Saturday, May 14, 2016
A bit of doggy heaven within O'Hare
If I still ran my "Saturday Fun Activity" feature, I'd toss up this animal-friendly spot, with its verdant grass, bushes and trees in the background, perhaps first snipping out that tell-tale Yellow Cab to the far right. Not that it would fool anybody: savvy travelers would instantly ID it as O'Hare International Airport, perhaps even pin-pointing it as Terminal One.
I had never noticed this oasis before, because I never brought our dog to the airport before. And while my older boy often asked if the dog might show up to greet him at the airport when he returned home, it seemed one of those bothers that could be waved off — enough that I was going to the airport to collect him, wrangling his filled-with-bricks-of-unwashed-clothing luggage back to the car. Asking me to bring the dog as well was a bridge too far.
But he was arriving at 6:24 a.m. Thursday. My wife realized she could come along and still make it to her office on-time. And suddenly the dog got scooped up into our little welcome party.
Of course I walked the dog before we left. So it wasn't a matter of necessity. But the flight was delayed a little, as flights will be. And while we camped by baggage claim, waiting, my wife noticed a sign pointing toward an "Animal Relief Area." Curious, I figured a walk was in order.
The little white metal container for bags was empty. Otherwise a rather well-tended little rectangle of wood chips, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence, dotted with round stones for dogs to sniff. Kitty, who seemed put off by the lack of smells in the airport, joyously nosed around, blotting out the evidence of previous dogs with her own splash of tribute.
There are similar areas at Terminals 2 and 5, plus an indoor zone, with artificial grass and miniature red fire hydrants—basically a bathroom for dogs—within the security zone in the Rotunda at Terminal 3.
The boy was elated to see Kitty waiting for him, and while he effusively hugged and praised her, it did cross my mind that, after a few months apart, I wouldn't mind some of that. But it wasn't as if, without her, the joyous welcome would be transferred to me. Don't be jealous of a dog, I told myself. Eventually, while the dog was being greeted and re-greeted, I cleared my throat and dipped my head into his line of vision and generally made my presence known, and was rewarded with a nod and a light, momentary hug, as if my clothes were dirty and he didn't want to get any on himself. Burdened with the two heaviest pieces of luggage, I staggered after the boy, his dog and mother and they happily made their way toward the car.