Moving critters across Canada

One of the more stressful and emotional parts of moving is figuring out what to do with the critters/living things that share your life.

Every June/July in Montreal, the SPCA sees triple the number of surrenders because this is moving month in the city. Regulation does not allow for landlords to collect a damage deposit, so as a result few rental places allow pets. This means that people have to decide between affordable accommodations and their fur babies.

Luckily and thankfully, we are able to live in a place where we can support our critters. So, the difficulty lay in coordinating a move across Canada with pets. Flying was not an option for us but if you do fly, the best airline for pets is West Jet. They allow for many different species to travel in the main cabin (e.g. snakes, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc). Most airlines only allow cats and dogs.

We opted to drive because we needed to move multiple vehicles. The critters came on the second drive across the country.

Kima

Poor, poor little Kima. We adopted her from previous owners who abandoned her because they were moving (and it was more than one set of owners who did this in a one year period). So, as soon as the boxes came out and stuff started to disappear, she remembered and became stressed.

We kept telling her that she was coming with us and showering her with love, but she became very clingy and stressed every time someone left the house. To prepare her for the adventure, we began taking her for long drives (to get used to sitting in the Jeep for long periods) and periodically sent her over to Kevin the Neighbour‘s house (to get her used to the pending “week long sleepover” when we needed to be in Montreal to finalize the purchase of a house).

It was a very confusing time for the poor baby. And, just before the “week long sleepover,” she went for a bath. We couldn’t bathe her in our walk-in because it was no longer safe to use (thanks to Done Wrong Contracting), so we participated in the ARF Splash and Dash (great people, great cause).

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As you can see, she wasn’t very happy with the whole thing; Kima LOVES showers and in this case she barely tolerated it. I think she associates groomers with the SPCA. But, she came out on the other side very sleek, smelling great (for the car ride), and happy to be back in the Jeep (and not in an adoption pen).

Now, we had problems with the movers on the Montreal end so I never made it back to Calgary like planned. My job was to stay in Montreal to resolve, receive, and unpack. La Niña and dP were responsible for driving the fur babies across Canada, which went rather smoothly apart from drama at the first hotel in Brandon (Manitoba).

There are pet friendly hotels along the TransCanada. The brand we prefer is Towneplace Suites because they are friendly, efficient, clean, standardized, and they rarely question pets. But, in Brandon, we were stuck with the only pet friendly hotel: a Comfort Inn. Kima loathed the Comfort Inn and had to be dragged around. It was so traumatic for everyone that after 5-hours of whiny, troubled sleep, dP just piled everyone back in the Jeep and left, hoping this wasn’t the standard for the rest of the journey across Canada.

Happily, once in Ontario, Kima turned into a little princess and loved life on the road, roadside picnics, and swimming in the lakes. She loved the Towneplace Suites and pranced through the lobbies like they were HER hotel.

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I think that by Ontario, Kima realized that she wasn’t being left behind and enjoyed her TransCanada adventures. I’m sad that I wasn’t there to enjoy it with her. I was on the other side getting the house ready for habitation.

When she arrived she walked into the house, saw me, saw her stuff, plopped down, and promptly relaxed. As you can see, Kima loves the library the most.

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Pippin

I swear that the Couchon d’Indie needed more coordination than the dog. We had to figure out rations, figure out a portable cage, and make it easy to clean said cage periodically while on the journey. Parts of the cage needed to stay behind for the “week long sleepover” and other parts needed to go with the movers.

We use a modular cage design for Pippin. Meaning, we built his cage using C&C shelving cubes, which make it easy to pare down the size or build it up when needed. The pan is made out of corrugated sign material for easy cleaning.

When the movers came, they took the majority of his cage squares, which gave me enough to build a cage on the other end. Some were left behind as a temporary cage and packed up and put in the Jeep when we vacated the house. The corrugated basin was thrown in the garbage.

Little Pippin was then put in a box for the drive.

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To keep the box dry, we used puppy training pads in the bottom. To keep Pippin dry, we used wicking fleece. He needs lots of fresh fruit/veggies, so this meant stops at farmer stands along the way… and many stops to dump out the resulting poop (because guinea pigs poop a lot).

Of all the people, plants, critters, poor Pippin had to wait the longest for his new home. The movers used his room as a dumping ground for most boxes so it took us a long time to work through everything in the room. Once it was settled, we needed to paint it. Once painted we were finally able to build and set-up his cage.

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The great news is that Montreal is a critter loving city (and not just cats/dogs like Calgary). Meaning, you can easily find guinea pig supplies around the city. Even the dollar store by our house has cuddle cups and fleece liners. We used to have to order these online. Mr. Pippin loves his new set-up.

Mr. Fickle

I tried to find a good home for Mr. Fickle but no one seemed to want him. He’s a 30-year old ficus tree who has been following me around since the early 90s; and, I’m told that he’s matured enough to start producing figs (with a bit of work). After trying to find a home we eventually found a person on Kijiji who takes plants when people move. However, when it came time to do this, I couldn’t. I started to cry at the mere thought.

So much of Mr. Fickle’s life is tied to my own. He lived with me throughout University, when I moved downtown, and with Michi and I in Sunnyside. He was my first Christmas tree and La Niña‘s play tree as a toddler. He’s also bonded by blood with La Niña because the scar on her head comes from his pot. Mr. Fickle’s name comes from Michi who called him this because whenever she sat next to him he would drop leaves. I think it was because he hated her smoking.

I also couldn’t get past the though that he would do really well with the humidity in Quebec. So, instead of giving him away, we wrapped him in burlap and bubble wrap, crossed our fingers, and hoped he’d survive a few weeks in a dark, dry, moving van.

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Everyone said he would die on the way. But, not only did he survive the journey, but he promptly puffed out new leaves when he arrived in Montreal. He likes the humidity here.

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  1. When we moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia many years ago we had the van filled with African violets and a rubber tree.

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