The Face of K9 Cancer

Big Mtn Bob.jpg Feb 19, 2012 4-41 AM

Today is a special day in our house.  Many houses have a day like today… It is a day when you pause to remember.  On that day you said goodbye to your special soul mate you promised you would never forget, and that is absolutely true.  You see, eight years ago today we said goodbye to our Forever Dog, Bob.  Bob was short for his full name:  “Bob Marshall Wilderness Dog” since he was adopted in Whitefish, MT where we lived and we wanted to honor the glory of the area.  Bob was nothing if not glorious.

Bob succombed to cancer 2/06

We fell in love first with his sister, Schafer (short for Shafer Meadows, also in the Bob Marshall Wilderness) and knew we had to go get him.  There was a whole litter being given Scanaway because they weren’t pure bred.  Who could turn this down???  He began life running and playing on the shores of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park.


Bob grew fast and became quite the river dog, he enjoyed some good hiking too.  He went everywhere with us and fully embraced the glory he lived in.  He would Kayak in the summer and float on the lakes and even visited a few mud bogs…




mud dog.jpg Feb 19, 2012 4-41 AM




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Bob had thick fur and loved the snow.  He loved to roll in it, and drag us around in it.  At the end of the day we would go out on the ski runs where we lived and he would chase us down on sleds or my snowboard.  That was GREAT fun!  On sunny winter days, my best friend and I would grab some Crazy Creek chairs and a few beverages and snowshoe up to a point overlooking the valley and watch the sun set while the dogs played.  Sadly, cancer has come to call and taken her and Bob home…

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But remember,before Bob left, he was always laughing!

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That is how I will always remember him.  Right up until that last day.  We were simply out on our morning snowshoe and Bob wandered into the woods and did not return.  When we found him, he was collapsed under a tree.  We learned very quickly about K9 cancer.  We learned how randomly and quickly it can hit.  We learned how completely it can have control before you even have a chance to begin to fight.  Bob had very aggressive Hemangiosarcoma: a tumor that had been silently growing on his heart ruptured that morning.  His doctors took heroic measures and stabilized him so we could make decisions and get information.  What we learned is that there was substantial spread of the disease.  We took Bob home, and he just never got his “Bob” back.  Bob deserved more than that.

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A typical “Bob” day was to hang out on the front porch and wait for visitors to stop by and adore him (we lived at a ski resort on the way to a ski run) or possibly share their breakfast burritos with him.  He would then go on a long snowshoe with us and stop at a neighbor house on the way home to help get the kids ready for school and help with their waffles.  He would return home at his leisure, hang with us a bit and then return to the porch to watch for visitors and squirrels.  At lunchtime he knew the lifties down at Chair 6 (just below our house) would often fire up the grill and cook good stuff so he would wander down there.  You could hear them cry “Bob!” from our house.  He was a legend.  Then he would come home and commence napping until his afternoon snowshoe.  He lived a large life.  He deserved to be Bob every day of it.  The next evening we had a great “wake” for Bob that all of his dog friends came to and our friends as well.  We all celebrated a life well lived and gave him a living, loving send off.  Quietly, we slipped out the next morning and made that last trip down the hill and said good bye to our dearest love.  He drifted off quickly as he was so very tired.

Bob, Looking Back...

This, my friends, is the face of K9 cancer.  We thought it was an anomaly because we had not heard of it.  When our next dog, Buddy, got it we began to learn the truth.  There are amazing advances being made since we first began this walk with Bob, and we are grateful to folks who are taking this on every day like the Animal Cancer Foundation.  Today we pause and not only remember some of our favorite things about Bob, but send special thoughts to all of you who have been forced to have days when you remember because of this disease.  When you are remembering, remember to be grateful that you had such a powerful love in your life that you are eternally touched and changed by it.  I gotta say, “I would not miss the dance…”  Bob, I will continue the fight for you and all forever dogs.  Miss ya dude.

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Cancer Treatment Is Not A Competition

DSC_2240-1A lot of folks don’t even know why we started our “Buddy’s Be The Dog Life” Facebook page.  It’s just there, they stop by and well, heck, Buddy isn’t even there any more, so what’s this all about?

Buddy was our big love who got cancer six years into his Golden life.  He was our second dog to get cancer.  Our first dog got Hemangiosarcoma and it was so pervasive and aggressive that by the time we found it, we only had two more days with him.  We thought it was a fluke.  When Buddy got cancer, we knew there was more to it.  Buddy had a slower moving cancer so we had time to learn about this evil and how often it struck our pets.  We learned about the different forms and the treatments.  We did research and studied and asked questions and then decided to make some good come of our bad situation.  We decided to share our journey and what we learned.  We knew there were a lot of other scared families out there with nobody to talk to who knew that it scared you just as much when your pet had cancer as when any other loved one did in your family.  So we shared.  Buddy shared, mostly, and he also shared how he kept right on living and being the dog, because that’s what dogs do.



We pass on a lot of information here and we try to share all of the newest, most cutting edge technology as soon as we learn about it.  We try to post all of the options that are available for each type of cancer that might strike one of our pets.  We always say knowledge is power: power of the paw.  Lately, though, we have had a few messages that make us realize that there is a message we don’t always make clear or maybe we should make clear.  Those are ALL the options.  Each family then makes decisions based on their situation and what they think is best for their family and their pet.  Never forget that YOU are in the driver’s seat when it comes to treatment and options.  You are your pet’s number one advocate and that is your key role during this process.  No article or blog or doctor or study should make you feel that you need to follow a certain path.  With that said, allow me to share some very practical advice we learned the very hard way.

When you notice a bump or lump, there is a very logical and strategic way to examine each one.  If it is small or squishy (technical term there) keep an eye on it and watch to see if it grows and how quickly, changes color or texture or form. Each lump should be addressed.  No doctor can tell, just be feeling one, that it is benign or of a certain type.  The best doctors who are very confident taught me that.  They can be 99% sure, but not certain.  The next step is not surgery to remove the lump to examine it.  The next step will be possibly x-rays or a needle aspirate to determine the composition of the lump.  The aspirate removes some cells for examination with minimal invasion of your pet’s body.  This is important, as many pets develop multiple lumps and you don’t want to keep slicing and dicing on your pet like a science experiment.  If test results show the lump is benign you still watch the lump.  An aspirate only tests a portion of the cells, so you still watch and if it starts changing and acting hinkey (another tech term) you have a pro look at it again.  More watching and evaluating than cutting.

The time does come for treatment when it is cancer and that is when I get a lot of messages from truly distraught pet parents.  This is what I want to remind you all of today.  I am not a doctor, but this does not take a doctor to help you understand.  This takes years of experience with pets with cancer and thousands of pets and their stories shared on this page alone.  The decisions you make are personal and will be right for you and your pet.  When you take that pet into your life you promise to give him or her the very best life possible.  You will be as loyal to that creature (or try to be) as he or she is to you.  This means you will bankrupt yourself emotionally for your pet, but it does not require you to do so financially where you both end up out on the street.  That does not really provide a good quality of life for either one of you.  If you are constantly stressing about the cost of a treatment, that stress will transfer to your pet.

When presented with a diagnosis, it is time to do research because knowledge is power.  It is tempting to go all “deer in the headlights,” but don’t go there.  Learn all of your options.  That does not mean you are going to take advantage of every option.  You have to consider at the very top of the list how treatments will affect the quality of your pet’s life.  You also have to factor in cost in the real world.  A surgeon may sit across the desk and tell you that he CAN get that tumor out of your dog.  That is true.  Then you have to weigh the fact that it will cost $10,000 and your dog will have a lengthy and uncomfortable recovery that will limit his activity.  I use this example because it is a situation we were in with Buddy.  Then we considered that the tumor was on his liver and the cancer had become systemic and we would probably only be buying him six more months of life at most.  The time had come to make a decision in Buddy’s best interest that was right for us and for Buddy.  The option and technology was there to do more.  After many sleepless nights and much research into odds and projected outcomes, we made the difficult decision to stop the assault on his body.  We chose instead to spend our money heating the pool in March and April so it was warm enough so he could do his most favorite thing in the world; swim.  Buddy died in May.  We were left with wonderful memories of joy and he had the best time.  If he had surgery, he may have lived a few miserable months longer and would not have understood why we put him through that pain and suffering.  Instead, he knew only joy and got to be a dog until the end.

Me and my Meanie

So please, always be gentle with yourself as you travel this path.  Learn all you can, and then do the very best you can by your pet.  Feed them the best you can, but if after reading an article you find that the suggested diet is just too expensive for you, don’t worry.  Do the best you can which will be a true gift to your pet.  Learn what treatments are available and get the best care you can for your pet.  We have articles posted in our resource library about places to apply to for financial help, but if all else fails, just do the best you can and then keep your pet comfortable.  We didn’t sign up to be able to keep them alive forever.  Oh that we could, and we feel that is our responsibility.  It is not.  Our responsibility is to love them to death, not prevent it.  We are all capable of that.  It is the ultimate lesson in “Being the Dog…” to just be with what is, and enjoy the ride!

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When Dogs Fly…Part 2: Four Steps Before You Fly

ImageOk, last time we didn’t even get near an airplane.  There is plenty of prep you can do to make travel easier for your pet before you ever get to the aircraft.  After some fun work with lots of rewards, hopefully you now have a pet who is comfortable around strangers and with the restraint system that is going to keep him or her safe on board.  As I mentioned, we work with pets flying in the cabin on private jets, so that is how these tips are written, but you can get some good ideas from these articles.  If you have specific questions about commercial air travel or even car travel or camping, shoot me a note and I’ll try to help you out there too!


The first thing to keep in mind the day of your trip is to allow plenty of time so you don’t start rushing around.  Getting everything packed up and in the car is stressful enough for your pet, you don’t need to ramp it up with rushing around and getting frustrated when they ask for a little reassurance that their world is ok.  The second thing to keep in mind is that everything will take twice as long as you anticipate, so allow a little extra time.  When you arrive at the FBO, have a walk-about and let your pet have one last relief break and stretch.  We always meet our guests with dogs out on the tarmac.  Some dogs get really excited meeting new people and jump around and show excitement in other ways that might damage the fine interior of a private jet.  It’s best to have that excitement outside…  If you are flying with a less “pet savvy” crew, invite them to meet you outside before entering the aircraft to make sure everything goes smoothly.


Once you enter the aircraft, have a quick look around to make sure there aren’t any bowls of candy or flowers at grazing level for your pet.  We always “pet proof” our cabins, including using only cleaning products that are pet-safe, but usually when you enter your private jet there are pre-flight goodies set out for your enjoyment on the credenza (perfect for counter surfing!) along with flowers.  It is amazing how fast a dog can zero in on that and make the rest of your flight unpleasant at the very least.


Next it is time to set up a safe place and home for your pet.  Most cats like to remain in their carriers and may be strapped into a seat with the existing seat belt assembly.  Most dogs prefer to have free reign of the cabin, but for their safety and the safety of the operation this needs some boundaries.  We always set up a dog bed near their seat, or you can bring their favorite if you prefer.  The harnesses we discussed in our last post attach easily to the seat belt while still allowing them to sit up or lay down at their seat.  We also bring a longer tether for smooth in-flight use that allows them to roam a little more, but will prevent them from injury should we hit unexpected turbulence.  This also keeps them from taking to heart the phrase “dog is my co-pilot!”  The added bonus is that you may now relax without holding a leash or constantly watching to see where your dog might be during the entire flight.  Pretty much everybody is happy!  Add a favorite (or new and exciting) toy to the bed, and your dog has a comfy place to relax that feels like home.


On our flights we introduce pet parents to a Pet Safety Briefing Card which is just like the one you have seen for humans.  It goes over what you are going to do to help your pet in the event of the emergency situations we brief you on at the beginning of each flight.  If you are on a flight with a crew that does not cater to animals that way, think ahead about what you will do if any of the situations occur that they brief you on.  Think through a plan.  You won’t be able to do that suddenly and in a panic, so just give it some thought when there is no emergency.  If you ever need to act, you will have a plan and be a much better guardian for your pet.  Now you can all settle in knowing you are well prepared and enjoy your flight.  We’ll give you tips on just how to do that next time.  Until then… enjoy the ride!

DSC_6259** No dogs have ever stuck their head out the window on one of our flights.  This photo was taken with a professional driver in extraordinary circumstances.  Please do not attempt on your private jet.

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When Dogs Fly… Part 1

For those of you who travel with your fur kids on private jets, the challenge is to try to come up with a solution that will make air travel as safe and enjoyable as possible for your pet.  For that reason, we draw upon our years of experience of traveling with pets and observing their reactions to different situations to help us figure out what they like and don’t like and what some of their “pet peeves” are, if you will.  We want to share some of this information with you to help you better prepare for your next trip with your pet.  We travel on private jets with pets, but a lot of these considerations will make sense when flying on a commercial aircraft or even by car.


First things first.  Does your pet like to ride in any vehicle?  If your pet freaks out in the car, then the car ride to the airport is going to send poor Bowser into a tizzy and it’s doubtful that riding on the plane will be much more enjoyable.  Start a few months out and introduce Bowser to the car slowly.  Get him the type of harness or crate you plan to use on the plane and go out to the car and just sit in the car in the driveway talking quietly until you can do so calmly. Our go-to harness is the RuffWear Load-Up harness.  Allow your pet to wear the harness walking around the house.  Slowly advance to backing the car out of the drive and then pulling back in.  Move on to a drive around the block.  Increase the length of trips only as your pet will allow.  Reward your pet generously for learning this new skill.  By the time you are ready to fly, your pet will be comfortable with his or her restraint system and traveling in a moving vehicle.  If you are using a crate, have the crate open where you watch TV with a soft blanket and toy inside so it becomes a safe place to hang out with you when you are all together.  Proceed to having your pet travel in the car in the crate which he or she now considers a “safe” place.


Be sure to bring that much loved blanket or toy with you on your trip that is a smell that your pet recognizes in a new environment.  We always bring along a portable pet bed as well, and spray it with a relaxing pheromone spray that makes an inviting place for each pet to settle.  You can find some great travel dog beds at Ruffwear, and Kurgo.  The Pheromone Spray we use is D.A.P. Pheromone Spray.

One other pre-flight stress that you can work on before you ever go to an airport is socializing your pet.  If your pet is flying on a private jet like our clients do, this isn’t much of a problem, but if you will have to transit a large airport and security screenings and your pet is a bit shy, this could start a trip off badly.  Gradually start taking your pet to places where there are more people present.  Perhaps go sit on a park bench where you can watch people at a distance.  Step it up to standing around in front of a store.  Finally go somewhere really busy where people might bump into your pet and interact with him or her.  Getting your pet used to being around people will not only make the trip easier, but will make your life easier and his or her life a lot more pleasant as well.


Now we have a pet who is ready to go out and get on a plane and travel!  We’ll actually get on the plane next time…

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Dog Camp!

DSC_7873Hey everypawdy, Maxx back at the helm here.  I’m getting ready to head out on one of the most beloved adventures a pupper can head out on.  You all know what that is, right?  It’s the dog camping trip where you bring the humans along to carry the extra food and drive!  I saw the camper arrive in the front yard this morning and I was so excited, I started carrying toys out there right away.  I’ve got my floating frisbee, my floating Kong, 25 or 30 tennis balls, and a few squeeky toys that should wake the entire campground up around 0 dark 30.  Perfect!


Mom, on the other hand, remembered our last trip where we seemed to run out of the house like it was an emergency and got where we were going without a few key items, so she had a checklist ready this time.  Pfffffft.  I think she overthinks it, but here’s what SHE thinks is a good idea when I come along, just to make sure the trip stays safe AND fun:

  • Dog Tether (long enough so I can be out with the family while they set up camp but still secure):  reads:  long rope BOL
  • Dog Tracking Collar with GPS (in case above malfunctions and you have a dog that is likely to run off)
  • Double check Microchip registration information is correct
  • Pet First Aid Kit  (instructions to make a home-made one may be found online)
  • Travel water bowl and mat (to make feeding area familiar)
  • Dog containment area (screened-in porch area can be much friendlier option when enjoying the outdoors with pets together, also keeps bugs away)
  • Dog life jacket
  • Portable dog bed (ok, I use Mom’s bed in the camper, but this is good for outside)
  • Travel dog bed for bottom of canoe (creates non-slip area where dog knows to go and is stable and comfortable)
  • Leash
  • Snacks
  • Dog food
  • Drinking Water
  • Waste bags (yes, you still pick up in the wilderness if in a camp area folks!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Waterproof blanket (LL Bean or Orvis):  fleece blanket with waterproof backing you can put on your bed so a wet dog does not soak your down comforter or sleeping bag.

Well, so much for the simplicity of camping right?  Actually, Mom just packed a dry-bag once with most of this stuff in it and grabs it when we go camping.  I never notice a thing, hey… I’m a DOG!  What I notice is that I go on long hikes with my peeps, swim in lakes and rivers, sail along in the canoe and bask in the sunshine and then fall asleep on the river bank all smelly and dirty.  At the end of the day I usually score some melted marshymallow and some great camp food.  Is this a dog’s life or what???  I highly recommend it, so get out there, be the dog and get your fur dirty a little folks.  Enjoy the ride along the way, you might see me with my head out the window, so be sure to wave!


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Why Flight Attendants Matter in an Accident




retourch carolIn August of 1988, I had an experience that forever changed me as a flight attendant.  I flew the first leg of DL1141 from Shreveport to Dallas Ft. Worth and then handed the flight off to my colleagues as I did four mornings a week so they could continue on to Salt Lake City.  We chatted about how much orange juice was on board and where the passengers with special needs were seated.  I visited with many of my good flight attendant friends in the gate area who were headed to Salt Lake City for their annual recurrent emergency training and were waiting to board the flight as passengers. 



By the time I was home, I learned the worst… “my” plane had gone down almost immediately after takeoff.



Many people survived that accident because they not only had the most senior crew in the base working the flight with vast experience, but they had 14 additional crew members scattered throughout the cabin on the way to their annual safety training.  These were the best possible folks to have on board during an accident.  They had just spent eight hours doing computer module training in aircraft safety and had to pass tests on that information before they could attend the “live” class.  They were thinking about safety and little else at that point. 



You often hear how important it is to have a well-trained professional flight attendant crew on your aircraft, or in general aviation, to have an egress trained cabin attendant.  I thought it would be helpful to hear from one of the crewmembers on Delta #1141 who was on board that day deadheading.  I asked Kay Magruder to describe what it was like in the cabin when things started to go wrong and if trained personnel made a difference.  This is how she remembers the day’s events and how the crew impacted the outcome:




As a member of a 757 F/A crew Deadheading on the first leg of a turn-around, I was seated in 1A, which is the first row of FC, directly opposite the FC galley. 


In addition to my crew, there were 7 F/A’s going to recurrent, and a crew of 2 pilots flying back to base. 


We pushed back from the gate and taxied to take our place in line for takeoff.  It was a clear, sunny day, however we were delayed by ATC by about 30 minutes.  As we approached the active runway, I did my “silent” review, again being aware of the galley door directly across from me as my closest emergency exit.  As we began the takeoff roll, I became immediately aware of how long it was taking the pilot to “rotate” the plane.  As soon as we were airborne, we heard very loud “bangs” from the engines and realized that the pilot was struggling to keep the plane aloft.  Realizing that we were about to crash, my first thoughts were “this can’t be happening,” then “thank goodness I’m close to an exit” to help assist in evacuating.  After the initial impact, the plane skidded along the ground for what seemed like an eternity before coming to a stop.  There was debris everywhere, and a very strong electrical smell.  Dust filled the air, and smoke was already moving through the cabin up to FC.  I realized that the F/A’s on the front jumpseat were too badly injured to evacuate, and at the same time saw that the galley door across the aisle was blocked with debris and not a usable exit.  Turns out the entire right side of the plane was engulfed in fire, therefore making any evacuations to that side impossible.  The deadheading crewmembers seated in FC were yelling commands to help guide passengers toward the front to evacuate out the closest possible way, which happened to be a crack in the ceiling.  Miraculously, we were able to help many passengers escape this way. 


Every crash/accident is different, and though we are trained to evacuate any plane under any circumstances, evacuating this airplane was far more challenging.  The only usable exits were the 2 windows on the left side of the plane.  There was much structural damage throughout the fuselage, and many of us actually used these huge gaping holes in the ceiling to escape the burning plane.


Once outside the plane, all of us F/A’s that were physically able, assisted in aiding injured passengers and directing them away from the plane and to triage areas where emergency crews were setting up.  Of 107 total passengers (including crew), 14 perished.  Eleven lost their lives to smoke inhalation in the very back galley of the plane, despite the heroic efforts of the F/A’s who tried to open the jammed doors before being overcome from smoke themselves.


Two other passengers were found at the front of coach were, though they left their seats, they obviously were unable to make their way through the smoke-filled cabin to escape.  One passenger, who went back into the burning plane looking for his wife, passed away in the hospital days later from his severe burns.


As a F/A, of course this is your worst nightmare.  But in truth, the intensive training that we receive initially and every year kicks in and you become that well-oiled machine that, though you hope you are never faced with such an event, are confident in and know that you can and do help save lives.  Cokes and peanuts aside, this is what being a trained F/A is really all about!  



It is obvious from Kay’s description that most of the options for evacuating that aircraft were never covered in any safety demonstration.  Years of training on how to think in an emergency made all of the difference in this situation and being prepared to react instinctively made the difference when seconds counted.



The accident involving Asiana #214, as tragic as it was, was also an incredible demonstration of the detailed training that professional flight crews maintain to handle such situations.  Chaos and panic could easily have prevailed when you look at that scene; instead that aircraft was emptied and passengers triaged.  Few people realize the very specific training flight attendants maintain to handle this kind of emergency.  A lot of people have been asking me what made this possible, so let’s take a look at what your flight attendant trains to do to help you in case of an emergency:



1.  Can flight attendants really could get people out of an aircraft in 90 seconds and how is that done?  Wouldn’t we need time to collect ourselves?



I thought this was a great question.  I have been doing this so long it is second nature and I don’t think about it.  Our goal is always to be able to empty an aircraft in less than 90 seconds.  It is a benchmark.  We just know you have to move fast.  We are always prepared to begin immediately because during every takeoff and landing we do something called a “silent review” in our minds.  When we sit down, we review the operation of our nearest exits, note alternates, scan the cabin once more for any unsecured items that might become projectiles, look for able-bodied assistants, note where those people are seated who might need extra help, review where the emergency equipment is in relation to our seat and then sit in a position that protects our body so we will have the best chance possible to successfully survive impact so we may immediately begin helping when the aircraft comes to a stop.  Then we watch the progress of the takeoff or landing and listen to all sounds and notice any unusual smells while repeating the bracing commands in our mind so we are ready to start reacting immediately if something goes wrong.  We may look like we’re thinking about our grocery list or ignoring you but we are mentally preparing for any sort of emergency.




2.  The next question I received was specific to Asiana #214 and I was asked why they only used some of the exits.



Part of our training is to think through an emergency.  When the aircraft comes to a stop, we go to our first choice of exit and assess conditions.  If there is fire or water outside that exit or the exit is jammed by impact, that exit is not usable and we move on to an alternate exit.  This is why we have been scanning the cabin for our alternates during our mental review so we aren’t stumped when this happens.  We only open exits that will allow safe egress and direct passengers towards those exits.




3.  Why do we have all of those bracing positions, how do they really help in that kind of accident?



By now probably everyone has watched the video and has a healthy respect for what kind of G-forces are involved when an aircraft lands badly.  By assuming an appropriate bracing position, you accomplish two main objectives.  The first objective; you get your head and torso below seat level so any flying debris in the cabin will not hit you.  Secondly, when you wrap your arms around your legs, or brace them on a seat back you keep them from flailing about and injuring yourself or others seated near you.  Remaining injury free is the first step in getting out of the aircraft.



4.  That fire looked terrifying… what if a fire started while a plane was in the air?



Every year we do hands-on fire fighting training to give us the best chance possible to achieve our goal of getting an aircraft back on the ground quickly should we experience an in-flight fire.  This training has become increasingly sophisticated and even includes modules on handling lithium battery fires.  Often fires are in the walls of aircraft and unseen, so we are trained to detect them sooner by noticing odors, and then describing the color and texture of smoke to help determine the source.  We fight fires smarter now with better equipment and get an aircraft on the ground a lot sooner where the true professionals can help us.



5.  That scene on the ground looked so organized.  Are flight attendants trained to help with the aftermath of an accident?



In addition to getting everyone off of the aircraft, and doing a sweep of the aircraft to ensure all are safely off, flight attendants have extensive first aid training.  You may have had the opportunity to see a flight attendant respond to a heart attack or other medical emergency in flight, but this is just part of their knowledge.  Each year, part of our annual emergency training is a first aid module that includes instruction on how to work with the first responders who come to the aid of a downed aircraft to set up an effective triage system.  The very flight attendants who just endured the same horrific accident you did will help triage and then treat the injured passengers from their flight. 



This is just a sample of the very specific training a flight attendant receives to make each flight safe.   Add in how to handle a terrorist, a passenger with a psychotic break in-flight, and what to do if that plane lands in water or the wilderness and you get a more complete picture of what a flight attendant can handle.   Fortunately, the average passenger never sees any of these skills and they tend to think the flight attendants might be extraneous.  It took many years of repetitive training before I could react calmly and correctly to the crash scenarios or terrorist threats.   You would probably appreciate having a well trained professional on your flight should things ever get sporty.  Most folks will get that “deer in the headlights” look and not know what to do.  It would probably make some people uneasy if they focused on what flight attendants are really trained to do. These are things nobody wants to think about when they fly.  Your flight crew thinks about it every time they fly so you don’t have to.  The crew of Asiana #214 demonstrated with pure precision how all of that training and professionalism comes together to save lives.  I salute the crew of Asiana #214; they are indeed a tribute to our profession.














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Flying Your Dream

cropped-dsc_3111-001.jpgMaxx and Buddy are letting me have the floor today… I feel honored.

I thought I should share here at Sit ‘n Stay how this whole thing came about, since I recently shared this article over at which was more than an honor.  Seemed kind of silly I had never told the story of how we got started right here at home, so sit back, relax and enjoy the flight folks…

Truly successful people tell us that the way to be successful is to follow our passions.

I know, I started hearing it in business school and continued reading it in publications as a flight attendant for a commercial airline.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I never quite fit any precise mold, so after I graduated from college I decided to take a little time and enjoy myself as a flight attendant, much to my parents’ dismay.   At any rate, I could never make the mental leap of how I could possibly just take that step and follow my passions and be really successful.

 I flew for many years and searched a lot.  I became a CPA, founded and ran an international non-profit, volunteered when I could and flew all around the world meeting thousands of people.  All the while, my true passion was taking shape, and one day on the way to work from Kalispell, MT to Salt Lake City, I sat next to another flight attendant who told me about the world of private aviation.  I leaned in…

 Flying as a corporate flight attendant on private jets was perfect for me, and still is!  It requires a level of independence, ingenuity, integrity and management skills that I had and yearned to use.  I also loved fine culinary training and etiquette protocols and procedures.  When I took my specialized safety training for private jets, the final piece fell in place.  I learned about an accident where the humans survived but the dog on board did not.  Now, I’m a huge animal lover and advocate, and this stopped me dead in my tracks.  I had many years of safety training, but animals in the cabin was new to me and I could not handle the fact that there were no real safety provisions for them when I asked for specifics.  I leaned in a little further…

 I developed the first standardized Pet Safety Protocols for pets flying on private jets or in the cabin that cover everything from turbulence to bracing positions and evacuation.  I also got trained in pet first aid and CPR.  I knew the clients I had who traveled with their pets thought of them as family members, and they deserved the same safety considerations as their humans.  I wasn’t sure if others would care as much as I did about this, but I knew I would feel better if anything happened, knowing that I could help all of my passengers.

Ricochet Rides Safe

Next I developed a brand that told my story and how it could satisfy a client’s unmet needs based on those safety protocols.  I studied SEO and social media integration and worked to get the word out about what I was doing that was different.  The best part was that I enjoyed every minute of it because I loved what I was doing!  Here’s the key that anyone can take away from this.  Start with what you know how to do well.  Then think about what you love to do most.  Finally examine where there is an unmet need in the work force combining your skills and your passions to satisfy that unmet need.  Think in terms of how you can help others.  Lots of folks are out there with his or her hand out these days and it gets exhausting for those doing the hiring.  Plan to do plenty of giving for a while to show how you can help and why life will be easier with you around.  Don’t wait for the perfect job to find you, leaning back in your chair… Lean in and get up and create the perfect job and take it to others!  Just because you are settled in an established career doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it and follow your own dream.  You don’t have to start all over and become an astronaut, start with what you know and use it.

So when I was interviewed by HGTV, and they said I had the “dream job,” all I could do was agree.  I mean, when I was a commercial flight attendant if someone had asked me to combine my passions into one dream job I would have come up with:

 “Flight Attendant on Private Jets, specializing in traveling with Animals!”

 Then I would have laughed and said; but of course, that’s impossible…

Dolce, Gabbana, Romeo Boots and Tiger (in carriers) make the most of a ride with Auntie Carol (especially Dolce, who found Auntie FIRST)

Dolce, Gabbana, Romeo Boots and Tiger (in carriers) make the most of a ride with Auntie Carol (especially Dolce, who found Auntie FIRST)

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