Flying with a Dog

When I started this blog, my intention was to share my personal experiences in various aspects of life, specially associated to dogs. I am no expert, an influencer or a psychologist. I only write what I have personally been through or have firsthand experience with. I have been exposed to many different variants of life and I relish sharing the same with all of you. I was lucky enough to have learnt about flying with dogs in an airplane through a friend of mine who relocated from India to America with his wife and fur baby. Let me share this escapade with you guys.

Last year, I was planning to shift to America with Junior. I had asked my vet and another friend of mine who had relocated overseas about the procedure, and, their experience. The procedure that time included:  

  1. Getting your dog microchipped
  2. Getting him a passport
  3. Getting his medical checkup done from government approved clinics or centers as per the requirement of the country travelling to. The same then needed to be submitted to the consulate
  4. One had to travel within 3 days on getting approval from the respective country
  5. Dogs fly in a crate as per the size norms and that too in the luggage compartment

While, all this sounds stressful, my friend told me that it would be better to hand over all the paperwork to a designated agency who specialize in dog air travel. That was cool with me.

Junior and Jack

So some months ago, when my other friend decided to travel, he asked me about the procedure and I explained him all of the above. To my surprise, when he came back to me after enquiring at various places, I got to know that many rules had changed in just a year; not to forget the additional recent restrictions due to COVID! So, to my shock, almost none of my advice was useful to him.

Now, my friend was adamant to take his dog with him in the cabin as he suffers from depression. I am not much aware of India having any rules for emotional support dogs and I had never heard of anyone travelling with theirs dogs in the cabin from India.

So here’s how he made it to America with his dog and wife by his side. Let me inform you, his wife is an American citizen for which he was given permission to travel as at the moment no International Flights have resumed to fly without any reason. First, he started the paper work (medicals and passport) of his dog on his own. In the meantime, he looked for flights which were going to America from India in COVID19. He had two options, a direct flight or a via Europe flight. The first confusion was here itself; whether a dog will be comfortable to travel 13 hours straight in the flight or give him a break after 8 hours’ flight in Europe for 3 hours and then catch a connecting flight.

At the Airport

We were contemplating, until then he continued with the paperwork, his packing and his depression. While all this was going on, I shared a personal experience with him about microchipping the dog. One time when I was at the Vet, I had seen an American couple adopt a stray dog from Mumbai and they had come to the vet to microchip him. And the experience was so bad for my eyes as the dog let out a loud cry when the vet inserted a microchip in him. This experience was almost 7 to 8 years old. My friend and his wife panicked that if it is this painful, then their dog will probably fall ill and they will have to take a flight after he recovers. He did more research and came to the knowledge that now even the microchipping process has changed and it is not that painful. He went to his vet and got his dog microchipped and his dog was absolutely fine. Thank God!

By this time, he had decided to take a via Europe flight. Since my friend was suffering from depression from many years, and he was already stressed out about shifting to a new country due to unavoidable circumstances, he had no option but to have his dog by his side. His dog has been a massive support system for him since 4 years and has helped him mentally way beyond expected. Also, he panics when he flies, so he wanted his wife and dog with him. So, he applied for all relevant permissions to fly with his dog in the cabin. In addition, due to COVID19 only American Citizens are allowed to transit in European countries from India. He being an Indian Citizen would not be allowed to land in Europe. So he requested and applied for permissions to even land in Europe for transit with his dog and wife.

A blessing in disguise came through. Because of restrictions, COVID19, and his severe depression state, all his applications got approved as there were very few people travelling. Now, the time was coming close to actually travel and his depression got severe thinking about flying and comfort of his dog, but he was determined and his wife too was a great support; so we started planning out about how to make the journey comfortable and hassle free.

In the plane cabin

Since his dog is a Cocker Spaniel, a small cute dog who required less space physically, yet needed space to sleep or move around a little, he decided to consult his vet and take an anxiety pill with him just in case his dog gets uneasy in the flight. Besides that, he put him on a harness instead of collar and made him wear a t-shirt to feel cozy and easier to handle. He also made his dog walk outside the airport to relieve himself. Muzzle is a compulsion at Indian Airports, so he made sure he had it and kept a little food and some treats with him. In the airport, his wife made sure that they were away from people to avoid any accidents. His dog is extremely well mannered but my friend’s anxiety had taken over and he was over precautious, which was good in a way. He didn’t feed his dog atleast for 2 hours before the flight to avoid him throwing up.

Transit Airport

They decided to board the flight last. Fortunately, everyone was comfortable with the dog in the flight and they received a lot of help as well. His dog went off to sleep in the flight. When they landed in Europe, he walked his dog, made him attend his nature’s call at the animal designated area and relaxed and then boarded his next flight. It was a smooth journey and all the officials at all the airports were extremely helpful and courteous.

Today, they are having a great time in America, and, his dog experienced the first snow as well. What started with a lot of confusion and misinformation, followed by a lot of hard work of my friend and his wife, depression attacks and anxiety, panicking and sweating, ended with a smooth effortless journey and a happy ending. This entire episode was completely new for me and I am glad to have experienced this and share this adventure with all of you. The most important thing I learnt through all this was if you are determined then nothing can stop you. This is the strength and love of dogs. They even take your depression away.

Happy, relaxed journey in the flight

You are stuck!

I have heard this a million times and still hear it – “You are stuck!”. Why do people say this? It is because I am a single woman with a dog, and, I cancel out on a lot of plans. I believe many would be able to relate to this. But what people do not understand is, I am not stuck. This is the life I have chosen for myself and I am enjoying it. Not just enjoying, but I am extremely comfortable as well.

I had a friend tell me, “you are missing out on it”. This was when the clubs had opened and I had an invite for a Halloween Party, and, I refused to go so that I could stay home with Junior. What I do not understand is, what am I missing out on? Meeting random people and sharing unnecessary information or drinking with people whose company I barely enjoy or just click pictures and share it on social media to show the world that I have a pretty amazing life? Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-social and neither am I an introvert. I have just learnt that my peace is more important than anything else. I socialize; but only with friends and family that I enjoy with. I share my life only with the ones I am comfortable with. I spend my money only on things that give me happiness in return.

But every time I cancel a plan, 99% of the time people tell me “I am stuck”. My priority is Junior, and, under no circumstances I will ever compromise on his food or walk timings. People feel that just because I have to feed Junior at a particular time, I cannot come out and I am stuck with him. They also feel that just because I have to wake up early to walk Junior, I cannot stay out late for any parties and I am stuck. NO! This is my life. Junior is my son and I am extremely happy living the way I am living. I choose to be at home in my pajamas, messy hair, cook a meal, watching some series or paint and Junior by my side, rather than going out clubbing or dinners where I have to fake laugh and be around people. This is not something I have to do; it’s something I choose to do.

When I was dating someone, I did the same. We would go out once a week, but on all other days, we would cook dinner together, eat, laugh, drink and have fun while Junior would sleep next to us. For me, this is called spending quality time.

When I was young, or let’s say, when I was in college, I would hate being home. All day long, I would just be roaming outside going for lunches or bowling, movies, clubbing or just chill at a friend’s place. I have done it all. But as I grew older and matured with time and circumstances, I found more peace in being by myself and my dogs.

And by all means, this also doesn’t mean that I am not in touch with people. Of course I am in touch with all my friends and family members. Every now and then I will text and call my friends, ask them their whereabouts, share my routine with them, meet up family members occasionally, go for holidays with cousins and friends, etc. Moreover, it’s where my energy takes me. I do not force myself for the sake of being in touch or being social to go out.

During the lockdown, I had seen and heard so many people getting anxious or depressed only because they couldn’t go out. Honestly, nothing wrong with people who enjoy going out every now and then. But the lockdown, didn’t make any difference to me. I got to spend so much time with Junior, cook different dishes and excelled in different forms and styles of painting. It’s not that I do not feel lonely ever. But feeling lonely at home is much better than feeling alone in a crowd.

I actually do things that I enjoy. I am more productive. When I meet people occasionally, I enjoy their company more. I feel independent. I don’t have the burden to constantly keep people happy. I don’t look for validation. I enjoy the serenity of silence. I feel completely relaxed. I enjoy Junior’s company to the fullest and I relish my Tea in my pajamas. I am not a loner. I just refuse to waste my energy and money on anything that doesn’t bring me happiness and peace.

But, the world is so quick to judge. People believe or rather assume, without taking into consideration the facts, I am stuck at home because of Junior. They never understand that dogs ask for nothing. They never keep us stuck. Infact, the amount of love and comfort they give us is unbelievable. Infact, Junior’s meal and walk timings are fixed as per my schedule. So how do people judge that Junior has held me back! Many even say, I will not get a husband because I have a dog. Who will accept me with a dog? While I know this isn’t true and there are load of men who are dog lovers as well; if there is even an ounce of truth in that statement, then I am happier alone than be with someone who does not appreciate my dog.

One harsh truth I would like to share with you all. All these people who have told me that I am stuck or who are in a hurry to give up my dog for adoption and just get me married to any random person just because I am aging, are the ones who left my side when I was going through a tough time. My friend had told me once, “Never leave or compromise on your priorities for someone or to keep them happy, because when it is their turn to come for you, they will turn their backs on you.” I stand by this and also have firsthand experience.

I even come back midway from weddings to be with Junior.

This lockdown showed me a lot of people’s true intentions and true faces. And I am glad for that. Now all the more I love spending time at home and with Junior and do not waste my energy, time and money on unnecessary people. Also, Junior is aging, and, I want to make his old age as comfortable as possible and want to spend maximum time with him. I only want to spend time with people who understands me and who never take offense if do not call them or meet them regularly because they know it is nothing personal. It is just who I am!

I am single. Don’t pity me. I am not lonely. I choose to live like this. Because I have seen it all. I am done. Done settling, done dating shitty men, done relying on relatives, done supporting friends who turned out to be snakes. Because now I know what I deserve. What I want. I can wait, but not compromise on Junior and my peace. And NO, I AM NOT STUCK!

This is my comfort zone and I love it.