Now I really have a bone to pick (pun intended) with the USA rules and regulations about pets flying with their beloved human companions in airplanes. And while I am at it… especially in the United States of America… (land of the free? This certainly does not apply to dogs in airports). Since my nutty mistress Ms. Em was usually singing and traveling with me in pet-friendly Europe, I was totally unaware of the hateful rules against traveling dogs (and only occasionally… cats) in the continental United States.
My dears, you won’t believe this and I will only relate one small tale of woe, exactly as it happened. If I still had all my paws I would jump up and down… enough to lose my balance up here and fall right through this cloud of mine. Watching the sad spectacle of Freddy become a victim of Pet In Cabin. Oh how he suffered. And now I tell the tale:
E. booked a flight (per telephone you can’t book over the Internet for Pet In Cabin) to Ohio. She was happy enough to find out that the Pet in Cabin status was available for her flights from Europe to the USA and back. Freddy could fly with her for a mere 200 Euro which calculated in USD is a whopping $266.08. She was so relieved for puppy Freddy (who is really too young to leave his mum) that she asked in a cheerful voice… if the 200 Euro was a round trip fee. “Oh no, this is the one way fare for a Pet In Cabin.” …was the reply the astonished Ms. Em received from the polite and helpful airline representative. “You mean I will be paying 532.16 dollars for a round trip for my pet????” I will not record here the rest of this conversation because the result was that Freddy’s mum had to pay. She had no choice. She had to make the trip to Ohio and she had to take Freddy. No arguments. She paid.
However, paying was not the source of Freddy’s discomfort, his endless suffering… no. We dogs don’t have any financial sense. We don’t care. Why should we? We care about our humans. We care about our supper dish. We care about playing games and protecting our families. We also care about taking a pee when it is necessary and appropriate. The inhumane rules and regulations in the airplanes, the restrictions and out-and-out unfairness played out in US airports… all of this is what made Freddy’s flights simple nightmares.
Imagine this: Let’s take advice from the Monks of New Skete and do some INSEEING here, a true be-here-now exercise. Pretend you are a 4 lb. puppy, just about twelve inches long and eight inches tall. You love your travel case, it has been your home since your new parents adopted you. You spent your first night away from your mother in it and slept on the blanket your siblings played upon for your first eight weeks of life … so it smelled like home from the beginning. You love your special container so much that you have never whimpered or cried while zipped up inside your airy and comfortable Original Sherpa Deluxe™ Carrier created for air travel. No, never once have you complained or begged to get out.
Now you … the happy puppy in your comfortable air carrier have traveled silently, slept off and on since your voluntary incarceration in Stuttgart, Germany. In the airport there you frolicked about, ran and jumped, greeted all the other dogs in the large airport either traveling or accompanying their humans for the necessary goodbyes. You also got a long walk around the terminal grounds to do your business, to relive yourself before the long nine-hour flight to America. You arrive and wake up sleepily, still quietly assuming you will soon be freed to walk about and take that ever increasingly necessary pee-pee break. Your ‘mom’ goes through the US Customs line which takes not too long… really… and the Agriculture officers are quite nice to you as they peek into your carrier and take a quick look at your credentials: That is… your EU Passport and make sure you have had all your vaccinations. Still you are quiet and content knowing that it can’t be long now…
Wrong. You hear your mistress, your mom (Ms. Em) asking an airline official where she can take you out. You feel your primary caretaker bristle with anger when she is told that she cannot leave the building with you, that there is no service for employees of the airline to ‘take a dog a walk’ and that she is also not allowed to remove you (for any reason) from your ‘cage.’ The (sort of smug) airline official also pointed to the little green tag attached to your carrier which reinforced the fact that removing an animal from its carrier in an airport or on an airplane is ILLEGAL and that there will be hell to pay (or a hefty fine) if one disregards this warning. There is a three hour wait in this hateful, loud, chaotic place for the next flight which will also be an endurance test of about 1.5 hours.
Lets make this long story shorter: In the airport Ms. Em was intimidated enough to feel forced to obey the rules and puppy Freddy suffered in silence. However, on the flight to Ohio he couldn’t restrain his dismay any longer and he began to cry pitifully, whining and begging to be allowed out of his cage. Poor E. was beside herself. She looked around for any airline personnel that might inhibit her progress as she carried Freddy to the tiny onboard restroom and locked that door. Then she triumphantly unzipped the bag and let the miserable animal out onto the pee-pee pad she laid out on the floor. It was a tight squeeze in there but nothing could compare with the happiness of this moment of freedom both Ms. Em and her Freddy felt then and there.
The trip back to Europe was more eventful and even more distressing since after a while poor Freddy had an idea about what was to come. All was well until the pilot announced that a storm was brewing, that the plane had to wait it out … and this took 2 hours while patient Freddy remained taciturn in his friendly carrier. When the pilot announced to the hot and chagrined passengers that they might miss their next connections Freddy started to cry, and so loudly that the Steward warned Ms. Em that she might not be able to get on her long overseas flight with such a yowling animal! E. begged the man not reveal this to anyone officially… that she would calm her dog… somehow. Since she knew Freddy only had to pee… when they landed, she took him into the women’s restroom, spread out the pee-pee-pad and allowed him his relief. This covert action got the attention of a washroom cleaning lady who declared in a loud voice: “This will be a $500 fine for you lady!” E. scooped up Freddy and the (completely dry on the bottom) pee-pee-pad and showed the complainer how sanitary it was for her little dog to do his business in this manner in this restroom . She convinced the cleaner who told her in no uncertain terms that she better get OUT right now or she would have to ‘call the authorities.’. E. left immediately with zipped in Freddy and thankfully was allowed onto her flight back to Europe where dogs and doggie needs are respected far more than they (apparently) are in the good old USA.