#Review: Re- @United and it feels so good!

Buster and I haven't lived together since ... May-ish? Before my ex and I truly broke up we were (obviously) fighting (which made it worse because we never did before). It really upset Buster, and it was my job as his mama to make sure he was taken care of. Fortunately, my parents were awesome and have a big yard that he could run in. Even though it was hard not seeing Buster every day, knowing that he was safe was all that mattered. When we did see each other again I would hear this song on loop in my head ...

Wow, I cannot listen to this song and write. Okay, new song (but you get the idea) ...

Song that goes with this post:

I left South Florida rather abruptly. I was already teetering around with the idea of coming back (something I SWORE I would never do), and when Talk Nerdy sold to CBS it was a BAM - I want to work my way into that writer's room. I tried taking Buster on the same American flight that I had booked out, and unfortunately because he is labeled a boxer, they wouldn't let him go in cargo.

Thankfully, we did a dry run beforehand, but I even showed the attendant a photo of the dog saying he doesn't have a flat nose (flat nosed animals have difficulty breathing in cargo). It doesn't matter she said. It says boxer on the certificate, so boxer he is and that's a no go.

The next morning I flew out to LA, and fortunately it worked out in our favor that Buster couldn't come out right away because my furniture took a solid month to arrive. I lived like a frat boy on an air mattress, and eating off paper plates. Not that it would have been HORRIBLE for Buster, but considering how happy he was at my parents pushing the issue would have been selfish.

I went back a couple of weeks ago, and Buster LOST. HIS. MIND. with excitement. 6 weeks had been the longest time that we had been apart, and being a rescue means that he is particularly sensitive with routine, and the people around him.

<tangent> I got Buster when I lived in the Keys. He technically chose me by grunting and humping me upon first meeting (well played), but when I got him he was a COMPLETELY wild dog. He chased butterflies, lizards, and because he was tied to a tree meant that training was non-existent. I worked with him every day, and now he sits, stands, high paws (both paws), and a whole myriad of other tricks that he's learned. Dogs are a huge, huge responsibility (especially, I have learned, big dogs). I can't ever let Buster know he is stronger than me (even though he clearly is) so every day (still to this day) I pick him up so he knows whose boss.

I wouldn't have had it any other way, but easy is not something I would use to describe Buster. He's a maniac like his mama. </tangent>

Shortly after my time back, I was able to connect the dots with the Summit Series, so I would be back in Miami in a matter of weeks.

I have to have Buster, I said to my mom. He needs to come home.

I did a TOOOOOONNNNNNNN of research, and discovered that United had a service called PetSafe (well played with the branding). And while there were still an enormous amount of rules, regulations, and "must-haves," (as a Boxer) I was able to confirm him a spot on my flight back, and I would pay at the PetSafe office located in United Cargo area.

Done! I said excited, but half concerned that this was also too good to be true.

My bottom line was that I was going to have to drive him out. I would do that in a HEART BEAT (as I have made the drive 4? times before), but right now with my work schedule I literally cannot afford to be gone for that many days.

After the Summit Cruise, I hung out with my family (whom adopted a new cat because I happened to be sitting outside and the damn thing bee-lined for me) ...

Click the image to view on Facebook

Click the image to view on Facebook

The day of the flight I was a nervous wreck. I knew I had the proper crate, but I also needed to get a water dish, certain tags - it's not easy flying with a dog in cargo. There are no straight "regulations" and each airline has their own rules that at any given moment they can enforce meaning, no tickey no laundry!

I finally got everything that (I thought) I needed courtesy of PetSmart and this awesome product ...

 

... and my mom helped load Buster in the car en route to United Cargo (about 20 mins away from the airport).

We loaded his crate in, followed by him, and he got weighed all while getting a run down of all that we needed for his flight.

Oh, said the woman behind the counter. Your flight is delayed making it less than one hour in between your connections (United didnt have a direct flight & I saw that rule on their website).

I exhaled saying under my breath, FUCK.

Let me call someone for you, she said. I can see if I can get this overridden.

About twenty minutes later (arrive at cargo three hours before your flight. Trust me, you'll need it), she gave us the go-head, and said that Buster was ready to board.

You're an angel, I said realizing how bittersweet this moment was. Yes, I was excited Buster was finally coming home, but how was he going to handle flying?

My mom went to say her good-byes, and I stopped her saying NO NO NO!! Buster is going to think we are leaving him!!

Explain to him he's going home to his mommy.

You're going home to your mommy, said my own mother.

I got down on my knees to pet him one last time, and immediately started to cry. I put sunglasses over my eyes so he couldn't see me upset (dogs pick up on your facial cues), and said I'll see you in a couple of hours in your new home!!

I kissed the crate, and walked out of cargo COMPLETELY breaking down.

I cannot believe I am putting Buster in cargo on a plane, I said hysterically crying into my mother's arms. I don't know what I'd do with myself if something happened to him. It's my job to protect him.

At that point, I had to put everything out of my mind. My mind was already mush from being upset about something else 24 hours earlier (a later post), so my mind and body felt defeated.

Get it together, I said to myself. Focus on actions. For example, do you have your house keys? Since my flight was getting in at midnight knowing where those are might be helpful.

I reached into this big swag bag Summit had given us on the Delta charter out, and realized there was something missing ...

my motherfucking keys.

I ripped apart my bag, and backpack - they had spilled out of my overly sized (and opened) swag bag.

Calling: First world problem, line one

Fortunately, I have a wonderful manager (who's like the den mother of the building) and security so I was quickly able to call both asking for an extra set to be left.

Today, my biggest concern needed to be Buster. The rest would have to be figured out later.

I go through security, and am stopped by the TSA agent.

Ma'am, I need to feel around your breasts, she said. Would you like to do this here, or in private?

Having been put in this situation before, and being a lawyer's daughter, I sharply replied back - here is fine. I like witnesses.

She then moved the backside of her hand LITERALLY around my boobs (my bra didn't have a wire) and I said WOOOWWWWWWW as she went all around.

Ma'am, this isn't a thrill for me, she said back.

I'm having a bad day, I admitted, and being felt up didn't feel so good (which is surprising since it's one of my favorite things on the menu).

She laughed saying next time flip your necklace around to the back.

Got it, I said with a smile grabbing my bag. Thank you for the tip.

My flight was leaving Miami, and it had a pit stop in Houston.

I need a drink, I thought.

Obviously I had to stay sober enough to make sure everything was okay with Buster, but considering how much of a worry wart I had become, some liquid confidence seemed lovely.

I sat down next to this group from Houston, who had been there for an hour already. (I friggen love people from Texas.)

I don't remember which one of us struck up the initial conversation, but moments later we were all passing around photos of our animals, and they wished Buster the best of luck on his flight.

Thanks so much, I said sipping my wine. I'll take anything at this point - I want him home safe.

Another gentleman sat down to my left. Are you guys talking about your pets? 

Yes, I admitted. My dog was flying in cargo.

I have kids, and grand-kids, he said, but my animals are my everything.

What do you do, if you don't mind me asking?

I am a wine importer, he replied back.

It would be cruel if you were kidding, I thought.

He proceeds to hand me his card and said if anything goes wrong in Houston will you let me know? We'll make sure the rescue takes care of you and Buster and gets you guys home safe.

Wow, I said genuinely shocked as I grabbed his card. Thank you.

You're an angel, I said, but I can't just take from you. What can I do to help you? Can I promote your company? You can't offer to take care of my baby without me being able to repay you in some way.

No need to repay, he said.

We all gathered to the gate shortly there after, and en route to my seat I see the gentleman and he asks what seat I am in.

31A I replied back.

I then take my seat and realize I have the ENTIRE row to myself. I can't even begin to tell you how many times that has happened to me recently. Wonder if the airline is trying to tell me something ... 

Half way through the flight I see the gentleman from earlier walk down the aisle.

There you are! he said.

I told the flight attendant you were in 31A. You moved!

Yeah, I said. Whole row to myself so I stretched out.

Here, he said, this is for you - he handed me a mini- bottle of wine (which I proudly drank). 

Thank you so very much, I said back.

Thankfully, I hadn't already ordered one because these buggers are big, and I couldn't be drunky mcgee pants. Responsibility called!

He really was an angel, I thought. A spectacular wine angel that ALSO loves animals aka my kinda angel!

The peace of mind was truly all that I needed. The connecting flight was the last one out, and I feared having to find a hotel last minute that was pet friendly.

We landed in Houston and I walked over to my next gate. I checked the email United Cargo had sent earlier, and it said that Buster had landed as well and was being transferred over to the next flight.

I called the 800 Petsafe number and inquired about when we would know with 100% certainty that he was on the plane. I am not leaving my dog in Houston, I assured the lady.

I can tell you at 9:37, she said. At the time it was 9:20. I stared at the long boarding line, and wondered if this was going to pass in the next 17 minutes.

I was literally two people away before the 9:37 deadline. I call the attendant again and she in fact confirmed he was on the flight. You're 100% certain, I pushed. I am not boarding this flight if my dog stays in Houston.

100% sure, she said.

I HATE having to trust in situations like this, but I took her word for it boarding my flight.

I landed in LA, and grabbed my rental car (it made more sense to rent a car than keep my station wagon there for a week only to have to breakdown the crate so it could fit in my car).

I finally find United's PetSafe Cargo area (adorned with pet photos), and wait for Buster. Everything is tracked so you show them your ID and cargo slip (sad to think of a dog as cargo, but I get it).

He'll be right out, said the attendant.

Now, at this point it was about 12:30. The place was less than a minute away from closing and I made it in the nick of time to not have to drive around to the after hours pick up spot. (Clearly at this point I just wanted my damn dog.)

They wheel Buster out on this flat bed trolley and I SHOOOUUUUUUTTTTTT - BUUUSSSSSTTTTEERRRRR!!!

His tail smacks up against the crate as the guys say, wow he's excited.

You have no idea, I said back. Thanks so very much.

I grab the cart from the guys, and wheel Buster over to the rental.

He pops in the car, and into the drivers seat like totes no big dee ...

What do you expect, mom? I do this whole flying thing everyday, says the voice of Buster Brown inside my head.

That little bastard, I thought. Here I was freaking out and not only were the people at PetSafe INCREDIBLE, but he was so damn calm!! Not at ALL what I expected.

We made it home, and I laughed at getting the rental car. Might need it, I thought remembering that I had also lost my car keys in addition to apartment keys.

I got Buster inside my new place, and because he knew all of my furniture it truly was a homecoming for him.

The next morning I woke up to an email from the Wine Angel ...

What an amazing human being.

I then thought about my day and my keys. Crap, I need to get a new key fob (as the one that I lost was my only one).

Having never lost a car key before I did what any nerd would do ...

TO THE GOOGLE!

I then read a wikihow on the cheapest ways to replace your car key.

Auto locksmith, read one of the options.

I pulled up yelp, and scrolled through. I never read reviews, I instead just go with my gut.

<tangent> Which I do in business and life every day. Explains why my decisions are all over the place. Something in me felt it was the right choice, so I went with it. Drives super logical people crazy when you explain your reasoning and your only answer is "because I felt like it." </tangent>

The first guy I called didn't handle my kind of car, but his best friend did. He gave me his number.

Wow, thank you, I said.

I called his friend and he said I was in luck. He had one more key fob (for my kind of car), but couldn't be out there til tomorrow.

DONE! I said. I had the rental car anyway, so I guess this is totally working out (unconsciously).

The next morning, I got a call from the locksmith that he was downstairs. I was then greeted by this lovely gentleman and his son. I showed him to the garage where my station wagon was parked.

How cute, I thought that he's showing his son his skill. My dad used to do the same thing with my brother and me as kids. I almost preferred the school week since every weekend meant learning some sort of random task or skill. (Those lessons really did pay off btw, Dad and I plan on torturing my kids too.)

It took about a half hour for him to reprogram everything and actually get into the car. When he was done, he asked how much I owed.

$380, I said back to him (which is a far cry from the almost 1K the dealership would have charged me).

He looked at me kinda funny, and then walked back to the truck.

Pays to be honest, I said. Bet you he's looking at his work order.

He comes back, and says, you were wrong - it's only $275.

I'm shocked. Why didn't you take my money?

What kind of lesson would that be for my son? he said.

You're an absolute angel, and you have my business for life, I say as I sign the credit card slip.

I put him in my phone as a contact ...

 

Tony's Lock and Key. If you're in LA, please use them.

Buster is now happy in his favorite chair, and we're a family once again ...

A constant in life is that no matter what weird and random shit is going to happen. If your eyes are open though, angels will appear and offer to help.

Pro Tip: TAKE THE DAMN HELP AND THANK THEM LATER.

Wonder if I can have an on-demand Wine Angel, or wait, is that a ManServant?

Thank you PartnersWines.com!!