“The best travel partner has four legs and a fluffy butt” – Aden
That was exactly our thought when my husband and I decided to travel from Mumbai to my hometown – Kolkata. Leaving our baby – Butlee (Indie) for few months at a kennel was not an option. Although we had researched earlier and knew the process, I wanted no loose ends and took extra precautions.
We checked for trains that had 1st class coach and then booked 2 tickets (me + husband). While booking you do not get an option to select coupe (2 berths) or cabin (4 berths). Since it was just the 2 of us travelling along with Butlee we needed a coupe. An application addressed to the Reservation Officer needs to be submitted a day or 2 prior to the journey date.
We had taken Butlee to the vet before our travel to bring her vaccinations up-to-date (the vaccinations should be updated before travel) – Rabies and Leptosirosis.
Dog’s medical certificate is mandatory for travel. The health certificate should be procured 24 hrs before travel. Obtaining something before that becomes invalid. So, we took her for her health check-up a day prior and were issued the medical certificate.
We also applied for her licence renewal for which a reference was shared. Although not required for travel a pet-owner should always apply licence from the local municipality. The licence is valid for a year and expires on 31st of March (same as income tax cycle). The licence helps to prevent your dog being taken away by authorities if someone in your society complains. Licence renewal application was done as a precaution.
The application for Coupe Allotment needs to be submitted a day or 2 before the departure day. Since we were travelling from Lokmaya Tilak Terminus (LTT) Railway Station, it was natural to submit the Application to the Reservation Officer there. But it wasn’t the case. Once we reached, we were asked to go to CSTM/VT station and submit the letter there. At CSTM, once you step out of Platform 1, walk about 200 metres, you will find the Chief Commercial Manager’s Building (CCM Building). The application had to be dropped in the Red box on the 2nd Floor. I also had a word with the Reservation officer to consider our application. You must bear in mind the first preference is given to VIPs, then honeymooners and third comes people with dogs.
Similarly, if you are travelling from stations other than the main station in your city, it is better to call up the enquiry and check where you need to submit the application. For e.g., If you are travelling from Sealdah (Kolkata), call to check if you have to submit a letter at Sealdah or at Howrah Junction (since HWH is the main station).
Documents to submit (Better to carry an envelope):
1. The application containing the details – Name of passengers, PNR no, Train No. & Name, Date of journey, Address and Phone No.
2. Printout of your ticket
a. Her bowls (1 for food + 1 for water). You can also carry one, wash and use.
b. Her foldable dog-bed.
c. Lots of paper (to clean her poop when we took her for a stroll at the stations where the train halted for more than 10 minutes – that’s something all pet parents should follow, clean up after their pets). You can also carry biodegradable poop bags available on Amazon (paper is a cheaper option), unfortunately I ordered the delivery of the bags to Kolkata.
d. Her bottle of water.
e. Calmex tablet (Vet prescribed) – to manage stress and anxiety (we administered one tablet 2 hrs before the journey). There is a similar medicine called Anxocare by Himalaya but it is not so effective against stress and requires continuous administration for a week or 2 before travel.
f. Avomine tablet (Vet prescribed) – to avoid nausea during travel. Although she had travelled earlier by car to Goa without any incident, we did not want to take a chance. We administered one tablet after dinner as a precaution.
g. Wet food (Smartheart). There are other brands available. This one has chicken chunks in it. You can carry small packets or kibble (Smartheart, N&D, Purepet, A-pro, Royal Canine or Pedegree). We had ordered rice for her to mix with the wet food which she ate without any fuss.
h. We also carried her toiletries that included wet wipes to clean her.
Coupe or Cabin Allocation confirmation is received on your phone number (same number used for booking the ticket), 4 hours before the journey commences. You are in luck if you are allocated a Coupe. If 2 of you are travelling with a dog and allocated a Cabin, you will be at the mercy of the other passengers. If they complain then your dog might be transferred to the Luggage Compartment in a dirty dog box (available in luggage compartment), in case you don’t have a dog crate with you. So, its always better to apply for a coupe or ensure your dog is muzzled when sharing a cabin with other passengers.
Do not feed your dog 4 hrs prior travel and reach the boarding station 2 hrs before departure time. And CARRY A MUZZLE for the dog.
Once we reached LTT she was first taken to the Parcel Office that is usually at the either ends of the main platform. Without a challan from the Parcel Office your dog/cat will not be allowed to enter the station. At LTT, we took her to the office that is on the left side before entering the station. That entrance leads to Platform 1. Ensure to muzzle your dog before entering the station or the security positioned outside may harass you. Even if your dog is docile and doesn’t bite, that’s a norm which you should follow. Unfortunately, the blogs we checked had missed mentioning so we didn’t carry a muzzle. Thankfully we were just asked to muzzle her and were not harassed at all.
At the parcel office, they weigh the pet to issue a ticket. But Butlee wasn’t weighed since her weight was already mentioned on her Medical Certificate. They have a system of charging double the weight if pet goes in Luggage and triple the weight if pet goes in 1st class. She weighed 20 kgs but it was considered 60 kgs (20 x 3 = 60). Once you are issued the challan your pet is free to enter the station.
The journey was uneventful. When the train halted for more than 5 mins, we took her to relieve herself and when it stopped at Bilaspur for more than 10 mins, we took her to defecate and cleaned after her.
Initially she did feel slightly uncomfortable with the constant shaking but adjusted soon. Water and food intake were normal. We administered the medicines (mentioned below) only on the first day. No medicines were administered on the 2nd day.
The Ticket Collector did not check or ask for her ticket (she wasn’t visible and hiding under the seat). But they can check if they see the dog.
There was no checking when we reached Howrah station (maybe ‘cause we reached at 3am!)
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