Jet-Setting Hounds

On Monday I touched briefly on the fact we flew to Ottawa with five police dogs, and that travelling with big dogs is a lot of work.  Here’s the rest of the story:

The people at YVR were a little overwhelmed when we all showed up at the flight counter with dogs, kennels, coolers for dog food and all our regular luggage.  The staff themselves were very accommodating and did their best to get us checked in as quickly as possible, but it still took an hour to get us booked in.  Three of the kenneled dogs disappeared into the ‘special/oversized’ baggage area to get carried into the belly of the plane.  The other two stayed with us in preparation to ride top-side.

Yes, you read that right.  Two of the police dogs rode in the passenger compartment.  I guess there was not enough room in cargo for all the hounds.

We knew this ahead of time, so it didn’t come as a surprise.  Hondo and Knight, both wearing harnesses to identify them as police dogs, walked with us as we went through the screening process – ID check, metal detector, everything except a pat down (one of the security guards tried to give Knight a pat down on the return flight and got yelled at by his supervisor to not touch the dog.  I guess the poor guy hadn’t read Knight’s harness, and I’m not sure what he was looking for…a few hidden bits of contraband kibble?). 

Then Hondo and Knight were the first ones on the plane.  This system worked very well – by the time we were seated in the bulkhead with our dogs at our feet, the rest of passengers were able to file past and into their seats.  Some people are downright afraid of dogs, and being seated this way kept any potential ‘issues’ from occurring.

The system worked well in reverse, with the dogs being the first ones off the plane.  Doing things this way kept most of the stress off the dogs (and the handlers!).  Kudos to West Jet for making the trip as easy as possible.

For the most part, the actual flying experience was uneventful.  The dogs were very quiet and it appeared quite a few passengers did not realize there were dogs at the front of the plane.  At one point there was a lineup for the bathroom, and one passenger, dressed in a black suit, stepped backwards into our seating area and narrowly missed stepping on Hondo’s paws.  My dog takes offense when someone stomps on his toes and was prepared voice his displeasure, so I tapped the gentleman on the side of leg to catch his attention and have him step away. When he turned around with a kind smile my eyes locked on the white collar at the man’s throat. 

That’s all I needed.  To have an ‘issue’ between my dog and a minister.  Not good.

I smiled in return and pointed at the floor, where my dog was giving the minister the hairy eyeball.  The minister took a slow step backwards and crooned softly, “Who’s a good boy?”

Well, apparently my dog was.  Hondo’s tail thump-thumped against the bulkhead, and he tilted his head to the side, his tongue hanging out in a doggy grin. 

Dogs are so easy to make friends with, aren’t they?

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