Together at last! Fiance visa, flights, pets and weddings!

Hey!

Long time no see, apologies for lack of updates and posts, but I have been pleasantly distracted by this incredible and beautiful person who is now living with me!  The Vegan Bunny is here now, for good!!  Yay!! It has been a long, and at times, difficult journey to get to where we are now, but it is so so so worth it.

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(Us looking fancy!)

I do have some other posts to add over the coming weeks/months as I get around to them such as my weight loss and using a product called Nuzest, an awesome App called Vanilla Bean which I worked with for a brief time, vegan cleaning supplies, vegan skin care, vegan tee’s me and bunny ordered, continuation of the RSPCA posts and hopefully some posts from the vegan Bunny herself.

But this post is going to be a little about our journey to get to where we are now for other people who may be in a long distance relationship or who may need to transport animals abroad.

So, for those who don’t know, I am British and have lived in Britain nearly my whole life (I was born in Germany and moved to the UK when I was about 12-18 months old as my dad was in the armed forces), the vegan Bunny is American, born and raised (in the playground is where she spent most of her days?) in Alabama.  We met on a poetry writing website over 4 years ago and were just drawn to each other.  Bunny visited England in 2015, 3 times (the second time, I proposed because when you find someone as incredible as Bunny, you don’t let them go!).  I visited Alabama in 2016.  Bunny visited England again in 2017.  We then didn’t see each other for 14 months as we worked and saved to get the visa sorted and all the other documents and costs paid for and completed.  We both worked incredibly hard.  Bunny was working at a group home as a care giver to adults with intellectual learning difficulties and with conditions such as schizophrenia, she was also babysitting when she could to pick up extra funds.  I was working a full time job as a health and safety officer and a part time job as an online shopper for Sainsburys (meaning working 6 days a week, 4 of which were 14 hour days) before leaving my job of 14 years to move to a higher paid job to help with all the costs (and still ended up with another second job working for Vanilla Bean, a Vegan eatery finder app which has recently launched in the US…..go get it, its free!!).

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The move itself wasn’t entirely smooth, we managed to get some cheap flight tickets from WestJet, flying from Tennessee to Toronto, Canada then onward to Gatwick, London.  We also had some pooches to move as well.  Bunny has 3 and her sister has one (her sister was flying over to stay with her boyfriend in Hull for 6 months on a standard holiday visa).  We booked the flight and then waited until we had more money and then contacted them to arrange the flights for the girls (the pooches, who will be referred to as “the girls” from this point because we are “that” type of person who treats our pooches like our babies….because they are).  This was a stressful time as WestJet said that they don’t fly animals to the UK as they land at Gatwick and animals have to land at Heathrow via the Animal Reception Centre.

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(Animal Reception Centre, Heathrow……not my picture)

Cue panic, this was in February and Bunny was due to fly in March!  So after the initial “ARGH!! WHATTHEFUCKAREWEGONNADO” moment, I started contacting as many pet moving companies as possible.  I made a spreadsheet (I loves a spreadsheet) with all the different companies’ names and contacts and roughly where they were based and sent them all an email.  In total I contacted over 40 companies; UK based ones, US based ones, Israeli based ones….I tried every single one I could find which looked like they would be able to help (probably the first time I ever went passed page 1 of Google results!).  This resulted in a secondary panic, I was hoping/expecting for a cost of maybe £100 per pooch on WestJet, so double that for a pet moving company……the first quote I received was £6500 which scared the utter shite out of me.  I didn’t have that sort of money, I barely had any money.  I had managed to put just enough money by for a deposit on a house for Bunny and I when she landed to be able to start our life together in our home and so she wouldn’t feel she was moving into “my” home (even though I hope she will always feel it our home, our car, our life, our money, our everything).  I had another quote of £4900 which was a little bit more encouraging but still crazily scary.  There was no possibility of leaving the girls behind, they are so sweet and precious and I would never ever expect Bunny to even consider it, the same as I wouldn’t consider leaving my pooch behind.  So we were at a point where if we couldn’t get the girls to England, our fiance visa would expire and we wouldn’t be together and would have to go through the visa application again (which itself was £2400).

Finally, we decided on a company called World Pet Travel, they had a quote of £3500 ish after exchanging from dollars.  Still more than we were hoping but they seemed like a good company and called the girls things like “babies” “kids” etc so had the same crazy mentality we have when it comes to our girls.  I will do a separate post on these guys and the process of getting pooches from abroad over as it may be helpful to some at some point.

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(These guys were so helpful and friendly)

So we had a company sorted for getting the girls over, we then needed to do their checks and paperwork.  The girls needed micro-chipping, rabies shots, a health check and worming.  The health check has to be done within 10 days of travelling and the worming within 5 days.  The micro chip needs to be done before the rabies shot.  Vet’s aren’t the cheapest at the best of times but thats three different visits for 4 different things for 4 dogs, so you can imagine how that soon started racking up!

The guys at World Pet Travel had arranged to have the girls picked up from Bunny on the Tuesday.  Bunny’s flight was on the Wednesday and landed in the UK on the Thursday.  The girls were picked up from Alabama and driven to Atlanta where they were provided with bed and board for the night, ready for their flight on Wednesday to Germany…..yeah they had to go to Germany before heading to the UK.  Bunny left Alabama on Wednesday morning to head to Tennessee ready to fly to Toronto Canada where she had a 6 hour lay over before flying onward to Gatwick.  Its amazing how to get anywhere, you seem to have to go everywhere first.
I woke up at 3am on Thursday morning and loaded the car with lunch boxes, crisps, drinks, blankets, pillows, dog biscuits etc for the drive and hit the road.  I got to Gatwick around 9am, about an hour before Bunny landed.  I think with all the stress that had been around the move and travel arrangements it had distracted us from the fact we hadn’t seen each other for so so long.  It was incredible to see her, to be able to hold her close and tight.  It was 1 day short of exactly 14 months since we last held each other and said goodbye at that very airport and it was the most amazing feeling to be able to hold her again.  But that wasn’t the end of our journey.  We had to then get to Heathrow to pick up the girls and then drive to Hull to drop off Bunnys sister and Sammy (one of the girls) and then we could drive back home to Devon with the remaining girls (Emma-Sue, Daisy-May and Rosie-Posie).  Their flight was due to land at 12pm and we knew that it could take up to 4 hours to process them through customs (we also found out that there would be a VAT import fee of £243….if you are moving pooches make sure you complete a Transfer Of Residence (TOR) to avoid this fee, we wrongly thought our fiance visa would exclude us from needing to do this).
We headed to a nearby store to grab some bits and pieces and to stretch our legs some then headed to Heathrow.  I should mention that the Thursday this happened was the Thursday before Good Friday…..you know, the long Easter Bank Holiday weekend…where every fucker is on the road or flying places.  So we got to Heathrow and waited, and waited…..and waited.  We eventually went and parked at a nearby Tesco within range of their WiFi so we could watch some shows on Amazon Prime and eat our lunch as well as be close to the toilets.  We sat and waited, realising it was going to be closer to 4pm when the girls were ready.  Oh if only.  Eventually at around 7pm we had the call to say they were ready and had been processed and we could head to the Animal Reception Centre and pick them up.  Finally.  Now, the delay isn’t anyone’s fault per se, its just a busy time with a lot of paperwork and people and animals travelling.  We were just anxious to get our girls and make sure they were safe and sound.  We got to the centre and the staff were friendly and tried to bring them out to us on their leashes, but the twins (two of the girls are twin sisters) jumped into the same crate and wouldn’t come out so we put them in the trunk of the hire car (shhh no pets in hire cars, but I drive a Corsa and wouldn’t fit 3 adults and 4 dogs including their crates which have to be big enough for the girls to sit, stand, turn around and lay down in as well).  Emmie was out of her crate, Roe and Day were in one together and Sammy was in hers too.  We had to leave two crates behind as they were too big to fit in the car.

So, 7:30pm by the time we were all in the car and still had to drive home to Devon…..via Hull yet!  We eventually got to Hull to drop off Sammy and Sister at around midnight ready to then drive back home to Devon.  By the time we got through the door it was 5:30am on Good Friday.  I had left home 5am on Thursday.  Bunny had left home 6am (US Time) Wednesday morning!  So we were both exhausted.  Plus I had to get up and take the hire car back after cleaning any signs of pooches from the back!

But it was all worth it.  If we had to do it again we would.  The girls have settled with my pooch, Roxy really well.  They are all such sweet girls and so adorable.  It is incredible being able to see Bunny every day.  To hold her hand, go to sleep beside her and just do all the simple things that many couples maybe take for granted.  To see her expressions and mannerisms, to go grocery shopping together, to be able hear her voice and see her presence in the home, to just know that she is there.  All in all it has probably cost us closer to £10k than I would like to total up and cost us our house deposit savings….but without love a house is just bricks and mortar….no matter where I am so long as it is with Bunny and those stinky girls, that will be my home.

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(These stinking cute puppers!!  Daisy, Rosie, Emma)

I hope to get more posts up over the coming weeks and get back to updating more regularly.  I will especially have a post soon as Bunny and I get married on Friday!!  So we will probably, maybe have pictures to share.  Although it is just a small wedding, we are hoping that next year we can have a bigger event and invite loads of family and friends and get my amazing (soon to be) in-laws over too!

If anyone wants any advice or help on the visa process and the like, please feel free to get in touch.  I will do a proper more in depth guide to the fiance visa, the requirements, the costs etc.  As well as a stand alone post on the people who got our girls here safely soon.

Cheers!

 

 

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