Hello! This is my first post (other than my intro) and my question is for those of you who have experience flying with puppies.
I'm hoping to add a third aussie to my group this summer, and my breeder is a very old, good friend. My two other aussies are her breeding. I absolutely love her dogs, and she is the gold standard when it comes to responsible, ethical breeding. Because of health concerns (hers, not the dogs) this may be one of the last, if not her last litter, so, in addition to other more normal reasons for wanting a puppy from this breeding, there's also a very huge sentimental component here, as well.
Anyway, when my current dogs joined the family, the breeder and I lived in the same state, just a half an hour apart. I've spent time with each an every litter she's bred, and with my youngest dog's litter (my older dog, Ben, was placed with me as a two year old after he was returned by the original family) I visited a few times per week and was very involved in evaluation of puppies and making placement decisions (not just with my boy, Misha, but in matching the other puppies in the litter with their ideal families as well).
Now, I've moved across the country, and this time, I won't have that hands on experience of meeting and getting to know my puppy from the moment he/she is born. I'm feeling a little sad about that. But really, I trust my breeder to pick out the best puppy for me. My main concern is about bringing my new puppy home when the time comes. I've read all of the airline guidelines about flying with pets, and it all seems very doable on paper, but when I start to actually think about actually attempting this, it seems impossible!
First off, from check in to landing at final destination, flights from Wisconsin to Oregon usually take at least eight hours, with at least one layover/ plane switch along the way. That is a long time for a puppy to be crated, especially in such a small crate. According to airline specifications, if the crate meets the requirements to be in the cabin, puppy will have room to stand up, sit down, turn around, and lie down, but that's it. If he/she were to happen to eliminate in the kennel, he/she won't be able to get away from the mess.
I worry about the puppy being disruptive during the flight, both noise (an eight week old puppy won't exactly be flawlessly crate trained at that point) and smell if he/she eliminates during a flight. I'm definitely planning on bringing potty pads, but how does one go about switching them out mid-flight? Do they allow you to take your puppy into the bathroom as one would a human baby? And then just dispose of the soiled pads in the trash? Also, at the airport when waiting for flights, are you allowed to take your puppy out of the crate and let it hang out on some potty pads in an attempt at encouraging elimination before boarding? I fly about once a year, and can't ever remember seeing any pets on any of my flights (save one service animal... who was a trained adult and not in a crate).
As far as noise, I was contemplating giving a little diphenhydramine and hoping for a sedative effect, but I don't want to bank on that actually working!
Driving home is another option, but it would be a looooong drive, a good three days by my estimation (driving alone), but most likely longer as I tend to get fatigued when driving would be stopping more often than if I was just a passenger. And that means finding hotels that will allow puppies and all that goes along with that. That, along with a car rental, could very possibly exceed the cost of flying. I also have limited vacation time, and was hoping to spend as much time as possible integrating puppy into my home with the other pets (two dogs, two cats, and five chickens) and working on establishing a housebreaking crate training (read: sleep) schedule before having to return to work.
How have those of you who have used this method of bringing puppies home handled it?