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Check Out Dr. Zlupko's Editorial Content on the topic ON THE RUG published on the Altoona Mirror. Read out the full article!

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Air travel has become increasingly complex and difficult.  My recent trip to a sunnier and warmer climate was fraught with problems.  Naturally, I had scheduled the day of departure several months in advance.  I followed the weather reports closely as the time for my escape for my winter vacation approached. Two weeks out it was to be sunny and only a slight chance of rain for my short flight from a local airport to Philadelphia then on to more sunshine and relaxation.  One week before the scheduled flight some slightly inclement weather was forecast but nothing to worry about.  Two days before the flight not only was a storm forecast but it had a name, Niko.  It is never good if your storm has a name.  It was to be the storm of the season but lasting only one day.  That’s right one day if I had gone one day before or one day after, no problem.  I called to reschedule and the voice on the phone assured me that my call was very important to them (but not so important that they could answer it).  I could not get a flight out for three days.  How can I pick the exact day for the storm of the season (it was called Niko)?  I can never pick anything correctly, except, of course, the worst travel day of the year.

The new departure day proved equally difficult. Fog delayed our departure and when we finally got to the Philadelphia Airport we were told that because of the delay our pilot and crew were reassigned to another flight.  We had a plane but no crew.  A new crew was being flown in from Boston but was experiencing some delays because of a blinding snow storm that was hampering take off.  Perhaps hampering is too mild a word since the Boston flight was delayed about two hours. The new crew was unaware of their new assignment and, therefore, did not report to our plane for an additional hour.

None of you who travel will find my story unusual at this point.  Here is where it gets bizarre and the reason for this rant.  When have animals, especially dogs, been allowed to fly in the cabin with human passengers? Now don’t send me e-mails, tweets, or anything else saying you hate me because I am against dogs.  I have nothing against dogs.  They are just going where they are taken. My problem is with the people who travel with them. I have noticed more and more dogs on planes.  I am lead to believe that they are necessary companions for their owners because they meet some therapeutic need.  People need their dog to help keep them calm on the plane.  Who is keeping the dog calm as we rocket down the runway at 200 miles an hour to begin our turbulent flight to wherever?   Keep in mind that as a physician I might understand the therapeutic nature of a travel dog and I could have left it at that had it not been for the dropping of the final straw.  As I said, the travel pet is occurring more often and seems to be a movement and speaking of a movement, as I sat in the waiting area hoping our pilots were not too annoyed about being scheduled for an extra flight (I didn’t want the crew to fly angry) I saw what was for me a deal breaker on the dog issue. A passenger had left his dog wander around the waiting area. As the dog sniffed around he casually squatted and deposited a modest sized fecal wad on the rug.  The dog “SH—“ on the rug!  On the rug!

The owner of the dog scooped up the turd and deposited it in one of the trash cans.  Thank god, this was a well formed piece of scat which could be picked up in its entirety but what if it wasn’t? Little children play on these rugs.  I walk on these rugs.  I doubt that this was the first time this has occurred.  Had the rug been shampooed or otherwise disinfected since the last canine call of nature?

If my point has not already been made, let me be more direct.  If you are a grown adult and need emotional help with flying you have two choices”   one, don’t fly; or two, use one of the many pharmaceutical agents available to relax you during the flight.  Please, keep your dog and its excrement off the airport rugs.

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