Episode 10 How a Golden Retriever Learned to Fly

Episode 10 How a Golden Retriever Learned to Fly

Yeah, Its been a minute, But here we are..

So Penny the pupil (That adorable little golden retriever puppy from our front page) is all grown up now, well almost, she is not quite 2. Recently she went on the biggest adventure of her life. She flew from Honolulu to Los Angeles in her crate in the cargo area of the plane.

When I was asked to help get her ready to fly a few months ago I really did not know what to expect. I mean, I knew I had to get her really comfortable in her crate and used to strange, loud sounds and all kinds of people with stuff that rolls, everything from carry on suitcases to big rolling carts.  But I wasn't really sure of the process at the airline.

As I discovered, preparation is 90% of the battle. Especially with what trainers call a 'soft dog'. Now I must say a bit about Penny's personality...caninality?  She is a lover not a fighter and gets a little nervous about new sounds, smells and sights. She will watch, assess, shy away, tuck tail half way then assess again,then she bravely raises her tail, perks up her ears puts on her big dog fur and walks right by, around or across the 'scary' thing. I am in awe of her of how she transforms herself over and over again on each walk.

So we started months before 'fly day' by going to new places everyday. By new places I mean carefully selected places for their sounds, smells and sights. Now I must say that Penny and have a relationship built on trust. She trusts me to never put her in harms way. I will do everything humanly possible to never break her trust. Also, at NO time was she forced to do anything she wasn't ready for. We would go to a shopping center and sit and watch people going in and out of the automatic door for days before I would ask her to go through one herself. She was given the opportunity to sniff and stationary shopping cart and figure it out on her own time, before I asked her to walk beside one. If you want to see the process of how I helped her get used to new strange things, check out my You Tube video how to help your dog overcome their fear of skate boards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaqX2PLC25A&t=21s.

And then we needed to learn how to be comfy in a crate. My philosophy in teaching a dog anything is to make it fun. I know I learn better when I am having fun, same goes for our dogs. Also, Thanks to being a student of Susan Garrett's I understand how important it is to make 'training' and fun game and positive experience. If you want to see how we started playing games with the crate check out this You tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0HYZS0klo8. We started with a soft crate with the top open and later when she was used to we got her the plastic airline approved crate. Her humans played with her several times day and made it such a fun positive experience she absolutely loved her crate by 'Fly day'.

 So after months of prep, the big day finally arrived. Penny traveled with her human mom and me. We had her crate, large size our human bags and one checked bag. Our goal was to make things as easy and as comfortable as possible for Penny. Even though the flight was scheduled to be only about 4 to 4.5 hours long we wanted to minimize her time in the crate so we walked her through the airport to the customer service desk, (When you fly with a dog you can not check in online) The crate did not have any type of handle on the top so I had bought two bungee type straps that had clips on the ends to attach to the crate to pull it through the air port or to lift it if needed. Penny waited in line at the service desk outside of the crate but when it was our turn she had to go in the crate and we had to put the crate with her in it up onto the scale. Yay for straps!

After her health certificate was checked and the customer service person inspected Penny while she was in the crate to make sure she had enough room to stand and turn around and we paid her fare we were directed to a special area for her and her kennel to be inspected by TSA.  It was here she had to come out of her kennel so they could check inside it. They also gave her a pat down. This was something I was not aware was going to happen. Luckily Penny is super friendly to strangers and did fine with it.Then she had to go back into the crate and this is where all that prep paid off. Penny went back in like a pro! But then then wheeled her away.

Which is hard on a human heart no matter how good everything is going.

Then we humans did all the human stuff one does at airports while waiting to board. You know, like, stay by the window and watch for when they brought Penny out to put her on the plane. Our watchfulness paid off because we did see her on the cart on the tarmac. So far, so good!

Once we were on the plane and settled I asked a flight attendant if there was a way to check that our dog got on the plane alright. He said he would check with the captain. It was about an hour later when the flight attendant asked us the strangest question... What temperature would you like for dog to travel in? Huh? I really had not though about that!

When we landed we needed to go to baggage claim to pick Penny up. Let me just say LAX has THE longest walk to baggage claim in the history of airports! We must have gone on at least four escalators not counting the people mover plus what felt like miles and miles of airport building.  And then finally! We made it! We found the special large item pick up....There was a surf board... but no Penny...So we had to wait...until at lost last they brought her out like a model on the runway! 'And here we have The Golden Retriever Miss Penny, Modeling this years newest Airline Crate!'

And she was looking great, A bit confused but all fine other wise. We immediately let her out and gave her water from the collapsible bowl I had in my bag. Her mom took her outside to potty while I waited for the checked bag but it was all cement and full of people with suitcases and cars making lots of noise so she didn't. I was a little concerned because we had a long ride to her new house but she seemed more concerned with staying near her mom than where to empty her bladder. 

When we got to her new house and she greeted her long lost human Daddy, she when out back and had to longest pee ever! AHHHHHH!

I am sure Penny is glad that particular adventure is over but I think if she had to do it again she would be thinking 'Don't worry guys, I got this!'


Share this post...

Previous post Next post


Leave a comment