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Travel & Transportation

Learning to fly March 22, 2010

Learning to fly

It's been about a month since Vancouver. We have been pretty mellow except for our new schedule consisting of 3 skateboard sessions a week, 2 mile walks a day, and constant play sessions with Sully and the gang. Lyle seems to be enjoying himself, although he definitely looks at me with a vapid look when I happen to slack on the routine, or if by chance it's not as fun as he had hoped.
We are gearing up for a trip to Orlando for the largest Pet Trade Show, Global, www.globalpetexpo.org/Default.asp. And, now after the Rose Bowl parade, and the Winter Olympics he also seems to know the difference between just a “regularâ€Â day and a “specialâ€Â event day…or better yet a trip. On a regular day, he sleeps in until he pleases, gives me nonchalant glances as if this could quite possibly be the most mundane day yet. Always slightly miffed we aren't in front of cameras skateboarding or getting treats every 5 seconds. But, on an event day, it's a whole other story. I'm not sure how he can tell the difference, but am starting to think maybe it’s because I always tell him that it is; I am convinced he understands English.
It's funny actually, I'm from the school of thought that when training a dog, you must speak to it the way you would an infant. Speaking to infants using so-called infant-directed speech: short, simple sentences coupled with higher pitch and exaggerated intonation helps them develop their language. One step further, I believe in a subtle mix of “dog-directâ€Â speech to aid in the communication with your animal. I am sure one might think this crazy, but I have always spoken to Lyle as if he can understand what I am saying. Now, do I think my dog knows exactly what I am saying? No. But, I do think he can gather from the tone, sound, inflection, and stress level in my voice how what I am saying is going to affect him.
For example, if I am going out for a night on the town, I will tell Lyle exactly what is happening. Lyle, Mommy is going out to dinner with Auntie Phoebe. We are going to Gjelina on Abbot Kinney, and I won't be late, but there is a small chance that we might go get a drink afterwards. But, don’t worry, I will leave the light on, and also put your water bowl right where you can see. The TV will be set to Animal Planet and I will make sure I give you big snuggles when I get homeâ€Â. He gives a knowing look back at me and then begins to “suckleâ€Â the corner of his bed, which is his sign of approval that he got the memo and feels ok about everything I told him.
Lyle and I leave a few days before we need to be in Orlando to visit my sister Porter and her new baby (my first nephew) Knox. Lyle has never flown on an airplane before and I am a little worried because of some of the horror stories I heard back in the 90's. I ask around and everyone seems to think that its all peaches and cream these days. In fact, i heard a few years back the major airlines all dumped a ton of money into “pet friendlinessâ€Â programs that made flying with your pet much more user friendly with climate controlled cargo areas. There was even a CNN or 20/20 special with hidden nanny cams that went underground to make sure these airlines were telling the truth. Continental, America, and Delta were amongst the top, and even though United was pretty good they ranked lowest for “aggressive handlingâ€Â of the animals. That’s a stain pet owners will never forget.
I choose Delta at $200 per dog each way, and $30 per bag. Plus the cost of the ticket, it hurts a little, ouch, but so worth it! Some might ask why not use Pet Airways www.petairways.com which is awesome if you have flexible travel plans. I did a search for a ticket from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale and there were no available dates for 6 months. In addition, all flights go through St. Louis, so regardless of where you’re heading, your dog will have a layover and take a full day to arrive at the destination. Whereas we took the red eye direct, and Lyle slept the whole way 4 ½ hours in a climate controlled large series 500 crate, deluxe with bed, blanket, water bowl, and fan. Bon voyage pooch!

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