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The Invisible Grotto of the Travel Crate Door

Husband left for Oamaru this day last week to catch the last weekend of duck shooting and partake in some serious alcohol abuse with the Outlaws.

I did not join him because my friend, Helen, was over from Dubai. She had asked me to accompany her on a three-day road trip to visit her friend in Tokoroa, and then to Turangi. Kind of like Thelma and Louise, only without the attempted rape, murder and mutual suicide pact; and if I spotted Brad Pitt I was resolved to tell him to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off his gob, although the gay cowboy theme rather suited him.

On Tuesday night, I returned home tired and grumpy after the 350km drive from Turangi. I unloaded the mountain bikes, fed the dog, unpacked my bag. I was scheduled to fly to Dunedin on the 09:55hrs Pacific Blue flight the following day.

Then disaster struck; although it didn’t STRIKE so much as creep up gradually like tentacles of doom as it gradually dawned on me that the door of Jed’s travel crate was missing. I mean, at first I thought it was just hiding playfully. When it did not respond to my summons, I searched the house and determined it was temporarily misplaced. Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that the door had vanished from the face of the earth without a trace.

Although Husband provided telephone support, he was – and it pains me to admit this – he was of limited use. He had no idea where the door might be. He had no recollection of putting it anywhere in particular. He refused to consider leaving Jed with the Other Outlaws. He was unnecessarily negative about the possibility of hiring a crate at 22:30hrs. He looked up Trademe to see whether there were any large crates for sale with a ‘buy now’ option. He suggested I send him the crate dimensions and he would ‘make a door’ and courier it up to me the following day

So instead of leaning on Husband when the pitch of panic reached critical levels, I called Pacific Blue.

Since I had purchased a budget ticket, they would neither reschedule my flight nor refund the fare.


And so my average success rate with catching public transport has dropped to 42%. I take comfort from the fact that this is the first time I have missed a flight due to a disappeared door. Give me some credit: my usual style is to turn up at the airport and THEN realize there was no door.

At least I didn’t have to worry about packing. I went to bed instead, where I had nightmares about turning up at Auckland Airport with a makeshift door constructed of welded paperclips and chicken wire affixed to the crate with baling twine and hardened Wrigley’s Juicyfruit.

The following morning, I awoke dark and early and formulated a cunning plan.

Well, I did not want to hire a crate because upon his return, chances are Husband a.k.a. ‘Sniffer’ will walk into the Twilight Zone that is his garage and find the missing door lying in the middle of the floor, or surrounded by hundreds of lit candles in a grotto in the center of the bench – in much the same way as he solved the Mystery of the Missing Marriage Certificate, which was not really that mysterious in the end – or, for that matter, missing – although it was indeed a genuine marriage certificate (although issued in Ireland so you never really know).

For much the same reason, I did not want to purchase another crate.

And so I did what any sane, rational person would have decided to do under the circumstances


Last week, we bought a pet crate from Trademe and I assembled it in the living room. I enticed The Jedster in with half a spider and a mouldy pig’s ear, and he took to napping in it during the day.

Contrary to my expectations, flying to Dunedin yesterday with a crate full of dog turned out to be a complex logistical equation. The ticket specified we be there an hour and a half before the flight – in fact, before the Pacific Blue staff even showed up.

A passerby, watching me coax Jed into his crate, said, “Glad I’m not a dog. Wouldn’t want to be cooped up in there.”

I felt like saying, ‘Yeah, and I exhaust him with long walks and he has to sprawl out on a beanbag to recuperate and only gets fed four times a day and has to chase sticks repeatedly.’

Instead, I planted some drugs in his suitcase when he wasn’t looking.

The Jedster entered his transportation without protest (the pig’s ear again). In fact, there wasn’t a whimper out of him, even when a Pacific Blue assistant dropped him and his crate off the trolley.


In Dunedin, I hurried out to baggage reclaim and looked around to see where The Jedster would be delivered. It was difficult to see with the hordes milling around the conveyor belt.

Then, across the far side of baggage reclaim, I heard an unmistakeable and compelling call, a cross between a bark and a howl:-


Jed had spotted me first; but I guarantee it was the first sound he made since Auckland

Expect more of the same indefinitely, apologies


Jed’s new toy. No, it’s a dish scrubber, not a toilet brush.


Note: scrape marks pre-date Jed; made by Husband. Image taken milliseconds before he decided my camera would make for a much better toy.

At 16kg and 80cm long, Jed’s already a champion heavyweight. He didn’t fit Mother and Stepfather-In-Law’s wooden crate, which failed to meet Pacific Blue’s crate specifications in any case i.e. large enough for the dog to express himself and constructed of metal or a polypropylene material.

Two days before flying to Auckland, I thought it would be a good idea to get a crate for him. Knowing little of the animal kingdom, apart from steering clear of large species with pointy teeth and/or small species with stingers, I thought procuring a crate would be a simple matter. Surely any old pet shop would sell a wide variety of crates? I was mainly concerned with tracking down the best value crate, preferably on special offer.

This delusion persisted until I had phoned all the vet and pet shops within a sixty mile radius of Oamaru, and a guy that ‘might be able to help because he owns a whippet’. Most pet shops do not stock crates large enough to hold an animal of Jed’s mighty stature, but one helpful assistant told me she could order one for Christmas except not right then because the shop had just closed for the weekend.

Pacific Blue does not rent crates, but PetMove does. Although it cost us more than a single flight, Shaune was wonderfully reassuring and helpful and agreed that Jed sounded like the best dog in the world possibly ever.

Before we left, we consulted a vet to discuss whether there was any way we could make the journey more comfortable for Jed. She did not advise sedating him, because there is a risk of putting the animal so far under they stop breathing. However, she sold us a homeopathic remedy to apply half an hour before the flight.

“$30 for a bunch of herbs and spices in water,” muttered Andrew.

“Look, it might be worth it,” I said doubtfully. The vet said it only worked for some dogs – and in truth, even she looked dubious.

Well, I don’t know whether it was the herbs and spices, but Jed went into his crate at the airport and sat there looking not entirely jolly, but certainly magnanimous.

That day – Monday – was a big day for The Jedster. He arrived at Auckland Airport like a dignitary, as if he did this sort of thing all the time, but when he saw us he abaondoned composure to caper around the place charming passers by.

To date, Jed has been driven sitting on someone’s knee, mainly for the purpose of directing vomit into a towel. (His, in case of ambiguity.) By the time we left Oamaru, Jed was pretty good at internalising his stomach acid, so for the drive home from the airport we installed him in the boot with his dog blanket and Ducky. Now he loves car trips – especially when Husband drives.

Our hard floors and two flights of stairs presented a challenge for him. When Jed stampedes down the stairs, he still skids halfway across the living room floor on his arse.

Glass is also a relatively new concept. Husband put tape across the floor/ceiling windows after Jed rebounded off the balcony door. At night, he tries to play with his own reflection, which is terrific fun for the whole family.

It is a fairly steep learning curve for us too: the projectile barf, the spine-chilling scratching in the night, the diarrhea and the accidents – two of the number 1 variety so far. I am not counting the time Husband crept up on Jed and he wet himself, because I can fully understand that.

Curly coats are renowned for being picky eaters; even the Outlaws’ dog Morty, a curly coat/lab cross, is a fine diner. The day after we got home, I called Stepfather-In-Law to fret about Jed’s disdain for his breakfast.

“He seems to be off his food,” I said.

Whereupon Stepfather said the equivalent of ‘No shit’, except that knowing Stepfather-In-Law, he probably said, ‘No <expletive deleted> shit’.

At least yesterday morning, Jed savaged a plate of mince that even Mother-In-Law would consider voluminous

Sobriety: elusive

We flew to South Island yesterday, which explains the dearth of blog posts – not being in South Island so much as the volume and quantity of Stepfather-In-Law’s G&Ts. It is also the occasion of Sister-In-Law’s 40th birthday. Realistically, I aim to be vaguely sober again by Tuesday.

At Auckland Airport, about to board the airplane:

Husband: What seat numbers are we?

Me: 29 E and F.

Husband: So do we board through the front or rear door?

Me: Well, I suppose there must be no more than forty, forty five rows on the plane. So the back.

Husband: Let’s board at the front.

Me: Why did you ask my opinion if you are just going to ignore it?

Husband: There’s less people boarding at the front.

Me: So what-

Husband: And the check-in attendant said rows one to thirty board through the front door.

Me <doubtfully>: She did?

Husband: Yes, definitely.

So we boarded through the front door, whereupon we spent the next 20 minutes fighting through swarms of passengers to get to the SECOND LAST ROW OF THE PLANE.

Husband <collapsing in seat>: Maybe she said, rows one to THIRTEEN board through front gate-

Me: Gah!

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