Yesterday morning I woke up in the familiarity of my friend Aalap’s apartment. Everything I had with me had been thrown about as if a tornado of one woman had hit the apartment. Shoes, clothes, and cords everywhere the eye could see. I let out of bed, ran to the gym, and ran my final errands in the Seattle area. This morning I woke up on the couch exhausted and with the sensation of having been hit by a tornado myself. My move is complete. I now live in Austin Texas. I’ve been talking about doing this for 3 years or more. The weather is perfect, the air smells of some fragrant flower I can’t identify, and I’m happy to be home.
We arrived at the airport with 2 suit cases ado and a cat. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to evaluate that Camilla is not a service dog. We had to try to get her by as a service dog as that was the only way to get both animals on the plane.
At the ticketing counter the cashier was having trouble understanding that I had a cat. I get that they weren’t charging me for Camilla as a service dog but there should be a $125 charge for the cat. I kept offering her my card, pointing to my cat, saying “What about the Cat?” and reminding her to charge me. She acknowledged my cat and said we don’t charge for service animals. In the back of my mind I was thinking “A service cat?” I’m fairly certain no such thing exists.
We made it to security. I overheard one of the security guard say “there is no way that’ a service dog”. I admit they had a valid point. By this point we were all in, no turning back.
I used a little trick I learned from my Dad. You can glaze over something that someone says no matter how valid or obviously true by acting indignant. It is in these situations where you have to not only look at them like you are obviously in the right, but add a hint of I’m shocked you didn’t know this. A look that say “You didn’t know that they use terriers adopted from shelters for the blind? You didn’t know that the fact that she is standing behind me with her own tale in her mouth as part of her duties as an assistant? How is it that you didn’t know that? I bet your feeling rely stupid.” It works every time.
Onto the next hurtle. Now we have to get through security. There is a rule that if you are traveling with an animal you have to carry the animal in your arms. It follows that if you are traveling with two animals you have to carry both in your arms. I wish I had video of this scene. I had a cat and a dog under my arm as I follow there guidance through the metal detectors. We made it with flying colors. Fortunately for me both m animals are good travelers.
Throughout the trip I had at least 3 people ask me if Zoe was a service cat. I responded that shies my financial advisor. She handles to books.
I had a man who trained service dogs approach to talk to me about Camilla. I knew my answers would be weak as I’m a terrible lira. It is in these situations that you’re best to ask someone else a lot of questions. Just keep them talking about themselves. So I bombarded him with “Where are you from, how many siblings? do you swim? Where’d you get those shoes? …. “And on and on.
Truth be told considering that I crammed a terrier and a cat in a space about 1 out wide and maybe 2 feet long for 4 hours they were incredible. Camilla didn’t bark once. Zoe didn’t meow. Everything was smooth sailing until the last 10 minutes when they both got restless. Even then they weren’t so bad. A man sitting next to me was returning from a chemistry conference. He didn’t realize that the duffle bag at my feet was actually a soft carrier for a cat. At the end of the flight he taps me on the arm and says “I’m sorry to bother you miss, but your bag is moving.” I was shocked to find out there was a cat.
The chemist, Geon, was the kindest man on the face of the planet. He is doing his PhD in Houston, but is originally from Manila. As I was DE boarding the plane he and his fellow grad student were asking me if I needed help. Of course my first reaction was to give them the 10 k reasons why I didn’t need help. In these moments I really believe I can navigate an unknown airport with 2 bags, one hand, a cat and a dog. As I was walking away I had a realization that they actually would be happy to help me. I turned around and walked right back and asked them both for help. They were such a godsend.
So there I was as my two new friends gather my baggage I alternated walking my dog outside on a leash allowing her a break and walking my cat on a leash. I arrived a 2:00 are, left the airport on the shuttle about 2:30 am, arrived home at 3:00 am. I knew the cat needed litter and the dog a walk. I took off for the 24 hour grocery. As it would turn out I didn’t know exactly where the store was. We walked for an hour to find a store that is 4 blocks away. In the end we found it and made better time on the way home.
What a long day, but everyone made it home safe against all odds. I’ll write more soon.