Saturday, November 28, 2009

Traveling With Dogs Part 12

I swear someday I will get this right.  In fact, this time I swear I did.

The dogs and I left New York this past Wednesday. The day before American Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I am so smart it hurts . . .

Actually, JFK wasn't the madhouse I expected.  In fact it was dead.  Here's a fun fact:  if you need to travel the day before Thanksgiving in the States, make sure your flight is mid-afternoon.  Apparently the early morning is nuts and after four will make you cry.

JFK is pretty awesome if you fly domestic.  We were flying to Seattle via American Airlines - the terminal was super big, clean and shiny.  I think if you stay in New York long enough, clean things always will amaze you.  And the service was fabulous!  I heard that AA was bad - but we had a very pleasant experience - right down to the nicest flight attendant I have ever experienced.  I thanked him when I disembarked he was so good.  (By the by, Jet Blue also has a brand new terminal, complete with dog park!!).

Here is how I prepared the boys:
- walked them for a long time
- drugged them with the proper gravol, two hours prior to leaving the apartment
- put a fluffy pillow into their crate complete with three warming pads, a towel, and two blankets.  And of course, water.
- put Mr. Mop in his snuggie as he just had a hair cut and I was scared of a Mr. Mop icicle at other end

So they were prepped and perfect to go.

We go to the airport, no line-up, check-in, pleasant man.  Then we wait at the side for the man who takes them to the plane to come.  Chat with nice AA girl who gives the boys cuddles.  Boys play with the other dogs who are also flying today.  Until Mr. Mop bites one on the head. Then he must be carried.  Brooklyn pees on the line pole thing (what do you call them, those things that map out the waiting

Finally the man comes to get them.  We are sailing so smoothly I pat myself on the back for being an awesome dog traveler.  I have mastered the chaos of our previous flights.

Mr. Man takes us to the security line.  Hmmm, interesting.  They are going in baggage and usually we don't do security together.  Whatever.

There is a long line. Oh no!

 But wait, Mr. Man takes us to a priority line!  I love American Air!

I am still walking the dogs on the leash, so Mr. Man swings the cart carrying my crate through to the security guys and then holds on to the boys while I remove my shoes, coat and take my computer out of my bag.  Awesome.  Get dogs and proceed to walk through the gate.  The bell goes off.  Oh right, Mr. Mop's dog tags.

And then the chaos begins.

The security guy insists I remove both the leash and collar from my dogs.  WHAT?

'Will they run away?' he asks.

"I don't know, maybe, but it's a dog collar." What terrorist thing does he think it could be?

As the strict security guard is insisting I NOT HOLD ON TO MY DOGS and TAKE THEIR COLLARS OFF, I notice behind me another security guy looking inside the crate, shrugging and telling Mr. Man it's okay.

Okay, let me get this straight:  they barely glance into the crate, where there sits a pillow that could be stuffed with drugs or a bomb, but they are giving me the third degree about a dog collar?  So off Mr. Mop's snuggie goes, and his collar, and his harness. Luckily, his separation anxiety and the drug induced grogginess keep him close to me.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, is running in circles.  I pass him through the gate to the massive security guard.  He grabs him and gives him a cuddle to settle him down.  It's pretty cute seeing as this guy is about 300 pounds and an ex-linebacker (I don't know what that is but I feel it's something that's big).  Nazi security guard on the other hand is examining Mop's collar.  Yes, you dumbass, I planted a bomb on the pendant that's in the shape of a bone and says 'Button' (Mr. Mop's old name).

Finally, we all pass just fine and I need to get them back in the crate.  But Brooklyn has finally realized what's going on and knows what this all means (he's a slow one).  He starts to cry and scream, which always makes me freak out.  I feel the sweat dripping down my back (a sure sign of stress) as I shove him back in the crate as he wails, all the while trying to get Mop back in the snuggie (which is not as easy as the infomercial suggests).  Mr. Man is trying to help me by telling 'little dude', aka Brooklyn, that it's okay.  I shove some cheese into the crate and then rush back to the security thing to get my belongings.

That's right, I have done all the above with no shoes.

This is when I realize I have lost my plane ticket.  So when one is feeling under pressure one does not think clearly.  If you have checked in and lost your ticket, it's not a big deal.  But with Brooklyn wailing, Mop scratching at the cage with his snuggie on upside down, and sweat trickling into my underwear, I am not thinking clearly.

Did I mention that although I arrived with plenty of time, I am now supposed to be at my gate because Mr. Man took so long to come get me?

Mr. Man retraces my steps looking for the tickets.  He says that he saw it in my bag and maybe it fell in between my books. I tell him NO!  I left it behind.  He's looking everywhere for it, in discarded bins, on the belt, generally holding up the line.  Then I find it.  It was in my pocket.  So I pretended to find it on the floor behind me.  HA!

Anyways, the dogs are now crated, they are calmed down because I gave them more cheese and I am no longer sweating.  I saw goodbye and proceed to my gate where I sail right on and find that I am seated in the first row . . . . of economy, but still, it's awesome.

In general, I have perfected the art of traveling with dogs.  We only had one tiny hiccup.

Every airline and airport is different so I must accept the fact that I can only control what happens at my end.

But not Mr. Mop or Brooklyn's end.  One of them had a nervous poop at security I noticed.  Serves Nazi man right.  That's the terrorist thing I was trying to sneak through . . .

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