Alison Craig: Pet holidays would not be plane sailing

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Animal lovers of the world rejoice. Edinburgh Airport is opening up the first small animal border control in Scotland, so you can take your lovely hairy, fluffy friend on holiday with you.

Rather than having to send them down south for a separate flight, and then having to drive miles and miles at the other end to pick them up from a different airport, you will be able to fly together. Well, you will be able to arrive at the airport together, part company for the flight and then meet up again at the other end. If you want to.

Taking my two hairy-faced dafties to the kennel and leaving them staring at me with forlorn eyes is not something I relish, so my first thought was “ooh, what a fabulous idea”. Then the reality of the idea kicked in.

Step one, the Pet Passport, their ID. Wrestling your wee friend into a photo booth at the local supermarket might be easier said than done. Whether you have a shih tzu or a St Bernard, they are not going to be happy as you try jamming them into a small curtained booth with adjustable stool. They will undoubtedly need to be bribed with large bones to sit on the seat once you have adjusted it to the ideal height.

Then, of course, there is the photo itself. It’s hard enough getting a decent snap of a human, concentrating, dressed smartly and looking forward, but try making sure your pet is looking their best. Getting them to sit at all would be an achievement. Then try getting them to look forward into the camera, rather than poking their head out of the curtain to see where you have gone. I wouldn’t fancy being the next one in there after a slavering hound either.

But if that hasn’t put you off, and you manage to organise the various jabs, then you and Rover are ready to rock and roll. If you want to.

As I have dogs I’m talking dogs, but your hairy travelling companion might be a cat, or even a ferret – which are apparently all the rage.

But, with the opportunity now there, will you take them?

I have thought about it long and hard and decided my two will travel no further than East Lothian for a shuffle along the beach. Call me cruel but the trauma of flying might finish them off. Then there’s the heat at the other end. On the rare day of sunshine here, they lie in it for 25 seconds, start panting and then hide. The idea of them basking in 30-40 degrees is just a no-no.

After all, it is supposed to be a holiday. A holiday for me is long lies and late nights, lying on the beach and taking strolls barefoot without a care in the world. With the quadrupeds onboard, I would be stuffing my handbag with poo bags, carrying an extra parasol to keep the sun off their hot, hairy, canine bodies and a vat of water and a dish for them to drink from. That doesn’t sound very relaxing to me.

Add to that the need for them to have a decent walk no matter how stupefyingly hot it gets and then, when you’re slumped and ready to snore, they give you the signal they need to go to the loo. So, up you get for the midnight shuffle in your holiday dressing gown and slippers. No thanks.

I realise there are many who will take their beloved pets on holiday, strap ’em in and off they go. Good luck to them.

Of course, it is a two-way street for pets on tour, so here in Scotland we had better be ready. We’ll need to open our collective arms, businesses and pavements to the animal lovers and their pets that will head our way from abroad. In France and Spain it is not unusual to see dogs in restaurants, so I wonder if hordes of visitors will start coming to Edinburgh with their hairy friends. How will we cope? A few hotels and B&Bs welcome them but not many. Will the others start? Would you like to sit next to a staring spaniel as you sipped your soup?

Whatever you think, it looks as though we had better prepare for a new client on the streets of the Capital – the pooch. Coats, accessories, snacks, drinks, doggie kilts, Loch Ness monster costumes and my Dragons’ Den idea for this week is a dog hotel – they have them in London, New York and Paris, perhaps Edinburgh is next?

Yes, the upside is that there could be money in it for canine caterers but, love the whole idea or not, you’ve got to admit it is completely barking.