TOMMY - Dec '05

When we decided to move to Greece, careful consideration was given to our 2 beloved pets, Tommy and Bobby, who at the time were ten years old.  Liasing with DFRA, the local vets in the UK and the airline, and complying with legal requirements, never in a million years did we ever think that anything could possibly go wrong. The departure date arrived and we apprehensively arrived at the airport, not really knowing what would happen with Bobby and Tommy. We paid the 'excess baggage' for them, took them to the appropriate point as they had to have their cages searched and passports checked, kissed them bye bye for now, and securely fastened their cages.  Sitting in the departure lounge was awful, as continually going through our minds were our pets? We were assured they would be alright and would be placed in the cargo hold.  It was stressed by the airline, that once we arrived at Athens, they would be brought to us, as pets at all times were treated with the best care.  This was the first time, they had experienced anything like this, and we were anxious for them. Finally, we arrived at Athens at 04.10 in the morning and waited to collect our 'Boys'.  

 

Where would we see them, who would bring them to us? We were so excited at knowing soon we would be reunited with our beloved pets. Waiting at the luggage collection point, we saw no sign of anyone, but heard the carousel start up. Oh well at least we will be able to collect our luggage first, so we thought!   Once we had collected our luggage, our two cats would be brought to us, again that was what we thought! Luggage by luggage was appearing and then we were horrified.  In between the luggage, was one cat box. Surely this can't be right? We were told they would be personally brought to us, not placed in amongst the luggage on the carousel.  How more distressing could things become for our beloved pets?  Anyway, we collected one cat box and inside was Bobby, far back in his cage.  Petrified to say the least.  More luggage started coming, then in amongst the luggage, a second cat box.  We ran to collect it, but this time the cat box was open and no Tommy.  Horrified, deeply shocked and upset.  What could we do?  There was no-one around to ask.  Anyway, we collected all our luggage and notice a man open a door between the luggage carousel and where they placed the luggage.  We ran to him and showed him the empty box, to which he just laughed.  Who else could help us at this point?  Because we paid for excess baggage for Bobby and Tommy, their case was simply treated as lost baggage, not beloved pets, but to us there was a huge difference.  We were told to wait upstairs at the relevant airlines check-in desk and they assured us they would find Tommy.  Words alone cannot describe how we felt, or what was going through our minds.  Interestingly though, when we landed at Athens, we were delayed in disembarking the aircraft.  Everyone was standing and pushing in the isle, anxious to disembark, including us.  For me though, I just stared out of the aircrafts windows into the darkness and could have sworn, a black cat ran ahead.  This is so strange to say, because it was dark, but there were lights on the ground, so it wasn't pitch black.  Maybe the black cat that I saw was Tommy running away from his trauma, hence the delay.  

Once we sat upstairs in the check-in area, we realised that no-one could give a damn. It was only a cat and in Greece you can pick them off the streets ten a penny!  What is so important about this silly cat anyway?  We waited patiently, trying to explain our case again and again to the Greek airline staff while they continued checking passengers in.  This was absolutely crazy to say the least.  We couldn't understand them and they couldn't fully understand what all the fuss was about.  We were sobbing our hearts out, wondering what we had done, and sadly there was no return back to the UK.  If only at this time, we could have turned the clock back!  People were walking by and looking at us strangely.  The Greeks will never understand what a beloved pet means to their owners.  This was the start of our new life in the Mediterranean, or so we thought.  However, at this point we had to think about the welfare of our other cat Bobby.  He was very distressed and was sitting on soiled blankets.  We needed to get him home.  Ahead of us was a 2-3 hour drive, in a hired car.  Bobby was totally freaked out by the  whole ordeal, that now I can understand why some people leave their pets behind. At our new home we knew there wouldn't be any furniture, as it was arriving a few days later.  What a total mess we were in.  Home now, seemed so far away.  No family, no friends to turn to for comfort, no-one, with airport staff that couldn't care less.  It was our problem and we had to deal with this matter.  We were only able to rely on the UK mobile, as the landline at our new home wasn't installed yet. One plans for many eventualities and thinks they are fully prepared, but sometimes nothing is as straight forward as one thinks.  

 

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