When People Don’t Like That You Travel With a Small Dog

I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.  In fact everyone is entitled to his or her own feelings, thoughts, likes and dislikes. So, if a person happens to not be a dog lover, well so be it; after all, to each their own.  But, from time to time something happens that forces my paw to take on a big issue. So I am about to get on a little soapbox. Consider yourself duly warned.

What do you do when confronted in public; at work or at … say … the airport with an attitude of intolerance towards your canine?  What do you say when people don’t like that you travel with a small dog? The only answer is this: Remain calm and be prepared.  If they are rude and shouting – be the better person.  They will look all the more the fool if you remain serene and poised.   So, here is a list of points you can keep filed away in your mind for those moments of confrontation that will occur because you happen to want to travel or be about town with your pet.

Disclaimer:

Although not big fans of children, we are not by any means child haters.  I often find it amusing to notice that children, especially very small ones are allowed everywhere and yet, they have a lot of the characteristics that people use as arguments against dogs in restaurants and other public places especially public transport.

  • Noisy? Check
  • Unclean? (ex: boogers and runny noses, sticky fingers, muddy shoes on seats) Check
  • Disruptive? Ummm yes definitely Check …

The point I am trying to make is this: Those that argue against dogs use the worst possible behavior a dog can display (usually at the fault of the dog owner and lack of training) to make their point. So just like a quiet well behaved child is a delight or at least not annoying to other patrons, a quiet, clean and well-behaved canine can be as well.  As long as the dog is out of the way and not placing anyone in danger – I say let the dogs come or at the very least – let the business owner decide.

Allergies:

This must be the number one argument used to keep canines out.  The latest in the “allergies as an excuse” list is the most annoying attempt on the part of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) to lobby for a legislated law against (Canadian) airlines allowing pets in cabin.

It is amazing how North American society is becoming ruled, I would even say bullied, by special interest groups, where the few constantly dictate to the many; but before we say something unfair like “let them suffer” how about we look at options.  Let us be inclusive rather than exclusive.

In the case of airlines – there are options that are far more productive than an all out ban.

  1. Simply allow demand and supply to determine how much of a problem this really is – rather than a committee of doctors. If people with pet allergies request non-pet flights, and there are enough of these requests, then the airlines will be forced to provide that service (or loose that business to a competing airline that does). If there isn’t enough demand then it probably isn’t enough of an issue for government to start making laws about it.  West Jet says they have only had 2 small issues in the last year and they fly 58,000 pets every 18 months (at $50 a pet per flight).
  2. Include “do you have a severe allergy to pets” as a question when booking. If the client says yes, then all pet friendly flights are removed as options.  Alternatively, the flight they book is declared a non-pet flight. This would then block those requesting a pet in cabin from being able to book that particular flight.  This means refining the tracking mechanism of airlines but seems very simple to me.
  3. The bipeds have spoken to many allergy specialists about this (they know them because of their own allergies) and here is the kicker.  A dog’s dander and/or fur’s ability to trigger an allergic reaction is actually within a specific radius.  Reduced even further when confined to the crate/carrier.  Why then, not place people with pets in one section of the plane – and those with allergies on the opposite side respecting that space?  For most – 6-8 rows is the only separation required.
  4. Invest in better air filtration.  This is what West Jet did after they consulted with medical professionals on the allergy issue.  Unlike Air Canada, West Jet has allergen filters in their system.  In this case only 4 rows between a pet and a person with allergies are actually required. They however, as a precaution put 8-10 rows between those passengers.  Those with allergies however MUST identify themselves.  After all, when someone has a serious allergy that really creates a health issue for them (versus a whiner that likes to complain about everything) then they need to be proactive – as they have the problem, versus making their problem everyone else’s problem by dictating to everyone else and pushing for laws.

The bipeds were particularly angry with the CMA when this came out, because there are far larger issues regarding health when it comes to airplanes – like the use of asbestos in their construction.  But we digress.

In public places, and most important open air spaces, the allergy argument holds even less ground.  Often patio’s that use this excuse also serve peanuts or other nuts – an allergy that can kill on contact.  There are other respiratory allergies out there, including scent. If patrons are allowed to wear perfume, that causes many of the same symptoms as a dog allergy – then I fail to see how the allergy argument holds any ground. Ragweed and pollen allergies are not about to make the city mow down every tree, shrub and pull out every lawn.

I feel bad for those with allergies – I know … Dad is allergic to me; Mom is severely allergic to synthetic fragrances and cigarette smoke.  Allergies suck.  But can you really create law that excludes all dog owners from sitting down at a pubs patio or flying with their dog because of allergies? As my Dad often says “My allergies are mine to manage – I do not impose rules on others because of my health issues”.

Being near a dog is against my religion:

I would have avoided even discussing this particular issue  if it had not actually directly impacted our family recently. Yes … family.  This one happens to include a cross species membership. The bipeds have done a lot of research on this; have spoken to a few PhDs in theology and divinity and more.  The fact is this.  There is NO religion that actually says dogs are against the religion.  Nope sorry – not even the Quran.  I will talk about this issue a little more in my next post – we beg your patience.  So that argument – just doesn’t fly.  You can respond now, with respect and knowledge… knowing that this is in fact not true.

That is all the time I have on the soapbox, I am told someone else needs it.  If you wish to comment, please do and share your thoughts.  When people don’t like that you travel with a small dog I ask that everyone remain respectful.  Take the high ground. This is a sensitive issue for many.

25 Comments on “When People Don’t Like That You Travel With a Small Dog

  1. I have to admit, i REALLY loved reading this post. I think you can also include, i guess, a fear of dogs maybe to the point of phobia, but again these people can request a non-pet flight, but just another topic for you guys to bring up if you’d like. I have to say though, not all children act the same or are brought up the same or exhibit the same manners, as like all dogs (not all dogs are barkers, out of control or bouncing off walls, just like not all children are noisy, bratty and obnoxious), i’m pretty sure if you met well mannered children you might consider kids nice sometimes 🙂 maybe i’m lucky as i occasionally babysit wonderful kids heh!

    I would, unfortunately, never fly if my dog wasn’t small enough to be in the cabin, just looking at the way cargo is handled and not knowing how my dog is doing, i would be a nervous wreck.

    Anywho back on subject, I don’t think it’s fair at all, but ALL dog owners should really control their dogs, no matter how cute it is that the small dog is jumping up on you, in your lap or barking, just like young kids screaming and running all over the place should be controlled too. I hate to see both kids and dogs so out of control their own owners/parents can’t even control them, it really is sad and embarrassing to watch, this goes for in public and on flights. Fortunate for me i’ve never encountered either but i can only imagine. I personally think of the section for pets and section for “dog haters” is an excellent idea and would definitely vote yes for that (heck dog owners can talk to dog owners), i’ve also heard of the same suggestion for a family section. The ban of dogs on flights shouldn’t be different from banning kids on flights because, really, they can have the same behaviours lol, but banning dogs just because some of the few are barky, or some people are allergic, etc. What if people were allergic to something on the menu or whatever, would they start complaining and say “ban meals from airlines!” -sigh-. Sometimes people can’t seem to grow up, suck it up and just ignore the dog close to you, bring some music, watch a movie, bring a book, the list goes on.. This is just silly though. Thing is though, because of those bad dog owners who cannot take obedience classes and take their dogs into the public uncontrolled, all us good dog owners have to suffer. I am personally thinking that classes should be made cheap just so everyone can take it to benefit their dogs, or at least an obligatory thing by the city! Just my opinion 🙂

    • I think many people would still not take a class even if free … but I like the concept. Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly! I have sat next to absolutely charming kids on flights … and I have also had to take a 6 hour flight with screaming out of control children that had my bipeds muttering the words “birth control” over and over …

      • LOL i had to laugh at the end of the post! (i’ve had thoughts like yours when riding the bus, UGH!) I don’t know if “free” would be what i had in mind, but a lower fee so people could take the time to consider teaching their dogs some manners; i.e. if someone can pay hundreds of dollars on their fifi-shihpoo-poodle-thing or on their over sized destructive Labs, why not actually pay something worth your money, again just my opinion. Since i have spent a lot of time in and at the School, i know for a fact that some dogs, and owners, deffo need the training. Or B.O. could at the least be a mandatory/obligatory thing for dog owners. I love to give thorough answers and thoughts, if someone is going to write something worth a good mention and a lot of thought/process has gone through it, it wouldn’t hurt to do the same. 🙂
        cheers
        Jal and Mocha

  2. Clear statement of facts and sensitively discussed with a view to “no one loses.” Your ideas seem reasonable to me. Well written, Monte. Please do keep advocating in our/pets’ interests. (I wonder what value there may be in trying to meet with the CMA?)

    • Always Dawn .. always …. as for meeting with the CMA … how would one ever start? maybe e-mailing them this article? ideas?

      • I have some connections that may help, and if they don’t, I still have some ideas about where to start.

  3. I agree totally! Well written. And personally, I would take a seat in a “pet-friendly” section rather than a “child-friendly” section.

    • LOL … awe … well yes and so most dog loving bipeds feel … the thing that makes me sad is that this blog will preach by default to the choir – it is getting the message out “there” that is so much tougher.

  4. Thanks Monte! I agree with everything you’ve said. Is there anything we can do about this before and if it happens? Who do we voice our objections to?

  5. Great piece Monte! I’d have to agree with Pepito’s mom, I’d much rather “pet friendly” seating than “child friendly” seating. Down with dog discrimination!

  6. Very, very well written. I too agree that more and more of our rights seem to just slip away, sometimes without even knowing it. I think the idea of a “non-pet flight” should be one thing that Westjet could offer to people with allergies and then maybe they could then increase the amount of pets allowed on board back to 4 like they used to instead of just 2. As I will not fly my chihuahuas cargo and I show my dogs, it is very hard to get to a dog show sometimes unless you book months and months in advance. I also think that some non dog people’s idea of a dog is one that is chained to it’s doghouse in the backyard, barking all day from boredom and frustration. Maybe these are the only dogs they have ever known. I would think that in this day and age, anyone who is willing to pay to have their beloved pet with them on any flight would have it clean and well looked after. So, in closing, good for you Westjet, please stand strong with us and I am not just looking to have dogs on board, but think we should increase the numbers….just my opinion.

    • Shawna, Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. I agree, I think having flights split between pet friendly and not pet friendly is likely the easiest solution. Just like hotels have some rooms that are and some rooms that are not. In those cases I think increasing the pet numbers to the same as say US Airways that allow up to 5 per flight is not insane; if you have that option for non pet flights. We have yet to not be able to get the flight we wanted – but we book ahead. When travelling with dogs – last minute isn’t ideal anyway. I think the fact is – if West jet makes $50 per dog in cabin, and they fly 58,000 in 18 months … I am not great at math but …. I think the mighty dollar will have the final say.

  7. Hello lil’ one…

    i like ur post, very thought provoking.

    As someone with allegies, i will say this (and your dad said it too): it’s up to us to manage our allergies. only we know what causes them, only we know how to stop them. I have asthma. It gets worse when i’m close to cats. So what do i do? I don’t want for someone to bring a cat and say “silly person, how dare he bring a cat to me?”, no i walk around with an asthma pump in my bag, in case, well, you never know, right?

    i’m sure peanut allergy sufferers wouldn’t dare leave their house without their epipen.

    so i agree with ur post, why make the pet owners suffer, it is up to us to manage allergies.

    HOWEVER (and u knew this was coming, right?)

    – a flight is harder because it’s a confined space for a long time. but i like your rebuttals: make a pet section, improve vents, yes there are more toxic things in planes than pet allergies
    – the peanut allergy precedent is a tough one to counter, and they have removed peanuts from as many places as possible, none in plane food for example. again, you rebuttals i agree with are: probably no pet allergy is as bad as a peanut allergy could ever be, but that’s a tough point to argue, it’s quite subjective
    – your option B in the solutions for airlines: if i declare i’m allergic, u want a bunch of flights to be made unavailable to me? there i protest, that’s not fair, why should i suffer so that u can bring your pet (playing devil’s advocate here)

    I’ll wait for ur post on religion, but being muslim, i can tell u. yes, dogs are considered dirty in our religion and are supposed to not be allowed inside homes, but let’s not forget, The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) helped many animals in need in his lifetime, including a female dog who was about to give birth, and he made a separate area for her, kept people away and made sure her and her pups were safe once they were born.

    Having said that, i will say this: because dogs are frowned upon in Islam, this also means that there are many more people in that religion that are not used to being around pets, mainly dogs, and so often have a negative reaction when they see them. sometimes, it’s just that they are scared and stay away, but yes, sometimes, they become very vocal about it.

    Thanks for this post, the best you can do is start discussing these issues, get the conversation rolling, even get people with opposing views on here, at least the discussion is started…

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so thoroughly! and for playing devils advocate!

      Re: Muslim faith:

      In a very brief overview, there are no statements regarding dogs in the Quran.

      They do, however abound in various collections of traditions known as hadith. These are often tribe specific; The two main denominations of Islam, Shiʻism and Sunnism, have different sets of Hadith collections. From our conversations and research, we understand that they are a primary foundation of Islamic life and laws.

      What is interesting is that although yes, dogs are often cast as impure – Islamic rulings also state that they are to be treated kindly as the example you offer shows that Muhammad (PBUH) diverted an army off course so as not to disturb a female dog with newborns. Even posting guards to ensure she would be left alone and unmolested; this while traveling to Mecca in the year 630.

      But here are the findings in very brief:
      1. Although dogs are not allowed as pets, they are allowed for work. Guarding, herding etc.
      2. You must wash yourself 7 times if you touch a dog, the majority of Muslim jurists consider dogs to be ritually unclean, though jurists from the Sunni Maliki school disagree.
      3. You must try to avoid being near a dog, because it will remove “points” you have accumulated for entering paradise BUT you are not condemned and it does not apply if there simply was no way around it – in other words you have to know you did all you could to avoid touching or being near a dog
      4. Dogs are not allowed in the home or places of worship but there is no mention of dogs not being allowed in any other spaces including, surprisingly markets.

      In brief, nowhere does it actually state that dogs are “against” the religion. They are sadly simply to be avoided. We feel that – there is a difference.

    • Oh … and I forgot – yes airlines have banned peanut products in the sense that they do not serve them on board – but they have not banned – or passed legislative law banning people from bringing them on board. Our bags and pockets do not get checked for peanut products. I know, because on our last flight – Dad was really nervous because the lady next to us was eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups … walked all the way to the bathroom … touching every seat along the way to steady herself with the mild turbulence. You guessed it – Dad is allergic to peanuts. He had his epi pen … life and death … but no legislated law – and Dad agrees. His to manage.

  8. Let me start by saying that I do not own a dog, but I understand the passion of dog lovers and dog owners. They are as devoted to their dogs, if not more so, as their dogs are devoted to their owners.

    As a former airline employee, who has worked in several customer service roles,I know that the transporting of dogs in the cabin is a delicate situation. It is wonderful when the dogs are quiet and are under control. But when they are not, it’s not fun. I remember a situation where a woman snuck her dog past the gate agent in her HUGE purse. The dog would’ve remained undetected if the flight attendant didn’t hear a muffled “yip” from inside the passengers’ purse. That behavior put the dog at risk – it was a two hour flight to Chicago. The dog would’ve required water and kibble, and the passenger would not be able to let the dog out of the bag (no pun intended). Kharma did win out – upon arriving in Chicago, the woman was detained and forced to pay the fees to have a dog onboard.

    It is the passenger’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure vessel to transport the dog, and it would be unthinkable if any responsible dog owner were not to. It helps to check in a couple hours before the flight to allow the proper documentation to be assembled. There is less chance of error or mishandling, which makes for a happier passenger and pet. It also allows the agent time to assign seats and place the pet in a manageable location. Allergies, as Nadine stated, are to be managed by the passenger. They cannot control what the environment of the cabin will be, so taking precautions is their responsibility. The airlines cannot micromanage their flights. If they did, the left-handed red-haired section would be the last three rows on the right side. Offering specific flight for non-smokers or people with allergies is a good idea, but not cost effective for the airlines.

    It’s a fine line to walk when you talk about airline policies regarding pets in the cabin. If you plan on flying with your pet, do your homework – knowledge is power. Especially when dealing with rude check-in agents. You make some good points and offer intelligent solutions, Monte. It comes down to common sense. Unruly pets mean indifferent owners. Neither should be allowed on flights. The government should let the airlines make their own policies.

    • Love your anecdote – since we agree that the rules are there – she had no reason to sneak the pet on board. It only hurts those of us doing it right.

      but your comment with regard to unruly pets? how about kids? seriously … the bipeds have flown for many years … never was a dog a problem … kids on the other hand … NO we are NOT comparing children to pets on an emotional or social status perspective – pets are not human children (to most) … but if we take the emotion out for a moment … and just look at the annoyance level … from a challenge to airline staff and other passengers … unruly, ill behaved, screaming crying, rude … we’ve witnessed it. Try an 8 hour flight with a colicky baby sometime. Or a 5 hour flight with a kid kicking your seat the entire time… A dog confined to a carrier is far less trouble to an attendant than a child that will NOT stay in its seat no matter what and parents that let them run up and down the isle. “Awe .. poor kid …. he needs to stretch his legs” … Well excuse me – but last time I checked kids – like adults are suppose to remain in their seats with their seat belt fastened. Rules are rules. Human and canine alike. Yet when the rules are broken for kids … people look the other way. Why?

      All we are saying here is that annoyance is not enough to pass legislative law. All we are asking is for the government and the CMA to stay out of it and let the airlines decide. Small special interest groups have got to stop this insanity of dictating to the masses. Enough already. Sorry that sounds far more impassioned than it should.

  9. Monte, I agree with you. I have all the sympathy in the world for folks with allergies, and I’m absolutely willing to work together with them to ensure that our dog doesn’t bother them. But singling out and banning my dog? Not okay. As you say, there are lots of compromise solutions available. I do take comfort in the fact that airlines make money from transporting pets in-cabin — and hopefully they won’t be too quick to cut off this revenue source. But just in case, every pet owner should write/call/email the airlines to let them know where they stand on this issue.

    • Agreed! It is about working together and yes we should contact the airlines! In this case the Canadian airlines since they are the ones targeted. Will keep an eye out and if needed … start a petition.

  10. I definitely agree with all your points. However, I find when I compare children to animals, in ANY sense, people stop listening. How dare I compare a child to a dog? But you are completely right talking about the annoyance level. I would much rather have a child-free flight than a pet-free flight. Dog owners tend to be more proactive in creating good behaviours in their pet since they had to go to much more effort in getting a dog, making sure they were a good match, etc (some children are just the result of missed birth control). Not saying all dog owners are good trainers, or all parents are bad, I’m just agreeing with your comparison on annoyance level and such 🙂 I doubt they will consider the separate flights thing, but I hope we are able to change their mind on this banning dogs due to allergies thing. Ridiculous. I too have allergies. Mostly to cigarette smoke. I try to stay away from smokers, that’s all. My problem, I have to deal with it. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from a dog allergy 😉

    • Thanks H. I do know of a few people that died from asthma attacks and some allergies trigger that. But the thing I don’t understand is why the ban? Instead of sitting down around a table like adults to find a solution – there is this knee jerk reaction. I find it discriminatory.

      We too have found that people with children – stop listening when you compare the two – it is why we tried very hard in this article to state that we aren’t comparing them on a social level but purely on an annoyance meter. I did an informal poll of friends and family and FB friends and a surprising number of people (about 90%) had the same reaction… would rather have kid free flight than pet free flight. So you are not alone. Pet owners have to go through hoops to get a pet in cabin – not so for people with kids. I find it sad that it is socially acceptable for people to say “get your stupid dog to shut up!” but not ok to tell that to a person who has a misbehaving child. Annoyance is annoyance – regardless of species.

      The bipeds travel with noise cancelling headphones now … not because of pets – because of kids.

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