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Poppie Departs for Jordan - 2010

Poppie had to move once more, this time to Aqaba, Jordan. Since we weren't sure we would have housing when we arrived, we had to ship the cats after we left, which pet shippers recommend.  Shipping independently assures the best treatment and the animals are not subject to the temperature and seasonal restrictions that apply if they went as baggage.  Of course this is a more expensive option.  Poppie and Ficho only had to board for a week before they took Lufthansa flights from Washington Dulles, arriving in Amman at 1:00 a.m.  The pet shipper had arranged for a vet to expedite their arrival, though it should not have been a problem since Jordan did not have many entry requirements. Or so we thought.

We had documentation that we were duty free but somehow this was not working at the Amman airport.  They wanted to impose a customs duty for commercial animal importing on two cats, one of which had a physical disability.  After hours of wrangling according to this vet, he was able to take the cats to his clinic to clean them in preparation for a personal ride down to Aqaba.  I warned him of Poppie's propensity to, well, vocalize, during transit and the vet called from his clinic agreeing that Poppie was quite the noisy one.  He did say that everyone in his clinic loved Poppie.  I thought this was a good sign, since Jordan is only recently embracing small animals as pets and certainly not ones that have defects like Poppie.

By late evening, we made an exchange in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba and the doctor turned around to make the four hour trip back to Amman.

Poppie and Ficho had arrived in Aqaba!

Our apartment is quite spacious with several large balconies.   My husband had special decorative grates put on top of the low walls of the balconies to keep the cats (actually Ficho) and our guests from going over the edge from four flights up.  Instead of a cat door we just lowered the outside shutter and opened the glass door to make a hole.  Poppie found the nearest soft chair or sofa immediately, while Ficho seemed more lost.  He had that look that asked, "So when am I going back to Washington?"  We assumed Poppie had acclimated until he had some accidents, meaning he was using the wrong places as litter boxes.  We realized settling in would take longer than we thought.  Finally, my husband made a litter pile on the terrace and Poppie was happier using that than the litter boxes.

Another surprise was that the two cats seemed to get along better in Aqaba.  Poppie tolerated Ficho sniffing his face and they actually played.  I have seen Ficho casually give Poppie a hip check as he walks by, which of course knocks Poppie off his feet.  Cat humor, perhaps?

The intense heat here several months of the year causes the cats to molt but we can only hope hairball formula cat food and lots of brushing prevents the worst problems besides the cat hair tumbleweeds everywhere.

We are used to visitors to our home, both expats and Jordanians saying, "What's the matter with your cat?" as though Poppie had suddenly taken ill.  We have a local friend who housesits with her daughter who is mentally disabled.  The daughter has taken a special liking to Poppie and constantly asks about him.  The friend thinks they have a special bond because each has a disability.

Aqaba Needs a Veterinarian

The major issue in Aqaba is that there is not a full time small animal veterinarian.  By coincidence, the pre-eminent small animal vet in Jordan owns an apartment in our building but he lives in Amman.  He agreed that he would come down for routine shots and exams but there is no one here for emergencies.  Another friend, a Romanian married to a Jordanian doctor and a lover of cats has been working to bring more services here for pets and strays.  This requires finding the right organization and funding, since even though young vets in Amman are scrounging for business, none will move to Aqaba.  We shall see how this plays out.


Poppie in Jordan in 2011 - Enjoying the sun and relaxing between takes of "Poppie - The Movie"

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