The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.
The exciting news of moving overseas came six months before the actual move. We had more than enough time to get everything ready for this move, including the preparation of our dogs. This seemed like such a breeze and we knew we were on the right track to only experience a nightmare come to life.
We don’t have actual human kids but these little fur munchkins are what we consider our fur babies. Having them all set and ready to move overseas with us was our main priority. We got them quarantined ahead of time and completed all the exams needed for their trip. We thought it was smooth sailing from here on out.
We double, actually triple checked the dimensions that their crate needed to be in order for them to ride in the cabin with us. They are both under twenty pounds and they are consider a small breed so on paper, they were cleared to fly in the cabin with us.
We purchased their soft kennel from Amazon which is where everyone said is the best place to get it from. They had so many to choose from but we knew we needed to get the right size verses getting it based on looks.
Our first flight out of San Diego California was on Alaska Airlines, which I must say, was a very pleasant flight, not having to count the crazy turbulence we encountered. We had no issues with having to fly with our pets, which made us very happy. Our babies sat under the seat in front of us, which was a bit of a tight fit but it worked out just fine.
We landed in Seattle at about eight o’clock in the evening, and this is where the nightmare began…
For some reason, my husband thought our lay over was only going to be about 5 hours or so. As a military family, we are blessed enough to have a section in the airport called the USO, United Service Organizations. It is an designated area for military service member and their families to get comfortable while waiting for their next flight. They offer free food and drinks, a lounge area to rest your head, a gaming area to play video games and many more.
We proceeded to head towards the USO at the Seattle airport to find that it was over packed with other families that were heading to Japan as well. We were stuck having to look for an area in the airport that would fit all eight luggage’s, two carry on bags and two dogs without being in the way. It was a hassle but in our heads we thought, what the heck, it’s only for the next five hours.
We were wrong… Apparently in the next five hours is when we are able to check our baggage in for our flight to Japan. We were not leaving until eight o’clock in the morning. With this news, you can already imagine my reaction. I was tired and very uncomfortable laying on the airport chairs, that this news was not easy for me to accept.
With no choice but to make the most of it, I stretched out my legs and got as comfortable as I could. My husband pulled out a good book as I laid my head on his shoulder to try to get some sleep.
At one o’clock in the morning, it was time to check in. My husband woke me up earlier so that we could be the first ones in line. We waited in line for about another forty-five minutes. Excited and anxious, we were ready to get this portion over with because it meant it we were getting closer to our journey to Japan.
AMC is a military flight that only flies military service members and their families. The Japanese AMC agent took one look at our dogs and said, “no they are not allowed to fly in the cabin with you, they have to fly in the cargo”.
My heart dropped and I was about ready to blow a fuse. My husband was shocked to hear the news and asked her for what reason. She said they are too big so they need to fly in the cargo area.
Our dogs are considered short nose breed which is a risk when flying. It is hazardous to have your short nose breed fly in the cargo area so this didn’t sit well with us. We were also told by our vet that because of that and their age, she wouldn’t recommend it at all.
With disbelief, we explained to her that we were told as long as our dogs were under twenty pounds that they were okay to fly in the cabin with us. She did not budge what so ever. She simply told us sorry and moved onto the next family.
At this point, I gave my husband the “you better fix this” look. Still in shock he had the “I don’t know what else to do” look. Standing up with both dogs on each side, I dropped down to my knees and started crying. It was too much for me to take. Putting them in the cargo area was basically telling me that I would have to take the chance that both dogs may or may not be able to survive the long flight.
My husband saw the hurt and sadness on my face that he walked over to the agent to try to figure out another option. He came back to me to say that she is giving us two options. 1. Either both dogs go in the cargo area, or 2. One dog in the cabin and the other in the cargo.
My mouth dropped open as I wiped my tears to try to understand what she was asking me to do. She was basically making me choose between both dogs, and choose one who I would take the chance on.
My heart broke into pieces because I don’t think any parent would be able to choose between their children. Just because my children are dogs, doesn’t mean it was any better or any easier.
My husband grabbed my hand with sympathy and told me that we had to make a choice. I cried on his shoulder and told him I couldn’t do it, he had to choose for me. As my husband and the man of the house, he made the best decision he could make.
He decided that Peanut (our baby girl shown in the photo above) was healthier than Kane (our baby boy) so she would be the one who would have to ride in the cargo area. After we finally made our decision, the AMC agent then tells us, “any animal who rides in the cargo area, must have a hard shell kennel”. REALLY???????? As if we hadn’t already gone through enough.
It was almost three in the morning so we asked her with an attitude of course, “where the heck do you expect us to find a hard shell kennel?!” She stated that there is a store in the airport that sells them, and that they do not open until half past five. A sigh of relief, we continued to walk walk away from her, then she yells out, but I need your pet to be checked in at five.
Shaking my head with disappointment, I walked over to the agent one last time, gathered every bit of kindness I could find in my heart and politely said, “ma’am we are already going through so much, and it seems like nothing is going our way so could you please help me figure out how to make this work for both of us?”
She finally gave in and heard the pain in my voice and she said that she would try her very best to delay the plane so that my dog can make it. I looked up and knew that at this point, God made a way.
I waited patiently for the Lord’s help; then he listened to me and heard my cry. – (Psalm 40:1)
God saw that we weathered the storm we were in and gave us a path to make it work. But this wasn’t the end of it. We still had to wait until half past five to be able to purchase the right type of kennel. With my head pounding, my eyes puffy, and my heart bruised, I knew I needed to take a nap. My husband stayed up so that he wouldn’t miss the window of opportunity to be able to purchase it in time to make the flight.
With the emotional roller coaster we were just on, the only thing we knew we had was faith to keep us from losing our minds. My husband and I took a moment in the mix of the madness, to hold each other close and say a prayer. We both knew that God wouldn’t puts us through things if he knew we couldn’t handle it. Our faith in God and our strong love for each other is what got us through this.
The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us— And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. -(Lamentations 3:25-27)
It was finally half past five and my husband stood outside the door to this store waiting for the doors to open. Pacing back and forth worried about making it in time, he caught the attention of the store clerk who walked over to the door to apologize for the delay. My husband explained our situation and the man let him in so that he could find the right size kennel while he counted the register.
Sprinting through on end of the airport to get to the other end where I stood with our dogs, we quickly worked side by side to put this kennel together, to only find that we were missing the screws and the door! OH MY GOSH, REALLY?!?! Of course with the type of luck we have been having, this tops it off!
At this point, the calm attitude that my husband kept all night went out the door and he was PISSED! He ran as fast as he could back to the store to see that there was a line of at least twenty people. He begged and apologize for having to cut in front of everyone to tell the clerk that he was missing the door and screw of the kennel he just literally bought.
The man, knowing what our situation was beforehand, was embarrassed that he sold a kennel to us incomplete, handed my husband the door and screws and told him good luck with everything.
Dripping in sweat and breathing heavily, my husband made it back to me. We were in panic mode at this point, that an agent (not the Japanese dog lady), another agent, decided to lend us a helping hand. He kindly said, “I am so sorry for what you both are having to go through and I don’t understand why she did that to you but I see that you both are being tested today. I have to also admit that I admire how you both handled the situation and I will walk with you through security so that you don’t miss your flight”
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. -Exodus 14:14 | NIV
This is the moment that my husband and I knew that this agent was an angel of God. His words touched us and we were grateful that he offered to help us. I hugged my baby girl tightly and whispered in her ear that she will get a whole bag of treats when this is all over then I gently placed in the kennel.
And then the race began… I gripped my carry on luggage as my husband strapped his backpack on tightly and gripped the soft kennel our baby boy was in and we ran… we ran as fast and we could to the security check point. Right behind us was the airline agent, ready with his badge to let us cut through everyone that was in line.
By this point it was already a quarter after six and we still had to go through the security check. Another five to ten minutes to take off your shoes, unload your electronics and not to mention remove our pet from his carrier. Here’s advice for all of us pet owners, when you are traveling with a pet, you have to take your pet out of the carrier and walk through the metal detector with your pet in your arms.
After gathering our things, putting our shoes back on and putting our baby back in his carrier, we raced up the escalators to find out we still have to catch two different trains to get to our gate.
We have already lost our breath, lost our patience and almost lost our minds, but we took a second to laugh. We said this all seems like a nightmare that we need to wake up from. We held hands as we waited for the train and looked deeply in each other’s eyes and whispered those sweet words, “I LOVE YOU!”
Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. -(Ephesians 4:2)
We finally got to the gate and just made it to catch our flight. It had already boarded and we were one of the last ones to board the plane. With all that we had to endure, we didn’t even look at our boarding passes to see what seats were in. As we boarded the plane, we looked at our tickets to find that we were seated at seats 1J and 1K.
A blessing in disguise, that same agent that helped us at the ticket counter, also gave us the best seats on the plane. My husband had leg room which is very important to him because of his height and my baby boy Kane (picture shown below) wasn’t stuck under a seat. He actually sat comfortably on my lap.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -Romans 12:12 | NIV
Before take off, it is normal for me to say a prayer but this prayer was different this time around. I said a prayer not only for all of us to make it safely to Japan but for my baby girl to be okay through this flight. In twelve years, our dogs have NEVER been on an airplane let alone a ten+ hour flight, so I knew that she was going to freak out. Even more so because she is not with us.
After 18 hours and three layovers, we made it! As soon as I got off the plane the only thing that came to mind was getting over to my baby girl. When she saw me running to her, she tried to fight her way out of the kennel. I frantically clipped the zip ties and opened the door. My baby girl was so traumatized from that flight that she was shivering. Shaking so hard and worked up that my husband had to hold her back legs down as I held her head close to my chest to try to calm her down.
It broke my heart to know what she just went through but I know she was very happy to see us. I was grateful that other than being freaked out, she was okay. This is was such a nightmare but thankfully we all made it.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27:14 | NIV
We both believe that the next part of our journey and our new adventure here in Japan will only be filled with joy and happiness and we will be blessed in ways we couldn’t imagine.
The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.
For all of the military families that have to travel overseas for the first time, I hope that you never have to experience this kind of madness. If you are traveling with pets, be sure to have a back up plan. We did not have one because we checked off all the boxes and thought that we had everything done in order for a smooth transition.
The only type of dogs allowed in the cabin on the Military Airplane (AMC Flight), are dogs that are literally puppies or the size of Yorkie Terriers, or teacup size dogs. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a small breed and weighs under twenty pounds.
Kane (fur baby on the left) weighs 15 pounds.
Peanut (fur baby on the right) weighs 17 pounds.
If your dogs are the size of our dogs, please keep in mind that they will have to be placed in a hard kennel and will be put in the cargo area of the plane.
Thank your taking the time to be a part of this nightmare that we are now able to put behind us.