Huskies in Panama

Cynthia Lehman

When my husband and I first decided two years ago to investigate Panama as a retirement option one of our main concerns was finding a house so we could bring our five dogs with us; 4 Huskies and a ‘duty’ black lab as my husband calls him.
We knew we could leave the seven kids but not the dogs. If you have pets you know what I am talking about.  Looking back, the folks at Inside Panama Real Estate must have thought we were crazy (maybe they still do)!
We spent a week looking around at nice houses in the beach and highland areas and almost everyone we met was nudging us toward the condo choice for a home.  They talked about the “lock and leave” feature of condo living and the freedom it affords you.  Sounds great, but do you really think five dogs could live comfortably in a condo when they are accustomed to roaming on three acres?  I don’t think so.

We had such a positive experience, we went home and started making plans for our move to Panama.  Still we had the same dilemma, how do we get five big dogs to Panama?

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After considering all the options for our residence, we purchased a three bedroom condo on the beach and although it has a lot of space….well, needless to say, we couldn’t bring all the dogs.
We decided to bring the two youngest of the pack.  They are brother and sister from the same litter.  We are fortunate to have wonderful family and friends who have adopted the others.

Getting the required paperwork in order was an easy process because we lived in the Washington DC area and had the forms signed and stamped in person.  The Panamanian Embassy in your home country has everything you need to know online with regard to bringing pets with you.
Getting the Huskies to Panama was another story.  I will hit the highlights and won’t bore you with the details.  The first challenge was finding the right crate required by the airline.  There has to be three inches from the top of their ears to the top of the crate when they are standing.  Next we had to identify an airline that could accommodate large crates on their flights into Panama, more difficult than you may think, especially since we wanted them to fly together.  The trip took them through three cities and two countries but they made it safe and sound and we have an exciting tale to tell!  Prior to relocating my pets to Panama I met a lady who brought her large dog to Panama with DHL Express, I think it was a Great Dane.  She told me it cost her $5000. At the time of our discussion I thought she was foolish.  Sooo, it is proof we all have things we can’t leave behind.

You can make all the pet transport arrangements yourself but I would recommend using a pet relocation service to decrease the stress.  There are factors to take into consideration such as what time does your pet’s flight arrive and what are the hours of the veterinarian at the airport.

Rhett and Scarlett have been here nine months and walk the beach every morning and have lots of ‘friends’. They are treated like celebrities.  They have their pictures taken with and by the Panamanian paparazzi which consists of the locals and ex-pats who are always sending us pictures they have taken.  Each new encounter fields the same question, “Isn’t it too hot for them here?”  It is no hotter here than in the area we relocated from.  They, like humans, acclimate.  We don’t take them out in the heat of the day and believe it or not, do not keep the A/C on for them unless it is a rare really hot and humid day with no breeze.  Even then it is more for me than the Huskies.

We have been pleased with the routine and emergency care the Huskies have received from the local veterinarians.  They are always professional and pleasant when we have seen them, and they speak English.  Coming from the ‘tick capital of the world’ we understand the importance of medicating and checking our pets for ticks and fleas.  We have found all the same products we used in the USA.   Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar has been added to their diet as part of the flea and tick treatment and it is working well.

As with almost everything we have encountered in Panama, we continue to be pleased and encouraged.  When you see us on the beach stop and say ‘Hola’!

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