WINNIPEG, Manitoba — My friends know that among the passions in my life, dogs and travel rank pretty high. These same friends also know that the two are often mutually exclusive as they are called in for sled dog-sitting duties when I am out answering the call of the open road.
But with the addition of my new house dog Chiclet, things have changed a bit.
In addition to being a great companion, Chiclet — who is half Chihuahua and half Yorkie — is extremely portable. All five pounds, two ounces of her.
So when I made plans for a vacation trip to see my friend Julie in Winnipeg, it made sense to book passage for Chiclet, too.
I mean, in my travels I had seen numerous people on planes with their tiny dogs. How difficult could this be?
Then I started looking at the logistics and am only a bit ashamed to say far more planning and expense went into getting Chiclet on the plane than for me.
After reading — and pretty much committing to memory — the Air Canada regulations on traveling with pets, and because she is so small, I knew Chiclet would fit in a carrier that I could bring on board as carry-on and slide under the seat in front of me.
But I was unsure of the size constraints of the carrier. Clearly, some additional online research was in order.
Now, journalism is not all trench coats, fedoras and stopping of presses.
There are times much of my day is spent waiting for people to call me back. On one of those days I was able to research every plane in the Air Canada fleet and the maximum size of the under-the-seat carry-on allowed on each plane.
Once I analyzed all of that information, I was able to order the perfect tiny dog carrier for my tiny travel companion.
My next concern was what to do about responding to her calls of nature while in transit, as the airports through which I was flying don’t have indoor doggy relief stations.
Since we were going to be traveling nine hours in all, and Chiclet can hold it for up to 12 hours, I figured I’d roll the dice and hope for the best.
Worst case? I’d be cleaning up a tiny accident in the terminal.
Then there were the required doggy medical records I needed to bring along in addition to securing a recent health certificate from my veterinarian.
From that point it was then a matter of selecting which of her jackets she wanted to bring, packing up her food, leash, favorite toy and loading her up.
Let me just say right now, with two flights and roughly 1,200 air miles under her collar, Chiclet is ready to claim jet setter status.
At the Quebec City airport we checked in with no issues or inspection of medical records — in fact, the agent looked quite confused as I tried to get her to at least look at the health certificate.
She breezed through airport security in my arms — pets are not allowed to remain in their carriers going through screening — and was a very good sport about being removed from her cozy carrier, scanned and placed back inside at an unGodly early hour of the morning.
Part of her accommodating mood may have been due to a lovely 24 hours spent in Quebec and the Old City and at a hotel in which we met dozens of current and past members of the University of Laval football team.
I can never un-see the sight of giant linebackers, blockers and receivers holding and fussing over my wee dog.
Her mood was also mellowed by the calming medications prescribed by my veterinarian to take some of the traveling edge off. Either way, she was good as gold on the planes, with several people commenting on how well behaved and quiet she was.
In the Montreal airport, where we had a four-hour layover, however, I got a taste of what every parent traveling with a toddler experiences.
She got bored, and that boredom soon transformed into fussiness.
For a time she was content to sit on my lap and people watch or look at the planes going by.
Then she occupied herself leaping over the rows of seats in the terminal and looking for any dropped food crumbs on the floor.
During a time span when there were very few waiting passengers in or around our gate, I took out her toy and she chased it around much to the amusement of the ticketing agents.
When she tired of the toy, she wanted to be in my lap, then on the floor, then snoozing in her carrier, then back down on the floor or leaping over the seats again.
I can’t begin to express my relief to hear our flight departure called and that we were not among those bumped off the overbooked flight.
Into her carrier she went, on to the plane and under the seat in preparation for take off.
I will admit she did squeal a bit at that point, and I had to assure those sitting around us it was a dog, not the plane getting ready to self destruct.
Three hours — and one flight attendant mild scolding later after she saw Chiclet out of her carrier and sleeping on my lap — we were touching down in Winnipeg.
I don’t want to get too cocky, as we still have to make it back home, but I do think my dog is on her way to becoming a world traveler.
And you know what? It’s a big world and I can’t wait to explore it with a tiny dog.