Teddy is a rather portly Pomeranian mix that was surrendered to Wilson County, TN Animal Control by his elderly and ailing owners, and he needed to get to Searcy, AR to the Recycled Pomeranians and Schipperkes Rescue. Just my type of mission. Fly over to Lebanon, TN and then take him to Searcy, AR and get home by 11:30 AM. The poor boy was so nervous, his life having been turned upside down, but he was well behaved and a good passenger. One more pup saved and a great day of flying to boot!
I really love flying dogs (and cats when I get the chance) out of harms way. My RV-8 is not an ideal dog hauler and I have to be careful with the commitments I make to Pilots N Paws because of this.
Recently, I volunteered to help fly two small Australian Shepherd puppies from Decatur, AL (DCU) to the Spirit of St Louis Airport (SUS). The puppies were small and their weight was no problem. The crate that was going to be used would fit (I thought) fine in the baggage area of my plane.
When I arrived at the Decatur airport and attempted to put the crate in the plane, I learned that just because the crate will fit in the baggage area, getting it into the baggage area may be another challenge.
We could not maneuver it such that it could be laid flat, so our only option was to set the crate up vertically and set the puppies on what would normally be the side of the crate. Brilliant! Right? Well, not really because the bottom of these crates do not have the grid spacing that the top and the sides do. I did not notice that. As you can see in the photo above, the grids on the bottom are about 5″ square, plenty for little puppies to squirm through.
We stowed everything away, said our goodbyes and I fired up, and taxied toward the runway.
As I am just about to pull onto the runway, I suddenly have two puppies trying to climb into my lap! I’m like, what the….! Then I start laughing when I realize what happened. They both immediately found a nest in the foot wells and looked at me, as if to say, “can we stay here with you?”.
I briefly thought about letting them stay up front with me and then quickly decided that wasn’t such a good idea.
So, I shut the engine down and put the plastic floor of the crate back in the crate, re-loaded the dogs, took off and got them to SUS in great shape. I handed them off to another PNP pilot who put them in his Saratoga and took them to their final destination of Galesburg, IL.
Another mission accomplished, and some lessons learned about what will fit in this plane.
Several years ago, I was active in Pilots N Paws when I owned a Bonanza. It was a great plane to haul almost any size dog. In fact, I hauled so many aged and injured Pit Bulls, I took to calling my plane “the Pit Special”…ha. I sold the Bonanza and aside from a brief interlude with a Cirrus, I didn’t have a plane to continue hauling animals and gave up on it temporarily.
I always found it very rewarding and always intended to do it again after I finished up the -8, but always wondered about how realistic it would be considering the space available. Seeing some of the recent stories reawakened those thoughts and I recently and unexpectedly had an opportunity to jump back into it right before Oshkosh. It’s a story of two coincidences.
Out of the blue and with no action on my part, and for the first time in years, I was contacted by a rescue organization based in WI and asked if I could fly 8 puppies (later to be 4 puppies) from Magee, MS to my home airport Fayette County, TN. That was convenient! The pilot I would hand them off to happened to be someone I had met for the first time less than 24 hours prior to being contacted and whose hangar is less than 50 yards from my own. What are the odds? Sean would then fly them to Waupaca, WI on his way to Oshkosh.
Needless to say, a RV-8 is not a freight hauling machine and I was concerned about the weight and the size of the crate with 4 puppies in it. The puppies averaged about 6 lbs each and the foster mom found a small crate for them. I removed the back seat and laid a moving blanket down to quieten things a little and it all fit fine.
We kept the dogs overnight and my daughter, a former vet tech, and my wife, a certified dog nut, just fawned over them for hours. They named them. I was afraid they would want to keep them. They had a great time in our backyard.
Later they had a good night’s sleep in one of our crates after some energetic wrasslin’.
I took them to the airport the next morning to meet Sean’s wife and daughter, who fostered them for one night. I heard later from Sean that they were named again. Those were four spoiled little dogs and now they are residents of WI courtesy of Pilots N Paws.
It was just as rewarding as I remember, and I’m looking forward to another mission if I can find one with smaller animals in my area.