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Although our flight left Boston about 30 minutes late, we made our 5:30 a.m. arrival thanks to some super piloting and a tailwind. Brad and I must have still been running on adrenaline, for we were off the plane quickly and anxious to find our boys.

It took a good 15 minutes to reach the baggage claim area. Once there, we located where the bulky luggage would arrive. We decided Brad would gather the bags while I waited for the dogs to arrive. It didn’t take long for the large crates to come moving down the belt. That is when the “fun” began. I said hello to the dogs and looked them over through their crates. It was hot in there and they smelled like wet dogs. Both were panting and seemed very ready to get out. I asked the gentleman sitting at the counter if he spoke English. He told me he spoke “a little bit”. I then showed him the paperwork I had obtained to get the dogs into the country. He looked at me and said something I did not understand. I did hear him say, “veterinarian”. We continued to try to communicate with one another. I determined that I needed to go to “a box” to get the vet. He did some pointing across the terminal and I was on my way.

As I tried to find this “box”, a large German man came up to me and pointed me to Customs. I thought it was weird that the airport employee (aka bulky baggage claim guy) could not communicate “CUSTOMS” to me. ???? Once there, the veterinarian accompanied me back to the bulky luggage area to retrieve my retrievers. Of course, the vet scanned Bran to check his i.d. and then just glanced over my time-sensitive and expensive paperwork. At that point, I was worried about my Choco. He was panting, drooling, seemed very anxious and began to bark. Brad had to leave us to see if our sponsor was indeed there to pick us up. He was. We just didn’t know how we were going to move the dog crates with the dogs in them plus the luggage. There were no carts to wheel everything and no one seemed to be able or willing to help us. Somehow, Brad determined that we could take the dogs out of the crates and walk them out (this was a different protocol than in the States due to K-9 units working our secure airports). I did just that while Brad worked on getting the rest outside.

The next issue was finding a place for the dogs to go to the bathroom once outside of the terminal. Airports are obviously not built to accommodate such things. In addition, our sponsor had a list of people to pick up that morning. Each were arriving one after the other. Our situation with the dogs had put him behind schedule by about 30 minutes. Brad made it out, we loaded the van, and the dogs ended up peeing on the sidewalk outside of the terminal. Oh well, I am sure it dried. We had to have the next set of people wait for the sponsor to come back to pick them up since there was not enough room for all of us, the luggage, the dogs and the crates in the van. How he thought he could fit us all anyway is a mystery to me, especially when we gave him the dimensions of our crates before we even arrived in Germany.

The ride to the American Arms Hotel was short-about 25 minutes. It was about 7:30 a.m. by the time we set out for it and it was still dark out. Something we are still not quite used to. We were dropped off by our sponsor and then proceeded to check in. Something that was not mentioned or calculated into our early morning arrival was the fact that check-in for the hotel was not until 2:00 p.m. That meant we were too early and the hotel was not prepared for our arrival. Due to the amazing management and staff at the Arms, we did not have to wait long to be assigned to a room. Once in, we fed the dogs their first meal in over 24 hours. We were then able to plop on the couch and take in a deep sigh of relief. We had made it.

The rest of that day included gathering our thoughts and information for the next day’s events, taking a nap (we tried our best not to sleep, but it was inevitable), and having a nice dinner at the restaurant in the hotel.