At the end of last month, I took the puppacita on her first plane ride. She did a great job, of course, and wasn’t freaked out by any of the noises or newness. I discovered that a tiny, sweet chihuahua with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth snaps TSA agents out of their grumpiness and that meaty treats for pups make it through security — and, for some reason, both at Dulles and LAX I was singled out for the explosive-residue-on-hands test while holding the puppacita (no full-body puppa scans). On the way out to L.A., the flight attendants (and the other passenger in the row) let Chi-Chi sit in the middle seat; she only went under the seat for takeoff and landing. Passengers in surrounding rows started passing me their iPhones to show off pictures of their dogs. And the puppacita slept most of the time, until the flight attendants came around with the basket of JetBlue snacks — she’s a fan of popcorn and the like, so the opening of bags made her perk right up. Unfortunately, Dulles was the only airport on our stop with a doggie bathroom area past the security checkpoints, but the puppacita managed to hold it through our Boston layover on the way back and make it home.
While waiting for a red-eye at LAX, though, I started to see tweets about some evil storm that had whipped through the D.C. area. I messaged my pet-sitter to see if there was anything I should know; her last stop at my place had been that Friday evening before the derecho and she was leaving on a camping trip the next morning. Little did I know at that point that staying in L.A. — or, like my pet-sitter, running off to the woods — would have been a better option that flying home.
I wasn’t too worried because my place never loses power, even during the 2010 Snowmageddon. After arriving at Dulles (and letting puppacita use the fake fire hydrant), I was almost to the parking garage when a TSA agent told me there had been a furious storm the night before; parking payment machines weren’t working and neither was cell service at the airport. Driving home from the airport, I had to stop for multiple traffic lights that were out. I noticed cars stranded along the side of the road. My car started to flash a heat warning. Even though the A/C was cranked up, puppacita started to pant — which she never does unless she’s overheated, a rare occurrence. Nothing helped until I took a bottle of water in the car and poured it over her.
At home, I discovered that my whole complex was out — though the condos and adjoining center of restaurants and shops next door had power. A transformer that fueled my complex had been taken out by the storm, and with a quick trip around the corner I saw the pole and wires at the edge of a wooded area littering the ground. The temp was only 79 when I walked in, but would get much worse. I arrived back when all of the neighbors had fled and filled up local hotels, when local friends were also out of power, and when my pet-sitter was no longer around to help with care.