Lucy (left) supervises the packing as Wlbur (right)
investigates a Bubble Wrap box playhouse.
Back in the spring of 2001, I decided to move with my family from Boston to Seattle for work. Not all that unusual, really, except my family consisted of three large rabbits: Lucy, Wilbur, and Wellington, as well as two large guinea pigs, Grover and Gloria.
Driving across the country was out because I can't drive, so it was airplane or nothing!
Fortunately, the wonderful HRN volunteers came through with adoptions and new foster homes or sanctuary space for all my HRN foster rabbits, so I could focus on the logistics of the move. Packing was SO much fun...I kept stepping on the giant bubblewrap by mistake and spooking the animals. Then there were the 10 days we had camping out in the apartment, after all the furniture and supplies had been shipped out. The buns knew something was up. "Where's our Rabbitat, and why is Mom sleeping on the floor?" they seemed to ask.
Because airlines only allow two small animals in the cabin per flight, it was clear that multiple trips would be needed. The idea of shuttling back-and-forth didn't appeal to me. Two friends agreed to help by ferrying some critters for me, in exchange for a "free" trip to Seattle. It helps if you're moving to a fun destination, but even more if you have good friends around!
Don't forget the bunny condo!
My first arrangements were with United Airlines, who assured me that it was perfectly fine to take the animals in the cabin. I happened to call back the next day to order a vegetarian meal, and by chance mentioned the rabbits. The second agent stated unequivocally that animals are NOT permitted to ride in the cabin, because they might get loose. I had to cancel all the reservations. Luckily, Delta Airlines was more accommodating and consistent, but I'd had such a scare, that I printed out all their statements about small animals, to have with us when we showed up at the airport. I had a couple of nightmares about this too. Each animal needed a vet health certificate, and there was a $75 cabin fee, but we got through check-in fine. It might be harder now than it was in May 2001, but nobody made me take them out of their carrier.
Wilbur and Lucy flew in a jumbo Sherpa carrier under the seat; I kept checking on them throughout the flight. They were seven years old at the time, so I was a little concerned about their health. I lined the carrier with some large incontinence bed pads, and had a bag of damp parsley and lettuce to offer them to keep them hydrated. Since we had to change planes in Salt Lake City, I could take them into the bathroom, replace the bedding, offer greens and water, and mist their ears a little. Lucy and Wilbur didn't eat or drink, and were a little subdued but made the trip in fine shape. It got pretty humid inside the carrier though, so we did make use of the fancy ventilation flaps.
Once we got to Seattle, our cab got into an accident on the freeway. We were delayed another hour before reaching the apartment I'd rented over the phone. It was exhausting! Lucy, who had a heart murmur, began to get a little droopy, but they both made the trip fine. They settled in nicely in their new Seattle apartmentwhich had carpeting to zoom around on. Wellington and the guinea pigs joined us two days later, and my friends Chris and Peter and I enjoyed a long weekend seeing the sights.
Wellington the bun and piggies Grover and Gloria
in the new condo.
One of the cards I received at the HRN going-away party noted, "Wherever you go, a rabbit will make it home." It was hard leaving Boston and all my friends, but that statement turned out to be true.
Copyright 2005 Suzanne Rubins