Barney Pug’s Journey to the Big Apple.Barney Pug had his suspicions early on. The big cardboard boxes that started to appear in the hallway, slowly swelling with contents of the room that were written on them – ‘living room’, ‘books & DVDs’, ‘fragile: kitchenware’, ‘bedroom and miscellaneous’ – were a definite give away that something was happening.
After two weeks of the boxes’ arrival, all that was left in the front room of the flat was his dog bed and a few puffs of dust. The two suitcases that stood sentry-like by the front door were equally curious.
Barney’s owners were a handsome young couple who liked to trawl the Battersea Car Boot fair on Sundays, and in the early hours of every evening would take him for walks along the river. They lived in an old Victorian building on a quiet street tucked just behind the Battersea Power Station. Barney had been rescued from Battersea Dogs’ home, which was not quite far away enough for his liking. He had made it clear that that particular part of the neighbourhood was not incorporated into his walk.
Barney was a lucky pug. His human father worked from home, the quiet tapping of keys under his fingers a lulling drone which kept Barney dozy during the day. He liked to lie under the desk as sunlight radiated through the window, shrinking until it was just a spot of brightness on his fur. His human mother worked at a school and came home every afternoon smelling of paint and sugar. He couldn’t understand now why they had hidden away all the things in the flat. This was not a part of the routine. The rooms seemed twice the size without the furniture and Barney, not being especially big in the first place, felt rather small in comparison.
They had been talking a lot lately about ‘New York’. Barney was unsure what a ‘New York’ was. Maybe it was a person who was coming to visit? Perhaps this new person would be good at river walks. Barney wagged his tail at the mention of the words.
“See?” His owners said to each other, “he loves the sound of it!”
One morning a man came to the flat. Barney watched from the front window as the man got out of a van that said John Mason International in large blue letters on its side. Barney jumped up and down as his owners and the man exchanged ‘hellos’ and shook hands. The man bent down to pat Barney.
“Hello Barney,” the man said,“hear you’re going on an adventure soon!” He scratched Barney behind the ears and Barney snorted appreciatively. Barney wasn’t too sure of what an adventure was but he thought (and hoped) that maybe it was a very big walk.
Soon nothing was left in the flat. The man had taken all the boxes and loaded them into the big van outside. Barney’s claws echoed on the wooden floors as he checked every room.
That evening his owners sat with Barney on the blow-up mattress they were now sleeping on. “You’re going to be a New York dog soon.” His human mother told him. “You’re going to go from here in London, all the way to here – America.” She drew an imaginary line on the duvet from one end of the mattress to the other. His human father laughed. “He might pick up the accent.” He gently waggled Barney’s jowls and said in a funny voice “you talkin’ to me?”
Barney was worried. He knew what America was from all the Netflix programmes his owners watched, he hadn’t known that New York was a place there. Would there be a river in New York? Would there be chips? He was always given chips on Fridays which was ‘fish and chip dinner’ night. Barney whined and licked his lips. Thinking of chips had made him hungry. “Don’t be scared Barney!” His human father said, “we’ve made sure you’ll be in the very best of hands to help move you.”
The following morning a car pulled up outside the flat. Barney trotted to the window. A woman got out of the car carrying a plastic travel crate and walked to the front door. Barney skittered across the wood floor to greet her. His owners opened the door and shook the lady’s hand. “Hello, I’m here from John Mason Pet Relocation services.”
“This is Barney.” His human father said. The lady crouched down so she could meet Barney properly. “Hello, Barney!” She patted his head. “I’m here to help you get to New York.”
Barney backed away from her. He wasn’t ready to leave his home just yet, he hadn’t decided if he actually wanted to live in America. “It’s alright Barney,” said the woman encouragingly, “you’re going to be a hit with everyone at the kennel.”
His human mother picked him up and gave him a kiss. “Be a good boy Barney. We’ll see you in a few days in New York.” She placed a treat into the plastic crate and Barney rushed in after it, suddenly forgetting what he had been worried about. He heard the click of the crate door being closed and felt himself rising off the floor. The lady was carrying him out of the flat and down the steps towards the car. Barney began to cry. The lady gently put the crate in the back of the car. She told him not to worry and pushed another treat though a space in the crate’s door. Barney tried to get a glimpse of his owners, of his flat, of the place he had known his entire life. But the car was already pulling away from the street and joining the traffic that would take them all the way to Heathrow.
After an hour they finally arrived at the kennels next to Heathrow Airport. Barney wobbled in the crate as he was carried from the car across a small parking lot. He pushed his nose against the door of the crate trying to sniff out where he was. Inside, the kennel was bright and large. It smelt of dog and…cat? Barney’s nose wiggled, he was getting excited- it was always a novelty to see a cat. The crate door creaked open. The woman from the car was sitting on the floor in front of him with her arms out.
“Come on out Barney!” Barney stepped carefully out of the crate. There were a few people bent at the waist, looking down and smiling at him.
“I just love pugs!”
“What a good boy!”
Barney waggled his bottom. If this was New York he was happy to stay! The woman picked him up and Barney gave her a lick on her cheek. She laughed and carried him through to another room with lots of large cages. She opened the door to one and put Barney inside.“In you pop Barney.” She told him and lowered him onto a little dog bed. There was a water dish and another dish filled with dog food. Barney immediately ate his supper. He had had quite an adventure already and was feeling very tired. He plopped down on the little bed and fell asleep.
He woke sometime in the early morning to the sound of dogs barking. A man in a long white coat came and opened the door to his cage. Barney had been around the block enough to know that long white coats were worn by veterinarians. He whined as the vet opened the cage door.
“Morning Barney! Are you excited to fly today?” The man rubbed Barney under his chin. “Your owners already flew yesterday and are going to be at the other end in New York to pick you up.” Barney licked the man’s hand. He didn’t know what any of that meant but anticipated more treats. The man put Barney back into his travel crate. There was only water in the dish this time. “Sorry Barney,” the man said, “I’m afraid it’s no food for you until you’re in America. Hey, maybe you’ll have a hot dog!” Barney wondered what a hot dog was, although he himself had been a hot dog after many a walk. With a resolute click, the crate door was locked and Barney was on the move again. The vet carried the crate out of the kennel and into the parking lot where a car was waiting.
“Safe travels!” Said the man, and put the crate on the passenger side. The driver waved goodbye to the vet and the car pulled out of the lot and headed to the international terminal. Barney was lifted out of the car and taken inside the airport. He tried to watch through the bars of the crate as it swung gently back-and-forth as the driver took Barney towards the animal transportation area of the airport.
“Good boy Barney.” The driver said as he placed Barney on the tarmac near the airplane that was waiting to be filled with passengers. Barney had a brief chance to watch people climbing up the staircase, manoeuvring their luggage and handbags as they disappeared into the body of the plane. Before he had time to wonder where he would be going next, a pair of hands lifted his crate off the ground and carefully carried him into the special cargo compartment in the belly of the plane.
It was dark inside and there were rows of crates and boxes secured to the floor. Suddenly the plane began to rumble. He felt the plane slowly move and turn, a boom of rising sound filling the compartment. Barney felt his paws vibrate; he crouched down in the crate and shut his eyes, waiting for the noise to stop. With a sudden lurch, the plane lifted off the ground and sailed into the sky. Barney kept his eyes firmly closed. It was too dark to really see anything interesting outside of the crate and he didn’t fancy being awake for any more loud noises. He soon fell asleep, snoring gently.
When Barney woke up he was outside on the tarmac. He pressed his face to the crate door, hoovering up smells through his nose, trying to determine if what he was smelling was the smell of New York. His crate and other cargo from the plane were transferred from the tarmac to the arrival terminal of JFK Airport. Once inside the building, Barney sniffed, desperate to get a whiff of his owners. He watched the crowds through the gaps in his crate, hoping to see them. Suddenly a pair of hands opened the crate door. A lady in a blue uniform smiled down at him.
“Hey, there little guy!” She said and filled up his water dish and poured some dog biscuits into the other. Barney was too nervous to eat. Where was his family? He whined softly. “Don’t worry,” the lady told him, “your mom and dad will be here to get you any minute now.” Barney licked her hand. She gave him a scratch behind his folded ear and then closed the crate door. Barney was alone again. He watched the crowds nervously.
Soon he heard the familiar voice of his human mother. “Barney!” She called out as she navigated her way through the passing droves of people in the terminal. Barney wiggled his entire body, he was so happy to see her.
“Oh, Barney darling!” She said and opened the crate door. Barney sprung into her arms. She laughed as she cuddled him, craning her head as he covered her cheek with slobbery kisses. His human father appeared soon after, saying he had sorted out Barney’s transport papers at the desk and they were ready to leave. “Hello, little man!” He said. “I bet you had a better flight than we did!” Barney couldn’t remember the flight, he had spent the entirety of it snoozing.
They headed out of the terminal, the sky a clear American blue. Barney had never seen so much sunshine before, he squinted against the glare. In the car, he sat in the back seat, his front paws on the door handle. New York was huge! Roads like giant grey snakes criss-crossed around each other, big cars speeding along them with flashes of yellow taxis weaving in-and-out of the traffic. A large bridge loomed into view, its cables like the threads of a monstrous metal spider. They passed over the bridge and into Manhattan. The streets began to narrow and the building stretched thinly into the sky. Barney had never seen so many big buildings. He craned his little neck up to get a better look. Soon they parked on a tree-lined street with rows of red brick buildings that had wide concrete steps leading up to their entrances.
“Home Barney!” his human father said. Barney bounded up the steps, tripping a little as he went, his legs were used to the short Victorian doorsteps of the old flat. Inside the apartment was small but bright, with all the old familiar furniture arranged in new rooms. The boxes were there, as was Barney’s dog basket. He rushed to it and began to bark. He was so happy to be in his new home. “Wait until you see outside Barney!” his human mother said, “You’re going to love Central Park.”
They took him for a walk, heading down their street in the direction of the park. Barney stopped to sniff at fire hydrants, at thin trunked trees growing out of square slaps of concrete in the pavement. He trotted ahead of his owners, intoxicated by the new smells of the city. They passed a hot dog vender once they got into Central Park. His owners bought three hot dogs and sat on a bench, tearing off little bits of the third one to pass to Barney. Barney gobbled down the juicy pink bits of meat. So this was a hot dog!
A big collie dog walked past, his owner a smart looking lady with strappy heels. The collie woofed a hello at Barney and Barney barked back. The collie’s ears pricked up straight as triangles when he heard Barney – and he cocked his head as if to say ‘you’re not from around here are ya pal?’
They finished their hot dogs and threw the crinkled silver foils into a trash can. The dog park was a large grassy area surrounded by a metal fence. There were lots of dogs – big dogs, medium dogs, little dogs. Some were chasing tennis balls, some were chasing each other. Barney’s owners sat on a bench inside and let Barney off his lead.
His human father produced a ball from his pocket and threw it over Barney’s head and it sailed in an arch towards a group of trees. “Go get it, boy!” Barney raced after the ball, little snorts bursting from his mouth as he ran. He reached the trees and started sniffing furiously. Sniff sniff sniff. He turned in circles, nose to the ground. Suddenly he heard a little woof. Barney looked up. A little black pug was looking at him, her front paw resting on top of the ball. Barney wiggled the curl of his tail. He had never met another pug before! The little black pug grabbed the ball in her mouth and began to run, glancing back at Barney to make sure he was chasing her. They played together until they were both worn out, panting and stretched out on the grass.
“Penny!” A young couple was waving at them. The little black pug barked back in reply. Barney’s owners were off the bench now, heading towards the dogs. Barney and Penny plodded slowly towards their owners, little Q tails in a disappointed droop. They weren’t ready to leave each other yet. The couples were shaking hands and introducing themselves.
“Actually we just moved here from London, this is our first proper day in the City.” Said his human father. “Well hey, are you a Yankees fan?” Penny’s human father replied. “I’ve always wanted to hear someone say that in real life!” They all laughed.
“You guys have to come over for dinner;” the woman said, ‘and bring Barney too! Penny would love a boyfriend.” Barney woofed and waggled his entire little body. He would love a girlfriend!
Later that evening the couples shared a bottle of champagne on the terrace of the Barking Dog, a dog-friendly cafe that had tables outside overlooking the bustle of 3rd Avenue in central Manhattan.
“To Barney and Penny!” They cheered.
The sun was starting to creep down behind the New York skyline, light crashing off the glass of the skyscrapers and flooding the city with an orange glow. Barney sat with his back leaning against his human mother’s leg, panting happily. Penny sat beside him, their wet paws touching. Earlier they had played together in the cafe’s doggy fountain and now they were enjoying the cool of the evening breeze. He listened to the gentle murmur of the chatting behind him and watched the sun disappear behind a large, needle-tipped building. He thought of London and felt a pang of sadness. But as he felt the warmth of Penny’s body next to his and as the sounds of New York rose in an unfamiliar symphony around his ears he waggled his tail a little harder, knowing there would be new adventures to come as he began his life as a little pug in the Big City.
For more information on how John Mason International can help you move your four legged friends, please visit our dedicated John Mason International Pet Relocation Website.