This Saturday, in preparation for our upcoming trip to Michigan, Kaline and I met Sonja and Chief at San Francisco International Airport to practice going through airport security. Handily for me, Sonja already had to be there to meet Hendrik, so I got to tag along. We not only got to do security, we explored the international terminal and got to take the Air Train (like an easier version of BART) over to the domestic terminal, where we did Delta security.
I dressed Kaline in the big vest with saddlebags (which contained barely anything, but tend to cut down on drive-by pets) for realism, and wore a jacket he'd have to get off me. We'd been practicing his retrieves a lot around the house, as well as his tugging.
First we visited the Delta Special Services desk. The first lady we talked to was exceedingly nice and wanted to help us get a pass for security. The supervisor didn't want to, but she did say they'd issue the pass if TSA approved it. So our new friend took us over to security while she chatted with TSA. I know we don't normally think of TSA folks as pleasant, but boy, were they. It was slow at the airport, and you must admit, two adorable SDITs go a long way in making people nicer. The TSA supervisor had no problem approving a pass for me, so our Delta friend printed it at her desk and off I went with Kaline.
We went in the express line to get the pass and ID (mine, not one for him) checked, then got in the actual security line. I quickly discovered that several of the surrounding people were Michiganders, who were delighted to meet a cute boy named Kaline. I took off my shoes; Kaline played with them a little, but eventually delivered them to hand. When we got closer to the bins, I asked him to help me take off my jacket, and he did that flawlessly. He blocked pretty nicely in line. We had a little issue with his saddlebags—one guy wanted me to take them off, which is rather hard for me, and we compromised by emptying them into one of those little dishes and sending them through the X-ray. Otherwise, the TSA folks continued to be super nice.
For the metal detector, I left Kaline in a sit-stay originally while I headed through. He started to slide almost immediately, either because of the way the harness fits or because of the carpet, so I told him to down. Lesson learned for Wednesday, leave him in a down to start with. Once I went through, I called him through—perfect. A female TSA agent came to pat him down (I am not sure why “female assist” was required when my male dog was getting the pat down, and I was getting no pat down at all). Kaline stood nicely for her but did want to kiss her; she assured me that he could and that she loved dogs, so I didn't mess with him too much about it. Kaline plopped under the table while I got all my stuff back on and in my pockets, and then we made an about turn and headed out to Sonja and Chief!
Part of my anxiety involves constructing elaborate catastrophe scenarios in my head about future events. That's why I really, really, REALLY, like to do dry runs! This one definitely increased my confidence, although obviously we still have the plane ride itself to get through. On my own, I am pretty confident in Kaline's ability to handle it, but then I get the doubters and they make me doubt him. Which is stupid, but anyway.
Sunday Kaline did his usual public access work, which was generally very good. He got some looks for doing spontaneous DPT in the bagel store, but he was right—I needed it. He did pretty well in the market, which was freaking full of pets on flexis who aren't supposed to be there. He gets a little distracted by them, but I get huge spikes in anxiety, because generally the people who use flexis and bring their dogs to markets where they don't belong are the people with really badly behaved dogs, and I constantly fear some random dog attacking Kaline and ruining him. (See? Catastrophe.) But it's happened to a lot of people with SDs and SDITs, so it's not an unreasonable fear.
We did Trader Joe's at the end and Kay did really nice blocking there as well. Carts can come within inches of him, and he doesn't even turn his head. He did get surprised by the pop of a guy breaking down cardboard boxes, so we turned around and stood there watching the box breakdown and having cookies. No big.
Oh man, this is a big test coming up. I am excited but nervous to see how Kaline does in Michigan.