Last August I took my first flight – and it was long haul.
On the morning of 30 August, I knew something was not the usual. Mummy was busy and had all these bags at the door. So when she opened the door, I ran out as fast as I could – I didn’t want to be left behind. We got into a car and drive a long way to Heathrow Airport. We got to the Animal Reception but it was the wrong place and had to go to another terminal where we met Pet Air. I went along and jumped into a crate and then they took me inside the terminal. That was the last time I saw Mummy for the next 14 or so hours!
There was a lot of noise and commotion and I was transported into the big airplane. When it took off, it was very noisy and then after that it was a constant hum all the way. After what seem like forever, we arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport. Again I was lifted off the aircraft in my crate and transported to the British Airways cargo terminal. I desperately needed to get out. I had already pee’d in my crate and the pads were soaking wet.
Then in the distance I saw Mummy getting into a truck – wait! Wait for me!!! Where are you going? I panicked. I barked and I barked and I barked but no one would let me out.
Then after what seemed like eternity, Mummy re-appeared with another lady who I later realised was Aunty May-Mei. I was frantic and uncomfortable and I need to be released – I was going stir crazy!!!! When they opened the door, I ran and I ran dragging Mummy with me. Then we got into the car and I sat on Mummy’s lap and didn’t want to leave her. I paid no attention to my cousin Molly.
Looking miserable during the car ride into the city.
And finally there it was – the big, big city of New York! We arrived at our home for the next five weeks – in this very tall building.
Mummy, me, Molly and Aunty May-Mei
May’s comment: After months of planning, anticipation and preparation, finally the day had come for Darcy and I to travel to New York City together. A somewhat significant journey for this was the last time I would be returning to the apartment I had lived in for about seven years. It was about closing that front door one last time and when handing over the keys, I am letting the past stay where it belongs. Yet, it was also the first time for Darcy to be in a plane. Her first time in America. And because of her, I have not just dwelt on the significance but rather, consider all the things I needed to prepare for her journey. And also, my schedule will be quite different. I will make plans to see my friends but no more fancy, uptight, self important restaurants. In place I sought outdoor dining, sidewalk cafes and sitting on the terrace. And the plan was to find dog runs in the city.
On the morning when we left, we were both nervous – I was fearing how she would fare. And Darcy knew something was happening and she did not want to be left behind. As I lugged the various pieces of luggage out the door, she bolted out of the flat faster than Usain himself!
She sat on my lap throughout the journey to Heathrow, almost clinging onto me in spirit. But when we arrived at the BA Cargo Terminal to meet the representative from Pet Air, she took it all in stride. She jumped out of the car and headed straight for her crate. She sniffed at it and didn’t cry or whine when I put her inside and we locked the door. Wonder if she knew what was happening. After I left her, apparently, she just curled up and went to sleep. Of course I would love to know how she fared on the flight itself – was she afraid, did she cry or did she feel safe in her crate? I wondered how she was – but felt comforted that she was on the same aircraft. Finally it was 40 minutes to landing and my mind went into gear as to what I must do at the other end. While all went smoothly on the exporting end, it was quite the opposite once at JFK.
My sister and brother-in-law who was meeting me on arrival were late so instead of waiting 30 mins, I thought I should get going with getting Darcy out as soon as I could, so I lugged all my luggage into a cab and went to the BA Cargo terminal.
The attendant at the Cargo terminal counter seemed to have an ongoing conversation with two people and moved at snail’s pace. At the same time I could hear Darcy barking in the background. After a lifetime, I finally got to the attendant, who then told me I had to take the paperwork to the Customs Office before they could release Darcy. And where is the US Customs?!?!?! It was on the other side of the expansive JFK airport. With four pieces of luggage and no car … this kindly Croatian truck driver offered me a ride as he happened to be going that way. But I had to leave all my luggage behind and hoped that my brother-in-law would find his way to meet me there. Alas, he was lost trying to find BA Cargo. So the Croatian truck driver again kindly offered to meet him wherever he was and then led us US Customs. What a blessing that was! Unexpected kindness. In the meantime Darcy had spotted me at a distance and she was going berserk especially when she saw me getting into a truck and leaving her yet again!
At US Custom, I ran up two flights of stairs and found myself in a large room, mainly deserted except for one person waiting, another person speaking excitedly on his phone as one of the five Customs Officers was trying to explain to him some sort of procedure. The other officers were on the computer, on the phone or had ear plugs attached. I got into line behind the Asian chap. We looked at each other knowing what the other was thinking and said under our breath – this is power play. We waited for 15 mins before it was his turn but as he had heard my story about Darcy being in the crate for 14 hours, he asked me to go ahead of him. I thanked him profusely and thought how fortuate I have been with all these kind “immigrants”!
We drove back to BA Cargo and as my sister hauled the luggage into the car, Darcy by this time was going berserk. Pawing and barking desperately needing to get out. Again I had to wait for the attendant behind the counter – it was about 10 mins before she made an appearance. By then even this sleeping lump of a big black man who had been snoring earlier, got up from his constant state of slumber and told someone behind the counter to get on with my case! Then it took another 10 mins for the slow moving attendant to record payment and scan my identification. When I finally got to Darcy, she was beside herself. She was frantically excited and could not even calm her to put on the collar. When we finally did, she ran and ran, I running after her holding her lead, through trucks in the parking lot to find a place to release herself.
On the car journey into the city, she sat right up close to me and was not even interested in her cousin, Molly, a King Charles Cavalier. They basically ignored each other the entire time. Darcy was not leaving my side. When we got to the apt, I think she was a bit confused and she didn’t understand the balcony – what’s this strange space?
But we made it and I am glad I had her with me for the five weeks I was in New York City.