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Doctor Curmudgeon® It’s About Time!

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

Yes, indeed…it has finally come to pass.

Bark Air has arrived. The airline describes itself as “…here to deliver a white paw experience. We built our flight experience for dogs first, from the ground up.”

The CEO of Bark, Matt Meeker, stated that his beloved dog, Hugo, a Great Dane, was the inspiration for Bark Air. Due to his size, Hugo was not allowed in the cabin. He would have had to be shoved into a crate in the cargo hold.

Meeker did research on the experience Hugo would have had. He crawled into a dog crate at the airport in Naples Florida. It was a horrendous ordeal; crammed into a small space, bounced around with no seat belt and surrounded by darkness.

And so he created a first class experience for dogs. The only passenger restrictions are for humans, who must be at least 18 years old. Dogs can be of any size or breed.

Canines around the world rejoiced when Bark Air took its maiden flight on Thursday, May 23. The canine passengers departed from New York and arrived in Los Angeles.

According to the New Yorker, the dogs on the maiden voyage were “Eddie (golden retriever, native of Wyoming), Brooklyn (dachshund–Pomeranian, from Texas), Poppy (white-haired Chihuahua, terrified), and Tola (Prague ratter, frequent flier).”

It’s about time that travelling dogs were treated with consideration. A concierge meets pre-flight to discuss the canine’s likes, dislikes and temperament.

The crew, trained in canine CPR, is prepared to calm an anxious dog, often massaging with paw balm. Toys and noise cancelling headphones are available along with blankets to gently tuck around an apprehensive furry.

The four-footed passengers have their own menus and are also served chicken-flavored treats, in addition to special cupcakes. “Champagne”, actually chicken broth is presented in bowls, rather than flutes.

It surprised me to learn that the dogs can just “go” anywhere. Flight attendants are always available with wee-wee pads in case they spy a passenger about to relieve him or herself. And, of course, the crew cleans the plane constantly. I assume that the humans are provided with their own facilities.

The Cost? I can’t even think about it. But it is around $6000 for a dog and human. That first voyage from New York to Los Angeles was sold out.

Jim King is a Bark Air Pilot and he says “I’d rather fly these puppies than people.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE; I am Galahad, Doctor Curmudgeon’s Siberian Husky cousin. We also have feline cousins. It is important that I note that felines are not permitted on Bark Air. However, my feline cousin Renpet, informs me that felines are being trained as pilots and she is certain that some will be assigned to Bark Air in the future)

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