Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Have Dog, Will Travel

When I first made the decision to get a dog, I knew one of the most important things would be to have a pup who would be small enough to accompany me in the cabin on my frequent flights to Colorado. At 17lbs, Holly is about as big as a dog can be in order to fly (many airlines have a 20lb weight limit for dogs to ride in cabin). We typically fly Southwest Airlines, which has no weight limit for in cabin animals and fairly large under seat space, which gives Holly's long legs the extra room they need! Plus, they have a flat fee of $75 each way for an animal to come on board, which is one of the lower rates I came across in my research.

My biggest issue before our first flight was finding a travel bag that would comfortably fit her. Since Holly is more of a medium sized dog (17 inches long from her neck to the top of her tail and about 16 inches from her shoulder to the floor), most bags were too small, or were not designed to hold a dog over 10lbs. After extensive research and comparison shopping, I turned to the Pampered Dog Boutique, which offers up high end products for the most spoiled pooch.

It was in their travel section that I discovered the Sleepypod Air, a bag that seems uniquely designed for my concerns. This sleek, airline approved carrier has a unique design that compresses from a roomy 22×10.5×10.5" to an under-seat-friendly 16×10×8" during takeoff and landing with a simple push of the ends. After you are in the air, you can pop the ends back down to provide your pup with the extra legroom they need. I have found that the window and center seats on Southwest flights have so much under seat room that I do not have to compress the bag, but for stricter airlines or those with less room this feature would be a Godsend.

The Sleepypod Air is significantly more expensive than most travel bags, coming in around $150, but after a year that has included 6 roundtrip flights, several MetroNorth Railroad Trips, and countless cab rides, I can confidently say it was worth shelling out the extra for!

Before flying, I would speak to your vet about your pet's needs and address what toys may be safe for them to have as a distraction in the carrier. Here are some essential toys Holly and I make sure to have when we travel:

1. Nylabone DuraChew Hollow Stick in Wolf: Even though Holly is a small dog, she is a BIG chewer. This toy was okayed by our trainer to be left with her during the day (because it's so big!), so I don't have to worry about her having it semi-unsupervised on the flight. It also has a hollow core so I can stuff it with Kong Stuffing or Peanut Butter to keep her distracted. The toy does have stick like nubs, so if you have an especially aggressive chewer I would clear unsupervised play with your vet or trainer, or ask them if the Nylabone Galileo is a better option to satisfy in flight chewing urges.

2. Castor & Pollux Good Buddy Dye Free Rope Toy: Dye free rope toys are another toy we cleared with Holly's vet for unsupervised play. I look for toys to go in her Sleepypod that will meet her specific needs (chewing, mainly), without making noise that could cause a disruption (no squeakers on the plane!!).

3. Kong Wubba Friend Dog Toy: Holly is not a big fan of traditional Kongs, but she loves the plush cuddly version at home and in her Sleepypod. I love it for long plane rides because it provides the cuddly comfort of a plush toy without the annoyance (or choking hazard) of a squeaker!
They weren't kidding around with the name "Sleepypod!"

Do you travel with your pooch? What essentials have you found to make the trip easier (and more fun)?

Until Next Time, Darlings!

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