The other day, I found a safety pin I had carelessly left stuck in the arm of the couch. I had been using it for a knitting project and had been too lazy to get up and put it away. I still didn’t feel like walking all the way upstairs and putting it in the little dish I keep for safety pins, so I pinned it to the pocket of my housecoat. In an instant, I was 4 years old and sitting on my grandmother’s lap, fingering the safety pins she had pinned to the front of her dress. “Grandma, why do you have all these safety pins on your hummy dum?” The hummy dum was the built in pillow, otherwise known as enormous breasts. It was a wonderful place to take a nap with your thumb in your mouth when you’re 4 years old. The safety pins had no pattern, no decorative purpose, but Grandma told me that “You never know when you’re going to need a safety pin.” No doubt that was true. I considered taking that safety pin off my pocket, but I like it there. Each time I touch it, I think of Grandma. I’m much older now than she was then. Hard to imagine. Her hair was coal black and wound around the top of her head like a crown, except at night, when she unpinned it and let her braid fall over her shoulders. She wore roomy dresses every day of the week, usually with an apron, except on Sundays, when the dresses required a corset. During the week, her feet were either bare or covered in casual moccasin type shoes, but for church and funerals, she wore old lady shoes that tied on top with a chunky heel. She was about as wide as she was tall, which was probably shorter than I am now, but I thought she was beautiful. Sometimes she wore a broach on her dress when she was dressing up, but it was the safety pins that made her ensemble complete.
On my recent flight to my daughter’s in Syracuse, make that flights, since it takes 2 flights to get there and 2 to get back, I discovered a new problem with traveling with a guide dog. It’s not that dogs are not allowed in airports or on planes. It’s not that there are no relief areas for service dogs, although most are placed outside the secure area, making it highly inconvenient to have to take a dog out and make your connection, and it’s not that they aren’t allowed in the various restaurants and food courts. It’s simply that there isn’t room for them at your feet. Oh sure, you can try to tuck their back ends under the seat in front of you, or you can sit in the bulkhead row, but there is room only for the dog, not your feet. I used to joke that I had to take my legs off and stow them in the overhead, but it’s not such a joke anymore.
On my 2 flights over there, I had the bulkhead row to myself, so all I had to worry about was Dora’s scooting up toward the aisle and getting her big paws out where they could be tramped on. But on the way back, both flights were full. During the first one, the lady seated next to me was concerned that my dog’s head was touching her foot. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t make my dog smaller, and the lady was lucky that she had claimed her foot room first, or Dora would have laid her head on top of the lady’s feet. The flight attendant and I convinced her that Dora was a very sweet dog and that she would try very hard not to bother her. By the end of that flight, the lady was cooing to Dora and seemed quite happy to be her seatmate. On the last flight,, however, as I was seated in the window seat and Dora was stretched out across the other seat’s foot space, a man came to claim his seat next to me and declared to the flight attendant that this was his seat, but he couldn’t sit there. There was no room for his feet, and he was right. The flight attendant asked me if I would be willing to move to another seat, so I could tuck Dora under the seat in front of me. Great plan if she didn’t have these long legs and long body. I said I would try, but it was obvious to everyone in thee vicinity that that was not the solution. At last, a kind woman sitting in the row behind me volunteered to sit next to me and just drape her legs over the top of Dora. My legs weren’t long enough to drape over her, so I either had to put my feet on top of her or prop them on the bulkhead itself, which I did. I don’t know. Maybe the other lady did that too.
If there are any large dog-handlers who read this blog, I would love to know how you solve this problem. You hear about men who have been scrunched up so their knees are under their chins, because the seats have been moved closer together, and you hear about people getting upset because the inconsiderate person in front of them can’t stand to sit upright for an hour, but what do you do about traveling with a service dog that absolutely cannot be squeezed under the seat in front of you? Am I going to have to buy a separate ticket for her? Am I going to have to buy a first class seat? I can make her sit up for the entire trip, another suggestion from a different flight attendant with a previous guide. And I’m certainly not going to put her in a crate in the belly of the plane. Maybe I should just hire someone to drive us.
On Wednesday, July 15, Dora turned 3. It’s hard to believe that she’s 3 years old already. She was just a baby for so long, and now she’s all grown up. She still loves to play, is very athletic, takes her work very seriously, and is strong as an ox, but I have noticed a slight mellowing of personality. She is content to lie still for longer periods of time. She is not pestering me constantly to play with her toy. She has a set routine for certain parts of the day that I could set my watch by. In other words, we are quite comfortable together.
Yesterday, Dora had her 2 doggy friends Baggins and Winifred over for a birthday party. Baggins and Winifred are golden/doodles, and they don’t have a fenced in yard, so it’s a treat for them to come and romp in Dora’s back yard. They were all so excited that the first thing they all did was squat and tinkle. Then it was run run run, bark, chase the ball, pant, slop some water, chase the ball again, greet the neighbor dogs who came out to see who was throwing a party, and then do it all again. After they had got that out of their systems, they each got a Frosty Paws, a frozen treat for dogs, and yes, we all sang Happy Birthday. Baggins and Winifred brought a birthday gift of 4 enormous biscuits, and when they left, they each got a toy, that thankfully arrived via UPS just in time for the party. Dave and Kathy, who live with Baggins and Winifred, took photos and videos of the party. Sorry it didn’t work out for me to put them up here. We were blessed with a rare day of sunshine, and we made the most of it.