1. Pre-departure

Looking for lodgings in 2011

Corte de la Madona - Dorsoduro, Venice
ABOVE: Maggie--and we--won't be living in this corte next winter, so it's Venice apartment-hunting time for the Imbodens.

Last winter, we rented an apartment in Dorsoduro that met our needs--and Maggie's--almost perfectly: The landlady and landlord were both delightful and dog-friendly, our comfortable flat was just a minute from Italian-language classes at the Istituto Venezia in the Campo Santa Margherita, we had high-speed Internet access, and our corte was unaffected by the frequent spells of acqua alta, or tidal flooding, that plagued many other areas of the city last winter. We were so happy with the apartment that we planned to go back in January.

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and Bearded Collies often go awry. A few days ago, we learned that our Venetian home away from home wouldn't be available in 2011, so now we--and Maggie--must find a new apartment that allows dogs, has high-speed Internet, and is in a convenient area of the city (preferably within a 15- or 20-minute walk of the Campo Santa Margherita, and ideally in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, San Polo, or Santa Croce).

Pongo in Corte de la Madona

Maggie will no longer be able to hear her former neighbors Pepita and Lolita dashing around upstairs, and she probably won't have daily encounters with Pongo (whose owner, shown in the photo above, enjoys passing out dog biscotti like Halloween candy whenever she and Pongo meet other pooches).

Still, Venice is a small town, and it's likely that we'll cross paths with Pepita, Lolita, and Pongo at some point--assuming that we find a place to live in 2011. Stay tuned for updates!

Maggie is on her way to Venice!

Corte de la Madona apartment doors
ABOVE: Behind the graffiti and the worn door on the left (which is due to be replaced next week), a flight of stairs leads to a large, modern apartment with a private garden that Maggie will be able to use after her arrival  in Venice.

by Durant Imboden

As I write this on Wednesday, February 3 at 9:45 p.m.Venice time, Maggie and Cheryl should be at JFK Airport in New York, waiting for the 7:10 p.m. Delta flight to Marco Polo Airport (VCE) on a 767-400. Our son took them to the airport in our home city, and here's what he had to say:

"We sat around for a long time at the airport (7:30 to 10:00 a.m., to be precise) with the Delta people telling us it was still too cold but that they'd watch the temperature and so on. Someone else got told
they couldn't fly with their dog, but it was smaller than Maggie, and we don't know what flight that was in any case.

"The ladies who were handling all of this for us made some calls around 9:45. Ultimately, at about 10:00, they somehow waived the temperature requirement and said Maggie could go. I don't know the details of what they did, but I imagine seeing Maggie helped--she's cute, and besides, she's got a lot of hair and obviously could handle the temperature (~3 degrees then, but it's 7 now--it was forecasted to be much warmer). So I walked with Mom and Maggie over to the place where they screen oversize luggage, and they checked her out and checked the crate. Then a guy took Maggie, Mom went into the security line, and I headed out.

"So that's where things are at. Mom hasn't called me so I assume she got on the plane. Most everyone we talked to was happy to help, and Maggie got tons of attention (she was a spectacle, really, and mostly behaved, though she was really, really excited). Also, the people who helped throughout the check-in process (and the ones who gave the OK) told mom to make sure she asked the flight attendants to confirm Maggie got on board before departure. So I assume she'll do that. They also mentioned that the people at JFK (or in general?) almost always let the dogs run around and are very nice to them. This lady was a dog lover so I assume she wasn't BSing.

"After a lot of waiting and worrying, it looks like things should be okay."

Note: Delta Air Lines deserves credit for handling our weather problems in a helpful and non-greedy way. Delta, which is completing its merger with Northwest Airlines, has adopted Northwest's policy of not charging for rebooking passengers with pets who are forced to change flight dates when animals aren't allowed to fly because of cold or high temperatures. Delta changed my departure date once and Cheryl's departure date three times. Instead of charging us $250 to $500 per rebooking, Delta didn't make us pay an extra dime.

A doggie welcome, but no dog

Maggie's departure was delayed again by cold airport temperatures, so Durant flew to Venice with the luggage while Cheryl stayed behind with Maggie while waiting for warmer weather. 

When Durant arrived on January 31, he found a set of dog bowls and two cans of dog food in the kitchen of Maggie's new home on the Corte de la Madona, compliments of a thoughtful (and dog-friendly) landlady and landlord.