When the suitcases come out for airing a few days before a trip it doesn’t take long for Stella to notice. She’ll approach haltingly and give them a few deep confirming sniffs before slinking away to sulk. She knows it’s only a matter of time before we’re off again. It’s not airports or security or layovers that make travel hard–it’s the guilt that springs from a dog who loves you and can’t bear your absence from her daily routine.
Sometimes I delay bringing the bags out of storage to spare her feelings–and mine. Those sad brown eyes have a way of eating through to your heart. I try to trick her by throwing a blanket over the bags atop the bed, then I pack in short bursts when she’s sleeping or outdoors. She knows the sound a zipper makes and can distinguish between the wheels on a roll-aboard versus the vacuum cleaner. Despite all my efforts to spare her a few days of anxiety before we leave, she always knows and gives me looks as if to say “really, again?”
I would love to bring her on every trip. Stella always draws an admiring crowd and is a good way to meet new people. Unfortunately she is way too big to fit under a seat of any kind, and flying her in the baggage compartment just scares me. I will never throw a vest on her and label her a faux support animal. She’s better off in her own home with a sitter who loves her as we do.
So here we are again. Just two days to go and she is pacing the house, staring at the suitcases and giving me sideways looks each time she passes by. I am both moved and annoyed by her day-long protest and wish I could explain in a way she’d understand. But I can’t. Instead of dwelling on her angst, I will think about her at the moment she realizes we are back home again–the crazed circle dances, the gleeful jumps, and finally the long look into my eyes that says “I forgive you.”