get an idea of how huge her crate is-- I could climb in there with her.

Athena knows her crate is her safe comfy place, and she’s started taking naps in it. In this photo you can also get an idea of how huge her crate is– I could climb in there with her.

Most expats have their household staff walk their dogs, but we aren’t planning on doing that.  Walking Athena is such a part of our daily routine, I’m not willing to give that up.  I am glad that I savored those last walks in our neighborhood in Virginia, where Athena could run off-leash through the fields and I wasn’t sweating my ass off.

Life in Dhaka, and everything that that encompasses, is our new normal, and we are all slowly, but surely, getting used to it.

Two weeks in Dhaka

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for over two weeks already.  On one hand it feels like we just arrived; on the other hand, it seems like we’ve been here for months.

It’s really hitting home that we live here now.  We are making friends and developing social circles, and creating new routines. Most of our worldly belongings are in Dhaka or on their way here.  It’s kind of crazy.

Having our UAB here is huge.  Stuff is just stuff, but having our stuff here has really helped make our apartment feel like home.  I’ve missed my favorite wooden spoons and my mini-spatulas, and there’s nothing like curling up in bed under your own duvet and blankets in the same sheets you had in the States.  Just ask Athena.

A few nights ago we experienced late-night road traffic in Dhaka and it was harrowing.  Apparently the main road through Dhaka is closed off to big trucks during the day, and then at 10 pm the roads are opened up to everyone.  This meant the roads were filled with huge trucks carrying who-knows-what, sometimes with people on top of the trucks, and enormous buses bursting with people, hell-bent on getting where ever they’re going as fast as possible.  There was one bus that was right behind us, literally a foot away, blaring its horn.  I thought the bus was going to hit us for the hell of it. Eventually the bus passed us, and when a truck wouldn’t let the bus cut in front of it, the driver thrust a long metal rod out his window and waved it menacingly. What a three-ring circus.  I can’t imagine what traffic is like outside of Dhaka where drivers can actually pick up some speed.

Over the weekend we went to the consular section farewell party, and, wow, do they know how to party!  Americans and Bangladeshis were shaking it on the dance floor for hours, including the ambassador.  The party was hippie themed, but the DJ seemed to have his American music decades mixed up and he played 80’s dance tunes all night.  But, hey, who doesn’t love the 80’s?!

Our apartment has a little rooftop where we sometimes take Athena to run around and eat grass.  You can bolt lock the door from either the inside or the outside, and theoretically when you lock the door from one side it can’t lock from the other side because there is no one there to lock it.  Well, that’s apparently not true.  Somehow we got locked onto the roof.  Neither of us had a cell phone or anything. Nate tried leaning over the roof wall and yelling for the guard, but that didn’t work.  So then he yelled to the guy across the street who was also on his roof, who then yelled to the guard.  Eventually they both got the guard’s attention, but nothing happened.  Finally the guy who lives on the floor below the roof came home, and he came up and let us down.  Nate talked to the guard, and apparently he could tell something was wrong but he didn’t know what exactly, so he decided to ignore it.  Gee, thanks buddy.

Oh, and our apartment building has kittens!  About 10 days ago there were two dead kittens by the tree in front of our building, and we had a feeling they came from a liter nearby and just didn’t survive.  Life here isn’t easy for street animals.  Well, yesterday we noticed three little black and white kittens bouncing around in our compound parking area behind the generators.  They are really cute, and I’m glad to know that some of the kittens were able to survive.

Storm clouds rolling in over Dhaka

Storm clouds rolling in over Dhaka

Our adventures in walking Athena continue.  There are lots of nice parks with well-maintained walking paths, but dogs aren’t allowed.  So that sucks.  A few nights ago we were walking by the American School and two stray dogs came out from under a bus and started to approach Athena.  Nate tried to scare them away by kicking in their general direction, which usually intimidates the strays enough for them to leave you alone, but these two were undeterred.  These dogs seemed friendly and easy-going, and we let Athena meet them because we didn’t really have a choice since neither of us is heartless enough to actually kick a nice dog.  All went well, and she had fun strutting down the street with her stray dog posse, getting the occasional butt sniff.

It’s monsoon season here, and Nate and Athena got caught outside in their first monsoon.  Luckily they weren’t too far from home, and they came back only moderately soaked and bedraggled.

So, yeah, things are good here.  Maybe I still have my rose-tinted glasses on since we really only just arrived, but we are enjoying life here.  And no matter how hot it gets outside, at least we always have an air-conditioned apartment to return to!

 

How to bring a dog to Bangladesh

The most stressful part of the move was, by far, figuring out how to get Athena to Dhaka.  There weren’t a lot of resources available online, and it was hard to figure out exactly what we were supposed to do.  Even so, we were lucky to have the support of the embassy and this was also a huge help.

We decided to use Qatar Airways, and we’d heard generally good things about flying with pets on Qatar. Plus, the route was the fastest available with only one layover.  (Although, if you have a small dog or cat that usually fits under the seat, note that you can’t carry on your pet with Qatar.  The only animals allowed in cabin are service animals and falcons.  Up to ten falcons, in fact.  How does one person even carry ten falcons?)  Our other option was Turkish Airways, and the internet abounds with horror stories about Turkish and pets.  So, Qatar it was.

Here’s the basic timeline that we followed:

3 months before departure: We got Athena’s health certificate and vaccination record from the vet, which we sent to the embassy, along with her rabies certificate, so we could get her no-objection import certificate from the Bangladeshi government. She also got all the vaccinations she’d need over the next few months. At this point I called Qatar Airways just to make sure we could bring our dog with us and to find out more specifics.  They asked what breed she was (the list of breeds they won’t fly is extensive), told me it would cost $250, and said to call back a few weeks before the flight.

2 months: We got Athena’s no-objection import certificate.  It said she was yellow, but she’s black, and when we asked if this would be a problem we were told not to worry.  (I printed copies of this email to take with us on the plane because I was still worried.)

6 weeks: We realized Athena’s rabies certificate would expire while we were there, so she got another rabies vaccination.  We also ordered Athena a new travel crate because her current crate wasn’t quite tall enough for her to stand up perfectly straight and still have a few inches of head clearance.  Besides the new crate, we also purchased a doggy travel crate kit, which included metal nuts and bolts, “live animal” stickers for the crate, travel tags, zip ties, and some other things.  Oh, and at this point we realized Athena would need to go on a diet.  The weight limit for a dog plus crate on Qatar is 32 kilograms, which is 70.5 lbs.  She weighed 48 lbs, and the new crate supposed weighed about 25 lbs. We didn’t start starving her, but her amount of food was decreased by about a quarter.

4 weeks: The new crate arrived and it was massive.  Like, I could fit into it if I wanted. Athena doesn’t mind going into crates generally, but she was wary of this one.  We started leaving pieces of cheese and other things in it to encourage her to go in there on her own, that worked well.  I weighed the crate at it came in at a whopping 26 lbs.  At this point Nate also called Qatar to confirm our reservation and to let them know we were bringing a dog.  They told us to call 15 days before departure with crate dimensions and Athena’s weight. The doggy diet continued.

Here is her crate along with the rest of our luggage (2 huge suitcases, 2 hiking backpacks and 2 carry-on roller bags). The crate was almost the same size as the 6 other bags.

Here is her crate along with the rest of our luggage (2 huge suitcases, 2 hiking backpacks and 2 carry-on roller bags). The crate was almost the same size as the 6 other bags.

(Also, we encountered varying levels of competence when calling Qatar to ask about bringing a dog.  Nate’s strategy was to hang up each time until a woman answered, as the women were typically more helpful than the men.  But the one time I called, a man answered and he was helpful.  So experiences vary here for everyone.)

15 days: Nate called Qatar and officially added Athena to our reservation.  He gave them her breed, crate dimensions, our flight confirmation number, and weight, and they told us to bring her to check-in desk with the rest of our luggage when we checked in for the flight, along with a health certificate dated within 10 days of the flight.  He received a confirmation email, which we printed and took with us to the airport.

5 days: We took Athena to the vet for her new health certificate and to get her teeth cleaned.  She weighed in at 42.8 lbs.  Success!!!

The day before: We took Athena to visit her sister-from-a-different-mister, Mika.  They ran around and played and then cuddled together.  We were trying to tire Athena out so she’d hopefully just rest and sleep on the flight.

The day of the flight: Athena got her breakfast, and that was her last meal before the flight, even though we weren’t leaving until 9 pm.  We went for a nice long walk on King St, and then we brought her to our house one last time while we did some last minute yard work.  We were thinking she’d enjoy the time in the yard, but it was so hot she just wanted to go inside.  She was barred from inside since the cleaners had already come, so instead she flopped down in one of her favorite shady places.

Athena by one of the many shady bushes she likes to lie under.

Athena by one of the many shady bushes she likes to lie under.

On the recommendation of my sister, who had previously flown with her dog, we also bought her a can of wet food for after the flight.  We knew she’s probably arrive dehydrated, and since she hadn’t eaten she’d probably be hungry too, so wet food was a good way to solve both those problems.  Plus, after subjecting her to over 20 hours of travel time, we wanted to show her that we do actually still love her.  Poor girl.

Before leaving, we printed several copies of her flight confirmation, new health certificate, rabies certificate, no-objection import certificate and the email stating it was okay that her color was wrong. We left for the airport 4 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave so we’d have plenty of time to check in. We took her into the airport with us, armed with plenty of treats in case she freaked out, and we checked in our luggage and then they put Athena’s crate on the scale and she hopped on in.  The whole package weighed 32.6 kilograms, which was alright with Qatar (hurray!!!).  A woman who appeared to be in charge of pet shipment came out and looked over her documents and checked to make sure the crate was big enough.  I was so glad we’d purchased the bigger crate…. whew! They photocopied all the documentation, but didn’t attach any of it to her crate. Also, we had to pay $350 instead of $250. Oh well.

After that we walked over to a special screening area, where a TSA agent inspected the crate.  Then we loaded her up, zip-tied the door shut, and she went off with a porter to wherever the dogs go to get on planes.

Upon arrival in Dhaka: We were told she’d come out by the baggage carousel, and, sure enough, eventually she did!  Her crate came out with a luggage worker holding on so it didn’t fall off the carousel.  Nate picked up Athena and her crate as soon as he could, and we were both flooded with relief.  Her little dish with water had fallen and her crate door was still zip-tied shut, so we knew they hadn’t taken her out in Doha.  We had taped a baggie with some of her food to the outside of her crate in case they had a chance to feed her, but when we arrived it was still intact.  So basically she’d been without food and water for who knows how long.  She was panting, but alert and calm, and she started wagging her tail as soon as she saw us, so we knew she’d handled the flight alright.  No one checked any of the documents we’d worked so hard to get (better that than scrutinize them though, so I’ll take it), and we basically just picked up her crate and wheeled it away to the car.

When we got to our apartment we let her have a few sips of water at a time, although she clearly could have drunk several bowls full.  She hadn’t made any messes in her crate, and she was very relieved when she finally had a chance to potty.  Athena was also really excited to get that wet food.

The following days in Dhaka: Now we are dealing with the unexpected (although not surprising) issue of doggy jetlag.  Basically, she wakes up around 3 am, jumps out of bed, and starts wandering around the apartment.  And sometimes she’ll jump back up in bed and just stare at us.

Athena exploring her new roof top.

Athena exploring her new roof top.

Overall, she is adjusting really well to life here.  Lately she’s started trying to drink puddle water, so we will have to start carrying water for her with us on longer walks.  But she doesn’t bat an eye at the rickshaws, motorcycles, stray dogs or crowds of people.

I’m sure there are details that I’ve forgotten, and I’ll update this post as I think of them!

City living

This week is a pretty big deal for us.  A lot is happening: some of our best friends are moving to Arkansas, our floors are getting refinished, I become fully vested on Friday (which sounds like I get to wear a full-body vest, which would be awesome/interesting), and Friday is Flag Day (!!!).

On Sunday we moved all the little things in our house into the basement and the upstairs bathroom (I had no idea it was possible to fit so. much. stuff. into a bathroom) so that the flooring contractor could move the big furniture on Monday and get started on the floors. That afternoon we headed to Nate’s parents condo in Old Town, where we are staying this week.  It’s like a mini-vacation!  There’s cable, restaurants and shops in walking distance, and beautiful parks along the waterfront.

Athena isn’t used to city living.  She’s used sniffing around the yard, basking in the sun, rolling in the grass and chasing squirrels. That said, she’s adapting really well.  She stands by the door and stares at us when she needs to go outside, and she knows which door to enter when go into the condo building.  Interestingly, she knows which door is her’s in a directional sense, but  not spatially: she knows it’s the first door on the left, but doesn’t understand that she needs to keep going up the steps because it is on the third floor.  Every time we pass that first door on the left she stops and sits.

She’s been very enthusiastic about her new digs, and when she’s tired she plops down on her dog bed with her blanket.  She’s not used to hearing noise coming from the hallway, or the living space next door, so she barks and looks at us for reassurance.  We quietly tell her “no” and she’s figuring out she doesn’t need to bark and that she can just relax.  Apartment living with a 45 lb energetic dog isn’t ideal, but we make it work.  If Athena approaches each new post with as much excitement and adaptability as she’s shown over the past few days (and every other time we’ve taken her to stay someplace new), she won’t have any problems adjusting to life as a Foreign Service puppy!

Waiting sucks

I didn’t even know it was possible for time to go by this slowly.  I now understand why most blogs tend to taper off during A-100: after you submit your bid list, it’s all you can think about, and waiting for Flag Day is the pits, but most people probably don’t want to read like five posts on you day dreaming about getting sent to one of your highs, especially since, OMG, you already handed in the stupid list, and whatever happens happens so get over it already.

Anyways, Nate is at a class retreat in West Virginia, and I’m not really sure what that entails.  I’m imagining a ropes course, trust falls, grilling hot-dogs over a campfire, and bunk beds in log cabins.

I’m traveling to North Carolina for a work training this afternoon.  I’m staying at a hotel by the airport, and if there’s anything I’ve learned over my years of traveling, it’s that there’s never anything fun near the hotels by the airport.

Other than that, not much is happening.  Athena saw me come down the steps with my suitcase in hand, and she started running around, wagging her tail.  She probably thinks we’re going to Canada again, poor girl.  She got her most recent BarkBox in the mail last Friday, which was a momentous occasion for her.  This was a particularly good box: 4 different kinds of treats and a squeaky toy!