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Posted on June 1, 2012 by Hobart Fowlkes

My name is Constance and I live in Nassau County, Long Island.  My husband, Vinny, is Brooklyn Italian and every year we visit his cousins in Italy.  I am going to be very frank with you and tell you that in this photo I am extremely unhappy and very humiliated.  My dog, Penelope, who is pictured on my lap, is my therapy dog.  She must be by my side at ALL times or else I risk flying into insane, violent anxiety attacks.  After years of therapy, I know.  Its an illness.  I’ve been diagnosed by multiple physicians.  Believe me!  Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, every benzodiazepine in the book, I’ve tried ’em.  Nada!  Penelope is my drug.  I have a note from my doctor explaining the situation, but not everyone understands my need for a therapy dog, well primarily because I’m not blind.  I even bought a full fare ticket for Penelope which is allowed in cases like mine.  Vinny, Penelope and I are very lucky to be on this plane, because we came very close to being removed just minutes prior to our departure from JFK.  We’ll land in Pisa, Italy in about 20 minutes.  Well that’s what the stewardess just said. Excuse me.  Now they like to be called “Flight Attendants.”. She was the same “flight attendant” whose nose I almost broke with my heavy camera bag about 8 hours ago. We’re friends now, thank the Holy Lord in Heaven! Her name is Irene.

I ALWAYS pay in advance for a seat for Penelope.  I arrange everything with the airline.  I take every proper precaution, even faxing a letter from my physician so that everyone knows that Penelope has special permission to fly with me. 

Just before take-off, Irene tried to make me put Penelope in her carrier and stow her in the back of the plane.   I felt the tremors starting in my chest.  As usual,  they rapidly spread to my outer extremities, then to my head and eventually to my mouth.  When Irene put her hands on Penelope, I totally lost my shit.  I really hate it when that happens, but it’s completely out of my control.  My attack happened in an split-second.  I began screaming.  Terrible things.  I even called Irene the “C” word which I HATE and never use, but I didn’t just say it, I shrieked it at her maybe 4 or 5 times.  At that point two other flight attendants and an air marshall appeared. That is when I physically lost control and began trying to fight them back with my camera bag.  The air marshall put handcuffs on my wrists and began dragging me kicking and screaming off of the plane.  Penelope yelped and barked herself hoarse like a crazy dog, and my idiot husband Vinny shuffled through all of our travel documents trying to produce the letter from the doctor and the confirmation from the airline explaining my desperate need for Penelope both during take off and landing, as well as during the flight.  The captain even came out to see what the commotion was.  Once they saw the letter and read the document issued by their airline WITH Penelope’s ticket (for which I paid full fare) everyone calmed down, including Penelope and me.  We’re used to the drama.  Luckily our departure was only delayed for about 45 minutes.  In this photo, we’re about to land and as you see I have my little Penelope with me so everything is A-OK with everyone,  even Irene.  We had a long talk and I apologized profusely.  Irene forgave me.  She has a cousin who suffers from a similar disorder. I am well aware, however, of exactly the impression my violent episode left on the passengers seated in my vicinity.  That is why I have left my hat and sunglasses on for the duration of the trans-Atlantic flight.  I can feel their stares and their judgement burning into me like laser beams shooting from their eyeballs.  Penelope and I will be fine.  If Vinny had just explained the situation as we boarded the flight everything would have been fine.  Vinny is useless.