As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we traveled to Nashville for Thanksgiving. Since tickets are a bit pricey this time of year we stayed a little longer than a week to get outside of that holiday pricing.
We have had dogs our entire marriage and not once have we boarded them or taken them with us unless we were just going to the mountains. We have always just paid a neighbor kid to take care of them while we were gone. This year though, we had lost our beloved Samson just two months prior. Stevie had only known life with Samson and she had been lost without him. Each day she had been growing more attached to me and the thought of leaving her for over a week made us all sad.
So, the next day Andy made arrangements with the airline to take her with us. We had never flown with an animal so this was a big learning curve. We had so many questions: What kind of carrier did we need to get? What size was best? What did the airline recommend? What if the airline turned us away at the check in counter? What if she went to the bathroom while we were walking through the airport? What if she whined and barked on the plane? Could I have her on my lap during the flight? I was relieved we were taking her, but stressed at the same time. I was becoming THAT PERSON. The one who frets about their DOG!
A few days before our flight I took Stevie to be groomed (nobody wants to fly with an ugly pup) and to the vet to get a health certificate. The airline didn’t say they required a health certificate, but I wanted to have everything ready in case they needed anything.
The night before our flight I strategically picked out my attire for the plane. I didn’t know how the flight attendants would feel about my holding Stevie during the flight (since it was against policy), but I wanted to be prepared for any kind of stealth maneuvers. I had just purchased a cashmere wrap from Anthropologie and let’s face it, nothing says dog blanket like cashmere. I also had my winter coat stuffed in my purse because I could have to build a circus tent on my lap!
The morning of our flight everything revolved around the dog. We walked her around the backyard at 3am to make sure she did all of her business, we gave her a Benadryl (which did nothing), we gave her some water, but no food so she had an empty stomach. Once we arrived in Denver we stopped and walked her around again to give her an opportunity to use the bathroom and get some fresh air. We leashed her and walked her into the airport. All was good and going to plan. Then we got to the ticket counter and there were at least 2 other dogs in line with us. They wanted to play. Stevie, however, was not interested. She started crying like an infant. So, I did what any good mother would do. I picked her up and swaddled her in my wrap and rocked her like an infant.
I just snuggled her and she looked lovingly at the check in lady so we sailed right through the process. I tried to put her down as we stood in line for security. NOPE! I tried to get her to walk as we boarded the train. NOPE! Parents were looking at me with their ACTUAL infants who were not being held, but being pushed in a stroller. I know, it’s embarrassing, but again, I didn’t want to cause a scene with her whining. So instead I carried her all through the Denver airport wrapped in cashmere like she was some million dollar breed rather than a stray we found in a ditch!
People began to look annoyed so I unzipped the top and her stick her head out. She won our fellow passengers over instantly. As we boarded the plane the flight attendants oohed and ahhed at her so I was pretty sure we were in the clear. To be on the safe side I slid her under the seat and rubbed her ears while we waited for takeoff. It wasn’t what she wanted ,of course, and she whimpered now and then, but I didn’t want to draw any attention to our row.
Upon landing I put her back in the carrier (with her head out) and proceeded to walk through the Nashville airport slightly less conspicuous. Our older girls were waiting outside in the car for us so I walked out to meet them. They immediately rolled their eyes and commented about how spoiled Stevie was. If only they had seen me carrying her through Denver!
While Stevie’s maiden voyage was a success I don’t think it’s something I want to do again. It’s stressful if your dog isn’t accustomed to this kind of travel and who needs that kind of stress? So, we will be looking for another dog sitter who doesn’t mind lots of love and cuddles and being THAT PERSON within the confines of our home.