On February 21, 2023

A ruff ride

By D0m Cioffi

My wife and I have an agreement that when either one of us travels by air, we always let the other one know when we take-off and land. I guess it’s one of those meaningless marital things that develops over the years, but we’ve always done it.

Recently, I was about to land from a trip, so I grabbed my phone and prepared a text that read, “Just landed. Puppy next to me was great the whole flight!”

The referenced “puppy” was a ridiculously adorable 9-week-old purebred ‘something or other’ that sat in the lap of the guy next me. He was a great little passenger for the entire flight, having slept most of the time.

However, I must admit, during boarding when the couple walked up the aisle holding the pet carrier and motioned to me that they had the window and middle seat in my row, I was dying inside at the prospect of an uncomfortable flight. I was dying not because I hate dogs or am allergic to animals, but because I was convinced this tiny puppy would be jumping everywhere.

It’s the same feeling you get when a mom and baby show up in your row: They’re beautiful little miracles… until they start getting uncomfortable or need constant attention.

Thankfully, this little pup was a wonderful travel companion.

The guy and wife explained to me that they had flown 1,000 miles to pick up their new dog. The breeder met them at the airport, made the exchange, and then the couple got right back onboard another flight home. They said the travel to get the dog (since it was last minute) cost more than the actual dog.

They also told me that the reason they bought the new dog was because their old dog (of the same breed) had just died and they couldn’t bare the idea of their three other dogs being without a fourth.

At this point, I realized that I was dealing with serious dog people.

The guy was a proud ‘Dog Dad’ so he insisted I look at photos of his other dogs, including the one who had just died. When he talked about Cujo — yes, that was the name — he spoke with an air of pain and sadness. When I looked at Cujo, all I saw was danger.

Cujo looked to be a breed of pit bull, with a stout body and menacing face. The pictures made him look huge so I inquired how big he was. They guy told me he weighted over 100 pounds and that the little guy in his lap would likely reach that mark as well. It turns out, the other three dogs back at home were also 100-pounders.

My obvious next question focused on the amount of food these animals consumed on a daily basis. He response was, “I work a separate job just to keep these guys fed.” 

His wife, who had barely spoken but was attentively engaged, shook her head to acknowledge that the statement was true.

After some time, I casually pulled out my headphones and slowly began scrolling through my phone for a podcast, all while the guy kept talking. When enough time had elapsed between conversations about dogs, dog breeds, dog food, dog care, and dog behaviors, I put my headphones in, closed my eyes, and leaned back in my seat.

I tried listening to my podcast, but noticed my mind kept drifting to dogs. I imagined what it was like living with four, 100-pound animals in my home. What does that feel like? What does that look like? What does that smell like?

But more than anything, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much that would cost.

I work hard for my money so I can live the life I desire. I also don’t begrudge anyone for how they spend their own money on the life they choose. But I must question if these two were sane after everything I heard.

Our flight landed two hours later and wrapped up with a few more dog conversations before I bid the couple goodbye. As I was walking up the aisle, I heard a high-pitched yelp and turned around to see the guy holding the happy puppy up to his face to exchange kisses. I guess it made sense to me then.

In contrast, this week’s feature, “The Pale Blue Eye” starring Christian Bale, made no sense to me whatsoever.

A mystery thriller set in the early 1800s at a cadet academy in New York, “A Pale Blue Eye” did it’s best to lure the viewer around to unsuspecting places and characters, but ultimately landed exactly where you might think.

Check this one out if you’re into the mystery genre or have an affinity for Christian Bale (who is unsurprisingly the best part), otherwise look for another film to confuse you.

A shadowy “C-” for A Pale Blue Eye,” now available for streaming on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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