So I've been meaning to tell this story for a few weeks. No pictures 'cuz I don't live with my camera, people.
So I had to drop mom off at the airport for her trip to Minnesota, and mom doesn't always travel light. So I was hauling mom's luggage while she held the baby's leash. We like taking the pups to the airport it is noisy and crowded, there is the occasional police dog and the luggage scales work well for weighing the pups.
Mom was flying Southwest, and it is easier to use the self check in, and when the staff person came to do the luggage tag thing, she was taking a while, then she starts asking about Truffie. Not the usual questions, like how long do you have them, how can you let them go..., how do you train.... ect. I don't remember the exact questions (I was chatting with mom) but it became clear that they were processing the paperwork for Truffie to get on the plane. I think said something like 'wait, wait no no she gets to say good bye at the gate' - I meant the security gate, so she starts asking me for my ID, when I asked why she said 'well whose going to take the dog home?' This was BC time in the morning (before coffee), I'm not effectively communicating with the gate agent, there is a line, she just hands me a gate pass and goes off. Mom who has arthritis in her hip, back and knee is thrilled to have someone to haul her junk to the gate, and truly I'd prefer to see mom to the gate anyway.
We had to go through security and I opted to put Truffie on a down stay while I went through and then called her to me. I knew she was going to set off sensors, I even told the TSA agent that her leash and collar were metal. Instead of patting her down, they asked to removed her jacket and collar but kept on her head collar and sent her through again -- and she didn't set off the alarms. Assured that she met safety standards, off we went to the gate. Truffie handled the whole thing like a pro, in fact I think she was a bit bored with the whole experience. I mean if you look at it from her perspective, the airpot is a lot like a huge mall, with people, feet, shops and a McDonald's.
Because mom walks with a cane, we went to the gate to get her a pre-boarding pass, and that gate agent started to process paperwork to put Truffie on the plane! By this time, I was wise to them and I explained that thank you but no, the pup was still in training and would be going home with me. The gate agent was so sweet she kept asking, "are you sure?" I assured her that Mom did not need Truffie or any service dog, she just needed a head start down the gangway. So we sat with Mom until they called her flight and took off for work. While I thought it was a pretty special morning, Truffie just took it all in stride.
I thought it was a great experience for Truffle. She did so well, we were stuck in line at security she just chilled, lots of kids around and people all who wanted to pet her. I really limited the meet and greet because I wanted to drive home to her that she was working, I knew that how she behaved would reflect back on the real working pairs that would come after us and I didn't want to mess things up for them. I really did try to make it clear to the gate agent that she wasn't a service dog, but at one point it was easier not to argue. In the end I was glad for the experience.