Valenti offers the following tips for families considering adopting a dog from another country.
1. Know the rules and laws before bringing a new pet home to the US. When bringing a pet directly to the US, make sure you have researched the requirements to enter the country. All animals will need certain paperwork and vaccines. In some cases, the new pet will need to be quarantined for a period of time. Christina found it helpful to research veterinarians who are familiar with pet relocation and meet with other expats to better understand the process for transporting a pet overseas.
2. Find a vet in your new city and make an appointment to have an exam. Confirm that your pet has the proper vaccines and medications for life in the US. In China, Varly’s stitches from her spaying surgery got extremely infected and required additional treatment in the US.
3. Sign-up for an obedience class to help socialize and train your dog. In China, Varly was rarely outside and hardly ever around other dogs. In the US, it was important to let her watch other dogs from afar and slowly engage with those who were interested. Today, she remains a bit of a free spirit, but definitely understands the meaning of “walk”, “sit”, “food”, and of course “treat”.
4. Enjoy the outdoors. In China, Varly was confined to a small apartment in a highly populated and polluted city with very little grass or places to walk. Today, in Washington DC, Valenti said, “I try to let her spend as much time outside as possible; she looks at and smells everything! She is so intrigued by other animals and people. She is still a bit weary of strangers and makes sure they know that she is protective of her new home.”
5. Give lots of love! Play with them, encourage them, and most of all, be patient! Your new dog is adjusting to a new life, a new home, and a new country. It takes time and can be scary for the pet. Christina went on to explain that Varly is very dependent on the people she knows and shows signs of panic when she fears she may be left alone- she may still suffer from separation anxiety caused by the thirteen hour plane trip and hardships she dealt with as a puppy in China. Valenti says, “One never really knows what a dog has gone through, so it is important to do your best to work with them to help them adjust. Varly has lived in the US for 2 years and there are still daily struggles, but saving an animal’s life is well worth it.”
Valenti’s new children’s book, The Wheelbarrow Puppy Club will be released in May 2014. The story follows Varly, whose adventure from China to the US is documented with lively pictures and text. The book is aimed at children ages, 4-8 years old.
About the Author
Christina Valenti is a former NBA Cheerleader for the Washington Wizards. She grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC. She went to college in Virginia where she studied Media Arts and Design, which allowed her to pursue a career in media, scheduling interviews for TV, radio, and satellite media tours. Valenti earned her TESOL certification in San Francisco before moving to China to teach English. She is a first time author, with a book under contract with Peak City Publishing, a Raleigh, NC based publishing company.