Benji the Weary Traveler

I purposefully got a six-pound dog so he could travel with me in airplanes. Because of my schedule, I spend a lot of time flying, and I wanted a dog who could go with me in the cabin, rather than being checked as luggage.

Poor Benji. He isn't a great traveler. I've had him for a month now, and we've been in the car multiple times and on two cross-country plane trips. After the first plane trip I knew he was nervous and Benadryl had no calming effect, so I consulted his vet who gave him some Doggie Downers (a.k.a. tranquelizers.) She told me to try them out a few days before. Gave him one earlier this week. Nothing. So I gave him another one (she said to). Again, nothing. The next day I went back to the vet and got a stronger prescription - Xanax. He seemed to be okay at home, though he definitely didn't sleep like I thought he would. Still, I was out of time.

So and hour before we left, I gave Benji a Xanax. Nothing. In the car on the way to the airport he panted and shivered like he was terrified:

Yep. That's my dog on Xanax. He clearly knew something unusual was happening, and he wasn't happy about it.

At the airport I carried him through security, and then put him in his carrier, which actually calmed him down quite a bit. I think the confined space is comforting, to a point. When you check in with a dog, the officials warn you that he is not permitted outside of the carrier in the airport or the airplane. Some airports do have pet relief areas, but they're typically outside of security and a long distance away. Unless you have several hours' layover, it's not feasible to try to make it that far.

The first leg of our trip was okay. He was pretty quiet, though he pressed up against my foot through the mesh sides of the carrier. And I slipped him a few pieces of beef jerky, which he actually ate, so I knew he wasn't too freaked out.

Our layover in Atlanta was only an hour. I took him into the ladies' room and let him out of his carrier in a large stall. He just seemed anxious, and definitely didn't like the automatic flusher! He went back into his carrier voluntarily.

Then came an ordeal. We boarded the second plane, but then the flight was delayed. We sat on the tarmac for over an hour, and after we finally took off the flight was over four hours. Benji started getting antsy and moving around in his carrier quite a bit. I gave him another half of a Xanax, but again it had no noticeable effect. Twice I snuck him back to the lavatory and got him out to get a drink, but he those places are pretty small and he was still pretty anxious. I lined the floor with potty paper, but he only paced anxiously.

When we finally reached our destination and were waiting beside the luggage carousel, Benji had had enough. He started to bark, and then to howl. Poor little guy! People stared, and said, "Poor little puppy." I couldn't let him out inside the airport, but I did let him stick his head out of the carrier. As soon as I got my bag, we ran outside and found a handy shrub. Ahhh, relief!

It was late, and I was so tired. But I didn't have the heart to put him in his crate for the night, where he usually sleeps. So we played a while, and ran around the yard in the dark until he was finally tired and I was exhausted.