We’re flying the dogs home!
“I have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it.” Lucas says. “I will disavow any knowledge of knowing either of youz two and the dogs you rode in with if you get in trouble.”
So, naturally, it was a go. The plan was simple—Carole Jean flies to Puerto Rico from Santa Cruz, California. She and Lynn zip up to Columbus, Ohio, while Lucas stays back to close the Puerto Rico house complete with the installation of hurricane shutters, and to put the two dogs on a plane to New Jersey. Thelma and Louise, I mean Lynn and Carole Jean, drive the Big-Ass Red Truck from Ohio to Newark, pick up the dogs and then drive back to Columbus. Simple, right? Not!
The drive through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania was smooth enough since we were armed with the appropriate road snacks—hard-boiled eggs, Cheetos, Diet Coke, and Gummy Bears. Waze was keeping us on track to the Marriott near the Newark airport. The Waze lady didn’t start shouting at us until we started going in circles. What with the enormous trucks, construction zones, and road-rage drivers with New Jersey plates, that could happen to anybody. We back-tracked a bit, drove around the roundabout several times, and then cried “Eureka!” when we pulled into the registration area. Wine-time!
Rested and ready to tackle the task at hand, Lynn started calling the phone numbers that she found online at the pet shipper’s site. The dogs were to be flown in cargo through Amerijet, and according to the instructions on the site, they were to be retrieved at Forward Air, Inc’s warehouse. Starbucks under our belts we set out to find shipping and receiving. White knuckling through EWR (Newark airport) we pulled into the driveway and squeezed Big-Ass Red through the jam-packed mass of container trucks lined up waiting to receive cargo. Lynn kept the truck running while I went into the building to find the two large crates that housed Lobo and Cinnamon.
As I entered the waiting room, all sound ceased and all eyes were upon me as the seasoned truckers followed my every move. There were two rough-looking women inside the cage. I put on my best “Pollyanna” and announced that I was here to pick up dawgs (I used my old Brooklyn accent to defuse the tension).
“Dawgs? We ain’t got no dawgs here, lady.”
“Are you sure? I have a shipping number and Amerijet says we pick them up here.”
I think the shipping lady felt sorry for me. “I’ll go ask my manager, but I ain’t never seen no dawgs come through here.”
As she returned from her foray onto the enormous warehouse floor, she didn’t even need to speak as she came toward me shaking her head from side to side. As she got within earshot I said in a thin voice, “I don’t know what to do,” as I descended the stairs and saw Lynn sitting in the truck with her eyes riveted on me.
I shook my head from side to side and her eyes widened, her jaw dropped, and she exhaled forcefully. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know what to do.”
Lynn started calling the numbers again and this time somebody answered. He said all dogs that are shipped in cargo go to Miami.
“Miami? Where are you located?”
“Oh, is that where your company headquarters are located? Might they have taken the dogs there?”
“Nope. No dogs here. They go to Miami. Call this lady named Liza. She knows about the dogs.”
Lynn and I looked at each other. “Are we driving to Miami?” I asked.
“No, we’re flying. We can deal with Big Red later.
A huge truck pulled out of a legitimate space and Lynn pulled in to regroup. A gruff-looking man shouted, “Hey, Lady! You can’t park here.”
With her voice cracking a bit, she answered, “I don’t wanna park here. I just want to find my dogs. Can you help me?”
His rough exterior dropped, he came over to the window and in a soft voice told us we were in the wrong place. We needed to go to the cargo area at the terminal, to building 339. He said, “When you drive outta here turn left. At the light turn right. Then turn right again and go about a mile then turn left. You’ll see numbers on the buildings. Good luck!”
Lynn carefully picked her way through the dozens of large trucks that were helter-skelter in the receiving area. As soon as we safely exited I cocked my head and made a face. “Do you remember what he said?”
Deep breath and sigh. “Plug in cargo area at EWR on Waze and let’s just get to the correct area.”
I randomly picked Delta Cargo. Just then, the phone rang. I snatched it and a warm, rich voice ala Barry White said, “Hello, this is Bailey calling from AGI. I have some paperwork for you. Can you come to my office? It’s right next to Delta Cargo.”
“Yes! We are so happy to hear from you! Let me put the driver on the phone. She’s the owner of the dogs.”
She barely came to a stop after pulling into an empty space in front of a loading bay. She bee-lined for the front door of AGI leaving me sitting in the truck. A white van with “Hong’s Foods” written on the side started beeping his horn. A strong voice yelled out the window, “Hey, lady! Move the truck!” came booming into my ears. I looked at the ignition. No key. I gestured to Hong to wait a moment. I used my best sign language to agree to move it but I didn’t have the key. I sprinted to the building just as Lynn appeared, waving me in.
“We need to move the truck! Thinking she would move it since I had never actually driven Big Red. My job was shotgun. No driving. Lynn was exuberant. “Do you hear Lobo howling? The dogs are here! I just have to finish signing. She fished out her keys and yelled, “Move the truck!”
Oy vey! I looked over to Hong to ask him to move it, but he was already sitting over his steering wheel glaring up through his eyebrows waiting to load up his ducks or whatever.
Here goes, Louise! Thelma’s busy. You are moving the damn truck! Deep breath, turn the key slowly inch your way up the ramp.
I slammed it into park and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Lynn with Bailey and his team hovering over the dog crates. They efficiently got the dogs out, crates loaded into the truck bed, and wished us a safe trip back to Ohio. We were still fiddling with Waze when Bailey came back out and motioned to roll the window down. “It’s windy on the turnpike. Maybe you should put your luggage inside the cages to weigh them down. That happened to me in college. A little table flew off the back of my pickup. You don’t want that!”
We thanked him profusely and headed down the highway, wanting to get out of New Jersey ASAP. Lobo and Cinnamon were somewhat traumatized after their journey. They had not had anything to eat or drink for hours and we were thankful there were no accidents in the crate. Both dogs peed on the grass but neither pooped. We were searching for a quick burger fix for them which we found about an hour outside of Newark. Whoppers for all!
Neither Lynn nor I had eaten fast food in twenty or thirty years. After all the adrenaline dissipated, it sounded good at that moment. An hour after scarfing down the feast, Lynn and I said, “Never again,” as we cradled our tummies. A few minutes later our nostrils started twitching. “Lobo!” shouted Lynn. “Get the poop bags!”
I grabbed them out of her purse, unbuckled my seatbelt, and dove for the floor of the back seat where the stinky turd was still steaming. I scooped it up in the aqua-blue plastic baggie but the stench was still strong. “There must be another lump. See if it rolled under the seat,” cried Lynn. I pushed myself farther down from my shotgun seat. “I see it! Just a sec—okay, got it!” After double-bagging and opening all the windows we were back in the saddle again, homeward bound.
We powered through Jersey and Pennsylvania and started looking for a pet-friendly hotel. By the time we found one we were only two hours outside of New Albany, home sweet home. We kept the radio blasting, the Gummy Bears coming and eyes trained on the prize—a bottle of pink bubbly awaiting us, and a warm cozy bed.
Lobo and Cinnamon are senior dogs, both fourteen years old, which is ninety-one in people years. They are troopers, Thelma and Louise lived through another caper and are re-loading for the next adventure!