Dog in Flight

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.

I knew about the emotional support animal phenomenon and called my therapist and asked if she could write me a letter. She said yes, and I had never felt less stressed in my life.

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.

-C

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This entry was published on May 3, 2012 at 8:48 am. It’s filed under Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

10 thoughts on “Dog in Flight

  1. I am talking to my therapist tomorrow =)

  2. I think my client’s will be coming to me about this soon 😉

  3. We took my son to a psychologist for testing, and she had an official therapy dog in the office with her. It was a lovely black lab who had flunked out of guide dog and assistance dog school, and now had a job keeping kids calm when they get assessed. It was an awesome dog and my son wants to go back and visit him!

    • I love walking with Paulie through the airport, or really anywhere. People smile and laugh and he’s so happy I think he encourages a little happiness. I know he does that for me. I think it’s great your son gets to use a dog during sessions. They are such unconditional creatures. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Oh wow,, what cute dog and very responsible, too. How I wish we also have therapist dogs in my country. I have a dog, too, a shihtzu and he does a good job brightening my dull days 😉

  5. The picture of him asleep is so peaceful =)

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