I was just planning another exotic vacation when I remembered — oh yeah! — I have pets.
The animals I love are so inconvenient when I’m going to be gone for longer than, say, six minutes, much less on vacation. I usually end up leaving them in the caring hands of allergic neighbors, recalcitrant teenagers or my brother, who repeatedly tells me his greyhound is bred to kill little dogs like mine.
So this trip, the dog’s coming with me. I decided this after my last vacation, where I saw many animals on the plane heading off on vacations and business trips. I didn’t know if I was in a barnyard, on a Guatemalan chicken bus or Noah’s ark.
Man seated next to me: “OMG, I’m so sorry!” (as his iguana flicked its tongue in my direction.) “Ohhh! He likes you! He’s my emotional support animal. Now, Screech, get back on my lap…”
ME: Gulp. How … long is this flight?
Owning a dog has made me debate about even weekend jaunts. Just last week, I debated about buying a ticket to a bluegrass festival in California. I’ll be passing through the area and have my dog with me. Could she come to the festival? Does she need a ticket? Do I leave her at home? Oh, I miss the days of gerbils!
So I called. The man in charge told me — For Reals! — he couldn’t IMAGINE that venue would not allow dogs! Bring her, he said. Pretend she’s an emotional support dog. If they don’t let you in the door, pretend to have a mental meltdown, he said.
Back in the day, I had a “friend” … I’ll call her “Melissa,” who took her “service animal” everywhere she flew. She’d merely say Minnie was a service animal and voila! Extra seat for Minnie — the German shepherd.
I didn’t think highly of this, so after a few other transgressions, I “unfriended” Melissa — I do have a few scruples. I don’t want to be that kind of person.
Melissa wasn’t the only one doing this, and the airlines soon caught on. Squeeze the balloon here, it pops out there, and enter the emotional support animal! Dogs, cats, rabbits, miniature horses, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs — you name it.
“Qualifying” your pet as an emotional support animal involves a trip to the Internet. Pick a species: dog, skunk, camel, etc. Type the service your animal provides: Age-related dementia, speech impediment, facial tic, etc. There’s even a Cadaver Canine, which I assume travels with a corpse, because, you know, they need all kinds of support.
Now, before everyone with a support animal of any kind gets all up in arms about this, I believe those who truly need such assistance should be allowed to take their critter with them wherever they go.
But an emotional support peacock? It’s time for a reality check.
Airlines have created a few rules — leashes, crates, muzzles for the owners — after minor “inconveniences”: dogs mauling passengers, cats peeing on items stowed below and rabbits chewing airplane electrical wires, for example.
United’s rules say if an emergency presents itself, animals will not be given oxygen, even if they, too, suddenly need emotional support.
Delta Airlines deems dogs to be carry-on luggage, (personally, I want to see a great Dane fit into that overhead bin in which my carry-on failed to fit) but bans farm poultry, hedgehogs and “anything with tusks.”
That rule resulted in Easter, a wild turkey, reporting to steerage. Same with Pierce, the boar. I am not making this up! I did research! And not just on social media! Or company time!
United Emirates and Qatar airlines does not allow any animals on board — except falcons traveling between Dubai and Pakistan. Turkish Airlines allows only passerine birds, such as budgies and canaries.
I bet my dog could fake being … supportive. She doesn’t chase anything (too lazy), doesn’t bark (the whippet in her) and could only gum someone to death (no teeth.) She loves to snuggle; she’ll stick close. Promise.
Those in-flight meals, however, could present a problem.
And maybe I just could fake a mental meltdown to get into this festival; it wouldn’t be a big stretch.
My dog and I are going to have so much fun.