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First the young SDIT traveling in a crate was checked in at the ticket counter. The airline (MidWest) was gracious enough to waive the normal $75.00 fee that it charges for pets flying in their special cargo section. Of course all of this had to be done ahead of time as pets traveling as such have their own reservation made and then linked to that of the person they are traveling with. The request for the fee waiver went all the way up to the Head of Marketing/ Pet Division and all info was then entered in the computer. I was given the contact's name and phone # in case there were any problems. I was then told to bring documentation showing the 8 month old dog was indeed a SDIT which was no problem as all was already in a complete packet which included a current Health Certificate, paperwork showing original rabies shot, advocate letter from ADAP (a project of Karl's Kids), and a certificate showing where the dog had been evaluated by the training organization just the month before. He had to be removed from crate while a securtiy person inspected his crate, his doggy mattress, and his chew toy. He and his collar were then checked and then he went back in. We were asked if he had been drugged for the flight -- no just very good training on manners. The female inspecter said that a good many pets coming through are drugged which in her opinion is a dangerous but legal option. So off he went to wait to be boarded on the plane. It all was a lot easier than I had feared it to be.

On to the regular security for the rest of us. The PWD traveling with the dogs, the SD flying with her in the cabin, and myself with a special pass which allowed me to go through the secured area and wait with her at the boarding gate.

I've heard in the past of SDs having to have all equipment removed and then the dog had to go through a pat down. Monday evening was the first time that I saw this and it was quite different than I had thought it would be. The security person started at the dog's head and looked in the ears and proceeded down the neck. The inner legs, the underbody, and the tail were checked -- possibly in case some item was taped out of sight? The dog had every inch of its body felt. When the SD was finished and then the PWD and her wheelchair, I then carrying the dog's harness and cape along with the PWDs carryon had to go through the regular security line. I was escorted through a special gate directly to the head of the line where I tossed my shoes in a bucket and it and the other two buckets went through x-ray while I went through the walk through detector. Then I was escorted back to my little group and helped get the dog back in harness and off we went. Took a little longer for our security check than a normal check but since we did not have to wait in line the overall time was a lot shorter. We then went to the food court, found a nice relatively quiet spot, and enjoyed some rest time before we went to the boarding gate.

My charges were allowed to board first so once they were down the shute to board the plane, I found a good seat at the window to wait for the rest of the passengers to load and the plane to take off. I waited of course until the plane was in the air and on its way before leaving.

My advice to any traveling in this manner is to make reservations for yourself and dogs early, wait several days to a week later and call back to confirm that all reservations are in order, and to get all required documentation together and in an easy to find packet.

And at each point remember to thank everyone for their kind help which will make it easier for the next team who follows you. If you don't understand something don't worry about asking to have it explained to you. It is better to follow all directives exactly as requested by the airline than to worry about annoying them with questions as they are being explained to you.
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