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Feeding a picky dog while traveling: Sending frozen raw dog food ahead

Photo by TheGiantVermin

Photo by TheGiantVermin

Otherwise trouble-free, Chloe is a very picky eater. After extensive trial and error, we’ve found something she likes:  The raw food from Natural Pet Pantry, a small storefront in White Center, a South Seattle neighborhood. In a pinch, she will also eat Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance rolls of dog food, but I’m not confident that she’d eat it for more than a couple of meals in a row. So today I bought some of her raw food, frozen in packets, and sent a couple of packets to two places we’ll be visiting over the next couple of weeks. Sounds easy, right? It took hours.

I called FedEx’s 800- number and asked them to walk me through the procedure for shipping stuff with dry ice (I decided to use dry ice rather than a gel pack, because I want the food to stay seriously frozen — gel packs will keep food very cold, but not quite frozen). They told me to buy the food and the dry ice and take both to Seattle’s main FedEx office, which would handle the rest, including providing me with an insulated shipping box.

Sadly, Seattle’s main FedEx office had no idea what the 800- number folks were talking about. They kindly hooked me up with the guys in the Pike Place Market who throw the fish — who sold me a couple of insulated boxes, which I brought back to FedEx — but my life would have been a lot easier if I had known ahead of time that FedEx doesn’t have insulated boxes and that you cannot use a box with the name “FedEx” on it if you are shipping something with dry ice.

The concept was good, though, and here’s what I’ll do next time (and what I suggest you do, if you want to ship your dog’s raw food ahead of you). Look in the yellow pages for a local company that sells insulated boxes — if you have no joy, call a company that sells dry ice, and ask them for a recommendation. Buy the smallest feasible box, to cut down on shipping costs. FedEx wants no more than a kilo of dry ice, which turns out to be a chunk measuring about 8″x5″x2″ — not huge. Buy your dry ice at a grocery store that has a seafood department, and bring it, the frozen food, and your insulated box to FedEx (call ahead of time, and make sure the FedEx office you’re going to accepts dry ice packages). They’ll give you a special label to put on the side, and you’ll fill out the normal domestic shipping form.

Be sure to call the recipient and tell them the package is on its way, so they can arrange to receive it and sling the food into their freezer right away. One last warning: Even with a small box, it’ll still be surprisingly expensive.