REPORT FROM TINA'S AND MAJ'S JOURNEY TO CRUFTS
Friday 6.3.04 - Departure 14.05
11.35 Tina and I by car to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.
11.50 Arrival at airport..A suitcase had been left at home. I fetch it by car.
12.15 Christa Tolvanen calls Tina from the vet's. Her (Christa's) signature had been omitted by mistake from a certain spot on Maj's certificate and she hoped this would not complicate things.
12.25 They call Tina on her mobile from Finnair Cargo to request where the heck Maj is? It appears that Maj is not allowed to travel as normally with the luggage in the stowage space. London being the destination, you have to use flight freight instead. This information was not offered when the tickets were ordered, as indeed not either when tickets were taken out. Instead full price for luggage carried in the stowage space was debited up front. To meet requirements for flight freight Maj should have been there two hours before start, that is 12.05.
12.30 Tina by car with Maj and cage to Finnair Cargo. This building is far away from the passenger terminal. To have the matter fixed takes over an hour, causing an increasing nervousness among those waiting (Kirsi, Liisa and I) in the passenger terminal. The price already paid for Maj's transport is credited to Tina on her return to the passenger terminal, since Cargo had charged their own, still higher price.
13.30 I am back at home.
13.45 Tina calls to ask if I have her boarding card. I do not. After a more thorough search it is found among Maj's documents. At this stage Tina is pretty nervous since take off is due any minute.
Around 19 in the evening Tina calls to tell that she has arrived, but Maj is nowhere to be found. Nobody can give any advice about where to look for her, not Finnairs staff, not British Airways, not the information stand, nobody from Heathrow's personnel, not even the police. NOBODY. She runs through the tunnels in search. Falls and hits her knee. Gets first aid, but still not a hint where to look for Maj. Heathrow shown in the documentary series on TV is very far from real life, which is dramatic enough. But the officials are definitely no heroes.
At eight o'clock I call Tina. Still no knowledge of Maj. I call Finnair in Finland, another nightmare experience on a Friday night. After a Dialing game (dial 1 if you, etc.) it appears that I am welcome back next day at office hours. After another Dialing Game, in which no alternative is even remotely equivalent to the options suggested, I finally find a live end friendly person who promises to find out from Cargo what has happened. After 17 minutes (á 1,60 euros) I get an address where Maj should be found: Cargo Terminal, Building 582, Sundringham Road, handling agent Menzies. The use of a taxi was recommended.
20.30 I forward the new information to Tina, who meanwhile has managed to get almost the same information plus a bus number. She also tells that the carriage to Maj's cage did not arrive, as did not either the smaller cage intended for Kirsi's pup to be fetched from England.
21.30 I call Tina. She and Liisa are now in a cab. The right place it still to be found. They have already once been in the building, in which Maj ought to have been on the side of the wall, but it was still not the correct place to receive the dog.
21.40 I call Nerolie in England, who has heard something about the situation and who wants to have Tina's phone number. She suggests that Tina and Liisa stay overnight at her place, since there will be no more trains to Birmingham that night.
22.30 I call Tina. MAJ HAS NOW BEEN FOUND, but stamps must be collected from different places in other buildings, all separately situated customs, quarantine and so on. Before delivery.
24.00 I call Tina. Maj lies finally in her lap, in the taxi. The absence of Christa's signature from Maj's vetrinary certificate, the only foreseen problem, had presented no difficulty. They have almost arrived at Nerolie's home, but the taxi has difficulties in finding its way, there are no street names anywhere. At last they reach the right place.
12.00 Tina calls. Tells that the small cage and the carriage never showed at Heathrow's.
14.00 In Helsinki I attend the burial of one of my best friends from childhood.
20.00 I call Tina. She and Liisa arrive at Birmingham to the Formula 1 Hotel. It is closed, but easier to enter than what was the case in Paris. Tina's handbag had been left at Nerolie's, but Nerolie will take it with her to Crufts, Liisa lent money for the train.
14.30 I call Tina and learn that the show had gone down the drains for Maj. The arrangers had contrary to whar had been stated in the entry form put Maj down as a dog. They were apt, however, to join the theory of her being a bitch when they saw her, and allowed her to change class. As a result of that, she was the last one to be judged in her correct class. After assessment on the table the judge had not so much as looked her. At Crufts they don't either give you any written assessments, so any opinion the judge may have had, remained his secret. We calculated that Maj had been, on Friday, 10 hours in a row in her cage and obviously did not get water even after arrival, since she was clearly dehydrated. I told Tina that we all were well at home. I had taken all the dogs for a walk, but grandma Dessi had been content with just half the usual distance.
19.30 the dogs' evening meal. Dessi does not eat. Lately she has left one of the two daily meals uneaten. In the morning she had eaten normally.
20.00 Ove has his weekly sauna. Of the dogs, only Eva joins him.
21. Evening tea and TV.
22.30 Time for bed. In the bedroom Dessi lies limply on the floor with her legs spread out. She is breathing with her eyes open, but feels frightfully cold. To try to warm her up in the bed brings no result. Futile calls to the vet clinic's emergency unit getting only disgusting music in the phone. Calling taxi and leaving with Dessi in a blanket. Dessi dies in her master's lap. In the clinic her death is confirmed, at this stage without a diagnosis of the cause.
23.00 a sorrowful call to Tina from the clinic and we agree that Dessi may stay for autopsy. Staff allows Dessi to be kept there. The blanket can be fetched later on.
Departure from Birmingham by train. Station personnel tells Tina that she needs not travel all the way to London, but can debark earlier and proceed by bus to Heathrow. The train does stop at the intended halt, but the doors stay shut and nobody can get out. So, all passengers have to go on to London Euston. However, the train staff finds out that something went wrong and transported, on own initiative and in first class, those missing the chance at the first effort, back to the original halt. But there the bus driver refuses to take on the cage, the dog however is allowed. Tina suggests that the cage is fold in and put in the luggage compartment. It appears that the bus does not contain a luggage department. But a taxi has.
Although the train left Birmingham early enough, the detour means less time to look for the lost luggage in Heathrow. The small cage is found and the travel of Kirsi's pup is secured. In this direction, the means of transport for Maj surprisingly is as goods in the stowage space and not as flight freight!
At 21 o'clock meeting up at Helsinki -Vantaa. Jamppe, Konsta and Anu are there, waiting for Kirsi.
The plane is 20 minutes late, but arrives 21.25.
21.35. Kirsi calls Jamppe that they are on their way, once Tina has fetched her rucksack, which she left in the cabin
21.45. The group arrives along with the dogs. Also the pup had had to travel in the stowage space, contrary to what had been promised (in the cabin). The small box had, luckily, been found but the carriage never surfaced.
21.55. The parking stick does not elevate in spite of all efforts to pay. But by withdrawing the ticket by force, it lifts.
22.10. Back home.
The mail brings a letter, which is full of advertisement relating to Crufts and products to be sold there
Towards the end of March Dessi's autopsy report arrives. She died from a hemorrhage stemming from cancer in the spleen. The blanket and the collar was lost together with Dessi, someone had helped him- or herself to it in the clinic.
Starting April 5th it is possible to ask Finnair for compensation for the lost carriage. Some other matters worth compensation spring to mind.
Otherwise everything went well and two weeks after Crufts Maj has recovered enough to be BOB in the international show in Tampere, and later on, in summer getting Best in Show in Oslo among 45 Manchester Terriers an an English judge. This gives some comfort but Maj's and Dessi's mistress and master will carry a scar forever in their souls as a result of the experience. Tina has promised herself never again to travel by air with a dog to England.