November 10 2017
On the day of our flight, we got to the air terminal super early to check-in our luggage and await our boarding call. George was a peach the entire day. He would not poop but otherwise was an excellent beast. He mingled with our fellow passengers, giving hugs to the two guys who needed it, and greeted everyone who walked by. He was perfectly fine until it was time to go.
He got scared after being put into his crate and cried for us… which made us cry for him. We knew he was healthy enough to fly. We were confident he would be ok… but it’s still fucking scary. Anyone who has flown with a dog will understand how terrifying it is to trust that they’ll make it to the right airplane and won’t overheat on the flightline. Bulldogs are especially prone to overheating so it’s important to keep them cool and calm. Our nerves were shot but we felt a touch of relief before we climbed the stairs to the plane. We showed a photo of George to a nearby baggage handler and asked “Daijōbu??” The nice gentleman responded with a big smile and a thumbs up. Thank God.
The flight was only 9 hours but it felt like it would never end. I think we may have slept for about 20 minutes shortly before we landed. By then we were just exhausted from worrying about George. It was during our flight that we got our first taste of reverse culture shock via my broken, cramped seat and the snarky American flight attendants. I had forgotten how unpleasant flying can be and how professional and courteous the Japanese people are. Every flight we took domestically in Japan felt luxurious in comparison.
When we landed, we imagined we would speed through customs and rush to get George. On our other international flights with beasts, we did just that. This time, all those flying with pets were corralled after disembarking so we could get instructions on where to go after going through customs. Then, we were corralled a second time for instructions on where to go after transferring our baggage from one terminal to the next. Then, we waited. And waited. And waited for a baggage handler to bring George to us. It seemed wildly inefficient.
George was happy to see us and didn’t seem at all upset about having to fly in the belly of the airplane. So relieved! The next couple of days were a whirlwind as we fought through the fog of jet lag to get our car out of storage, set up cell service, and eat ALL the American food. We even took George to see the Space Needle. He was unimpressed. Sorry, Seattle.