Dept. of Bad Manners: My Dog on a Plane

January 6, 2011 | By | Comments (1)

I’d like to apologize to anyone who sat near me in Rows 16 or 17 last week. You know who you are. You are the ones who heard my little dog, Sticky, yip and moan and wheeze theatrically. For six hours. All the way from New York to California. And back.

Come to think of it, Row 18 had it pretty bad too.

I started having flashbacks, halfway through, to the time in 1989 when I made the mistake of traveling with a (human) baby. The infant in question spent much of the trip sobbing, Sticky edit and the rest of the time she mashed peas into the hair of a sleeping passenger in the row in front of us. (This was when airlines still served meals, and peas.) I vowed never again.

But I thought traveling with Sticky would be easier. She’s a dog, after all, and the vet said you can drug a dog. I did a dry run, giving Sticky a dose of Benadryl a few days before traveling. She slept all afternoon on the couch.

On the day we flew, however, Sticky remained painfully alert and whiny and freaked out. Picture your most neurotic, most afraid-of-flying friend locked up in a crate under a seat.

Passengers kept hitting the Call button to complain to the flight attendants. 

I spent six hours with my hand in the crate, petting her, as I whispered, “It’s OK, Sticky. Shh, it’s OK.”

Sticky has some good qualities (loyal, cute ears). So instead of strangling her with my bare hands as soon as I got off the plane, I took her to a vet in California.

“I’m terrified,” I told him. “I have to fly back in six days.”

“She looks relaxed now,” the vet said.

He’s a real cut up.

Then he said she could have a dog version of Valium. I did a dry run. She was blissed out for an entire day, napping in the sun on the front porch.

On the flight East, however, Sticky reprised the bad behavior—with a twist. She had the munchies, and I had to feed her an entire Italian sandwich, bite by bite, through a tiny hole in the crate. After she sharked that down, I turned in desperation to a mini-cereal box of Cheerios, which I fed her one by one. In between Cheerios, she yipped.

I’m home now, and nearly a week later am starting to feel a little better. Sticky looks relaxed.

Have you ever taken a dog on an airplane? Or had to sit near one? What would you have done differently? And if you were on my flight, have you forgiven me?

(Photo of Sticky in happier times, courtesy of Quittner family archives)