Relocation dogged by unexpected challenges

Be wary of potential pitfalls when moving with a pet.

Moving from one part of town to another can trigger high levels of stress and anxiety.

Relocating to another city more than 1300km away with a pet throws up even bigger challenges.

My wife and I faced the task of moving from Townsville to Brisbane with our 10-year-old border collie Scout and, aware of the potential pitfalls, thought we had it all sorted.

We were not novices to this moving game. Previously we had relocated from Cairns to Hobart with our then 10-month-old son and, a couple of years later, from Hobart to Townsville.

So, moving ‘down the road’ to Brisbane should have been quite simple.

However, those moves were about 20 years ago and our memories of the experiences were dulled.

We were very organised and methodically checked off all the steps we needed to take ahead of the removalists rocking up with an empty shipping container and although long and tedious, the process was quite straightforward. 

Until it came to Scout.


The initial plan was to take two to three days to drive to Brisbane with Scout perched in the back of our hatchback.

I had taken him on a few ‘test drives’ and he seemed comfortable. However, as I mulled over the prospect of 15 hours in the car with Scout, factoring in the extra stops we would need and the difficulties of finding pet-friendly accommodation, it was decided we would drive and Scout would fly.

Booking him in for the journey with a pet carrier was simple enough and the company we chose was excellent to deal with. As we had not secured a house in a very tight Brisbane market (that’s another story), Scout had to be sent to a boarding kennel until we found a new home.

This was all organised by the pet carrier, but there was a hitch.

Scout needed to be vaccinated to stay in the boarding kennel. He had slipped out of the required timeframe for him to be considered effectively vaccinated. Bad human!

This meant he had to be treated as if he was never vaccinated.


Simple, I thought. Take him to the vet, get his needles and off we go.

Not so. We were told we had to wait two weeks for the vaccination to be considered effective by the boarding kennel.

This meant our departure from Townsville was delayed several days as we sat around waiting for his vaccination withholding period to expire. 

If you are facing a similar scenario, check with the boarding kennel what their policy is on vaccinations, as it can vary.


So, finally the day of departure arrived and I took Scout to the airport where he was surprisingly calm about getting into his travel cage before being loaded on to the plane and flown to Brisbane.

Once in Brisbane he was met by a representative of the pet carrier and taken to the boarding kennel.

This is where he spent the next five weeks as we travelled around Brisbane looking for suitable accommodation.

Having a dog immediately rules you out of many properties and even the ones who say ‘pets considered’ are likely to overlook your application if you are up against an applicant who does not have a pet.

And you can expect no special treatment if your dog spends his life outside, just an eye-roll from the agent followed by: “That’s what they all say.”

Our story has a happy ending.

We eventually found a nice house that met the needs of my wife and I, and Scout.

It took him less than a day to settling into his new surroundings and now, after a couple of weeks, has made himself right at home.

It’s a dog’s life.

Advice for moving with pets

Handy hints when moving house with a pet from Animal Welfare League Queensland:

  • Learn how to train, socialise and entertain your dog/cat to become confident, well-mannered, and friendly so that he/she can settle happily into a new environment without causing fear or nuisance to landlords or neighbours.
  • Get references for your dog in advance from your veterinarian or dog obedience instructor or previous landlord.
  • Find real estate agents who are sympathetic to helping people with pets so that you can go to them when you need them.
  • Consider neat but older properties without well-manicured gardens – owners of these properties are often more open to tenants with pets
  • Choose a location that most suits your ability to exercise your dog and keep your cat/dog safe and happy.
  • Ask friends or family members in advance to identify who will care for you and your animal temporarily if you have to shift with little notice.
  • Don’t give up – your dog/cat is part of your family and so should stay with you provided you love and care for him/her.