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.
One month later our ‘Raiko vom Sonneneck’ was a nearly nine week old Bolonka baby and it was time for E. and her husband to pick up Freddy. Yes, in the meantime milady had to ‘fess up and tell all’. Surprisingly her Big Baritone was not at all displeased! The first thing I whispered to puppy Freddy (while he was still a twinkle in Merlin’s eye) was that his main mission in life was to bond absolutely with needy Ms. Em. She had suffered enough dealing with me and my difficult daily lessons in being here now.
(Aside: In my lifetime I was in love with the man of the house. It was close to an embarrassing sort of hero worship for the Big International Baritone … but as I have intimated before … it was all for Ms. E’s good. She needed to learn how to love unconditionally, even when she was not the object of love returned. Read the book to get the real story on that.)
However, with this little pooch I am determined that Ms. Em’s story is going to be different. This pup (with my intense whisperings and on-the-scene guidance) will without a doubt be a momma’s boy. I arranged the pickup trip, invited a family friend Rainer along to sit in the passenger’s seat along with his very own male Bolonka, Sammy. This was my genius idea to distract from Freddy’s sure fascination with E.s husband. I figured that then she could have the back seat to herself for the sole purpose of bonding; to become the Ersatzmutter to little frightened Freddy. Frightened? Yes. How would you feel watching three of your siblings taken away by large baby-talking, cooing strangers? How would you feel if you were one of the last two puppies left to beloved but strict Momma Felice … awaiting your fate?
I promise this is the last time I will steal a bit from E’s personal journal but she was closer to the situation than I. You’ll have to admit … it reads nicely ….
“The day was bright and sunny as we drove off to the Nabinger home in Sonneneck where the same five lady-Bolonkas awaited our arrival. Again a glorious chorus of barking greeted us. Halleluja! Honestly, I was so nervous I could barely utter a word. It seemed to take forever until we got to see our darling (now five weeks older and more himself) at close range. Freddy was standing alone inside the large airy knee-high cage. He was looking up at us and was better than any photo. There he was! Finally Freddy!
Freddy’s gaze told me he was a cute little bundle of love, full of spunk and fun, a handful to tame … with a dash of determined cleverness and skepticism thrown in for good measure. The instant I saw him again I thought of Bel Mooney’s wonderful memoir: A Small Dog Saved my Life (www.belmooney.co.uk). I wondered if Freddy might change my life. I surely don’t need saving but this snarky little critter might be exactly what I need to get back to myself … the self I lost along the way somewhere in the chaotic years after Fritz was no longer with us. The rush of loving feelings overcame all my rational thought processes as I scooped up my treasure.
I became one with this perfect moment. I was finally and once again here now with the tiny fellow I held in my (not so steady) hands. Everything to this innocent creature was brand new, exciting, interesting … alive and shining. This Freddy was an expert in living in this moment. I was elevated to a new level of consciousness: Pure bliss.
Finally, after Simone Nabinger placed the spanking new halter (much to his chagrin and surprise) and leash on Freddy, we were off with our prize. One poignant moment did occur when Mama Felice seemed to be saying a uncomprehending sort of adieu to her penultimate offspring. As we led him off to our awaiting automobile Felice followed Freddy for just a moment and then seemed to shake her head as she walked slowly back to her home.
Then Freddy was ours. I sat in the backseat cuddling the trembling little fellow who kept trying to find a way to climb out of the speeding steel enclosure. He squeaked a bit here and there but all things considered; I had expected a much more dramatic first drive in a car. I was determined that Freddy’s first experience in an automobile would not be anything like the one I produced for the twelve week old Fritz (Fritznote: See Chapter Five; Learning to Live with Fritz -page 26, paragraph 2 ).
Finally we had our baby at home. He stepped out of his carrier acting just like he owned the place. And then we were once again … three! After seven years without a dog in the house or accompanying us on trains, boats and trains around the world … in virtually every important opera house in the world … we were a triumvirate. Yes … as we were before … I could see it coming: three different military leaders, all claiming to be the sole leader … Oh! … but what FUN!”
Thanks to my faithful assistant for keeping up with this blogging activity and to master dog whisperer Cesar Millan for his invaluable tips on puppy training. Check out E.’s views in our book Learning to Live with Fritz. Chapter Five is entitled: Name the Puppy. Train the Puppy! She, of course, blames herself for being a dunce about her utter failure to train me but hey, I was a very special case and that is all I am going to say about that.
Too busy to blog? Yes, indeed. I had to do a lot of stage whispering (getting much louder than I had originally planned) to get Project Freddy going. Whew! What a lot of work. I sincerely overestimated my ability to convince my earth-bound
apprentice that: “GET A PUPPY!” was a command and not a suggestion. This gave me a dose of my own medicine. The Be here Now treatment, the ‘stay present and keep going’ philosophy I teach 24/7 turned out to be a lesson I needed to teach myself. I swear to you … being in the NOW –living constantly and only in the present moment– requires discipline. I had the job completed in my head, a done deal so to speak. Wow! Was that jumping to conclusions! I was a victim of my own arrogance thinking I had more influence over E. then I actually had. Honestly, I thought I had Project Freddy in the bag but it was still necessary for me to spend every moment (of the past fourteen days) insisting.
I was completely worn out by the time I had not-so-subtly guided E. to the Nabinger family’s Bolonka Zwetna website: www.bolonkas-vom-sonneneck.de and still she doubted! Even when I pointed out that time was running out that E. was not getting any younger, that a puppy was just the thing to keep her constantly confronting The NOW. She hesitated … procrastinated. Why? Simple: she was frightened. I have to admit all of this is my fault. Who would really want to sign up for another reign of terror? At long last I persuaded E. that the Nabingers were the dedicated Bolonka breeders who would be responsible for bringing puppy FREDDY, a.k.a. Raiko vom Sonneneck into their home in the Pfalz region of Germany and finally into E.’s busy life.
Simone and Bernd Nabinger are very particular about puppy destination families. They need to meet and intuit the character of those interested parties to whom their li’l darlings will someday go. A lengthy personal ‘in-house’ interview (with breeders, mother dog and potential puppies present) is required before the Nabingers will even consider allowing one of their babies out of their sight. Thus the Sonneneck (translates as Sunny Corner) website targets the local German-speaking community. Certainly they are not expecting folks to fly in from English-speaking countries for a puppy meeting! So, for non-German readers and to make it easier to understand why I chose this breed for my contrite ex-diva, I shall explain in the shortest sweetest version… how the extraordinary Bolonka Zwetna came into existence.
Short but Sweet History of the Bolonka Zwetna
-by Whispering Fritz
The origin of the breed Bolonka is not known. Cross breeding in Russia produced a clever, warm-hearted and spirited little lap dog. Probably the Italian Bolognese and the French Bichon à poil frisé are the source breeds for the Bolonka but our puppy Freddy’s original ancestry is truly up for grabs. These adorable dogs graced the laps of some very famous women. Surely divas all … Among them we have Madame de Pompadour of France, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria (the only female ruler of the Hapsburg dominions.)Thus, the perfect diva dog! During the 20th century, Russian breeders crossed the Franzuskaya Bolonka (pure white) with small multicolored dogs. Since 1966 the delightful, fun-loving Bolonka Zwetnas have been bred in Germany.
I chose Freddy’s breed in order to keep my whispered promise to E. that it would definitely not be Fritz or a Fritz imitator returning to her. I promised her that she would enjoy her new pup and experience all the JOY and lightheartedness she deserves after completing fifteen years of my difficult course in unconditional love. Once Freddy is on the scene … E. might not be so sure about him. She will be incorrectly connecting dots that lead back to me if Freddy exhibits any weird Fritz habits or despotic behavior. I will have to be on my tippy toes to keep Freddy in line.
Currently a bit too busy to help Freddy compose his “welcome” blog. Ms. Em is remembering how much work (and fun) a new puppy can be! I decided to do a little research, and luckily, I found some tips that might help her out from the great Cesar Milan. I’ve added them below in case you’re in need of a little guidance with your new furball, too. More Freddy updates to come!
People often ask me at what age they should start puppy training. The answer is immediately! Here are some quick tips on the steps to training and maintaining an obedient and balanced dog from the start.
New puppy owners often make the mistake of endlessly worrying about finding the right accessories, puppy treats, or bed. They spend little or no time thinking about how or what they will teach their new puppy. Yes, a puppy needs nutritious food and a safe, warm place to live, but another equally powerful and important biological necessity is the need for a strong pack leader.
Be the Pack Leader
Puppies are naturally hard-wired to follow a pack leader. A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent; traits many new puppy owners forget. Many of my clients are strong leaders in their jobs, but when they come home, they turn to mush with their dogs. Then they come to me puzzled as to why their dog won’t behave.
Puppies sense our confidence levels and will take control if they perceive us as weak. When this happens, bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, leash-pulling, or anxiety, will develop.
The most important thing you can do is become your puppy’s pack leader. This role doesn’t begin when your dog is six months old or when he’s bad; it should be maintained throughout the entire dog training experience. For your new puppy to grow into a healthy, balanced dog, you must demonstrate leadership from day one!
All dogs become conditioned never to eliminate in their dens. From two to four months of age, most pups pick up on the concept of housebreaking quite easily since it is part of their natural programming.
In the early days of housebreaking you want to make sure the puppy has a place to relieve herself where she feels safe; a place that seems and smells familiar. First thing every morning, bring your puppy outside to the same general area. It is important to remain consistent throughout the process so your puppy can learn the habit.
Once your new puppy has successfully gone outside, it is important to reward the good behavior. It doesn’t have to be a big, loud celebration, but a simple quiet approval or a treat can get the message across of a job well done.
And be sure not to punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create a negative association with her bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and quietly remove the puppy to the place where you want him to go.
Walking in front of your new puppy allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your puppy should be beside or behind you during the walk.
Also talk to your veterinarian about the risk of long-term bone development problems, parvovirus, and other health issues before implementing an exercise routine.
Visit to the Veterinarian
One of the cornerstones of good health for your puppy is regular veterinary care. It is crucial that your puppy maintains a nutritional diet and exercise routine to stay healthy and balanced. While a lot goes into keeping your puppy in good health, it all begins with the first visit to the vet. Refer to the following list of the veterinary or health related concerns that will come up during your puppy’s first year for more guidance.
Ok, now I am tired of sounding preachy. Either you get this living in the moment, my sort of carpe diem mode or you do not. E. still hasn’t gotten it completely because she has ignored my specific whisperings re: the perfect solution now for seven long years while finishing our book Learning to Live with Fritz (oh yes, that Fritz. That ‘angel’ was me in my earthly disgruntled disguise). All I have been saying is: “Get a puppy!” I have been guiding her to likely prospects she continually ignores or rationalizes away with arguments like ‘too much trouble’ or ‘Traveling with a puppy again! No way!’ Or finally … the endless loop lie she tells herself: ‘I am free of Fritz now … hooray! Never again!’ What a crock. She needs a puppy! I am finally making headway with my former opera diva who now fancies herself an author. Little does she know that her ego is responsible for the idea that she alone has written the aforementioned channeled manuscript with its impressive ISBN number. I am the Author (notice the capital A) and she has taken dictation.
Now back to that puppy idea. I will never come back to her (as in- like it or not– reincarnation) and I am sure she is happy about that. Any pup I have suggested (with varying degrees of passionate whispering) in the past seven years has been a new dog soul entering the Earth Plane completely innocent of opinions and ideas about her. I promised her no more guru dogs! I promised her no more aggressive teaching techniques. I took pity on her because, well, I mean she has earned a rest because she actually learned most of the lessons I tried my best to teach her in my sixteen years of tyranny. And still she is reluctant! She refuses to take my suggestions. My prescription for living in the NOW is … puppy! A young pup is the best medicine for observing how life really is. How life should and could be lived in the moment. A pup is excited about just everything. Every sight, sound, smell and feeling … to a newborn puppy is fascinating, scary, fun and/or as often as not … absolutely thrilling. Puppy hears, sees and experiences his or her life as one boundless adventure of discovery. Now, I ask you … who could be a better teacher of living in the NOW than a puppy?
Thinking back on the puppies I fervently endorsed I get a bit teary. Oh, when I think about how many moments E. has missed because of her obstinate objections to allowing a pup into her life again. There were so many good ones! Here is just one glaring example of E. refusing to get the signs and signals. If I could remind her of Alfie, a dog I manipulated her into noticing while walking in snowy Central Park. It was January of 2012. Alfred, aka Alfie … was about 11 inches tall, a Jack Russell terrier and he was galloping through the snow, jumping and snapping at snowflakes, rolling in the white stuff and generally having the time of his life. E. was drawn to him (ha-ha!) and she asked the woman dangling a short red leash about the delightful little dog she had there … the terrier was having such a gleeful time playing in the snow! The woman shook her head and replied in Swiss-accented German (first clue) that she didn’t speak English. E. immediately switched to her second language and here’s the clincher … this should have closed the deal: The woman was Swiss (E. lives in Switzerland!) and told her that she was only babysitting little Alfie who was probably about ten months old. She had promised her animal activist niece that she would find a willing owner for the little guy before she left for her home in Zürich. Her departure was only a few days away and she still had found no one to adopt the pup her niece had saved from a puppy mill in South America somewhere. Her niece had left New York immediately for a project dedicated to freeing tortured animals in Rumania only after extracting a solemn promise that Alfie would find a good home. E. didn’t take the bait. Go figure. Now I ask you, how much clearer could I have been? And still my unwilling E. refused to connect the dots.
This infuriated me. I had a sort of a Rumpelstiltkin tantrum and nearly fell through my fluffy white cloud just thinking about how stupid E. was to leave that cute little bugger to his uncertain destiny. I looked a bit into the future and found out that the Swiss woman felt so sorry for the poor abandoned Alfie that she took him with her to Zurich to live happily ever after or at least to this very day. It was a match made in, well, Heaven. Whew. I was worried about Alfie. Alfie was my last unsuccessful attempt at puppy propositioning my reluctant student. Whispering Fritz’s next blog will be about my (after all this time) puppy success story. I took a short sabbatical from Blog writing in order to prepare my surprise. Blog 4. Blog 2 was written by my devoted and capable assistant detailing our aristocratic history, our reputation as healers while extolling the many virtues of my breed of choice, the Maltese terrier. Thank you my dear, Now all is ready for Finally Freddy!
Interested in a sneak preview of the little darling? I couldn’t resist!