February 27, 2013

A Tale of Blue Cities: Willow Finds a Home

This is the story of an abandoned dog, a kind-hearted Northerner, and the airline that brought them together.

Throughout the years, my sister Gail and I have shared a passion for helping rescued dogs find good homes. We have both worked with rescue groups and have both fostered dogs in our homes.

It’s our shared passion that led my sister to a dog named Willow, a 10-week old corgi mix that was found abandoned in rural Oklahoma. With her gigantic ears and cute little body, Willow immediately stole my sister’s heart. Gail immediately reached out to the organization that was caring for Willow and set the wheels in motion for her adoption. But then she wondered how to get Willow back to Massachusetts?

That’s where JetBlue enters the picture.

As luck would have it, JetBlue had recently started flying to Dallas, Texas, which is only a three-and-a-half hour drive from Oklahoma. As soon as my sister told me about Willow, I began devising a plan on how to get her to my sister’s bucolic farm in Massachusetts where she could live with the rest of the tribe – two mini donkeys named Berry and Veronica, a horse named Nickie, a couple of parrots, a yellow lab named Zeus, and the grand dame of the farm, a 16-year-old Corgi named Zinnia.

Gail with her new family member, Willow

Like a scene from a female buddy movie, here we were, these two city girls, driving down dusty highways past farms and horses as we made the three-and-a-half hour trek from Dallas to Oklahoma.   My sister insisted on wearing a gigantic cowboy hat, no doubt to fool the locals into thinking we were  locals, despite our pronounced Boston accents.  It was a wonderful ride – a lighthearted shared experience between two grown siblings and a chance to step away from Blackberries and emails and work and all of the other distractions that consume our days.

As we made our way along the highway our excitement kept building until we finally arrived at the little cottage that housed both the rescue organization and a doggie day care.  Like any prospective adoptive parent, my sister was full of nervous energy as we chatted with the rescue staff.   Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they asked “would you like to meet Willow?”  We looked up and out from a back office, sauntered this little cutie with tiny chubby legs and giant ears.   My sister burst into tears of joy at the sight of little Willow, which then made me start to cry.   Here she was, this little bundle of love only seen in pictures.  How anyone could abandon such a sweet puppy still astounds me to this day.

With a long return trip ahead of us, we said an emotional goodbye to the people who so lovingly cared for her and we prepared to head back to Texas.  Willow settled in on Gail’s lap, let out a sigh of contentment and for the next four hours, lay quietly across my sister’s lap and shoulder, waking only occasionally to change positions.

When we arrived at Dallas Fort Worth airport, my fellow JetBlue crewmembers were waiting for us.

They had heard about Willow when we first arrived into Dallas from Boston and they were there to meet and greet her for the return trip.  We were touched by the kindness they showed and the courtesy shown by the TSA in Dallas, who inspected Willow’s carrier and greeted her gently as she went through the metal detector while held in my sister’s arms.

Due to heavy cross winds on the airfield, our flight was delayed and we wondered how Willow would handle the delay as she laid confined in her dog carrier.  But she slept like a champ not only in the terminal, but also in her carrier under the seat  as we flew back to Boston.

Not once throughout the entire trip did Willow make a sound.  That is, not until we landed in Boston and taxied to the gate, where she finally let out a little bark as if to say “Yay!  We’re here!”

Today Willow is a growing girl who likes to cause trouble like any puppy does. Although I only see her every few weeks  when I visit my sister in Massachusetts, Willow runs at me like a nose tackle in a football game, smashing into me and covering me with kisses.   She doesn’t realize that she’s now too big to fly JetBlue anymore, but she doesn’t care.  She’s home.

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For more information about traveling with pets and our JetPaws program visit jetblue.com/travel/pets.

Learn more about Diane and stay tuned for the next edition of A Tale of Blue Cities!

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