Friday, June 6, 2014

France and Germany… a send off from the Army-- Part 12

On the night before our flight out of Savannah, I fell asleep at about 8:00pm.  By 1:00, I was awake again, trying to adjust to the Eastern time zone.  I had to take an Advil PM to drift off to sleep, which I managed to do… only to be awakened by Bill at about 3:30am.  We had a 5:30am flight to Atlanta and he was getting everything straight.  I got up and dressed and we took the hotel shuttle to the airport along with an adorable older couple.  They had "bad knees" that they'd had replaced, so Bill helped them in and out of the van. They said, "Maybe we should tip you!"  Too funny.


Bill on the plane...

When we got to Savannah's tiny airport, we found it surprisingly busy.  The Delta agent who took our bag warned us that we needed to hurry to security.  There were crowds of people checking in and TSA, in its infinite wisdom, had only one security lane open.  They eventually opened a second one for those who were "pre-checked", but there were still many people rushing to get screened in time to catch their flights.  It took a good thirty minutes just to get through security and we worried about missing our flight to Atlanta.  As it turned out, the flight was delayed.  We were among the last to board, but we still waited about fifteen minutes to get out of Savannah.


One good thing that came out of such an early flight…

When we landed in Atlanta, our flight to Houston was also boarding, so we had to rush to make that.  Once we got in the air, things settled down a bit.  We landed in Houston at about 9:30am or so.  It was my first time in Houston's airport.  In fact, I've never even really visited Houston-- just drove through it to get to San Antonio last year.  I liked the fact that there are trees there.  Bill graduated high school in Houston, so he knows the city.  Of course, it's a lot bigger now than it was when he was a kid.  The flight to Houston from Savannah was $218 per person.  Had we flown to San Antonio, it would have been at least double that.

We rented a car to drive to San Antonio.  It wasn't a bad drive at all… took about 3 hours and there wasn't much traffic, perhaps because it was Sunday.  On the way to San Antonio, we called Bill's mom, who had kindly let us park our car at her house, to let her know to meet us at the airport where we would be dropping off the rental car.  She said we should stop at Buc-ee's, which is a gas station/convenience store chain in Texas.  It's kind of a cross between Cracker Barrel and Wawa.  They sell candy and cookies and other stuff and they have funny signs that are vaguely off color because they refer to beavers.

Funny signs at Buc-ees to remind people to pick up after their dogs...

Well, we stopped at the one on the way to San Antonio and I have to say, it was a mad house!  Making matters worse were all the people trying every which way to get to a gas pump, which made the parking lot pretty dangerous.  There were swarms of people in the store, too.  It took awhile to get to a pump and I noticed the crowding didn't have a very good effect on peoples' affects, if you know what I mean.  Nevertheless, my mother-in-law had been talking about that place for ages.  Now I can say I've been.





Major traffic at Buc-ees…

We got the car dropped off and Mother-in-law picked us up.  We couldn't get the dogs from Camp Bow Wow until 4:00, so we hung out at her house.  I was becoming really irritable and bitchy because I was tired and hungry.  Bill was also pretty tired.  By 4:00, we were pretty much dead on our feet.  We went to the kennel, got our dogs, and were told we weren't allowed to bring Arran back there because they claimed he'd been "aggressive".

Now, I don't doubt Arran got bitchy during his two week stay at the kennel…  He's not a bad dog at all.  He likes other dogs and people.  We got him from a beagle rescue where he was fostered with other dogs and he got along with them fine.  He does like his space, though.  We didn't take the dogs to the airport location as we did in January because that location was fully booked.  I have a feeling the second location was also pretty well booked.  As we waited in the lobby for the dogs, we could hear the raucous din from the back where the dogs were kept.  Obviously, Arran needs a calmer environment than what is offered at Camp Bow Wow.  Our other dog, Zane, had no issues at all, but Zane is a super friendly dog who loves everybody.

I was pretty perturbed about how this situation was handled.  In their emails to us, the staff kept harping on how "sweet" our dogs are.  But then the assistant manager who spoke to us about our "aggressive" dog made it sound like Arran's issues were all his fault and he'd put others at risk, though he didn't hurt anyone.  We have a local contact in Texas who could have picked the dogs up if Arran's behavior was that much of a problem.  We could have called Camp Bow Wow and given them payment information, too.  Obviously, they were more interested in the $945 I paid for the dogs' care than actual safety.

When we got home and I checked the phone messages on our land line, there was one from Camp Bow Wow to let us know that Zane threw up once.  I know some dog owners want to know about such things, but as it was apparently a one time issue and we were in France (and therefore could do nothing for Zane), I don't know why we needed to know that he puked one time.  If it were a repeated incident that required treatment, that would be another thing altogether.  I would have hoped they would have emailed us, though, since it's easier to communicate that way when you're abroad.

And then, I did some checking online and came across this article which, based on the author's description, I'm quite sure is about the Camp Bow Wow chain…  I understand that the locations are franchises and they aren't all created equally, but I have a feeling that this woman's post rings pretty true for the locations in our area.  She writes of very crowded conditions and dogs being grouped by size and age rather than play style.  She also writes of dogs being squirted with water, and employees being told not to pet or play with the dogs.  I chose Camp Bow Wow because it got really good reviews on Angie's List and Yelp!  However, it's pretty clear that it's not the best environment for all dogs.  

After reading that article, I felt pretty ashamed that we'd left our dogs there on our two trips this year.  When we lived in North Carolina, we used Sandhills Pet Resort and never had any problems with Arran being "aggressive".  What's more, when our dearly departed dog, MacGregor, stayed there and suddenly got very sick (he had a spinal tumor that took an MRI at NC State to find), the ladies at Sandhills cared for him and loved him as if he was their very own dog.  They were also less expensive.

The bottom line is, should we stay in San Antonio, we will either find a locally owned boarding facility for our dogs that offers more personalized care or we will find a pet sitter.  No more corporate doggy day care chains for us.  Arran can't handle environments where there are a ton of dogs in a small space.  It's too stressful for him.  In retrospect, I'm glad Arran "told" us how he felt.  Given that Bill is still job hunting, I doubt we'll need to board our dogs anytime soon anyway.


Zane and Arran get cuddle time...


"Aggressive" Arran...

I'm amazed by how quickly this week has flown by.  It's hard to believe that a week ago, we were in Europe.  We had an amazing time and, once again, I am ever so grateful to the Air Force for getting us to and from Europe safely.  And I am grateful to our government for extending Space A privileges to us.  I hope we can do it again sometime in the future.    

Thanks for reading about our trip!

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