Travel Travails

Today was the day our oldest son, Alex, was to fly to his home on the West Indies Island of Dominica (see it below in pink, two islands above St. Lucia) and bring his dog Kala with him.

Now, when Alex first announced he was getting a Rottweiler, I was totally against it.  I thought they were vicious, mean dogs.  It turns out that if you get one that is bred and trained properly, they are the best nanny dogs ever (think of the book “Good Dog Carl”).  Kala is one of the sweetest, best-natured dogs we’ve ever had and when Alex moved down to Dominica, we gladly took her in.  We sorely wanted to take her to Africa with us but Alex decided he wanted her back.

We told Alex we’d buy him a new puppy when he was done with school but no go.  I then emailed Alex that Kala had run off and we couldn’t find her.  We were, of course, heart broken, and we would, of course, find him a new puppy right away.  The good news, I wrote, was that the dog pound had a Rottie named Buttercup that looked, coincidentally, just like Kala, and that Thom and I had adopted her.  Alex just ignored my email.

So, with a size 700 crate in tow, we all loaded into our van and drove to LAX for Alex and Kala’s 11:55 am flight to Miami, with a short layover in Houston.  We had to check Kala in at cargo and they would handle her from there, and then Alex had to check his bags in the passenger terminal.  All went well in cargo.  Kala jumped in her crate for her weighing (122 lbs, waayyyy more than me) and was given a bucket of ice cubes for water (so they would melt slowly).  They zip-tied her crate shut, taped her food and leash to the outside of the crate, marked “this way up” (which was not very reassuring, I must tell you), and we said our goodbyes.

LAX is about 50 minutes from my dad’s home in Orange.  About an hour after we got home I got a call from a cranky Alex, “Come get me.”  “Why?” “Just start driving, my flight was cancelled and I’m #23 on the standby list.” “Well, can’t you get on a later flight?” “Mom! Just start driving and I’ll let you know more when I know more.” “It’s illegal to talk on cell phones when you drive in California.  Are you sure you can’t get on the next flight?”  “Mom! I’ll call you later!” click

So, I waited ten minutes, still hopeful he could get on the next flight but as it turned out, the next available flight wasn’t until 9:20 pm and the next flight Kala could get on wasn’t until 12:30 am!  Other people were being waitlisted until Monday.  So, I started driving back to LAX.  Fortunately, since it was January 1, there was no traffic — a very rare thing in Southern California.  I got Alex and then we went and rescued Kala.  They had her on a trolley and some of the staff didn’t even know she was there, she was so quiet.  We made arrangements to bring her back in the evening and with fast food on our mind, tried to start the van.  But, the engine refused to start.

We tried our list of tricks (ranging from beating the dashboard to praying to the angels to opening the hood and slamming it shut to asking every person who looked mildly handy [wore workboots] if they knew what was wrong). We then called Thom, my dad, and eventually AAA.  Three hours later we came to the sad conclusion that (a) the van wouldn’t start no matter what we did (moisture in the distributor??), (b) we couldn’t afford the tow-truck’s fee to tow to my dad’s (at least $270), (c) that my dad’s friend with a tow truck would tow it the next day for ~$125, (d) that we needed to rent a car (only $17/day!), (e) that it wasn’t worth it for Alex to come back to Orange and then drive back, especially given his flight left three hours before Kala’s, and (f) that I would take Kala home and bring her back about 10 pm for her flight.  Whew!

So, at 10:15 pm, there we were again, at the Continental Cargo Live Animal office at LAX.  By this time we knew the staff by name (I had to leave the van key with them).  John with the curly hair re-loaded Kala’s ice bucket.

I re-applied the “Dog Appeasement Pheromone” spray that a veterinarian friend gave us onto a washcloth and laid it at Kala’s feet.  (DAP, as it’s called, is supposed to calm nervous and angry dogs and the vet swore by it.  Thom and I are both waiting for “MAP” and “FAP,” respectively…i.e., Male Appeasement Pheromone and Female Appeasement Pheromone.)

We both petted our favorite granddog and said goodbye.  As of this posting, Alex’s flight left on time and Kala’s flight is on time.  Alex should be there waiting for her in Miami, where they’ll overnight and then fly onto Dominica.  Safe travels to all!!!!!


About Kimm X Jayne

Gravatar Photograph from the exceptionally talented Ben Heine.
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6 Responses to Travel Travails

  1. Vee says:

    WOW!!! what a crazy “adventure” you’re having….. When do you all leave for Africa?

  2. Kimm X Jayne says:

    We leave on Tuesday! The good news is that Alex’s flight got in 10 minutes early and Kala’s 12 minutes early this morning.

  3. Kimm X Jayne says:

    Some of you have emailed asking if we ever found the original Kala (since I said she had run off above). Clarification: I just TOLD Alex she ran off so we could keep her but he saw through my ruse right away and knew I was making up a story. That’s why he didn’t answer my email. Kala never ran off and there never was a Buttercup (though we think that is a good name for a big block-headed dog like Kala). Happy New Year everyone!

  4. Lisa says:

    Oh Kimm, what a crazy situation with the planes. Laughed at your story to Alex, although you made it so believable that I bet many people bought it. Got any swamp land in Florida your trying to sell? So glad you got to see all of the family and everyone was together this year for the holidays. Sending love to you all from Columbus!

  5. Maureen Witte says:

    Oh, thank the Good Lord that Alex and Kala are both in Miami and have been reunited! Hopefully all will go as planned for the rest of the trip. Thank you so much for making it all work despite all of the problems involved. That’s more of an adventure than anyone needs!!! Is the van back in service? Are you leaving it at your Dad’s house??

  6. Marge says:

    Loved the story about Alex and Kala but I did realize you were “pulling one over” on Alex with the buttercup story! But loved it! I dreamt last night that I came to see you in Zambia…better get my passport finally, smile. Safe travels to all! M.

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