Guest blog: Where I go, my dog Percy comes too. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Percy doesn't do well when separated from me. It's a trait of his breed. However, while he wouldn’t be happy, it wouldn't damage him irrevocably to stay in a nice kennel for a couple of days, which brings me to the second reason - the lack of dog boarding facilities within easy reach of Wellington city.
I have come to the conclusion that I must be the only dog owner without a car in Wellington. It makes sense that most kennels are out of the city, in the Hutt or up the coast, where there's more room and presumably appropriate council zoning.
Some kennels offer a transport option, but it only pushes the bill higher. Home boarding in the city is even more expensive. By and large, it would be cheaper for me to stay somewhere than it is for my dog - I don't object to backpacker accommodation. (Mind you, I don't require walking or feeding.)
So, hence, where I go, so too does Percy.
This was much easier when we lived in New South Wales. As long as Percy was in a crate, he was allowed on not only long-distance trains, but Sydney city buses too. And we made use of them on several occasions. It’s not as though public transport there is overrun with animals - chickens in wicker baskets, dogs left, right and centre. Besides Percy, I actually never saw another animal on a bus or train. Lots of surfboards, but not many dogs.
But dogs, except for service dogs, are not welcome on any form of public transport in New Zealand, which seems vexing. It's not as though I'm looking to transport an Alsatian (lovely dogs, but large). I don't think taking one of those in a crate on a bus is practical.
Despite hunting for travel alternatives, when it comes to trips out of town I have one choice: Percy and I have to fly. This makes visiting friends and family for a weekend somewhat out of my budget. As anyone who wants to fly to small airports knows, airfares are not cheap and there's only one option. Air New Zealand.
At the end of last year, Air New Zealand put up their pet transport fees. Not by 10 or 20 per cent, but by 50 per cent, so a $50 fee for an animal and crate became a $75 fee. (For dogs up to 25kg.)
Okay, so I find that pricy enough, but that's not the end of the story. While I have to pay the $75 one-way fee for Percy, he also counts as my luggage, so any further bags attract an excess baggage fee. I can't help but feel that pet owners are being slightly cheated in this deal.
Of course, it's my choice to have a pet and wear the costs that come with it. But why is it so much cheaper and more convenient to do so in Australia than New Zealand? What is so special about their public transport?
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