I will be dragging a fifty pound (and not an ounce more per airline regulations) bag down the hallway of the home I grew up in. Dylan will be following close behind. When I drop the bag by the front door and return upstairs for another, he’ll stay seated beside the first. He’s witnessed the process countless times over five years-worth of our joint New England travels… and once preceding an International relocation where we left him behind. Recently, he’s shown that he recognizes the association between packed bags and an impending move. When those bags make their way to the door, he stations himself beside them as if to ensure that he is not ‘forgotten’ again. As I bring down each of the remaining two bags, he will stay in this position of high alert, trying to guess from my expression if I’m taking this trip solo or if he’s accompanying me.
On my fourth trip down the stairs, I’ll be carrying the enormous airline-approved crate that’s been functioning as his bed for the last few weeks in preparation for the flight. At this point, he will start to wag his tail ever so slightly. It’s the clue he will be waiting for to show that he is coming too.
Once the car is loaded, we will be on our way to JFK. Dylan will be in his signature position, resting his upper half on the center console and his bottom on the back seat. Rather than lying comfortably across the back, he prefers to practice this awkward balancing act just so that he’s not excluded from the conversation in the front. And he’ll stay in that position until we pull into the airport…
When we finally arrive in NY, well, I can’t say exactly what will happen when we’re there. After all, I’ve only flown across the Pacific once, and it was out of Boston and without a pet to deliver to cargo. I can say, however, what I hope will follow. First, I am hoping for a painless airport check-in. This will entail that I choose a check-in line with a dog-loving associate who kindly overlooks the fact that Dylan is two pounds over the weight limit for pets traveling as checked baggage. Despite his diet and exercise regime to prepare for this day, he is still 75 pounds. Add this to a 24-pound crate and 3 pounds worth of bedding, food, and water, and we are above the 100 pound restriction.
Usually, given my inclination to worry about potential airplane disasters, I would say that the flight itself is the most stressful factor in travel. But, this time around, Dylan making it past check-in will be my primary concern. Of course, some good in-flight movies would be nice, and a free upgrade to first class wouldn’t hurt. Just kidding! All I really need is to land in Milan to retrieve a very safe, probably confused, but otherwise happy Retriever. And then we can be on our way to Kevin, Torre Pellice, and Hockey Season Number 8. Wish us luck!