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first time to fly with very large ESA

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Jen1959:
Hello, itís been a long time since I️ posted. My beloved SD had to be put down a year ago due to inoperable brain tumor. He was a PSA. I️ have gotten better mentally since except I️ still cannot fly alone. I️ have been working with one of my remaining dogs, a 4year old Great Pyr mix. She has a wonderful temperment, very calm. She doesnít react to anything. I️ have taken her to pet friendly places, stores, restaurants, etc. I️ am due to fly alone in a couple of weeks and am going to take her as my ESA. I have first class front row booked on both legs( my other PSA was taller but would curl up small but I️ still always had first seat in first class when available)) this gal is very long and wide, and really spreads out.
I️ plan on taking her to the airport a few times to familiarize her with it.
Needless to say, I️ am a tad anxious just because it will be her first time. I️ have all my letters I️ need.
The thing I️ a, most nervous about is that it seems like every time someone sits next to be with such a large dog, they always want to engage me in conversation about my dog, which I️ hate. Is it rude to say I️ prefer not to talk, thank you?

ccunnin3:
Is it rude to say "I prefer not to talk right now" or "I'm sorry, I'm trying to read/listen to music/ relax"? Some people will probably take it that way. But I honestly wouldn't worry too much about it. You will likely never encounter that person again in your life. Besides, most people are used to the concept that seatmates on planes just want to be left alone quietly. If it will benefit your mental health not to talk to a stranger on a plane then please don't talk to them.

Kirsten:
I agree it's fine to not wish to be social or to entertain the passenger next to you on a flight.  You can just bluntly say it, that you don't want to chat and that's fine though some may take offense at it.  Alternatively you can arrange to give off signals that say the same thing such as plugging in your ear pods or opening a book and expressing through your actions and focus that this is very important to you.

I'd pack the ear pods and book as a backup plan.  And if the person next to you chooses to be annoyed that you don't want to entertain them, you need to practice letting that go.  They can choose to be annoyed, but you don't have to choose to feel bad about it.  It's not your responsibility to entertain them.  They should have brought a book.

Stray thought:  you might print out one of our "curious about my service dog" type cards to hand them.  We created that one to help with dealing with people who are curious at a time when engaging with them to address their questions isn't going to work for the PWD.  It includes a link to the front end of this site so that anyone who is truly curious about service dogs and not just looking for in flight entertainment can access the information they seek pretty easily and find someone willing to answer their questions.

SandyStern:
I do not like chatting with strangers about my dog (unless said stranger is under the age of :cool:, but I also realize that it would be serious chutzpah to get cranky with people who notice my 82 pound GSD. Kind of like expecting people not to look at your chest if you're wearing a T-shirt with an interesting picture and a caption. And on planes, my dog may intrude a bit into the space of a neighbor, making it doubly important to be extra courteous. I always ask if I can buy them a drink, but you won't need to do that in first-class.

So I smile politely, do not make eye contact, answer briefly, and return to what I was doing.  Speak in a subdued tone, and only answer questions, do not comment or explain. If a person says, "I had a dog just like that as a kid," I smile, nod briefly, and go right back to my book. If he asks what my dog does, I say "he helps me walk."  If you're trapped in a waiting area, you can always grab your phone, and say, "Oh no!" an then start madly typing into it, murmuring "excuse me" to the other person.

For your own peace of mind, I suggest you have your dog professionally groomed 2-3 days before the flight, and take a blanket to put down on the plane. The flight attendants will appreciate your courtesy.

RedSonia29:

--- Quote from: SandyStern on November 14, 2017, 01:52:52 PM ---For your own peace of mind, I suggest you have your dog professionally groomed 2-3 days before the flight, and take a blanket to put down on the plane. The flight attendants will appreciate your courtesy.

--- End quote ---
Two thumbs up on this recommendation. The flight attendants AND the person next to you will definitely thank you, especially with such a big dog.

Bowie always gets a bath and a groom before our flights (even if I have to give it to him at a hotel) and we always bring his little bath mat for him to lay on. It keeps him focused on what area he is allowed to take up and keeps him warm. Airplane floors can get very cold (not that your Pyrenees will mind the cold).

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