It was a time when I was living alone, except for my Golden Retriever, Pookah. I was still quite new in town, and had not yet earned any trusted friends or neighbours. I wanted to go back to my home town of Toronto to visit my daughter and my friends for a weekend. I wanted to take Pookah with me, but I couldn’t drive there because my car was already there, and I planned to drive it back to Montreal. I sat down and schemed.
There was an overnight train from Montreal to Toronto and the same in return. It took all night because it stopped everywhere on the way. I thought I’d take a private bedroom on the overnight train, so I’d have a place where Pookah could be with me. I couldn’t stand the thought of her in a cage in a cold baggage car. I had to smuggle her onto the train somehow.
I focused on the dog’s dimensions before I went shopping. I bought an inexpensive suitcase that was a bit longer, wider, and taller than was the dog. It had four little wheels on the bottom. I drilled a series of holes in the underside, near the wheels, so the holes couldn’t be seen when the suitcase sat upright.
During the week preceding the train trip, I regularly put Pookah into the bag for a moment, and then took her out. I did it several times, so it wouldn’t be strange to her when it was for real. My scheme was unfolding as I hoped it would.
The night train leaves at five minutes before midnight. My apartment in Montreal was in a terrific location over all, and within walking distance of Central Station. At about eleven thirty on the warm summer night, I put Pookah’s leash on, and we walked through the quiet city streets toward the station. I carried the empty bag. During this walk, the dog could relieve herself and be comfortable with the overnight hiatus.
The streets were quiet, and it was not too difficult to put Pookah into the bag outside the train station. She was a smallish Golden Retriever, but still, a considerable weight to carry. I tried rolling the bag along on its wheels, but the rumbling sound made her start moving around inside, so it was very hard to handle. I had no choice but to roll it along until I got close to the ticket window. I got the first class, private stateroom ticket with the doggie bag beside me.
One of many benefits to first class is that you get advanced boarding. I held onto the bag while I descended the escalator to the platform. I was quickly shown to my quarters, and was grateful. The weight of the doggie bag was becoming annoying. I released Pookah onto the bed the instant I was in the room. She was happy. I let her look out the window as the train snaked its way out of the station and across the city on its way to Toronto.
I was able to give the dog some water from the private washroom that comes with the stateroom. I set up the sleeping arrangement, and soon the dog and I were asleep. In the morning, a steward brought orange juice, toast and coffee to the door. I took it from him through a narrow opening, so he wouldn’t see the dog.
As the train ground to a stop in the Toronto station, I put Pookah into the suitcase and carried her out of the train. I didn’t try to carry the doggie bag all the way through the vast, Great Hall of the Toronto station. In the corridor, with hasty people sweeping past with unnecessary haste, I released the dog and walked brazenly through the station with the dog on the leash and the bag in my other hand.
I boarded the subway car with the dog on the leash. The only people that paid any attention were those who smiled and petted the dog. I rode through half-a-dozen stations ‘til I got to the one where my daughter met me, and took me to her home. My car was there, so after a couple of days of food and conversation, I drove back to my Montreal home with Pookah beside me.