Starting out in Amsterdam

Notes from an eventful arrival

Created on [2023-08-16], last updated [2023-08-16]

I finally got to Amsterdam. Of course, I’ve been here before, but this time’s different. We’ve arrived in Schiphol on Sunday morning after a tense flight. It’s not a long flight, but we were flying our dog over with us, and he was flying in a cage with the luggage.

I’ve been training Dudi for this flight for a couple of months now, feeding him snacks while he’s lying in the cage and–in the week or two prior to the flight–even leaving him locked in the cage for half an hour after we’d get back from an evening walk.

I honestly don’t know what that sweet huge dog experienced during those long hours after we sent him away in his cage in one airport until we got him back on the other side, but when they brought him through that door next to the “odd-size baggage” signs, he looked fine. A bit shook up maybe, definitely not at ease. But he seemed excited to see us (and eager to leave his cage), and all in all we were relieved.

We just had to get the rest of our luggage and walk past customs before we could let Dudi stretch his legs out of his cage, but there’s always something, you know. No worthwhile undertaking ever goes completely smoothly because there’s always something that you didn’t think that you’d have to think about. For our arrival at Amsterdam last Sunday, this something happened to be Dudi’s birth date. We had a rough idea about when Dudi was born, since at the adoption service where we got him they told us that he was around three months old. They didn’t know the exact date, though, because they got him from a lady that found him abandoned near a village up north. We just figured he was probably born in November 2020, and that seemed good enough for all intents and purposes. Dog don’t really mind it if you miss their birthdays, after all.

Now, to get your dog to the Netherlands, you have provide proof that he has effective antibodies for rabies. You also need some papers from a veterinarian at your home country that states the dog’s physical condition and history. Apparently, they write down the dog’s birth date on both of these sets of papers, and apparently we had November 1st written on one set papers and November 15th on the other. Two equally arbitrary approximations.

That led the unwary custom officers to suspect that these two sets of papers actually refer to two different dogs. One two weeks older than the other. We tried to explain that nobody probably gave these dates too much thought and that we don’t know Dudi’s exact birth date, but they wouldn’t budge. Our papers were “not right”, they said. This anomaly led to extreme scrutiny of our papers by the airport’s vet, that had to be rushed from the other side of the airport. I don’t know how big Schiphol airport is, but it took that guy a long time to get to customs. All the while, we weren’t allowed to open Dudi’s cage. While the veterinarian examined our dog’s recorded history, the custom officer tried to comfort us by saying that “the worst case is that he’ll go straight to quarantine,” which was naturally met with a calm and relaxed response from my part. Something along the lines of: “great, but can he first take a piss?”

After nearly an hour and a half of Dudi sitting in his cage and us sitting stressed beside him, the vet came over and said that we’re good to go. He said they apologize, but that they must be strict on these matters so they had to ensure our papers are correct. I didn’t care. I wanted to hug that guy, and I probably would have if I hadn’t feared he’d arrest me on the spot for excessive affection and Dudi and I would both end up spending the night in the cage.

After getting the good news, everything fell back into place. We let Dudi out of his cage right away and took him for a walk outside the airport. Our driver was kind enough to wait for us outside the airport all that time, and the traffic on our way to the city center was light. When we got to our destination, we were greeted by another kind fellow that waited for us an extra couple of hours with the keys to our new apartment.

You see, what makes this visit to Amsterdam quite different is that we don’t have a ticket back home. But more on that some other time.