You guys, moving is hard. Like…really hard. But moving to an entirely different country is its own breed of “really hard.” Full disclosure, this is not an interesting post. I realize that. But I also realize that there are people out there (yay, you people!) who are genuinely curious about the process and what all needs to be done for us to officially become Tokyoians (is that even a real word? Who knows?). So, this one’s for them.
Most of you know, I love Murphy more than 97% of all of the people that I’ve ever met. Because of my borderline obsession / unhealthy love for him, there was never even a moment that we considered leaving him behind. Such began the process of making Murphy a “Japan approved” canine.
Murphy’s journey began with a trip to the Military Vet at Little Rock Air Force Base. He got a full physical, a rabies vaccine, and a new international microchip (the one he already had didn’t have enough numbers to qualify). On a random brag note, my dog is undoubtedly the heavyweight champ of the Veterinary exam. He does not even flinch when they’re (gently) jabbing a big ol’ needle into his neck. Ok, back to the story: Murphy got a clean bill of health, we got a 42 page packet on “Importing Animals into Japan,” and were told to come back in more than 31 days. Fast forward to Vet appointment #2. Murphy got another physical, a second rabies vaccine and had a significant (fine, it was a vial, but I almost karate chopped the nice Vet Tech and told him that was enough) amount of blood drawn. Again, not even a flinch out of Murph Dog “The Champ” Gnazzo. The Vet then packaged Murphy’s blood up into a box which Husband delivered to UPS to be overnight shipped to San Antonio. Once it gets there, they’ll perform a FAVN test (which, I think, is for rabies) and, assuming that all goes ok, will officially clear him for travel. For the next 180 days, Murphy has to stay healthy and rabies-free, which shouldn’t be a problem.
Thankfully, Murphy’s to do-list got pretty short after that. He still needs an airline approved travel crate, which we plan to get early so that he (me) can adjust to it. Then, we gotta call up the Japanese airport we are flying into 40 days before we get there to, well, let them know that Murphy will be arriving. Then, within 10 days of leaving, he’ll have to go back to a Military Vet for a wellness check. If everything goes alright there, we’ll get a Certificate of Wellness that must accompany Murphy at all times while traveling. I believe there is a brief holding period and/or a Vet appointment that needs to happen upon our arrival in Japan but it should be pretty minor.
Now, on to me. Apparently, I require just as much paperwork as my dog. Before I can get my military passport (which makes me feel important, I’ll admit), I have to have a medical evaluation (9 pages), a dental evaluation (2 pages), and a mental health evaluation (3 pages) all completed by licensed professionals and submitted. I’ve actually got alla that paperwork done but recently found out I have to track down medical and vaccine records for pretty much my entire life…so that’s next. Once this is all turned in, I’ll head to base and get my little picture taken and get my fancy new (red) passport. This is important because it serves as my Visa to live in Japan. After I get that checked off the list, I have to reapply for a civilian passport since that is expiring and also has my maiden name on it.
“Sometime in June” I will find out when my flight to Tokyo is. All I know is that it will probably be in mid-August. Murphy and I will be hanging out in Wisconsin and Minneapolis for a bit before we leave so the first leg of our journey will be a commercial flight from Minne to Seattle (about 4 hours). We fly to Seattle because the Air Force base that we’re moving to (Yokota) has regular flights between there and Tokyo that I can fly on. So, once we make it to Seattle, I’ll be hauling Murphy, his airline crate, and all of my luggage from the commercial airport in Seattle to a different airport to catch our military flight. I am currently accepting wine donations to numb the pain that will surely ensue from that process. Once we get checked in there, I’ll get Murphy tucked in and we’ll fly from Seattle to Tokyo (10-11 hours). Then Husband will pick us and handle everything because I will likely be on the brink of death (dramatic, I know…but also likely true).
Since Husband has to move in May, he should have our house by the time Murphy and I get there. Key word being should. Our “household” (aka, our furniture, kitchen supplies, etc.) should all arrive in mid to late July. Again, key word being should. We’ve got to pack and ship (literally, it travels by ship) all of that off in mid-to-late May…which is going to be really, really fun right during finals and graduation. But, more on that party later.
Our house is also officially on the market. Shameless plug – If you know anyone looking for a 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom home in Downtown North Little Rock with rental income potential, I know this little gem of a place. I thought that it’d be easy to stick that for sale sign in the front yard, but it was actually pretty bittersweet. Orange Street Bed & Breakfast has been so, so good to us (and to a lot of our friends) and will always hold a special place in my heart (and liver).
Soon begins the packing, organizing, and selling-everything-we-own process, so mark your calendars for that enthralling update.