Our Spanish Journey – Together and Apart

In Moving to Spain by Susan8 Comments

We’ve had months to plan our transatlantic migration to Spain. But, no matter how we planned, how carefully we researched our options, no matter how successfully we negotiated the preliminaries, one deep and abiding worry has plagued me all along the way — pet transportation.

With four cats and a dog, getting from Salem to to our new home in Spain is far more complicated than it would be for the two of us.

Visiting Wisconsin Has Been Great

We’re already more than 2000 miles on our way — and I’m still worried. Our home in Salem sold too fast and we were confronted with a month-long gap between being homeowners in Oregon and apartment dwellers in Valencia. Fortunately, Jamie’s sister and her husband graciously offered to let the seven of us crash at their house in Pewaukee, WI. But there was still one small barrier to overcome, a 2,090 mile road trip.

First, I want to make it clear, it’s been a wonderful time here in Wisconsin. Reconnecting with family – siblings, nieces and nephews, and extended family members has been wonderful. And I’ve had a month to be a tourist in Wisconsin – enjoying all the beauties the state has on offer.

Getting here involved four long days in the car, but the drive gave me important information about my pets’ travel tolerance. Which is pretty darned high. I learned that a 14-hour day in the car is just a bonanza of quality lap time for our cats.

It’s Time for the Next Leg

Now that our month in Wisconsin is about up and with the mellow experience of a four-day road trip behind us, it’s time to focus on phase two of our Spanish migration journey – the airplane ride.

And from my current perspective, the trip to Pewaukee had a couple of unanticipated benefits.

  • Flying non-stop from Chicago to Barcelona is hours and hours shorter than any flight we could have booked from Portland, Oregon.
  • The record heat wave the West Coast is experiencing would have forced us to postpone our journey because airlines do not transport pets when temperatures exceed 85 degrees, Fahrenheit.

One thing I learned during the road trip is that for our pets, no matter where we go, all’s well, as long as we go there together. However, this flight segment of the trip is going to be different. We aren’t traveling together. Oh sure, we’ll all be on the same plane, but the peeps are going to be up top and the pets will be in steerage.

So, my new worry is, how can I ensure their comfort when we have to be apart during an 8 hour flight and the additional ground time at each end?

Jamie and I always marveled that our dog, Lizzie, seemed to go into “suspended animation” when we weren’t at home – in Salem. She isn’t nearly as comfortable here in Wisconsin. She’s such a timid thing. Will we set back all the confidence we’ve encouraged and reinforced ever since we adopted our thrice-abandoned dog? Will the cats come out with the same easy-going personalities?

Talking to Animals
by John Katz

Talking to Animals by John Katz

By better understanding animal instincts, recognizing they are not mere reflections of our own human emotions and neuroses, we can help them live happily in our shared world.

Read a sample or check your library

With this journey weighing heavily on my mind, Talking to Animals by Jon Katz jumped off the library shelf at me. This book is filled with stories of successful communications with his animals through visualization of desired outcomes. He says that “what we are thinking, feeling, wearing, or intending is important…is a fundamental part of the way we will communicate”.

I’ve always been a verbal person with pets, for example, I found myself explaining hotel etiquette to the cats while we were on the road. (Lizzie, our dog, is well schooled.) However, visualization as a communication tool with animals is new to me. I think it makes sense. Upon reflection, I think the cats were probably picking up my tone and behaviors more than my words during our Miss Manners moments.

As we embark on our next stage, I want my furry friends to know that when we leave them at airport cargo that we will see each other again in a few hours. I want them to be calm, to rest, to be safe in their crates and to go into suspended animation. I want them to feel our protective love and know that we’ll be there to collect them when we resume our journey together. Together – apart- together. I will visualize us being together again and again and hope that provides the comfort they need for this strange journey.

Share this Post


  1. Hola!
    I have enjoyed reading your blog. We are in the process of moving to Girona, Spain. (Catalunya!). We also got our non-lucrative visa from out counsultate (MIami) in record time, but once we arrived in Girona things have ground to a screeching halt when we tried to register with the “Comsariar General de Extranjeria y Documentación”. Wondered if you had any trouble with this?

    1. Hola back Ami,
      I’m glad to hear that you enjoy GentleCycle. However,sorry to hear that you have come up short in your recent encounter with Spanish bureaucracy. We hired a facilitator to help us negotiate the registration procedures when we first arrived. To be honest our Spanish language skills weren’t up to the task of either understanding what needed doing nor actually accomplishing the task. So we didn’t have any trouble at all.

      You didn’t say what your particular problem is, but I recommend you check with the SpainGuru Facebook group . The community there seems to have discovered solutions to most immigration issues.

  2. Just discovering this “blog” and SO happy that I don’t have to miss you as much as I thought … I feel we all can share your journey. I’ve heard about visualizing with pets … Frank has often projected a “thought” into Zuma’s brain and noticed his behavior would echo something about what he was trying to project! Fascinating. Makes sense — dogs think in images since they have no words.

  3. Wishing you a safe and easy trip, and hoping your critters will visualize your reunion, too. Adored Spain; hope it checks off all the boxes for you as well.

  4. I love how you have gone straight to the “elephant in the room” here. This is every Mom and Dad’s biggest fear…will my babies panic? Will we all arrive ok? What can I do? I ???? your practical answer. Thank you! Buen

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.