Mail Order Border Collie:
Air Transportation Without Trauma
written by Lee and Tonya Levy
Tonalee Border Collies

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What happens when there are no breeders in your local area who meet your needs and match your philosophy? You may need to go out of state, across the country, or even overseas to get the dog that is right for you. Understandably, many people are hesitant at first to try and purchase a dog that will be flown in to them. Having been on both the sending and the receiving side of this situation, we have the following recommendations for you to consider and hopefully make the process easier.
First and foremost, TRUST , between buyer and breeder is vital! You must have good faith that the breeder has put your best interests above all other considerations. Most responsible breeders will pick the puppy that is right for you even when you can visit in person. Good breeders spend many hours and days just observing a litter to properly evaluate where each puppy would successfully fit. Disliking the idea of getting a puppy you have never held is understandable. However, when the breeder knows all about you, your needs and lifestyles, the matching process works very well. When you feel in your heart, you can trust the breeder, you can relax and know you will love the puppy the breeder sends you. Puppies in a crate
Next, inquire how much experience the breeder has in shipping dogs. Ask for references from other buyers who had puppies shipped to them. Rely on the breeder's guidelines for choosing which air carrier to use, all airlines are not created equal. Costs can vary from approximately $100 up to $300 (within the continental US), but getting the fastest, most direct route should be your first consideration.

By and large, Tonalee puppies are normally sent via Delta or American Airlines whenever possible, because they reach most areas and are affordable, but mostly because they have an excellent record in getting puppies safely to their destinations. However, we always insist on the most direct route and will use any airline necessary.

Breeders who routinely use air transportation will raise their puppies with airline kennels in the puppy pens. Puppies grow up playing and sleeping in these kennels (also known as crates) and naturally, they are comfortable in them. In most instances, Tonalee puppies are shipped in kennels they have played in, so there is the comforting smell of mom and littermates surrounding the travelers. Toys that accompany the puppy are also familiar. The idea is to send the pup off in an environment that seems familiar and feels safe. Our puppies are always shipped at just the right age, well developed and in excellent health but not during a fear imprint stage.

A few weeks before shipping your puppy, we will ask you to find an old hand towel and to sleep with it for a few nights. This will put "your scent" on it. Then, we ask you to seal the towel in a zip-lock baggy and priority mail it to us. On the day of shipping, we put that towel into the kennel with the puppy, and when they arrive at their destination, they are met by an already familiar scent.

On the day of shipping, before leaving for the airport, puppies are given plenty of time to eat breakfast, play and go potty. We feed our travelers kibble with yogurt, which settles tummies and tastes good too. They are given time to stretch their legs and get a little tired. By making sure the youngster has gone to the toilet, their wish to keep clean and not soil the crate in granted stress-free. Our arrival at the airport is in time to make the flight, but never too early. We hold the puppies until the last minute, talking calmly and with reassurance.

At the final moment the puppy is placed in their familiar kennel with soaked kibble to prevent dehydration and a water dish containing frozen water that will slowly melt over the course of the flight. Also, we put in the thinking toy (a puzzle for the puppy to figure out), which is a new, hollow bone with cheese or peanut butter stuffed in the middle. And of course we put in your scented towel.

Although on the surface mail ordering a puppy from a breeder that lives far away from you may seem like the worst way to buy, it can in fact be the best way to get the Border Collie that is right for you. At Tonalee, we carefully plan each step of the process so that no matter how your puppy travels to their new home, they experience minimum stress in the best conditions possible. Through this careful, deliberate planning, our mail order puppies arrive healthy and happy, ready to bounce right into your arms!

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