Friday, November 25, 2011

Shilo and The Airport Relief Area-Seattle/Tacoma International

 Earlier this month Shilo and I flew for the first time in our partnership to attend the Association of University Centers on Disability Annual Conference in Washington both self-advocates and staff of a university center for excellence on developmental disabilities. Shilo had traveled and flown before we were matched, so I was not worried about her ability to handle the unique environments and experiences. She was not happy about getting up at 3 a.m. or missing breakfast on the day we flew out, but she handled everything like the season professional that she is (with minimal griping perceptible only to her partner) impressing everyone with her calm, cool, quiet demeanor. Comments about Shilo throughout the trip included:
"Wow, I didn't even there was a dog on the plane!She's so quiet!"
"I wish children were that good, while flying!"
"My dog would never be that good!"
"We love to have these dogs fly!"
"She is so attentive to you."
On the way out to D.C. we barely had time to deplane, take me to the bathroom and run to our connecting flight, so Shilo had to hold it from 4:30 a.m.PST until 6:30 p.m. EST. Doing the math, that means that she had 11hours between potty breaks. That is why I follow the "high and dry" rule when flying with a service dog wherein the dog skips the meal closest to flight time and free access to water ends and hour before the last chance to empty themselves before entering the secured area of the airport. While on the plane she gets ice to keep her her from becoming desperately thirsty without having so much water that she needs to relieve herself.

On our return trip we had a layover in Seattle at Sea/Tac International Airport with two hours to wait, so I decided to see if we could find the pet relief area inside the "sterile" or secured area. I went right up to the Horizon service counter and asked how to get to it. To my great delight, they not only knew what I was talking about; they knew where it was. Sadly, that was the end of my delight.
While I able to find the  potty area. accessing it or using it would not have been possible If I had been traveling with someone we would not have been able to:
1. Get through the doors. It was a double door entry without much room for maneuvering a chair and manual, heavy doors.
2. Clean up after ourselves. The room had two pee pads on the floor, but no more provided for putting additional pads or clean ones after cleaning up. There was a poo-bag dispenser that was empty. No cleaning supplies for disinfecting, keeping the room clean and smelling fresh..
There were also two three foot deep boxes of litter that stunk to high heaven, hadn't been cleaned in who knows how long, and had no tools available for cleaning up after your dog after they completed there business. The room smelled so much of ammonia; it took my breath away. So, while I was grateful Shilo could relief herself; I was trying not to pass out from the smell of the room, and worried that she was being exposed to germ and bacteria that might make her sick.
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1 comment:

Angel Logan said...

We stopped at the Sea/Tac Pet Relief Area last fall on our way to the IAADP Conference. Like you I was thrilled to learn that they had one within the secure area but disappointed once we got inside. They only had potty pads at that time, no litter. Kinda silly if you think about it, I could bring my own potty pad if Logan had been trained to use them and use the family restroom. Since she wasn't, she just looked at me like "you want me to do what, where?". I'm impressed that Shiloh was able to "perform" for you there.

It seems like they are catering to people travelling with small pets not larger working service animals even though that's why they are legally required to have the relief areas in the first place.

I think that a large self draining artificial turf area would be a good solution. People could pick up the solid waste and staff could do a periodic quick hose down.