After a long time of processing, and another of planning, it was a fact: We were moving from Nicaragua to my native Finland.
It had to do with the crisis that broke out in Nicaragua on April 18th, 2018.
After the first turbulent months of the crisis I travelled to Finland for a break and during long walks in crispy autumn weather consider our best options (read an interview with me here, in Swedish).
When I returned, I announced my decision: I wanted us to go North. My better half, Nicaraguan, was more reluctant but agreed. That meant breaking up after almost 16 years in Central America with all its implications: Practical and legal arrangements, packing down the house, giving things away, finding storage.
The worst part was the animals. The sheep and the goat finally returned to their original home, one dog and the two cats moved in with a nice and responsible family, good friends of ours. We were content with the solutions.
10 years old, a Pitbull – and short-nosed
The most difficult part was EA. She, a 10-year-old Pitbull, was to accompany us to the North. Not only was there a long list of formalities – health check, chipping, vaccinations, blood sample checked by an EU-certified lab in the US etc. Only that took about four months – but we also had to find the means of transport.
That for an elderly pitbull, the most stigmatized breed in the whole world. Besides, many airlines consider the Pitbull a brachycephalic breed, that is, short-nosed. That can cause breathing difficulties during a flight, say the airlines and, afraid of being sewed, don’t welcome Pugs, Boxers, Persian cats or Pitbulls aboard.
Other airlines don’t consider Pitbulls brachycephalic and after weeks – months – of investigating, I finally had a route, combining different airlines and means of transport during a trip that would last for no less than four days!
All this set, and an endless amount of paperwork done (11 different documents, all with many copies, organized in a binder), I only had two other worries: How would my old dog manage The Big Move? And how would she be received in her new home country?
Objects, not subjects
In Central America EA was often admired because of her beauty, we proud parents wished to think, but also of her muscles, well-built body and obvious strength…now also mixed with fear.
In Central America, dogs, in special strong breeds like Pitbulls, are usually feared, and, in general terms, like all animals, are not treated like subjects with their feelings and integrity, but like objects and possessions without any rights of their own. The notion of animal protection is, although improving, deficient.
But everything went beyond expectations…
EA managed the first, short flight to Florida like a lady who had done nothing else but globetrotting. During the layover in the US, she made many friends.
Upon check-in for the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean, the desk personnel admired my paperwork: “If only all passengers were like you!”, they said.
Even this long trip EA managed well, marking territory at the airport of Arlanda, Sweden, with the puddle of her life.
Now only a 14-hour journey with the ferry to Finland awaited us, an enormous cruising ship full of tourists, sports groups, cruising passengers…And they approached us: Kids, elderly ladies, gentlemen with beers in their hands: “Can we say hello to her?” “Can we pat her?”
One elderly lady, in special, was fond of EA and insisted on patting her each time we met. EA seemed to enjoy all the attention.
I was slowly starting to relax, to enjoy the trip and to realize that we were reaching our destination. A destination, where Pitbulls – or any other breeds – are not banned, hopefully not stigmatized either, where animals – at least dogs – are treated as subjects, as family members. The latter to a degree which I would find almost exaggerated. But that is another story.