The hardest thing about moving Patch across the South Pacific Ocean was that we had no idea how she was feeling when she was in transit. Sedation is not practiced because the animal can’t regulate their core temperature properly, so Patch was fully awake, fully aware, and extremely vocal when I put her in her crate.
She did not like the fact that she didn’t get breakfast that day, and as soon as we got into the car to go to the airport, she made the biggest and most foul-smelling poop, and smeared it all over herself and her bedding (which was made up of an old jacket and old t-shirt belonging to James – we tried to fill her crate with familiar smells).
So by the time we arrived at the main office of the pet moving people, her toes, her stomach, her tail, all were covered in bits of poop. The pet moving guy was really accommodating, and he wiped her down before he moved her to a cat run. At this point, I looked at Patch, and she looked straight back at me and cried out so loudly that I winced, noticeably, and then I felt like the worst person. The worst.
She had no idea what was going on. Telling her that she was going to go to “our new home, Patch! You’re going to Florida! It’ll be so exciting! You can chase squirrels!”, was only marginally comforting to myself, and zero comfort to her. All she knew was that she was in a cage in a strange room with strange smells.
I’ll tell you now that if you’re not flying with your pet to their intended destination, the worst thing is the roller-coaster of emotions you’ll experience when you drop your pet off for their flight. Especially if your pet does a stress poop, and wails non-stop while traveling to the airport, like mine did.
Interestingly, if you are planning to take your pet with you to the USA, and you are flying with your pet (domestically, between states), they are allowed to fly with you, like, actually with you, in a crate, under your seat (provided that it is a well-behaved pet). During my 8 hour transit at LAX, I saw many dog owners and a handful of cat owners, waiting to board their domestic flights! Their pets were so good! They didn’t poop, or cry, or make a fuss!
I was super disappointed that the person sitting next to me on my flight from LAX to Orlando did not have a pet under their seat. Super disappointed.
Patch took a while to adjust to Gainesville. She spent the first few weeks hiding in the bathroom, behind the toilet. Which is fair enough; it was the quietest, darkest, and smallest space she could find, and that made her felt a little bit safer than walking around in an empty lounge.
The insects were bigger (which frightened her), she’d never encountered squirrels in New Zealand (squirrels also frightened her), there were lots of dogs in our apartment complex (again, frightening), people on bikes (so scary), contractors fixing stuff on the sides of the apartment buildings (loud noises, scary stuff) and the apartment probably smelled like a bajillion other pets that used to live here before us (the worst, strange smells, don’t like it, gonna hide behind the toilet).
But we got there in the end.
It’s been almost 3 months since she first set foot in Gainesville, and she’s finally back to her normal old Princess self. Overly dramatic, incredibly chatty, demanding, smelly poops.
And she still doesn’t do the dishes or pay rent.
Fall Semester starts this coming Monday, and last week we saw the immediate change in atmosphere around town. There was a buzz. A buzz of new intakes. A buzz of fraternity boys and sorority girls doing fraternity/sorority-type hazings (we watched 30 young girls cycle along the main 6-lane road in nothing but their bras and panties last night, it was eye-opening). Permanent UF staff were looking more harassed than ever, and traffic in general was more congested.
Our first college semester experience is about to begin!
I’m secretly excited about game days, because I’ve never experienced an American football game before, and especially not one that’s played in a college town. It will be fun because all we have going for us is Blue Mountain State:
So you know, we have expectations.
Yesterday I decided to take the long way to James’ work place, and rode around Lake Alice. It was just past high noon, so I wasn’t expecting the lake to be teeming with wildlife (aside from the turtles, who hang around waiting for humans ALL the time). I parked my bike up, took out my camera, and put on my Tourist Face.
The turtles were friendlier than ever, but surprisingly territorial towards each other! The bigger ones always chased the littler ones away. Some of the more algae-covered turtles were constantly accosted by little fish pecking at their shells.
The lake perfectly reflected its surroundings, so I had lots of fun taking photos of turtles swimming in the clouds:
After about half an hour of crouching down and taking photos of turtles, I stood up, and saw something coming straight at me from the middle of the lake:
In my head, I was going “ADSDFFHGSADFSGAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!”
So this is what it was like for wildebeests in the wild at the watering holes. Mixed feelings of anxiety, fear, doom. I was a wildebeest. An Asian wildebeest with a camera. I instinctively looked around to see if there was anybody close by that could possibly act as a witness for the police, when they eventually discover my half eaten body.
To be completely honest, I think it was more wary of me than I was of it.
But in my head I was still going, “ADSDFFHGSADFSGAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!”
Especially when, at one point, it did that thing that alligators and crocodiles do, you know, the diving-under-the-water-and-slowly-creeping-up-closer thing that everyone has seen on TV, right before it leaps up to choke out the
Asian with the camera wildebeest.
By now, I had retreated back onto higher ground, giving the alligator a wide berth. When it swam up closer to the bank, I saw that it had a big wound under its left eye; a turtle dinner gone wrong maybe? or a scrap with another gator? It was a young gator, its head about the length of my forearm.
Anyway, it must’ve decided that I wasn’t worth the risk, because shortly after this photo was taken, it turned around, whipped its tail a couple of times, and headed back out to the lake.
And that was my first encounter with a Floridian Alligator.
Thank you, Lake Alice. I had fun shitting my pants.
Discovering new wildlife in our backyard is a whole lot of fun; maybe even more fun than marveling at the endearing Southern accents and social etiquettes of Floridians (I still get all flustered when people address me as “ma’am”).
There are cute brown anoles (I think people might just call them house lizards?) hanging around all the time, doing their lizard parkour on the sides of buildings and on bicycle wheels. Turtles come in all shapes and sizes and are plentiful in the lakes.
We also see flocks of water birds fly over from time to time. They hang out around the lakes and marshlands, looking fanciful with their long necks.
There are two resident squirrels that live on our apartment grounds. They come out every morning to forage and chase each other around. Naturally, we went a little crazy and bought a giant block of “Squirrel Cake” that we found at Lowe’s, which basically consisted of corn kernels, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
We wanted to make new friends and Squirrel Cake was obviously the best way of enticing the squirrels to come onto our balcony. If I were a squirrel, I would want to eat Squirrel Cake. It sounds devine.
Unfortunately they never came, and ultimately, we resorted to throwing handfuls of Squirrel Cake every other day at the squirrels from our 3rd floor balcony, while yelling “EAT IT! EAT IT!”
Our neighbours must tell their friends horror stories about the crazy couple in their apartment complex who periodically throw corn at the cute and innocent squirrels.
Or the crazy couple that ran downstairs late one night to follow an opossum around the shared garden area.
Or the crazy couple that talk to the house lizards living in the shrubs while encouraging them to “open up their orange flappy neck bits”.
Yes, all of that was us. We regret nothing.