My wife and I have flown to faraway places from time to time and on occasion have taken our small dog with us. Not long ago this meant showing up at the terminal with the dog in a carrier and that was it. Now, it turns out, you need a permission slip from your doctor that says you suffer from anxiety, are in treatment for anxiety and you’ve been prescribed a companion dog.
I think this situation has come about because people have been abusing the privilege of flying with a dog. Snakes have gotten loose on planes. People have shown up with monkeys and lizards. Somebody gets bit. Pay the money and private companies will issue you an “official” companion dog coat.
I get uneasy when I’m on an airplane. It’s so big and heavy. Doesn’t seem possible that it could fly, even if it spreads its wings and gallops down the runway as fast as its little wheels can carry it. So I don’t know what I will do. Our dog, Bella, is 15 pounds. A warm and snuggly sweetheart. The form from JetBlue says your doctor should check off one of the following: dog, cat, miniature horse or other. Yes, miniature horse.
Anyway, at dinner the other night, we all got to talking about this. And it occurred to me that what we are really talking about is a lovey. Many little kids today now go to bed with little stuffed bears or rabbits. At bedtime, they toddle around, thumb in mouth, stuffed animal clutched tightly to their chests. They’re both ready to go.
But adults don’t have loveys. Maybe when planes start rushing down a runway, Jet Blue and the others could hand out loveys, but I doubt it. It also won’t work, because what certain adults need at that moment is something live you can cuddle with that came on the airplane with you. And it can’t be the adult sitting next to you. It’s just not good manners.
I asked around the table one night if anybody had a lovey as a child. We are all older people. None of us had one.
“I had something on my bedroom ceiling that made me feel safe,” one of our guests said. “I’d look up at it when I got tucked into bed. It was a snare drum, like the ones the little drummer boys play in the Nutcracker, but made out of frosted glass. It was bolted up there as a light fixture. One evening, when I was about eleven, I got in bed and it wasn’t there anymore. In its place was a regular light fixture. I was terrified. I told my mom I wanted the snare drum, and she said I was too old for the snare drum. When I persisted she said she had given it away.”
“I used to go out into the garden and pick up two rocks to go to bed with, one for each hand,” another person said. “I’d return them to the garden in the morning.”
That was a conversation stopper.
“I loved those rocks,” the person concluded.
None of us raised our children in the 1990s with loveys, either. They did nevertheless grow up strong and straight.
It was only after that that loveys came into general use. We tried to pinpoint the year and thought it was 1998.
“What we did have when all of us were kids,” I added, “was when we were 6 years old, our parents took us to the hospital and they took our tonsils out. Now kids don’t get their tonsils out.”
We seemed to be able to pinpoint a time, perhaps in the 1980s, when doctors changed their minds about taking tonsils out.
“Maybe the two events were related,” someone said. “Tonsils out didn’t work, so the doctors said loveys.”
Should have done it sooner, was the general consensus.
“They strapped us down, put rubber masks over our noses and mouths and put us to sleep with chloroform or ether. Afterwards, we had sore throats for days,” someone said.
Which leads us today to snakes on a plane, miniature horses and instructions from a doctor.
No wonder the world is in trouble.