Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pets on a Plane!!!

That would be one orange Maine Coon mix under the seat in 10A, a fluffy white dog with a cotton-ball head and beady black eyes and nose under the seat in 10C, and an immense, steady, K-9 trained bloodhound with seat 7F all to himself in the bulkhead row. We had noticed the bloodhound at the gate, but we were taken aback when we saw the little white dog and his owner sit down next to us.

We were already quite nervous about traveling with the cat. For a start, the rules don't make any sense: the carrier must go through the X-ray machine (which is too strong for animals), but the animal must be taken out and carried with you through the metal detector. According to everything we read online, this is a great opportunity for your animal to bolt, disappear into the airport crowds, and never be seen again. (It's a good opportunity to drug your cat, too, but on our test run of cat anti-anxiety pills, he only panicked, so we decided to do without.)

Jenn took the cat out with shaking hands as I waited behind the line with the carrier and all our other assorted bags. They passed the metal detector, but then they stopped her. "I'm sorry, whoever's holding the cat has to have their hands swiped with bomb paper." Jenn said sure, no problem, and started to put the cat back into the carrier, which had just emerged from the X-ray belt. "No, no," they said. "We have to swipe your hands while you are holding the cat." If that isn't a recipe for escaped cat, I don't know what is.

Luckily, we had a cat who had no desire to explore the airport. As Jenn held him (with only her wrists), he curled up even smaller and leaned against her. I've never seen a cat so happy to get back in the carrier. With the cat safely in the bag, we boarded and seated ourselves, thinking the strange part was over.

Enter Bill, the cotton-ball-headed dog. "You're kidding me!" Jenn said, never imagining the airline would allow a cat and a dog to share a row. But we soon found out that Bill had a genial temperament and didn't pay any attention to cats. Our cat promptly went into stasis mode. Aside from a panicked struggle at take-off (and who can blame them), both of the animals quieted down. Bill made an earnest attempt at "puppy dog eyes" as he hungrily eyed my peanut M&Ms, but not too long afterward, he drifted off to sleep in his bag.

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