Dogs of a Feather

On a commercial flight, the benefit of sitting next to a peacock outweighs the drawbacks. During a midair emergency I plan to grab anything with wings that might provide extra lift.

PILOT: “Passengers, assume brace position for crisis landing!”

WOMAN WITH PEACOCK: “Oh, my baby! Comfort me!”

ME: “Lady, here’s a hundred bucks and my pretzels. Now gimme that bird!”

But the proliferation of “emotional-support” animals aboard flights has airlines questioning their credentials and tightening restrictions. The issue has received major news coverage after a New York photographer/performance artist was barred from boarding a United Airlines flight with her peacock, Dexter, who had a ticket but no carry-on. The airline reportedly denied Dexter a seat because the bird didn’t meet several guidelines, including weight, size and being a peacock.

Airlines are reconsidering what defines a comfort animal because of fraud and their potential danger to other passengers. Acceptable are professionally certified support animals, such as trained, harnessed service dogs. Doubtful are the more unusual companions, like a hive of honey bees or my nephew, Avery.

Conflicting service animal guidelines and fluctuating baggage fees leave many dogs confused about their status.
Conflicting service animal guidelines and fluctuating baggage fees
leave many dogs confused about their status.
This leaves as questionable a wide array of animals, which is raising concerned discussions at the dog park.

BRITISH BULLDOG: “–and they crammed him in a tiny crate, then stuffed it in the overhead compartment. And later when they open the crate, the dog was gone and there was a hook in the door!”

GATHERED DOGS: (In unison) “Ooooo!”

BORDER COLLIE: “Is that true?”

BRITISH BULLDOG: “I heard it from a blind service dog who was there. He saw it!”

BORDER COLLIE: “But he’s blind.”

COCKAPOO: “I wondered about that, too.”

BRITISH BULLDOG: “Well, he could see when he told me the story.”

COCKAPOO: “Oh! That makes sense.”

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “I’d never travel in a crate. I’d sit right next to my Giant and put my head in her lap and sigh like I do when she watches the news. That makes her happy. Sometimes she calls me her big, fluffy Xanax.”

MIXED BREED: “What’s that?”

GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “It’s like those chewy bites Giants give us for ticks. Only it helps them watch the news.”

BURNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “Would I have to go in a crate? I’d need a big crate. A really, really big crate! Ask me how big!”

YORKSHIRE TERRIER: “My Giants carry me on board in a bag. It’s really snuggly. But I have to keep quiet and there’s no cable.”

BURNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “ –a big, huge crate!”

BEAGLE: “Have you ever talked with one of those service dogs? What a bunch’a stiffs! No sense of humor.”

BURNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “C’mon! Somebody ask me ‘How big?’”

While the airlines, federal regulators, and disability rights advocates argue over what defines an acceptable emotional-support animal, all agree on one point: No one wants Budleigh on their airplane.

How these disparate groups heard about Budleigh, our terrier thing, is unclear. Probably complaints about his behavior were filed by the powerful Amalgamated Union of Dog Toe Nail Trimmers and Industrial Pipe Fitters. While Budleigh is energetic and intelligent, some would describe him as strong-willed, others as Stage Two Rabid. That’s just how it is with terriers. Ask any rabbit carcass.

Although it pains me to agree with regulators, I’ve driven with Budleigh and learned that he must never travel on anything but his own legs and no faster than 45 miles-per-hour.

Safely securing a dog while driving is best done using a crash-tested crate, anchored harness and bubble wrap. Budleigh doesn’t agree and protests by gnawing on restraints, dramatically contorting his body, and shrieking, “I am not an animal! I am a human being!”

However, an unrestrained Budleigh in the car is no more emotionally supportive than, say, driving with an open pot of scalding hot soup.

GIANT 1: “Hon, if it’s not too inconvenient would you drag your dog off the dashboard before he ejects someone?”

BUDLEIGH: “What does this thing do? How about this thing?”

GIANT 2: “C’mere, Budleigh! Cookie! CookieCookieCookie!”

BUDLEIGH: “Are you serious? Look what’s on the floor back here! We all should eat this! Mostly me!”

GIANT 2: “He’s under your seat, Dave. Oh, gross! What is he eating?”

GIANT 1: “Car?”

GIANT 2: “I’ve got his leash! No, Budleigh! Drop! Drop!”

BUDLEIGH: “I am not an animal!”

GIANT 1: “Why do I see him in every mirror? How many are there?”

BUDLEIGH: “Look! There’s a rabbit! Let me out here!”

GIANT 2: “Dave, he’s lowering the window! No, Budleigh! C’mere! COOKIE!”

BUDLEIGH: “I am not an anim— OK, I’m a bit of an animal. Gimme that!

GIANT 1: “Look, just keep him in your lap until we reach the end of our driveway.”

BUDLEIGH: “What’s this do?”

VOICE: “Connecting to OnStar!”

GIANT 2: “Damn it, Budleigh!”

ONSTAR: “This is OnStar. How can I help you?”

GIANT 1: “Do you own a dog?”

ONSTAR: “No, I don’t.”

GIANT 1: “Would you like one?”


12 thoughts on “Dogs of a Feather

  1. Hi Dave,
    Very funny. A bit put off there was no mention of black labs. You need to work on that.
    Your pal,
    (the guy who married Linda)

    1. Wait! You’re married to Linda? For years I’ve wondered why you’re at so many family gatherings. Always thought you were a server. Good to know, Bert! dj

      1. Poor Budleigh gets a bad rap🙄I happen to know he’s not THAT bad😱just a wee bit hyper. Many of us don’t enjoy flying✈️😩 Also liked serious piece. Very well said🤔Everyone is hurting from tragedy.

        1. Thanks, Schnapps. To misquote Mel Brooks, If dogs were meant to fly, the Lord would have given them tickets.

          Also, the serious piece Schnapps mentioned is the message I wrote to Sleeping between Giants subscribers when I distributed this column. It read:

          “A note on writing humor in terrible times:

          When is news so bleak that a humorist shouldn’t post a new piece? I’ve wrestled with this one many times. Too many times. And I still don’t know. This latest column is about dogs. It’s not about mass shootings, or gun control, or inept leadership. Maybe it should be. Humor can be a hammer blow when enough people are laughing.

          But this one’s about dogs. I was writing it just as Hell came to a high school in Parkland, Florida.

          Writing humor is the way I cope. Reading humor, maybe that’s a way that helps you to cope. Like I said, I don’t know. But you do. So here’s the column.”


  2. Writing and reading humor is the way I cope with the rough patches of life, Dave. And humorists are more important than ever in our broken and tragic world. There are bad things that happen every day but when people can read something funny it gives them a moment of escape. Providing that moment for them is a worthwhile mission. It can’t compete with what dogs can do to help people. My favorite line: ‘Sometimes she calls me her big, fluffy Xanax.’

  3. Budleigh reminds me of a little terrier mix I used to have. Terriers can best be described as miniature perpetual motion machines with fur. They’re a lot of fun most of the time, but not when you are trying to hold them down! LOL!

    1. Love that “perpetual motion machines with fur” analogy, Kathy! Recalls a comment I heard a few years back on a British documentary series about canines. In a segment on terriers, they interviewed an animal scientist who was an expert either in dogs or just in being bitten. The terrier, he explained, was bred for its small, powerful build and killer instincts.

      “They’re like sharks,” he said. “Only more vicious.”

      Isn’t that adorable?

      Thanks for reading! dj

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