Last week we took Hercules on his first flight (first two, actually). He traveled in the cabin, below the seat in front of me. And I am proud to say that he did very well. I should preface this by saying that my car proudly sports a paw-print sticker which reads: Obedience School DropOut. And I must admit it’s a true statement. Hercules is adorable, loving, very well-mannered, and a peeing machine.
He pees everywhere we go. He loves to mark. Couches, sofas, beds, not to mention carpets. And he barks. Holy cow. You will never receive a surprise visitor. He always lets you know. After he barks as though we’re under alien attack, he vigorously licks the guest, working his tongue up their nose. And that’s all he’s really after! Sweet, yes. But he’s certainly no service dog. Rather than catering to my anxiety, I must attempt to soothe his.
So we worried about his behavior on this trip, not to mention the 19-hour flight to Japan upcoming. We prepped him well in advance. And invested in a Sleepypod Air, which meets TSA regulations and allows for the most comfort possible. At first he wasn’t sure about this new (much smaller) crate. But we made it fun. He still went to the vet in his usual, larger crate. But when we took him to the beach for a long walk or went to visit Grandma, it was always in the Sleepypod. This way he would associate it with positive experiences. And it worked!
Additionally, we dosed the dog! Not too heavily, but on the advice of our vet, we gave him Rescue Remedy – an herbal liquid that helps to mollify his fears. It made him more comfortable in a strange place.
The day of we decided not to feed him breakfast, took him on an extra long walk to vacate the internal plumbing, and get out as much energy as possible. Once at the airport, we gave him an occasional treat to praise good behavior and used a collapsible bowl to give him water during the layover.
Generally, he treated the experience like a car ride. He went straight to sleep. In fact, the flight attendant on our second leg looked surprised when we pulled his crate from beneath our feet and said, “Oh! Has he been there all this time?” As if we magically produced a dog mid-flight! Now that would be a super-dog!