We left last Wednesday, having dropped Kaline off with Freddie the previous evening. He was so happy playing constantly with Rio, he didn't even notice we left. Most of our stuff at the airport went fairly smoothly, but I was still left with a bad impression of United.
When we arrived at the security line, I asked the woman directing people where the express line was. She put me and my parents in the line resembling the one for Space Mountain in Disneyland, only at the end you get groped instead of going on a rollercoaster. Noting this issue, I then approached the guy in charge of the express line. In order to get into that, he said, I'd have to talk to his manager. The woman who put me in the wrong line in the first place.
So I went instead to a security guard. She rolled her eyes at the manager and most efficiently put me and Juno in the proper line, then rounded up my parents as well. When I thanked her, she snorted dismissively and said it shouldn't be that difficult for the other ones to just put us in the right line.
Once that was solved, we moved smoothly through security. Juno picked up my shoes for me after I took them off, then helped me get my hoodie off. I went through the non-scary metal detector (the full body scan, which I have to use if I'm dogless, invariably triggers an anxiety attack), then called Juno through, in all her gear. She stood like a statue for her pat-down, like we were in the obedience ring doing Stand for Exam. The TSA lady who checked her over was quite impressed. Juno's a pro now when it comes to air travel.
|Through security at SFO.|
When it was time for early boarding, Juno and I and my dad had no trouble, but boy, were the passengers rude in general. And another disabled woman, who didn't have a dog but did have a fused leg, got a ton of rudeness and snark from the gate agent.
We watched as tons of "first class" passengers cut in front of me and the other lady, just because they're special and we're peons. The gate agent did nothing, just let it happen. Then when the other woman said she needed to be switched to an aisle seat due to her leg, the gate agent, instead of accommodating her as the law requires, told her she could either sit in her assigned seat or not fly. She did it in the most nasty, humiliating way possible. When we got on, I talked to the woman and said they had to accommodate her, no matter what the gate agent said. I found the relevant part of the ACAA but by then the people who actually worked on the plane had done their job and found her a proper seat without being assholes.
Juno and I were in Economy Plus, because the bulkhead was an exit row. I was amazed that Juno fit so well! She slid herself under the seat and had plenty of room. Then the flight attendants moved my dad, who had the middle seat, because the plane wasn't full and then Juno would have even more room to spread out. As usual she slept through most of the flight.
|Curled up on the plane to Philly.|
When we got to Philadelphia, Juno did amazing momentum pulling on her guide handle, with and without a target.
She charmed our rental car bus driver. Then we had a two-hour drive to Wilkes-Barre and our hotel.
|Juno on the bus.|
We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, and they needed some serious education on the ADA. At least I had some warning. Dad had gone in to check in, and came back to the car with an evil grin. “They want to see paperwork for the service dog,” he said, knowing I was about to kick ass verbally. It's the only time I'll really stand up to people and have a conflict.
So in I went with my ADA business brief. I was told I needed to show ID or certification. I passed my ADA brief across the counter, reading aloud the portion that says ID, certification, demo of tasks, etc. may not be required. In response, I got, “Okay, but ...” I said, “No ‘but.’ This is federal law.” Eventually I had to talk to an assistant manager, because the girl at the counter had clearly been told she needed to ask for this paperwork, and the higher ups needed the education. So I educated him too. Not sure how well it worked, but Juno and I had no further trouble after that, and hopefully they'll know better how to treat future teams. I walked Juno “nekkid” through the lobby a lot ... it was sometimes unintentional but not always. Hehe.
|Juno's drawer o' stuff at the hotel.|
|Juno in our hotel room with Froggy.|
On Thursday, we ended up spending the day at Harvey's Lake, where my parents used to spend their summers. Of course, this was after the first of many Dunkin Donuts runs. I am addicted to Dunkaccinos and wouldn't you know it, there are no Dunkins anywhere near me.
At the lake, my parents were pointing out houses where various people used to live. We got to one that belonged to Gary Frank, with a guy working outside. “That looks like Gary Frank,” said Mom. It was Gary Frank, and we ended up spending the afternoon with him and his wife on their dock and in their boat on the lake. He was good friends with my mom's older sister.
Juno did awesome on the boat ride. I thought she might be a little unsettled at first, especially when we went fast, so I popped some cookies in her mouth. She was totally fine. She even enjoyed the wind whipping her ears around.
|I'm on a BOAT!|
|Chilling on the boat.|
We got ice cream on the way home, and the girl working there made Juno her own bowl, with two scoops of vanilla topped with a Milk Bone. Juno was most appreciative.
|I'm mean and like to torture my dog.|
|Nom nom nom.|
We went to dinner with Dad's old buddy Pete and his wife Gail. Right as we got in the restaurant, some lady started reaching for Juno, belatedly asking if she were a “Seeing Eye dog.” I blocked for Juno and told her she wasn't, and please not to touch her. Urgh. Dinner was good though. Juno sacked out completely next to my chair until the end. Guess her harness is pretty comfy!
Friday we got to do family history stuff. In the morning, we went with my Uncle Larry (Dad's youngest brother) and Aunt Nora to walk Juno in Kingston, starting from Dad's old house. Dad will call family members by wrong names a lot, and it got hilariously worse with Uncle Larry around. Every time he wanted my attention, it was, “Larry! No, Donnie! No, Nancey! No, COLT!” At least once I was also Juno. We walked all around the old neighborhood, with Mom, Larry and Dad all pointing out the houses of their old friends and of various family members. I love that kind of stuff! And Juno enjoyed her nice walk.
|Juno at Dad's old house.|
In the afternoon, we went to the Lackawanna Coal Mine. I was on the tour of the actual mine when I was about nine, and I didn't really feel like taking Juno down in there. So Mom and I did the museum while Dad, Larry, and Nora did the mine tour. It was good fun and I was especially tickled to see that one of the electric coal locomotives had come from the Henry Ford.
That night, we went to our first actual family event, the Shabbat dinner for my cousin Noa, who was having her Bat Mitzvah the next morning. Juno did her best at blocking when we came in, but I was getting swarmed from all sides. Yes, by family I was excited to see, but still swarmed. It was too much and we had to go off and do deep pressure so I could calm down. I got to chat with a bunch of my favorite cousins, and Juno did really well when a very tiny cousin screamed bloody murder at the sight of her standing up. Totally ignored it. She's such a rock.
Saturday was awesome. I spent the morning killing some time with Juno, going to PetDumb, Barnes and Noble, and of course, Dunkin, before heading to a tack shop in Dallas to meet up with Francine and her SD, Rocket, an amazing pit bull/Lab mix. I also got to meet Francine's lovely husband, Chris. We've been talking online for quite a while, and it was really neat to get to meet them in real life! We got to talk shop a lot, and the dogs did great working in each other's presence. We had a delicious lunch out in the middle of nowhere at a grill that had shockingly delicious burgers. Juno got an amazing compliment from Francine that I will treasure forever, that she seems like she was raised to be a SD from puppyhood. (Actually, I got her at 18 months and she was totally insane.) We had a marvelous time!
|Francine with Rocket; me with Juno.|
In the evening was Noa's party by the pool at the hotel where most of the family were staying. Again with the overwhelming crowding; eventually I was able to get a spot at a table, where the crowding would be minimal, and again I got to talk to a lot of favorite cousins who I don't get to see much. Juno conked out under the table once I was settled. Everyone was amazed at how calm and well-behaved she is. I really hope one day Kaline is like that. Juno and I had such a great time bonding on this trip, and I just wish she never had to retire and that we could be a working team forever.
|Outside the hotel with this awesome car.|
Sunday was brutal. We had to get up at 3:00 am to get on the road to Philly by 3:30. Our flight was a little before eight. Juno was excellent in the airport again, doing momentum pull with Dad as her target, blocking when she needed to, ignoring randoms trying to distract her. We got Dunkin again, naturally, and once we were on the plane (much better experience) Juno absolutely crashed. She was quite a tired girl!
|Juno riding the luggage cart because 3 am is too early to walk around.|
|Juno crashed out on the plane.|
Our flight seemed to take forever, but finally we were home. I picked up Kaline, and he was super mellow all day, probably out of exhaustion from a weekend of nonstop bromance with Rio. It was super convenient for me and the parents and Juno, because all of us pretty much passed out for the afternoon.