Part of it is my fault. I came up with the idea of flying too late to be eligible for the 14-day advance fares that ordinarily make the trip from Tucson to San Diego so appealing on Southwest. But no matter how far in advance you book, flying with a pet on Southwest adds $150 round trip (plus tax) to the fare, which makes it a far pricier proposition. Another no-frills carrier, Jet Blue, charges $100 each way to let you tuck your small dog or cat under your seat. Note to airlines: Frankie can’t be both carry-on baggage (as his “in lieu of” status was described to me on the phone by the very nice Southwest rep) and a frill.
In addition, I would have to pay for a rental car. San Diego’s not a city you can easily navigate without your own wheels. And with a pup in tow? Not an option.
The flight to San Diego is 50 minutes, as opposed to the 7-to 7.5- hour drive — the main appeal of air travel. But then there’s the drive to the airport. The car drop off in the parking lot. The separate check-in and payment for Frankie (a.k.a. “canine carry on”). The security check. Frankie, being part terrier, is very stubborn. Getting him to empty his pockets of coins and cell phone would not be easy.
And Frankie is diabetic. The idea of having to explain canine diabetes — “yes, they need insulin shots, yes, those needles are for him” — to a security guard seemed daunting.
Given that Frankie would serve as my carry-on and my secondary bag would include medication, an ice pack for the insulin, and some special food for Frankie, who can’t get shots on an empty stomach, I would have to check everything else: Clothes, dog toys, more food. I probably wouldn’t have been able to take my laptop (hmmm, that might not have been a bad thing).
One reason I love car trips is that you can throw everything you can possibly envision needing into the trunk. As the queen of the bad packers (yes, even though I’m a sometimes travel writer) I hate to forgo that.
Frankie may not be thrilled about being in a car, but there’s no reason to assume that sitting in the dark under my feet in a vehicle that is not only moving but making really loud noises would please him either. And tranquilizers of any kind are contraindicated for air travel (even in the cabin, and even for normally nosed — as opposed to brachycephalic — dogs). I’m thinking that 50 minutes under those circumstances — not to mention all the encounters with strangers that my shy guy would be forced to endure — might easily be the equivalent of seven hours in a loathed but at least familiar form of transport.
The bathroom problem (mine, not Frankie’s) that was distressing me (see previous post) has been solved. You can teach an old dog (me, not Frankie) new tricks. On my friend Karyn’s suggestion, I found a ride share on Craigslist, a University of Arizona student who described herself as “harmless.” I can’t speak for her driving yet.
The drug problem (Frankie’s, not mine) remains. Clare, my best friend, who is meeting me in San Diego with her dog, Archie, tells me that I have to use pure lavender oil in order for it to work. I’m going to the vet later to see about another go at Valium, and maybe a try at Buspirone, mentioned by one of the many helpful people on Twitter as recommended by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, renowned veterinary behaviorist and pharmacologist, for carsickness.
Update: My vet prescribed Xanax, 1/8 of a pill to start. Fingers (and paws) crossed. If it doesn’t work, I’ll take the rest of the pills.
This is my last post until…well, I feel like it, since I’ll be on vacation, but I’ll report back on the car trip, Archie and Clare, and of course the Surf Dog festival.