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Bringing Your Pets to Dakar

There was never really any question about bringing my 11-year-old Philippine street dog to Dakar with me. I've had him since he was a puppy and my three sons were not going to let me find him a new home in Manila, even though they had already moved on. So arrangements had to be made. I've moved a different dog transcontinental before and it was the most stressful thing about the whole move; this time was no different. Having said that, there was so much help at the Dakar end. The school has support from the US Embassy regarding shipments and ISD admins were really helpful. So here are a few tips and information about my experiences so far.

Pre travel - the rabies titer test is not needed in Senegal at the time of writing - so that saves time and money. Rabies vaccination is required, as are all the other standard vaccinations. Your vet or moving agent should be able to advise you on the timings of the vaccinations. Keep copies of your dog’s medical records and vaccinations certificate - mine had to travel with the originals. My dog traveled separately from me as cargo, but I know other people flew with their pets as excess baggage. Either way seems to work fine in Dakar. Depending on where you are coming from it can be a little tricky to get a dog booked to fly. Some airlines don't ship pets in the summer months as it is too hot - I found this with Emirates. In the end, my dog came in on Turkish Airlines. Other people have had trouble getting their dogs here from other African destinations but it seems that the problems were not at the Dakar end.

On arrival, the Dakar cargo terminal was surprisingly helpful and efficient. The school had a contact there called Anicet and he was in regular contact with me via email about when and where to collect the dog and the costs involved. I think it cost about 90,000CFA ($150 approx) and I used part of my shipping allowance for this. School also provided transport for me to go to collect him from the airport. It took about an hour to get the paperwork checked. All very smooth. My dog arrived on a Friday evening though other colleague's animals arrived in the middle of the night and they had to go to the airport to collect them straight away. It's worth considering that when booking a flight not least because the airport is a 50km drive.

Living in an apartment with a medium-sized dog is challenging at times if I'm honest. I employ a lady for 5 hours a day who does housework and dog walking. My dog has adapted, after previously being a yard dog, but he does not like to be left alone and so I try to take him to friend's apartments and restaurants with me when I go out. Some restaurants are amenable - especially beach places, and I believe some out of town resorts are too. The streets in Almadies are great for dog walking - not much traffic, sandy, bits of rough grass for toileting. Dogs are welcome on the beaches. There are a few strays around who need to be given a wide berth but they don't seem very aggressive, although a colleague's small dog was attacked.

There are several good vets in town, some of whom speak English. There is also a small boarding kennel near the school which I use and a bigger, more spacious one near the airport. Both are reasonably priced.

So, all is good. The dog is happy and even though apartment living isn't ideal it can be made to work.

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