I guess it makes perfect sense that flying a bird in-cabin from NYC to Minneapolis would not be that big of a deal. Sure, you have your issues with TSA — but that happens with or without a feathered companion. Other than a slight squawk or two during cabin pressurization, there’s really no problem. The bird innately understands flight. Geronimo flies well. Quiet. Sedate. Peaceful. Not so with the Dachshunds.
Say hello to Kujo at 38,000 feet, complete with whines, yelps, snarls, howls, cries, barks, yips. Mayhem. Hell at 38,000 feet. We were “those passengers.” It was mortifying. It was stressful. It was stupid. Yeah, I said it. Stupid. I love my dogs. But not that much. Okay, that much. But still… I give you one word: steerage. And two more words: Never again.
I guess you could say the trip was comical, in some dark, tragic sort of way. It didn’t matter that we bought adorable, solo in-flight carriers for each of them. (I know… how gay are we?). It didn’t matter that we did practice runs around the apartment with the dogs in tow. It didn’t matter that we had done this before on a flight from Palm Springs to NYC without major discord. It didn’t even matter that we medicated them. Nothing mattered. Nothing. They were hell-hounds.
Before we had even hit the runway, we were loathed by every passenger within 12 rows. Samson was screaming like he’d been skewered. Long, soulful wailing. Chloe was yipping like she was being chased by a Rottweiler. And then they traded roles. Nothing we could do would soothe them. Or anyone around us. All we could do was pray for them to start the damn engines and give us some NOISE! Anything to disguise the cacophony of sound that were our dogs.
When we got in the air? Nothing changed. More engine noise. More Dachshund noise. Ugly. We kept them in their little tow-bags and lifted them into our laps, both of us sniping at each other like there was no tomorrow. And that just fed the anxiety of the dogs. Their wounded cries lifted another 50 decibels. Very ugly.
A flight attendant, fully aware of our distress, but intelligently noting the more important distress of the rest of the plane, passed by and simply nodded. We held her attention long enough to see if there was any possible way to let them out of their totes. No such luck. Federal law. No deal.
Ten minutes later, that same lovely lady magically appeared and uttered: “Let them out,” moving on with barely a nod or decrease in speed. Only our attention to lip reading and our need for relief inspired us to truly focus on her as she passed by. And then? Bliss. Utter bliss. Not a sound. Not a whine. Not a cry. Not a hiccup. They slept like babies the entire time, right there on our laps… until a flight attendant unaware of our previous dilemma stopped by to check on us. They were up snarling and barking with hackles raised in a flash. I dove on top of them and held them back. She, oddly, stayed right where she was to bravely ask if she could get Chris or I something to drink. Clearly our stress levels were more than apparent, and, god love her, she had drawn the short straw and been forced to visit the idiots with the mutts in 6D and 6E. While I dealt with the snarls and spittle shaking from their jowls, Chris ordered the Diet Coke, and the quiet resumed.
At least until post-landing. Yes, post-landing. For some odd reason — for which we are entirely grateful — no one visited us again the entire flight. We landed with two 10-pound Dachshunds on out laps. No request to put our seat-backs up. No request to put our tray tables in upright and locked positions. No request to put our seat belts on. They didn’t care if we killed ourselves during the landing. They just wanted us off that plane, alive or dead. And, actually, we were in agreement. Getting the dogs BACK in their cute little totes was like putting shoes on a 2-year old. Have you ever seen a wiener dog stretch out to its full length, completely rigid? You try bending that. The stubbornness alone is strong enough to break a human will. Add the musculature of Samson and you can forget about it. Miserable. And then? Of course. The wailing and gnashing of teeth began all over again.
Upon deplaning, we said good by to federal regulations, welcomed a hefty fine, pulled them out of their totes, only to be met by some poor dog-loving soul who tried to stop me with a “What beautiful dogs! Are they litter mates?” which I met with a terse “Please stand back and stay away from my dogs. I’m sorry, but it’s been a rough flight and they may bite you.” Which, in turn, was met with a look of puzzlement, realization and horror from the guy as Chloe snapped as if on command and a low gutteral rumble worked its way out of Samson. I know my dogs.
I hefted them up, and carried them football style — one under each arm — past baggage claim and right to the pet area where relief was expected for all of us… I then met up with Chris at baggage claim where we shared a look of weariness, a few foul phrases that won’t make it into this post, and a blood oath that these dogs would never, ever see the inside of an airplane cabin again. And, actually, we considered them — and ourselves — lucky to even see the outside of an airplane cabin that day. That permissive flight attendant will live on in my memory as the most glorious person in the world. May her every wish be granted.