• NewLeafAnimalSociety

There and Back Again - Pet Spotlight

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

The O’Donnell Family – There and Back Again

In the first edition of Pet spotlight Abi speaks with the O’Donnell family who migrated to Australia from Scotland and returned years later with two additions to their family. They share with us their amazing experience of travelling overseas from Australia to Scotland with their pets Malkie (cat) and Tumshie (dog).

Q. Where and when did you get Tumshie and Malkie?

A. ‘We got Malkie first in November 2005, with Tumshie joining him a few weeks later. Malkie came to us in quite unusual circumstances; we had some friends who at the time were looking after an old, listed rural property with some rather eccentric features, one of which was a veritable clan of Russian Blues who were apparently not to be infringed upon. When a female became pregnant, our friends decided they couldn't handle another litter and so quietly began passing the kittens on to good homes! I'm not sure that they were allowed to do that, but that's how we got him. Now I look back it was quite strange.

Tumshie on the other hand was a comparatively straightforward case of rescuing a puppy from the pound.’

Q. Tell us about your pets' personalities and most importantly do they get along?

A. ‘They get along very well; when it's cold they sleep in the same bed and during the day the cat will groom the dog until she's clean enough to sit with him!

Tumshie's personality leads people to

constantly assume she is a puppy; she seems permanently excited and eager to see everyone. She is quite nervous around other dogs and terrified of toddlers.

Malkie on the other hand is a bit of an enigma; he is rarely excited by anything and, as far as we have seen, utterly fearless. He has been the alpha of every neighbourhood we have lived in, to the point of entering other homes through their cat flap to fight for other cats’ food. He is an excellent hunter who waits hours to ambush prey and recently attempted to fight a boxer dog some ten times his size. Yet perhaps because of this confidence, he is generally curious and friendly with new people and is extremely patient with children.'

Q. When was the decision made that Tumshie and Malkie would return to Scotland with you?

A. ‘Returning was a long, tedious administrative process but because the family had had the trauma of leaving pets behind once, it was not a consideration to repeat it.'

Q. So what was the process for getting your pets overseas?

A. ‘The process is now a relatively simple one. There are many companies who offer the service of relocating your pets from one country to another.' As we were leaving a country with serious quarantine procedures and entering similar, there are agreements in place between them. Your animal is vaccinated against rabies then must wait 21 days before travel. A registered Vet has to produce documentation to prove this procedure has taken place and verify the animal is up to date with all necessary vaccinations. The company then takes the animal away for a few days before they travel. This is to ensure the animal doesn't present with or develop any illness before the flights.

We were given the animals flight schedules, which included them having a comfort stop in another country half way through the trip. This was in Dubai, two thirds of the way. On arrival in Glasgow, they were washed and groomed then delivered to us in large pet carriers. The cost was similar to an adult flight ticket.’

Q. Do you have any advice for anyone else who plans to move overseas with their pets? A. ‘Start the process earlier than you think. We didn't realise there was a condition that we could only travel within 5 days of the animals travelling which meant one of us had to stay behind to meet this condition. The company did provide this information, but we were too overwhelmed with all the other logistics of moving that we didn't take it in.

Pets are much more resilient than we give them credit for so don't stress over the changes or journey they're making.’

Q. How do you think Tumshie and Malkie coped with the process and how did they respond to the colder climate?

A. ‘They were probably confused at first, maybe the cat more so. We left Australia in Winter and arrived in British Summer time. Both the animals found sleeping at night difficult. A bit like toddlers, they were awake very early and confused slightly at night when they were put to bed in daylight. Both had hilarious reactions to encountering snow for the first time, but apart from that they seem to have taken everything in their stride.

One good thing about the cat is that he doesn't find it as easy to catch British birds as he did Australian birds. Cats are not native there. He makes up for it with mice...’

Q. Who has the strongest bond with Tumshie and why?

A. ‘I would say, my husband, as she reminds him of his first dog. She's very affectionate with everyone though.’

Q. Who has the strongest bond with Malkie and why? A. ‘Initially it was our daughter, as he was her kitten. He was not a very affectionate young cat. Tolerant but not affectionate. Now that Malkie is much older he is more affectionate, so it is now, my son, who has the strongest bond with him. ‘

Special Thanks to the O’Donnell Family for being our first Pet Spotlight and we hope to see many photos on your pets in the future!

If you would like to be in our Pet Spotlight message us or email


Charity Number: SC050192

07307 591988

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook Social Icon