Ringo: The Ex-Pat Dogby Wendy McElroy
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Ringo is moving to Galt’s Gulch Chile with us.
The big guy wandered up our driveway four years ago in the dark, early hours of a fall morning. My study is just off the foyer, and I was hunkered down over my computer when Bear – a dog since deceased – erupted into a string of barking in the front yard. That wasn't unusual. Bear patrolled the perimeter of our farm every night and he challenged every shadow that dared to move. But the barking went on far longer this time than could be explained by a trespassing shadow or a scofflaw raccoon.
I finally flipped on the porch light and stepped outside. A skeletal black dog stood in our driveway about five feet away from the yapping Bear. His large head sagged down between his shoulders as though the weight of it was about to bring him to his knees. At the sight of me, he stiffened. Hustling Bear inside the house, I grabbed a bowl full of pet food, dashed back out and approached the strange dog slowly.
Starving animals at our front door is nothing new. People from Toronto drive out to the country and throw their unwanted pets out the car door like bags of trash. So I knew the routine. I rattled the food in the bowl and the dog edged toward me, his eyes focused on the promise of food. But the big guy was so weak and frightened that his back legs collapsed and the next step came only by dragging the hind legs behind him.
I crossed most of the distance between us and put the bowl down, stepping back immediately afterward. He ate, then looked at me. I reclaimed the bowl which still held some food and extended it out in front of me while I backed away. He followed me into the garage and fell to the cement floor with an exhausted sigh.
I left him for the night with food and water. When Brad and I checked on him the next day, we found an affectionate dog whose worst fear had quickly become that we would abandon him. Every time we started to get up off the floor and leave, he tried to pin us down, sometimes by literally sitting on us. We later learned he was a cross between a Great Pyrenees and a border collie, both of whom are herding dogs; they do whatever's required to keep a sheep from straying. The sheep that were Brad and me were going nowhere. We quickly came up with a term to describe the condition of being sat upon to prevent an exit: we were “ass-mastered.”
His name is Ringo. He is not named after the Beatles' drummer but after the best canine character to grace the pages of science fiction; Ringo absolutely steals the novel Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede. At the point when we named him, Ringo became ours even though it took us a few days to understand the reality that Ringo knew as soon as he stumbled into the garage. We're family.
Chile is not the first country to which we've considered moving. Our time in North America is coming to an end, although it will take a few years to tie up loose ends and prepare a graceful relocation. In every nation, one detail of moving has been a deal breaker. If you don't want our dog, then you don't want us. And don't even try to explain how Ringo would only be in a quarantine cage for 6 months because, after being abandoned by us for that period, all the joy and hope would be extinguished from his eyes. And I won't do that.
Chile obviously loves dogs and cats. Because it is a prosperous nation, the people of Chile can afford the true luxury of befriending another species. There is an abundance of pet clinics, pet stores, an entire culture of pet ownership into which Ringo can galumph and stick his nose. (I never knew what galumph meant until I watched him run from behind.)
More importantly, the requirements for importation of dogs and cats are reasonable and humane; they do not quarantine healthy pets but they do require evidence of the pet being disease free. In essence, Ringo needs to be microchipped with a chip that complies with ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785. His current chip will have to be checked. The chip is the manner in which officials will ascertain that Ringo is the dog for whom the “pet passport” has been issued. It is his ID. Ringo's passport must indicate that he was vaccinated for rabies between 30 days and 12 months prior to travel; our veterinarian will need to send the vaccination certificate to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for its stamp of endorsement. (In America, the approval goes through the USDA.) A few days prior to traveling, Ringo will need to take a tick and tapeworm test.
To flesh out the passport's minimum requirements, Ringo has and will have a full slate of vaccinations; his full vet records will be on hand; and, he will have an International Health Certificate. The latter needs to be completed within 10 days of departure. Our documents will be translated into Spanish. We're taking no chances.
The agency with which Brad and I will deal on Ringo's behalf is Servicio Agricola y Ganadero or SAG. When visiting the site, go to the column “Ingreso/Salida de Chile” and clicked on the link to “Ingreso Mascotas,” where there are the requirements and necessary forms.
Wonderful things rarely force themselves into your life. Ringo forced himself into our home and ass-mastered his way into our hearts. I predict it will take him no time at all to learn the Spanish words for “treat,” “walk,” and “drive.”
Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is "The Art of Being Free". Follow her work at www.wendymcelroy.com.