The "Joys" of Flying with a Service Animal

Lots of people will stop me at the airport and ask how I was able to get my dog on boardand how much it costs to take him.  Of course, since I don't have a physical aliment or a disability one key see, they assume I must be a dog trainer.  I carefully explain to them that he is a service animal and, as such, is allowed to fly per the ADA rules.  Usually, I will get comments on how they would like to do that, and it must be nice taking a dog everywhere.  These statements could not be farther from the truth.   Having a service animal, especially training one, is a long, and sometimes very difficult process.  Imagine having to tote around an infant with you daily, always worrying about if their needs are being met and trying your best to keep them calm and under control without meltdowns or crying.  This scenario is very similar to flying with a service dog, especially one in training.  Below, you will see a picture of Earl's first official flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Denver, Colorado,  he was 10 weeks old.

While this first trip was not too bad considering I could still pick him up, it did have its share of challenges that were new to both of us. First, you have to consider when to feed your dog, and how much water to give them prior to flying. Since Earl gets a little motion sick, I decided to not feed him until after we got to our destination. I thought that would keep an accident from happening but I quickly found out that wasn't going to be the case.  As soon as we passed through the security checkpoint and I put him down while I got my shoes on, he took a nice, puppy poop right next to where all the officers with guns were standing!  Of course, this drew a lot of attention to us, and some laughs by passing people.  A lovely couple walked by when I was cleaning it up with all purpose wipes, and said, "Welcome to being a parent!"  They were certainly right, as I toted my puppy "diaper bag" along with me with all the essentials. Once on board, I didn't feel comfortable letting him sit at my feet, so I held him for the duration of the flight.I wanted to ensure he felt safe, and of course, that no more accidents would take place.  Once again, I learned what it is like to be a parent holding a baby and having no hands free.  Lucky for me, I was sitting in the bulkhead with 2 very kind gentleman that helped me during the flight.  Oh to the joys of flying with an animal!