Cleo is a warrior. This past September doctors discovered a "stage three" mast cell tumor on her back, near her tail. The news shook our household, and an operation was quickly scheduled. Two doctors worked for three hours to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue. Cleo has been on chemotherapy since, and all of her subsequent check ups have shown no recurrence of the cancer.
So mild mannered Cleo was excited when we decided to take her to Colorado for her annual Christmas vacation. The second she sees her white travel case her heartbeat quickens as she crawls into it with great enthusiasm.
The airport routine was the same as it has been for eight years. Just before we board the plane, I take Cleo into the men's room and drop a wee-wee pad on the floor of a stall. Cleo gets out of her case and relieves herself. She then hops back into the bag.
On the airplane, Cleo rests on the floor in her case for the five-hour flight. She doesn't make a sound. Occasionally, she repositions herself in the bag, allowing her head to pop out of the opening. When we arrive in Denver, I carry her to the nearest men's room, place a pad on the floor of a stall, and watch her relieve herself. She then jumps back into the case.
We always stay at the same hotel in Ft. Collins. Cleo knows it so well that she frequently leads our family through the automatic doors, up the hall and onto the elevator. Many of the staff members have come to know Cleo and welcome her with scratches on her back. Cleo feels at home. Neither snow nor cold bothers her, although she does not like walking on the salt.
Because her white hair blends in with the snow, we wrap her in a dark coat so we don't lose sight of her. It also keeps her warm. But she often sits inside my brother's house, and tends to hang out near the Christmas tree. When the family gathers to open gifts, Cleo watches with great interest.
Cleo is a wonderful traveler, which is more than can be said for her younger sister Cassie. Cassie is an eighteen-month-old pomeranian. She is endlessly curious, totally self-assured, and a whirling dervish of energy, therefore, not able to travel on an airplane. At first, the two dogs were like fire and water: two totally opposite temperaments. It appeared that they would never get along with each other. But, over time, they have become very close.
Cassie stayed with a friend while we were away. But when we returned to our New York City home, she was excited to see us. But she was even more excited to be with her sister, Cleo, and, no doubt, the two spent time exchanging stories of their Christmas adventures!