FLYING WITH A SLOUGHI
or how a puppy wins the affection of everyone.
By Bernd Fritzsch, Ph. D.
and his puppy
Dominique de Caprona
May 2, 1994, Hünst-Bechtheim, Germany. I finally have my Sloughi
puppy. His breeders are very nervous, and so am I. Will everything
go smoothly with the little one? Will there be problems with customs?
If there is a delay, will the little guy be alone for too long? But,
first I have to calm down my breeders, which means, I have to calm down
the puppy. How do you do that with a puppy barely two months old?
Maybe he will still remember his mother's warmth. I pack him carefully
into my leather jacket and close the zipper. So, the little guy likes
it! He peeks, obviously quite content, out of his kangaroo pouch
into the world. Well, I guess I can leave these friendly people with
the feeling that their dog is well taken care of by me. Into the
car and off to the highway. In the beginning the little guy is quiet,
but after half an hour, the passing of the scenery starts to get boring.
Now he has to examine what else there is. But we have arrived and
the restless puppy can run around on the lawn. Whoops, that was the
reason for his restlessness! Well, better on the lawn than into my
B. Fritzsch 1994.
My family melts like snow in the July sun. "Oh, he is so cute, really
cuddly." Well, the little guy does have a certain plus, everyone
likes him. But how will it be at the airport? And how can I
get him used to his crate? I am something like a reference object,
and he even follows me (sometimes) when I call him. Perhaps he likes
my smell? I put a worn piece of clothing in his crate. He rolls
himself on it and goes to sleep. This is great. I now have a chance
to sleep a bit before the next, demanding day.
Tuesday, May 3, Frankfurt. After too short a night I begin the hassle
to obtain all the necessary documents. And the puppy has to come
with me, everywhere. Again I pop the puppy into my leather jacket
pouch, and off we go. First, to the veterinarian. The vet scratches
the little guy's ears and says: "Yes, the little guy is healthy, no problem".
The filing of documents is finally done. Then I return the rented
car at Frankfurt airport. Finally, a trolley filled with luggage
and me with the Sloughi puppy in his leather jacket pouch (Enthusiasm with
every woman and man). Never ever have so many people taken such good
care of me. Well, unfortunately, I lack big brown eyes and drooping
ears. We reach the airline. Everyone looks at me, or more precisely,
the little doggy constantly turning his head as first one thing and then
another in the hectic of the environment catches his attention. At
the counter there is again, no problem. Only help is offered. Yes,
I can hold on to the little guy as long as possible, but I finally have
to say good bye, and he has to go into his crate. Will he scream?
I step a few feet aside. Yes, he becomes restless. I will have
to give him a travel sickness pill after all. What dose is right?
I bite one pill into two. Will one half be enough? But the
airline staff has already managed to calm the little one down. I
am relieved, no chemical risk. But now to the plane. Before
we board I look for the crate. Just below me three people surround
the puppy's crate. They really take care of him. It is more
than empty words when this airline promises to take care of passengers;
the puppy is the 'happening'. I ask whether I can go to him but this
is not allowed. Immediately before I board a guy from ground personal
comes to me and tells me that my dog is on board. How does he know
me? Did I squeeze my nose so flat on the window that everyone knew
who belongs to the little guy? Well , there is no risk anymore that
he may be left behind.
Six hours later we land in New York and have to go through customs.
Our little guy wakes up and shows me his milk teeth with a big yawn.
Well, he seems to be doing okay, thanks god. And the custom officer
knows sighthounds, having had a greyhound himself. Yes, the documents
are okay, but we keep on talking about the amenable character of sighthounds.
The little one obviously has stirred happy memories in the custom officer.
This hurdle, too, succumbs to the natural charm of the Sloughi. But
now, to get the puppy out of the crate. Immediately a crowd of people
surrounds us. And everyone is enthusiastic about the little one.
But he needs to be warmed up a little. Therefore he has to go back
into "daddy's" leather jacket pouch. After five minutes the urge
for adventure has grabbed him and he wriggles out to explore. And
I have to run after him. And he has to drink, and he has to...All
this is necessary and after half an hour I have to put him back in his
crate, for the next lag of our journey. I hope that crate and puppy
will not get lost in the large airport of New York. I get on the
nerves of the counter personal and the flight attendants. Yes, yes,
the dog is surely with us. Nevertheless, please, could you double
check? Finally, our departure. The voice of the captain comes
over the intercom: "All passengers are on board, including a two
month old greyhound puppy". I am smiling with contentment.
This airline really takes care of every passenger. The passenger
next to me wants to know more about this kind of sighthound. Again
everyone has apparently noticed my restlessness, and my relief after the
captain's announcement. Apparently, I am projecting my internal turmoil
caused by the travel with this little one in such a way that everyone has
to take notice.
Next stop in St. Louis. A one hour lay over. All attempts to
see the little guy come to nothing. I am obviously depressed.
The ground stewardess goes away after I bug her several times. Soon
she returns with two technicians, her eyes searching. As I move towards
her; she waves me towards her with a smile. The little guy
is okay. But I have to answer the technicians' questions.
Yes, this is a sighthound even if he does not yet look like one.
Does everyone know and love dogs here in the states? The little
puppy obviously finds a way to unlock every heart. Only one more
hour and we will be at home.
Omaha, 11 p.m. I am as tired as a dog. But the little one is
happily awake. He has just been inspected by our other Sloughis.
Our youngest bitch has accepted him as "her puppy" and defends him against
the larger dogs. Then our little guy gets really into gears, chewing
and nibbling my hands and our youngest bitch. Finally, I have to
take him with me to bed. What a beautiful idea!! Dogs love
human ears, even if the owner is not too enthusiastic about it. After
half an hour he has thoroughly cleaned them and finally falls asleep.
Shortly before falling asleep myself, it strikes me that this was the most
pleasant trip in my life and that I owe the experience to El Emin Schuru-esch-Schams,
the Sloughi puppy who unlocks the hearts of everyone with supersonic speed.
in Sighthound Review 1994
and his grownup puppy
Dominique de Caprona