A Mother of two living, eating, cooking and writing as a Foreign Service Trailing Spouse.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Incredible Flying Labradudes
I have come to realize that when it comes to dogs in the foreign service, there are two schools of thought. There are those who have the "my dogs go where I go" attitude and then there's the "this is not a good life for a dog" folks. Unfortunately, I've noticed, that many people who have the former attitude are new to the FS, while those who think dogs are best left stateside are seasoned officers. This is a total generalization. In fact, we have a friendly neighbor, a 25-year veteran of the service, who dotes on his petite female Lab with as much dedication as any landlubber would. But in fairness, he seems to be an exception.
As anyone who has kept up with my blog knows, we have two, large Labrador Retrievers. Otis, the elder statesman of the two, celebrated his 12th year over the weekend. Retrievers have an unfortunate average lifespan of 10-12 years. But this an average, which takes into account all the fluky passings of much younger dogs from heart attacks, strokes, and defects of other varieties. This reminds me of our recently departed friend, Mac, who was taken last month by a large tumor on his heart. He was only 9 and his death was unfair. It was also exceptional. MOST retrievers live well into the double digits, as Otis father proved by living to an energetic 16 years!
Now to the heart of the matter: We are flying to Brussels in less than 4 weeks and we have, just today, begun to get very serious about preparing our pooches for the flight. It has me thinking a lot about the impact this is going to have on my old pal. If you has asked me even three years ago if I would be willing to put him in a crate and fly him for 9 hours, I would have said, "absolutely not. We'll drive... or take a boat... or anything other than that!" But, now, our very livelihood depends on flying to foreign countries and Brussels is a very canine friendly place. There isn't really a choice... except that I could leave the old guy with my mother, which is completely uncharacteristic of me. I have never gone anywhere without him.
But, I am definitely agonizing over this. I am definitely imagining all the worst case scenarios. He's very sensitive and easily agitated and he's utterly co-dependent, so no matter how you slice it, the flight itself is going to be torture for him. The real question is: after the flight is over, will he be okay and back to his old self? Will he suffer any long-term emotional damage? (You're probably wondering why I am not worried about Rudi. He's a rescue dog and has been through far worse. He's also kind of a silly bone-head. I have total confidence he'll come out the baggage hold wagging his tail, with the same goofy look on his face. He's also 6.) Ugh. I have said it before and I am going to say it again, having the dogs is the toughest part of all of this and it was the biggest obstacle to my agreeing to do it. Now, here we are and I really hope it's all just going to be okay...