"A month." As soon the words hit air, I recognized the truth, so I added as if I'd meant to say it all along: "...and a month is too long to leave the small dog with you."
Uncle Markie assured me that he could work it out, but it was too late. Lilly spends a lot of time with him, but honestly, he didn't sign up to co-parent the snorting creature.
So, an elderly Boston Terrier with an unknown travel history and some anxiety issues, plus modern-day plane travel -- what could possibly go wrong? I spent the night in Chicago once on this same route; it's not like having a dog along could have compounded that misery.
Well, okay, better living through chemistry. And while her new vet was willing to cop her a sedative, he did remind me that the old dog has a pretty significant heart murmur. As in: don't overdose her because she's on (and my long-suffering friends can join me on this chorus) "borrowed time."
Let me just thank all those folks who gave me kindly, friendly, interested, and pitying looks as I hauled the disgruntled-but-brave small dog across the length of Philadelphia International in a small heavy-dernier nylon pet carrier.
Also thank you to the flight attendants who pretended not to notice when I did not squash the small dog entirely under the seat in front of me. And a really big cheer to the seat-mates who pretended not to notice when the small dog began to pant and fart with nervousness at the instant the jet engines revved up. She didn't actually stop until the next day.
Lilly and I have agreed to never discuss the other thing that happened inside the pet carrier, but let me assure you, dear reader, that no amount of Purell... well, enough about that. We all survived and I didn't have to rent a car to get there.
The return trip? She tucked herself, panting, into the pet carrier, and I gave her a quarter tab more of the little pink happy pill.
It rendered her pretty much into a bean-bag version of herself. At the airport, people marveled at how well behaved she was. At takeoff, she was utterly sacked out. Six hours later, the small dog touched down back in her home state, groggy but unflustered.
At the 45th or so hour, however, she woke up ready to rumble. "What the --!? " she seemed to be saying. And, "What a f$%^d-up dream I had! And where the hell is my biscuit?!"