Yup… that’s right, I travel with my dog. Officially, he’s a service dog. An emotional support animal to be exact.
What is an emotional support animal, you might ask? As Wikipedia puts it: “a pet which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection.”
Paulie hasn’t received any super special training. We have a letter from my therapist that says I need him. Here’s how this came about. I was going to go to visit my family for Christmas for a week and I didn’t want to leave Paulie in a boarding place for a week and I couldn’t ask my roommate to take care of him through the holidays as he had to travel a little as well. So I did some research and found a company that arranges travel on an airplane. I book it. Its $450, each way, but I do it anyway. As the time gets closer to put Paulie on the plane I talk to the pet travel agent and she runs down a list of items he can’t have in the crate, which by the way was another $150.
Here’s the list:
- No Blanket – if he suffocates himself
- No Collar – if he chokes himself
- No Toys – if he swallows it
- We’re not responsible for death or damage to your pet
WHAT!? I literally had a panic attack. Thankfully my cousin was around because I probably would have needed hospitalization. I cancelled the flight for Paulie.
Paulie’s great. He’s friendly and fun and a happy dog. As we walk through the airport for the first time he is just so excited to see everyone and everything he passes. Plus he loves attention. So having people come up to pet him makes him even more happy. He is absolutely great on the plane, mostly falls asleep. We’ve been lucky to have had seats next to people who like dogs and the flight attendants have been amazing with him.
He does get natural, organic calming treats because the experience is overwhelming. He loves flying though. He looks out the window during take-off and landing like everyone else, he sleeps on the plane and even gets a drink before we get on the flight – water, but none the less.
I do hate beating the system and spending no money for his flight, but at $450 each way, that’s typically more expensive than my round trip tickets. I justify it this way: he brings happiness to people in the airport, the passengers we sit near and pass us as they board and he gets to go anywhere I go.
So if you see us in an airport, stop and say hi! He loves it.