Friday, January 6, 2012

Penelope Lane

A few months after we got married, Yoni and I decided to get a puppy. Having a dog was something we had always planned on, and, although it was the winter and not a particularly convenient time for house training, we didn’t want to wait any longer. Over the course of many long walks around the Upper West Side, we had the opportunity to examine and critique many different breeds, and the Airedale Terrier was the first one that we both loved. When we found out that the puppy the breeder was showing us had been born on November 29, 2009 (the day of our wedding!), we knew she was meant to be ours. We named her Penny Lane Skolnik, and lived happily ever after.

These were taken the night we brought Penny home.

That is, of course, until Yoni decided to be active duty in the Navy.

Of course, we took Penny into account when making the decision to do the Navy thing. We agreed that, if we couldn’t take Penny, we wouldn’t go. But that was back in the days when we thought we’d have some choice about where we’d end up. (They told us we would. We didn’t.) When we found out we were moving to Japan, and did some research on importing dogs, we knew we were in trouble. To prevent the spread of rabies and other diseases, Japan has VERY strict import laws: Penny would either have to spend a long time waiting in the States to join Yoni and me, or do a six month kennel-based quarantine in Japan. Needless to say, neither of these were particularly appealing options.  And then there was the paperwork. There is a huge amount of very particular and complicated paperwork necessary for each imported animal.

Figuring out what to do about Penny was one of the most stressful parts of the early PCS (Permanent Change of Station) process. Luckily, Yoni and I both have incredibly supportive and understanding parents, all of whom were willing to help us out and be a part of the process. We decided that Penny would do her quarantine in the US instead of in Japan, meaning she would have to stay behind in the states until January. Although slightly less convenient for us, it seemed like the much less cruel option. Since we would not be around to take care of her, Yoni’s parents generously agreed to be her foster parents: loving her, walking her, feeding her, grooming her, and taking her to the dog park for more than three months. They even agreed to keep her after she broke a window in their house! (She is a little on the rambunctious side.) We would not have been able to do this without their help.

As I mentioned before, though, getting Penny taken care of was only half the battle. We also needed someone on the ground to coordinate all of Penny’s paperwork, make sure she was inspected by all of the necessary people, and to get her on the plane. Although we had decided to work with a pet import company to ease the process a bit, because of the time and geographical differences it would have been very difficult for me to be the point person and get anything accomplished in a time-efficient manner. My parents stepped up to handle this part, and agreed to worry about all the details that none of us really understood. Yoni and I are extremely grateful to them as well.

So, why am I writing about this? Because (fingers crossed) Penny is actually scheduled to arrive in Okinawa next week! Jay and Tova brought Penny to NY earlier in the week; yesterday my dad took her for her final inspections with the vet and the USDA; and she is scheduled to board her plane on Monday and arrive here on Wednesday. Seriously, I could not be more excited. We do skype with her sometimes (she’s not so good at skyping), but Yoni and I haven’t actually seen her since the beginning of October. As any pet owner knows, that is a long time to be separated from the animal you love. I only hope she’ll forgive us for the uncomfortable flying experience when she arrives! 


  1. This makes me very happy - hope for a wonderful reunion tomorrow!! And then can we set up a skype date so I can see all three of you?