Hunter is 5 feet long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. 80 pounds. Not a small chap. Just after Christmas we took a trip from Portland (OR) to visit family in Alaska. So, we were on an airplane to Anchorage. It’s a 4 hour flight, give or take. Theoretically, the airlines are supposed to give us premium seating for Hunter and me. With my anxiety and PTSD I must have my service dog with me. Well, things are more complicated than all of that. We ended up at the rear of the plane with one empty seat behind us. Actually, this was not too bad in that I could see everything happening in front of me. I didn’t have to worry about what was behind me.


My wife and I managed to get three seats. She had the window; I had the aisle. There was an empty seat between us. Hunter was at our feet. Now I’m six feet tall. Even under the best of conditions, there’s not much room for my feet. Hunter was condemned to remain at our feet for the entire flight. This did not please him much. He tried to get into the aisle. He tried to sit in my lap. He turned around and begged my wife for mercy. Eventually Hunter found a great solution. He moved to the empty seats behind us. When the flight attendant came by, Hunter was sitting on the center chair looking quite satisfied with himself. The flight attendant simply said, “What a cute dog. I love dogs. I have one at home.”

You can imagine the conversation in the flight attendant’s quarters just 10 feet behind us. Was it OK for Hunter to occupy the seat like that or should they enforce regulations. Dogs apparently are not allowed to “sit” in a seat of their own. I think they drew straws to determine which one of them was to break the bad news to us that Hunter needed to resume his space at our feet. I must say, Hunter looked crest fallen when I tried (with a great deal of difficulty, I might add) to get him out of his preferred seating back to under our feet. Actually, I was crest fallen too.

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