Windsor Takes a Plane Ride!

by Jane Fink

Photo by Jane Fink

This was not my first time to the famous Montgomery County terrier show. I had flown without dogs and had driven with dogs, but had never flown with a dog. I had flown to places all over the world and observed how travellers managed with dogs, so I felt quite prepared to attempt this feat.

There was no question that Windsor, my eight year old Westie, would fly in the cabin with me. I purchased the requisite Sherpa bag, the soft-sided duffel bag type carrier, and practiced every day for a month getting her used to it. Initially I had to cram her in it, but eventually she got the idea and went in on her own. I would then do something that I'm sure made her wonder if I had all of my mental faculties intact; I would shove her under my sofa to simulate the tight quarters under the airplane seat. After weeks of practice we were ready. I had her health certificate, her Furrari crate that would be loaded in cargo and a weekend supply of dog food, treats and toys. After all, she was attending the specialty to try to obtain her CDX title in obedience. (Don't ask.)

Even though I live in South Carolina, I chose to fly out of Atlanta, so we would have a direct flight to Philadelphia. At the Atlanta airport, I was asked to take Windsor out of her bag, place the bag on the conveyor for x-ray examination and carry Windsor through the metal detector. Her training in obedience and exposure to crowds as a pet therapy dog really paid off. I had to get her back in the bag with hundreds of people rushing by. I carried the Sherpa bag over my shoulder so she would be high up and right beside me.

Windsor was in for a treat. Even though it was only a one and a half hour flight, I had purchased a seat in first class. When the drinks and pretzels came around, I unzipped a tiny section of Windsor's bag and slipped her a piece of ice and a pretzel. "Was that good? Do you want another?" I glanced sideways and found I was receiving the strangest look from a woman across the aisle. It occurred to me that she thought I was talking to and feeding my baggage. "I have a dog in here," I told her. The look of relief on her face was priceless.

At the Philadelphia airport I waited at the designated baggage claim area for Windsor's Furrari crate. Naturally since I had just purchased it, it was destined to get lost! As I stood in an office to fill out a lost baggage report, a porter hurried past carrying my crate. I stepped out and shouted to him that he had my crate. He approached me slowly and was noticeably pale. He started to mutter ... "Ma'am, we've lost your dog." I smiled, "No you didn't. My dog is right here. I forgot to remove the Live Animals label." If looks could kill!

On a journey into the Amish Country, we were rear-ended by a pickup truck. Thank goodness Windsor was in her seatbelt. She liked watching the horse and buggies go by as I filled out the accident report.

Back at the Philadelphia airport, I proceeded to take Windsor out of her bag as I had done in Atlanta. Ever had six airline employees yelling at you all at once? Apparently the rules changed from Atlanta to Philadelphia, as they wanted me to leave the dog in the bag and then they planned to do a hand search. Ha! They took one look at the dog and zipped it back up.

Windsor received her Delta Wings for her first flight. The attendants thought she was great!

These days I have perfected my skills for flying with a dog. I have the Sherpa bag for flying, collapsible mesh crate in my suitcase, a seatbelt for the car ride and a huge sense of humor.

Thanks for the memories, Windsor!

Jane Fink
Greyfaire Kennel

Editor's Note: The sweet and lovely Windsor is now at Rainbow Bridge. You can read Jane's wonderful and very moving tribute to her on the Personal Tributes page


Top of Page

Back to Living With Westies
Westie World Site Index