Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wag More, Bark Less

We got mentioned today in Foggy Bottom Rambles' post Wag More, Bark Less.

Wag More, Bark Less seems like good advice!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cayenne's turn

My name is Cayenne, and I live with Noostie (aka DiploDoggie) and Koshka, as well as Pishik (who I like to call Aaawwwww because she is so cute). Pishik hasn't shown any interest in blogging though.
I was born in Mississippi April 4, 1996. Okay, fine, hatched. I adopted my mother when I was four months old.
I really like to try to crack my mothers up. The one that works best is when I make a really high pitched squeek and then say "nobody likes that noise!" That gets them every time!
I made a big splash in Jerusalem pretty quickly. When the GSOs, the people who fix things, come over, they always knock first and then open the door and shout "hello" into the house. They have permission to be there, but they want to make sure they don't startle anyone when they come in.
The first time they came to fix something at our house, they opened the door and said "hello." My moms weren't home and I stayed quiet. Then they got into the kitchen, where they couldn't see me, and I decided I had been rude. So I said, "hello?" And all the work stopped. They said "hello?" So I said "hello!" And they said, "hello?" And I thought, wow, friendly folks, even if English isn't their first language! So I said hello again.
We did this for about five minutes before they realized it was me. They told this story at the weekly staff meeting. Apparently I was the hit of the FSN (Foreign Service National) staff!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Guest Post from Gatito in Monterrey

Hi, My name is Gatito.

I lived on the streets until I was four monthsold, and then I found Mommy and Daddy one day when they were outrunning. I put on my best sweet act for the next few days, and then Iresorted to my ferocious nature. Mommy says the scratches on her armlook like a "highway map," whatever that means.

My favorite activities are sharpening my claws, running away so I can hang out on the roof (but I always come back when Mommy callsme...well, almost always) and hunting moths. Once I even killed a coke can (see attached evidence). I didn't know it would shoot juiceat me! Moths never do that.

Daddy leaves the house almost every day. Mommy stays here and staresat a screen and talks to people I can't see. When she does that, I knock things off the shelf so she knows she can talk to me instead. She also plays with her toys, but gets mad when I stomp on them. Something about "deleting an entire email." So yesterday I just took a nap. Her toy makes a nice little cave area where I can sleep. (See other attached photo.)

Meow from Monterrey, Mexico.

Tigre Rayado "Gatito" Torrance

Rascal in boots

Here is a picture of Rascal, another Diplodoggie, that was sent in by a reader.

Rascal tells her Mommy: "Okay I’ll go with you to Bamako but this is the last time I wearing these boots!"

I don't blame you Rascal. I wouldn't want to wear boots either, though I could swear my mother said something about getting me boots when we were walking in the snow last month. Something about how I'd need boots for Estonia. Not sure what that means.

I hope lots of Diplopets will email me their pictures, because there is nothing better than pictures of us, right? And stories too! I love stories from other pets and I am happy to post them here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Word from the Princess

My name is Koshka. You can call me Princess Pretty.

First, I don't know why the dog has a blog, and I don't know why you are reading it. Clearly you don't have enough to do.

Second, when it comes to overseas experience, you should clearly be listening to me instead.

I have been with my mother at two posts, first Azerbaijan (this was before the interloper joined us) and then in Jerusalem.

I understand about travel, and about dignity. When we travelled from Jerusalem back to DC, we were in our carriers for more than 24 hours. At the end of the trip, I fussed at my mother about the appalling conditions and then went about my life. The dog, a bundle of nerves. Pishik, the younger cat in our house, actually soiled herself. Unbelievable.

In Azerbaijan, I had my mother to myself, which I consider the optimum arrangment. In addition to the services of my mother, I also had a housekeeper who kept my litterbox clean (and the rest of the house too). But you should be aware that language issues can cause problems. My housekeeper was Russian, and my name is, of course, Russian for cat (because my mother is not terribly creative). The housekeeper thought my mother was translating my name for her, and would run around the house calling me "Cat" in heavily accented English.

I was not amused.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My new picture

So mom finally found a good picture of me in Jerusalem. The new picture on the masthead is me on our balcony in Jerusalem.

Down below, you can see our "dog park." The land is actually owned by the Queen of England, and was supposed to be where they would build an embassy if the final status of Jerusalem was ever determined. Of course, now it is WAY too small. But it was a good place to go potty and look for squirrels.

Speaking of which, Jerusalem has NO SQUIRRELS! What a rip off! And what is worse, they have lizards, which sound like squirrels climbing a tree but then aren't. Not cool.

We had a crazy neighbor who lived on the other side of our dog park. He liked to point his stick at me. He didn't like dogs because we could see him when he put his prayer shawl on his head. And apparently that made him invisible to people.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Traveling with Pets

I don't know what any of this means, but mom said you might need it if you are in the Foreign Service and travelling with your pets.

She said some of the links are not regular interwebs links and can only be clicked from a State Department computer.

She said you'd know what that meant.


1. Summary: This telegram provides guidance for pet owners who are preparing to transfer this year.This guidance supersedes all earlier guidance relating to traveling with pets. End summary.

2. Shipping a pet is the owner's responsibility. Although the USG may reimburse some costs and posts may provide pet owners with some level of assistance, the USG does not accept any liability relating to the transportation of pets, including the death of a pet in transit.

3. The Department strongly advises travelers to contact their post of assignment to obtain post‐specific information pertaining to pet shipments. Travelers are cautioned that some air carriers may refuse to transport pets during certain times of the year. The desire to travel on the same flight as a pet is not justification to fly on a foreign carrier, travel a less direct route, or make other changes to an itinerary that would violate travel regulations or result in increased costs. Travelers are encouraged to confirm arrangements for their pets well in advance.

4. An excellent resource on traveling with pets is the Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) located at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center or online. This website contains valuable information and links to resources on pet travel, including current U.S. air carrier pet shipping policies, country specific pet entry requirements, import and quarantine restrictions, as well as a list of commercial pet transporting services located in the Washington metropolitan area. OBC's DVD "Traveling with Pets" also contains up to date information and can be viewed or borrowed from Room E‐2126 at the Shultz Center. The 2010 "Traveling with Pets" program sponsored by the Transition Center will be held at the Shultz Center on Wednesday, April 14, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. To register for this program call 703‐302‐7268 or e‐mail FSITCTraining@state.gov.

5. The Travel and Transportation (GSO) section at each post will also have invaluable information that generally includes any restrictions on pet import and export, clearance procedures and fees, and quarantine (if applicable). Please contact the GSO or management officer at post for specific requirements. A current post TMTHREE would also include pet‐specific information.

6. Reimbursement for Expenses: The miscellaneous expense portion of the Foreign Transfer Allowance and the Home Service Transfer Allowance (DSSR sections 241, 242, 251, and 252) provide for reimbursement of "certain extraordinary costs" related to moving to and from foreign posts. Such costs may include expenses for shipping a pet. In keeping with current Department policy, only the transportation portion of any charges for shipping a pet from airport to airport is considered allowable when itemizing miscellaneous expenses. No other expenses related to moving the pet to a new location (e.g. veterinary costs, kennel costs, quarantine costs, transportation to and from the airport) are allowed.

Please note that only pet shipment costs from foreign post to foreign post, from foreign post to U.S. duty station or from U.S. duty station to foreign post are allowed. Reimbursement for pet transportation costs is not authorized in connection with travel to and from a home leave address or as part of R&R, nor is it authorized for training periods. On a post‐to‐post transfer where the employee takes home leave, training or R & R before proceeding to the new post, expenses related to shipping the pet to a home leave, training, or R & R address may be calculated on a cost construct basis, based on the cost of shipping the pet directly from post to post. Without receipts, reimbursement for all miscellaneous expenses is paid at a flat rate of the lesser of $500 or one week's gross base salary for single employees and the lesser of $1,000 or two weeks' gross base salary for employees with families. Single employees who present itemized receipts for their miscellaneous expenses may be reimbursed for actual allowable expenditures up to the lesser of one week's gross base salary or the one‐week gross base salary of a GS 13/10, ($1,786 in 2010). Employees with families who present itemized receipts for their miscellaneous expenses may be reimbursed for actual allowable expenditures up to the lesser of two‐week salary of a GS 13/10, ($3,572 in 2010). Please visit the Office of Allowances' Intranet site at for additional information.

7. Tax deductions for moving expenses: Costs beyond the limits prescribed in the DSSR are considered personal expenses. In some cases these costs may be claimed as moving expenses for income tax purposes. Check with a tax advisor or with the IRS for more information on the tax treatment of these expenses. Forms, publications, and other information are available from the IRS Internet web site. Of particular interest is IRS Publication 521, "Moving Expenses." In addition, to assist employees living abroad, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a new IRS brochure, IRS Publication 4732, "Federal Tax Information for U.S. Taxpayers Living Abroad." It is available here.

8. The three ways to transport a pet via air are listed below (not all airlines provide all three options):

(a) As excess/accompanied baggage:
Depending on the airline, a pet may be able to travel on the same flight(s) as the traveler, either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Pets transported this way may be considered excess baggage and charged accordingly. Do not assume that the pet will be allowed on the same flight. Seek confirmation in advance. Animals weighing 100 pounds or more will usually travel as cargo, even if on the same flight as the traveler. Check with the airline.

(b) As air cargo:
Pets may be transported as an air cargo shipment on a separate flight. In this case the pet does not have to be accompanied, but must be picked‐up at the final destination. The cost of this service is often considerably higher than shipping a pet as excess/accompanied baggage.

(c) As air cargo via a commercial shipping company:
A licensed commercial shipper can arrange to ship a pet as air cargo. Some airlines require use of this method unless the pet is small enough to fit in the cabin. Charges are likely to include the cargo rate plus the shipper's fee. Arrangements for shipping pets as cargo can be lengthy. It is crucial to plan in advance. Be sure any commercial shipper used is either a "known shipper" or holds an Indirect Air Carrier (IAC)license. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) strictly enforces regulations regarding the shipment of cargo, including pets, on passenger planes. (This does not affect pets traveling in‐cabin or pets traveling as excess/accompanied baggage.) Airlines will typically only accept air cargo from a "known shipper," or from a company that holds an IAC license. A "known shipper" is a shipper that does business on a regular basis with an airline.

9. Shipment of pets to member countries of the European Union (EU): The EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) established requirements for the shipment of pets to member states, although some EU member countries impose stricter requirements. Requirements can also vary depending upon where the pet previously resided. The pet section of each post's welcome cable (TMTHREE) should include specific pet entry requirements. The GSO or Management Officer at post can also provide detailed information. Travelers transiting an EU country for a limited number of hours and not taking possession of their pet may avoid some of the more stringent EU Pet Scheme requirements. Links to the EU and the UK Pet Scheme websites are available here

10. Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA): In addition to the other websites mentioned in this telegram, travelers may wish to visit the IPATA website. IPATA is an international trade association of animal handlers, pet movers, kennel operators, and veterinarians who care for pets locally, nationally, and worldwide.

11. Airline Restrictions and Pets: Some U.S. carriers impose restrictions or embargoes on shipping pets between May and September, the hottest months for pets to travel in the Northern Hemisphere. It is important to note that restrictions imposed by U.S. carriers are not uniform from carrier to carrier. Also note that airline partners and code share flights may have different restrictions. Detailed airline‐specific information is compiled in the OBC's "Shipping of Pets Checklist," which is available from the OBC or online.

12. Additional contact information: Any questions regarding this ALDAC may be addressed to the Overseas Briefing Center, Maureen Johnston, johnstonm5@state.gov or telephone 703‐302‐7277, or the Transportation and Travel Management Division at TransportationQuery@state.gov, or the Office of Allowances at AllowancesO@state.gov

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Like To Eat Stuff

And not just stuff I am supposed to eat, like food, treats, and shoes.

Scratch that last one. NOT supposed to eat shoes.

It is SO hard to remember.

I ate part of my mother's pants once...her work ones. She came home after being gone FOREVER (or at least several hours), changed into her jeans, took me out, and the LEFT AGAIN!

It must be the fault of the pants. Whenever she wears fancy pants, she stays gone a long time. So I ate them.

Turned out, she was going to a seminar on "Travelling with Your Pets."

Good thing she loves me.

Anyway, I eat things I'm not supposed to. Boxes are my favorite, but I really like plastic too. So when we went on vacation and I found this little black piece of plastic, I ate it. Mom called it a roach trap, and instead of getting mad, she got really scared and called some people about poisoning me. Or maybe it was to find out if I was poisoned.

Turned out not to be a strong poison in the trap, but what she found was that my microchip from "Home Again" offers a deal for $15 a year where you can call doggie poison control for free (Plus some other stuff I don't remember. Oh, if I get lost, they will pay like $500 to get me home). But seems like that might be a good place to be able to call if we were overseas too.

'Cause there's ALL SORTS of interesting things to eat there!

Getting there is half the battle

I got the following email from someone named Catherine:

Dear DiploDog, I know air travel is not your favorite thing to do. What would you suggest to bring on your flight to make it a more comfortable experience? Do you have a favorite/least favorite airline experience?

First, I wonder if Catherine is really code for Cat...I suspect this actually came from Koshka, my feline sister who I am certain is plotting to get rid of me. I think this is her plan to lure me onto that big grey box.

But I will answer the question anyway.

For those travelling willingly, there are some things that can make it better. My mothers got me a new big grey den before my first (and least favorite) trip. I thought it was interesting at first, but I think they should have left it out longer for me to get used to it (They did on my second trip, but it brought back horrible memories of my first trip). They also put a comfy pad in there that could absorb any "accidents" (like I don't know how to hold it!) and a shirt that one of them had worn, plus one of my favorite toys. They put some food in a bowl that attached to the den's door, and froze some water in another bowl and attached it to the den door. So I had water during the trip.

They put my name, address and a picture of me on the outside of the cage, in case I got lost. Of course, I have had a microchip as extra protection since the day they brought me home.

Everybody should have a microchip. They are MAGIC! It barely hurts and if you get lost, it will help the nice people who find you get you back to your family. I don't know how...it's just magic!

Even with everything, I didn't enjoy the flight too much. It was loud and long, but in the end, I was back with my mom and it was fine. And the second time, I wasn't scared at all because I was a veteran.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where Can I Get MY Passport?

There is a post on the interwebs today about how pets going to England have been getting passports for the last 10 years. I want to know where I can get one! Don't you think my picture would look pretty on a passport?

I'm glad though that the pets there don't have to go through quartan...uh...kwaran...uh...getting caged away from their families for six months. My sister the bird had to do that when we came back from Jerusalem. But she only had to stay in New York for a month and she said the people there were really nice to her. They just had to make sure she didn't catch that bird flu. I tried to tell them I had never even seen her have a bird cold, much less the bird flu. But no one listens to dogs about these things.

Sounds like that Lady Mary Fretwell's doggie had a much worse time of it and ended up going to doggie heaven (unless it was a bad dog...). So I am glad she helped make it better for all the fur children who go there.

But I still want my own passport.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Story

My name is Noostie, and I am a DiploDog.

I don't like to talk about my life before my adoption. Let's just say I was sick, hungry and scared. But in September 2002, as I was sitting in my tiny, stinky cage at the Chapel Hill, NC shelter, just after I heard whispers from the guards that they were going to make me go to sleep (I sleep just fine on my own, so I am not sure what they meant), my mother came to visit. Then she visited again, and again. And then she took me home.

And now I am a DiploDog. I travel around the world serving the country, conducting very important business with other governments, going to fancy parties, and getting to live in interesting places and meet interesting people.

Wait, my mothers get to conduct the business and go to the parties. But the last part is true.

And here is where I will tell you some of my stories. And my sisters, the cats and the bird, will tell you their stories too. Well, the nice ones might. I can't say for sure about Koshka. She is kind of old and cranky. But Pishik will...just don't make fun of her, because she is kind of slow.

Don't tell her I said that...she might get Koshka to beat me up.

Welcome to Foreign Service Tails!

My name is DiploDoggie, and I am your blog dog.

It has come to my attention that with all the blogs out there about life in the Foreign Service, most everyone has a voice. Officers, specialists, spouses, you name it.

Now it is the pets' turn.

So if you are a dog, cat, bird, lizard, guinea pig or any other kind of pet who follows your owner around the globe, this blog is for you. And I welcome guest doggers, er, bloggers.