Livestock Guarding Dogs

CCF’s LGDs EmBARK on an International Journey

  • by Dionne Stein October 29, 2021
CCF’s LGDs EmBARK on an International Journey
Tim Cruser, Come Sit Stay, Dionne Stein, CCF, and the incredible Dr. Julie Hayes

In May 2021, I received a request from our founder and Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Marker to take on a very special, “special” project. We needed to bring a female Kangal puppy to our Centre in Namibia from Denver, Colorado in the USA. This new dog would help bolster CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog (LGD) program by adding a new bloodline to our breeding efforts. The waiting list of farmers wanting LGDs is approximately two years long. We were given the funds to purchase two new dogs by Wilhelma Zoo in Germany. Once the female arrived safely I would be repeating the process and sending a male puppy too.

And so the learning adventure began!

This was a complex project, with many logistical problems to tackle. I thought once we got the logistics figured out on the first go round, it would be much easier for the second dog. This was true for the regular list of tasks and concerns that needed to be accomplished in regards to just managing the dog’s health and wellbeing.

  • Negotiating with breeders
  • Managing boarding and proper socialization
  • Arranging and scheduling veterinary care
  • Obtaining local and International permits, health certificates and paperwork
  • Scheduling animal transportation – ground and airfare (regionally and globally)
  • Scheduling human transportation to accompany the dogs for the full journey

Shifting COVID regulations and precautions implemented by the airlines and the countries the dog would be traveling through added another dimension to the process. I benefited greatly during the project, by the expertise of multiple veterinarians and zoo staff, U.S. Government agencies, and officials at the Ministry of Agriculture Water & Land Reform in Namibia. Collaboration with an array of wonderful CCF friends and administrators. On the internal side, I worked very closely with Calum O’Flaherty, CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog and Small Stock Manager and Dr. Laurie Marker.

Gary Serfoss is a Kangal dog breeder we worked with to get the new LGD puppies
CCF Colorado Chapter

Finding a Breeder

Fortunately, we were introduced to a Kangal dog breeder in Colorado that was very close to my home. Gary Serfoss came to us through an introduction by Tamara Taylor of Taylor Farms in Era Texas, who generously donated two dogs to the LGD program back in 2016. This bloodline of the Kangal breed is new to our program. We’ve bred and placed Anatolian shepherds on Namibian farms since CCF’s LGD program began in 1994. The new puppies were born in the spring. The female puppy was born on March 10th and the male on May 14th.These two puppies will bring a new genetic profile and bloodline to keep CCF’s LGD program going strong.

Before the puppies were 12 weeks old I welcomed them into my home to get them ready to travel. It is very important for them to be properly socialized and from 8 to 12 weeks It is an important time for growth and development. I introduced the puppies to the dogs at my home on an individual basis. We took the dogs for walks outside the property, allowing everyone to meet on neutral territory.

Once they were each past 12 weeks old and were fully vaccinated, we made sure to allow them to have interaction with other dogs on walks and at parks. The puppies were quick learners. They are very smart, inquisitive, and curious, traits which will go a long way in helping them to do a good job in their new roles.

Dionne enjoys walking with dog friends

Finding a Veterinarian

We had a unique set of criteria in finding a vet to care for the puppies. The veterinarian had to be a registered USDA APHIS Certified Vet and someone who would take on the responsibility of completing all the international paperwork. After vetting out literally 20+ veterinarians within a 400 mile radius, we finally found the perfect veterinary office. Tim Cruser is the founder of a pet resort called Come Sit Stay in Parker, Colorado where he specializes in international pet shipping! The icing on the cake was the relationship that Tim Cruser has with Dr. Julie Hayes (DVM), APHIS Certified and Owner of Parker Animal Hospital. Thanks to Tim, we had the amazing great fortune to be introduced to Dr. Hayes, who was our match made in veterinary heaven.

The bloodwork requirements were tricky and there were five tests to be completed. Kansas State University and Texas A&M were equipped to perform 4 out of the 5 tests. There are only two labs in the world (Japan and Belgium) that are equipped and able to perform the fifth test for Trypanosoma Evansi. Fortunately, the USDA accepted the vet’s official report that the United States of America is considered free of Trypanosoma Evansi, and so did Namibia. We were very relieved to not have to pay the exorbitantly high fee for that test, or worry about the results.

The commute to the vets office was done in three separate visits. It was a long journey for these little pups to and from the vets office and my home, as it is a 2.5 hour trip each way. The transport training was also vital to helping both dogs get comfortable traveling in crates, as they would need to be comfortable for many hours on their journeys to Africa.

Dionne with Dionne before travelling begins

Flying the Puppies

Booking flights for the dogs and their human travel companions during a pandemic was very difficult. When we began making the arrangements we became concerned that flights between the USA and Africa would be cancelled. Flights for animals out of Africa into the US were already shut down.

Originally the female dog Dionne, was booked to fly on a pet friendly cargo flight arranged by Come Sit Stay in Parker Colorado. However, after researching flights on Lufthansa and Ethiopian, we discovered that both of the airlines offered flights for a pet that is accompanied by a person, at a much lower rate. The savings were substantial to send the dogs with people.

We enlisted the help of CCF travel agent Karen Hopff, who is a travel consultant with New Horizons Travel. Karen was able to book the flight for Brian Badger, CCF’s Director of Conservation and Outreach, who would be the person accompanying the puppy. She was able to get a great rate on the ticket, but she couldn’t book the “pet”, yet. Booking the pet with Lufthansa had to be done between midnight and 4 a.m. Colorado time (Who needs sleep anyways?). So after many attempts, I finally reserved a spot as a “pet on hold” with Brian Badger.

A dog must be no more than 32kg (70lbs) to fly under first class, in a temperature controlled cargo area. You have to provide the exact measurements of the crate, and the crate can not be larger than the XL series 500 size crate. The puppy was growing fast and with a weight gain of 1.5 lbs, and growth of 1.5 inches or more per week! We were starting to wonder if she was going to be able to fly at all! On the day that Brian flew out with Dionne, she weighed…crate and all, 70.5 lbs!

On flight day, Lufthansa confirmed the female puppy’s flight reservation, and we are very thankful that the excess charge was very reasonable. We got very lucky and had a great gate agent! It varies with every booking, but CCF saved $3000 by flying Lufthansa and sending her as a pet with a human companion, instead of sending her by pet cargo.

Once a laminated doggie identification with a pictured ID, along with details of who to contact both here and in Namibia, if anything was needed. After the crate was weighed with the dog in it, he also added crate papers (pee pads) for travel. We assembled the frozen dog waters and taped the food to the top of the crate. He accompanied us through the TSA, and he made sure we had the opportunity to stop by a relief station before sending the puppy on her flight.

The female puppy had one layover in Frankfurt where she was put into the pet lounge (Yes, Frankfurt Airport has a pet lounge) and then she made the final leg of her journey to Namibia. CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog Education Officer, Gebhardt Nikanor, picked Brian and the puppy up at Windhoek International Airport, just outside customs. The four hour drive to the Centre was the final leg of the journey.

Filling out paperwork in preparation for travel
Brian Badger and Dionne at CCF in Namibia

Naming the Puppies

Dave Johnson of Katie Adamson Conservation Fund (KACF), named the female puppy “Dionne” in honor of my survival of cancer in 2020! I am deeply honored and humbled to have had the female puppy be named after me. It inextricably tied me with a uniquely beautiful and meaningful bond to these dogs, and to this program that I have had the great privilege to be part of.

The Wilhelma Zoo in Germany named the male puppy “Oonkundo” which means “Strong” in Oshiwambo, spoken by the Ovambo. The zoo had the honor to name this puppy because of their great generosity with a grant for funding both of the dogs’ transport to Namibia. We had a Colorado CCF Chapter Meeting to thank Dave Johnson (KACF) and introduce him to Oonkondo before he departed for Africa.

Special Thanks

Dr. Julie HayesOwner Parker Animal Hospital
Aphis and USDA Veterinarian

Tim Cruser Founder Come. Sit. Stay. in Parker, CO
IPATA Member, USDA Licensed, TSA Certified, USA Certified in IATA-Live Animal Regulations (LAR)

Donna Stollar – Come. Sit. Stay.
IPATA Member, USDA Licensed, TSA Certified, USA Certified in IATA-Live Animal Regulations (LAR)

Katherine Alexandra BoleskyCCF Intern from Oregon

Dr. Lisa EskridgeOwner Eskridge Animal Hospital

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