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An Encounter with Marie and Luna

searchThe SkyWest Airlines gates are a half-day’s hike from the Denver airport terminal. I was tempted to stop for food and noticed every restaurant and vending machine. Determined to eat only the peanut butter and crackers that I’d packed, I passed up ice cream, hamburgers, tacos, pizza, even a plastic container of baby carrots, cucumber slices, and celery sticks. Who would buy vegetables for $6.00 from a vending machine?

Finally, I arrived at my gate an hour before my flight. I purposely chose a seat next to a young woman, somewhere between 18- 33, an age that I can never identify, who had obviously bought vending machine vegetables. She held a pet carrier on her lap. “She’ll eat her veggies and talk to her dog, but not me,” I thought as I reached from my book.

I could see thick white fur through the mesh of the canvas pet carrier. The woman unzipped the top of the carrier and held a carrot in her hand. “Are you hungry?” she said. I saw two ears pop up above the zipper – two long furry ears. Rabbit ears. And he was hungry. He held the carrot between his front paws and nibbled it.

“Tell me about your rabbit,” I said. This was more interesting than my book.

“He’s 1 ½ years old and his name is Luna.” I thought, “And you’re taking him with you on a three-hour plane flight? Really? A rabbit. He must be special.” I wanted to know more and Marie was glad to share. She was moving from Colorado to Murfreesboro to live with Marie’s boyfriend and his family. “When we talked about me to moving to Tennessee, he knew that we’re a package. Where I go, Luna goes.”

Luna runs around the house like a cat. He’s pretty much trained to use a litter box, just like a cat. He sleeps and is happy in a big two-story crate with lots of room for him to hop. (It had been shipped to Tennessee earlier.) Marie’s only concern about the flight was that Luna would get hot. “I meant to get a small fan to hold beside him or freeze a bottle of water to put in his carrier, but I got too busy getting everything packed and forgot,” Marie said as she gently massaged Luna’s neck. “A rabbit is the perfect pet.”

The whole time, Marie talked I thought, “Incredible. It’s a rabbit – not a dog. How much does it cost to fly with a pet? Can all animals fly on commercial planes?” I booked my flight through United Airlines and according to its website, domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and birds can travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most U. S. flights. An in-cabin pet may be carried, in addition to a carry-on bag, and is subject to a $125 service charge.  There’s a long form to complete and submit along with the fee. Then a PetSafe® representative contacts you to discuss your booking request.

Because I boarded the plane before Marie, I didn’t see where she sat and I couldn’t find her after the flight. I assume that Luna made the flight well, and I’m glad that Marie loves Luna and could bring him to Tennessee with her.

But the very idea of paying good money to bring a rabbit across country on an airplane, well, that beats all, as Granny used to say. And putting $6.00 in a vending machine for a handful of veggies – that beats all, too.