When Mick and his family relocated to Christchurch, New Zealand, they left Mick’s mum Val to prepare their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Ralph, for his journey to join them.

Val didn’t realise what a challenging task she’d taken on. New Zealand has very strict import requirements, which became even tighter from 1 January this year. Dogs and cats travelling to NZ from the UK now need to have a rabies vaccination at least six months before travel, followed by a rabies test at least three months before travel.

So to avoid Ralph having to wait even longer before being reunited with his family, it was important to make sure he got to New Zealand before the end of 2011.

The first vet Val tried was so daunted by all the paperwork he declined the job.

The vet who finally agreed to do the work turned out to have a slightly gung-ho attitude to the tests and other aspects of the entry requirements. This led to a very stressful time for Val, and for L in the Animalcouriers office; but after a false start and a mercy dash with a sample to the Weybridge AHVLA laboratory just two days beforehand, Ralph finally flew out on 11 December.

He spent 10 days in quarantine in Auckland before boarding a flight to Christchurch. When L heard about the earthquake in Christchurch just before Christmas, she felt certain that poor Ralph would somehow have got caught up in it. And indeed L was right. Val wrote to tell us:

“Ralph finally arrived in Christchurch on 23 December. He was due to arrive on the 21st, but as he sat in his crate on the plane at Auckland airport that was bound for Christchurch, the earthquake struck. Take-off time for Ralph was supposed to be 2.00pm and the earthquake struck at 1.58pm!!! So all flights into Christchurch were cancelled. Poor Ralph, after waiting for about three hours, was taken back to the quarantine kennels for another 48 hours. He eventually arrived safely in Christchurch on Friday 23rd. Mick and Jess went to collect him at the airport, and when Ralph saw them, he went absolutely mad, jumping and crying and completely destroying the crate!”

So finally, a happy ending, and a lovely Christmas present for everyone involved.

A very regal-looking Ralph

Ralph high-fiving with Mick