Okay, I'm still Taiwanese enough to bitch about how much it cost the bring my dog over, but in the end, I want to say that IT WAS WORTH EVERY NT. Well, actually, it shouldn't have cost as much as it did, but how can I put a pricetag on that look of pure awe on my pup's face when he landed in North America and just saw wide open space, green scenery running all the way to the horizon, and heard virtual silence for perhaps the first time in his life.
We took him in about three hours before our flight (which left at 11:55pm on a breezy evening, so I wasn't too worried about the heat), and the guy running the Plant and Animal office at Terminal II was very friendly. Hung out with him until about an hour and a half before our flight then took him to the EVA counter. The representative squealed with delight when she saw us coming because she's a doglover and had been anticipating our arrival. Things got a little hectic as I was trying to pay for his excess baggage fee (6904NT, more expensive than anticipated but I think included any Air Canada fees since we didn't have to pay them), and to apologize for the extra check-in time, they bumped us up. They helped us strap up his cage nice and tight. We were able to follow our pet up to where they set him on the special baggage loading belt.
Landed in Vancouver about 11 hours later, picked him right up from the special baggage area, got our paperwork looked at by a very friendly Santa Claus-type guy, but when he saw that we were taking him to Detroit, he crossed off all the paperwork and waved us through.
Things would've continued splendidly if our Air Canada flight to Toronto hadn't been cancelled. We spent 10 extra hours in Vancouver in the dog-friendly Delta Airport Hotel, and since we were unable to find dog food, convinced an Elephant & Castle waitress to find us some meat scraps.
Folks in Toronto jerked us around. Part of the confusion was caused by the fact that we were going through the US Customs gate there, but the guy just asked all sorts of asinine questions like "Why do you have a dog?" (duh, he's a pet) and "Where's your dog? Who's he with?" We were told that we had to get through customs before we could see him, but even then, there was some major confusion, the worst part being when we were in one room just past customs and there was a triangle of three people all pointing to each other trying as hard as possible NOT to answer our queries of "Where's our dog?" Whatever. It was just a hugely disorganized airport and I will avoid it if at all possible. In the end, we didn't get to see our dog and confirm that he was okay until we boarded the plane.
Finally we arrived in Detroit and basically walked straight into the baggage claim area, picked up our dog, and walked out of the airport. Nobody even checked our papers (that's what the Toronto customs gate was supposed to be for). In retrospect, it was totally easy.
Dog was an absolute angel through the entire process. Didn't pee or poop in his crate, didn't cry, didn't throw up, was a little stiff-legged but totally mellow coming out, didn't resent us for cooping him up. We got a little lecture in Vancouver about getting him a bigger crate (he could turn around and lie down comfortably, but he was just too tall to stand up straight without his ears touching the top), but I'm just grateful they didn't reject him outright as I'm told some airlines will do. I went to three different petstores in search of the PERFECT crate, and the one we got him was most ideal (it was either the one we got him or a golden retriever-sized crate for a 12kg dog -- I do blame Taiwan for my lack of options). So maybe if you want to be on the safe side, go crate-shopping earlier.
Arrived back in the States to hear all about the dog-beating rabies-scare in China and kitten torturer in Taiwan. I would do this again in a heartbeat (perhaps not to the same dog, but for a new pet ;]). Like I said, it hasn't even been a week and the dog's a completely happier fellow. Not that Taipei is a terrible place for all dogs and cats, but our dog, despite our best efforts, never liked it and this new North American life is exactly what he needed.
Okay, I'm done.