Thursday, 16 December 2010

Pets on Planes. Part 1.

Colin and Edith

Pets and planes don’t mix really, unless the animals are safely and securely stored away preferably in a pressurised and heated hold where nobody can hear their howls, meows, tweets etc. Even then it is apparently unwise to put a dog in the same hold as human remains as they can sense and respond to it even when sealed in a lead casket (the body that is).

My first doggy experience was on an Air Afrique Boeing flight between the Ivory Coast and Paris. The French you see cannot bear to be parted from their ‘Fifi’ or ‘Pierre’ and, in those days there was nothing against them taking their hound in the cabin with them, if they bought an extra seat.

So there I was. Me in seat 26D, a lady that looked like a bloated Edith Piaf in 26F and between us in 26E a Daschund who, for the sake of this story I shall call Colin.
Colin was built like one of those balloon dogs made by child entertainers and I soon found out he contained the same level of wind. We made an incongruous trio. I was trying to read a paper and pretend I was not sat next to a dog, an old lady who I discovered could snore and dribble at the same time and Colin who spent most of the voyage licking his scrotum or getting into contortions and generally scratching things in my direction. Colin was clearly not into personal hygiene and neither was his owner. Things did not bode well.

I decided I had to move. Up and down the cabin I walked but there was not a spare seat anywhere. I got evicted from a stewardess seat in the galley and asked to vacate a toilet after I holed out there for 20 minutes. Anything was better than being left to the tender mercies of Colin, especially as the meal was about to be served. When I left the toilet I was confronted by Edith and Colin who were queuing to ‘use’ it. Even today I cannot fully imagine how that particular exercise was completed in an area too small to swing a cat let alone a Daschund.

I struggled back to my seat just as the meal trays arrived. My companions arrived shortly after and one climbed over my knees as the other waddled under them. Edith and Colin had the fish whilst I ordered the meatballs. Clearly Colin had flown Air Afrique before and there was no way he was going to risk the meatballs. Sadly I had no advance warning and they were truly vile. So bad in fact that I tried to slip one to Colin and he regurgitated it over the in-flight entertainment consol. Which probably never worked again.

By this time it was very late and the cabin lights dimmed. Good night Colin I muttered. He fixed me with a cold stare and once more decided to excavate his crotch. I woke about two hours later and something was wrong. I could feel it, no I could smell it. Yes, it was Colin. At some time than night Colin had decided to double up with me. He was flat on his back, paws in the air and nose one centimetre from my left eyeball. Gravity had forced back his cheeks over his canine teeth making him look like something out of the film An American Werewolf in London. I can still see it now.

Thankfully the plane arrived in Paris. Colin and I had survived each other without too much incidence, apart from the meatball, and there was every chance we would never ever see each other again. He stood on his seat, wagged his tail. Then at the last minute…..oh no! He cocked his leg.

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