Flashback Friday: The Going Home Lecture Part II, Pre-Flight Prep

Continuing from last week’s Flashback, today I’ll share how TSE recommends dog guide teams prepare for flying. I remebber wondering throughout the entire four weeks of training if and when they would ever answer the dozens of questions I had about lying, since it was how i had tog et home. It’s complex, intimidating, and entirely doable.

I’ve done a lot of flying since this first lecture, and a lot of rules and amenities have changed. I’ll throw in some advice from my own personal experience, but I encourage all teams to develop a relaxed, flexible mindset about air travel. It’ll never happen the same way twice, and that’s ok so long as you don’t depend on predictability for peace of mind.

Original Post Date: 6/16/2009

Even the shortest flight requires a certain amount of time on both ends spent in airports. When you add it all up, there are certain biological funcions that will come into play. Specifically…what about park time?

The principle behind scheduled food and water intake to control food and water output comes in handy when flying. TSE recommends not feeding juno the day before flying, and stopping water intake the afternoon before. This assumes a morning departure, of course, but the general rule of thumb seems to be an 18 hour food fast and 8-12 hour water fast.

This is emotionally taxing because Juno won’t understand why she isn’t being given food and water. she’ll probably try to remind her handler of the missed routine, and she may seem more stressed and distracted when working. But a fast like this won’t harm her and will make the whole process much simpler. Make sure she parks thoroughly before entering the air port, and prioritize finding a place to park even beffore collecting luggage at the other end if necessary. Then, slowly re-introduce food and water, and everything will work out.

These days there seem to be pet and service dog relief areas in most of the major airports. Here is a list of them in the US, and be sure to check for updates. I found that having access to these meant I felt comfortable giving Greta a little water on longer flights, which helped her relax and me feel less guilty.

You will get to know your dog and your own flight patterns well enough that you can determine whether or not treats, or even a light snack before the flight are ok when you have access to relief areas. Or, whether or not your dog will even deign to use these “public restrooms.” Practicing mindfulness can also help you cope with the guilt of witholding food and water around flights.

Today your favorite blindfluencer asks ‘When have you helped someone through a stressful situation by remaining calm when they couldn’t? Be proud of that skill, and nurture it.”

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