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Gayle Martz with dog

Sherpa Pioneers the Way!

G.W. Little is proud to feature Gayle Martz, the woman who revolutionized the way many of us travel with our dogs.

Fifteen years ago Gayle had lost her job as a flight attendant during a strike and December of the following year her fiancé died without a will leaving her without a home. Gayle was left with nothing but her faithful friend, Sherpa, a Lhasa Apso that had been a gift from her fiancé. Naturally she wanted to bring Sherpa wherever she went, but she couldn’t find a suitable carrier and the airlines would not let her board Sherpa with her. Gayle set out to design a carrier that would allow people to carry small dogs everywhere they went, and now we’re all benefiting.

After Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Ave. started selling her bag, she faced her biggest challenge—getting the airlines to change their policy regarding pets in the passenger cabin. Her formidable tenacity succeeded in getting her pet carrier approved by the major U.S. airlines. Little Sherpa even had the distinction of being the first dog to fly Delta Airlines as she was invited to work on their "Pets On Board Program." Sherpa sat quietly on the conference table in her Sherpa Bag for three and a half hours, proving that dogs can travel discreetly. Sherpa's good behavior was instrumental in changing pet-travel policy.

Here are Gayle’s expert Travel Tips for your pet. Please read these before you head out on your vacation with your little dog:

Train and familiarize you pet with the bag. Before your trip, leave the bag open with a favorite toy or treat inside. Allow you pet to wander in the bag, praising and rewarding them for doing so. Carry your dog around in the bag so they become accustomed to their new environment and will associate the bag with a pleasant experience. The more you they become relaxed with the bag at home, the less anxiety you’ll have when traveling. The bag will become their personal den. Patience is the key! Never leave your pet alone in a zipped-up bag!

Plan ahead: When you make your airline reservation, be sure to make one for your pet - at the same time! Do this as early as possible. Only a limited number of pets can be transported on each flight, and this number varies with each airline and aircraft type. Airlines charge a small fee for pets that travel in the cabin.

Airline Restrictions: Ask when making your reservations if there are special policies regarding pets in-cabin. Rules, regulations and charges vary from airline to airline, so always check first. Sherpa has done extensive research and has sponsored the Airline Information & Regulations Chart featuring links to 117 major airlines listing their Pet Policies and phone numbers!

If on-board pet travel is allowed, you can be assured the Sherpa Bag will meet all under seat requirements. Dimensions listed for hard carriers do not apply to Sherpa Bags, these are soft-sided and flexible. What is important is the size of your dog or cat. The pet must be able to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you, and have room to stand up and turn around in the bag. (Don’t you wish you could do that in your airline seat?)

Absorbent Liners: Airlines insist on them! Sherpa Bags have liners, or you can use a towel or disposable training pads found in Little Necessities here at G.W. Little. Take extra towels if your pet gets motion sickness. Always keep a clean liner in the bag. Easily washed, liners make the trip more comfortable.

Health Certificates: Keep a recent (within 7 – 10 days of travel) health certificate from you veterinarian in the zippered pocket of you carrier. The statement must include current inoculations. It is essential that you have this certificate when flying and for entering some states in an automobile.

Provision: Sherpa recommends some kind of accessory pouch attached to your carrier for travel. The pouch should contain your little one’s favorite toy, grooming supplies, plastic bags as well as a leak-proof water bottle and a small amount of dry food and treats. The water and food will be needed once your pet deplanes; they’re also handy for car travel.

Feeding: Feed your pet lightly when traveling. To prevent airsickness, no food should be offered within six hours of departure, and no water within 2 hours of flight time! An ice cube during the trip will provide refreshment and entertainment.

Walk Your Fellow Traveler: Before entering the terminal, take your dog for a stroll, but away from the entrance and other travelers. Doggie Walk Bag Capsules are ideally handy to pop in your accessory bag to clean up the “inevitable.” If you forgot a leash, use the shoulder strap from your Sherpa bag and attach to their harness or collar!

Keep Your Pet in the Bag: Your animal should not be let out of the bag from the time you enter the terminal until you exit the terminal at your destination. This is a training issue and is in your pet’s best interest. Inserting your hand and stroking during the flight will be soothing, but make sure the dog’s leash is attached to the safety ring inside the bag! Watch the zippers – keep them both pulled to one end to prevent your pet from sneaking out!

Keep a Low Profile: Being allowed on board an aircraft is a privilege and there are passengers who surprisingly do not like pets. A good travel bag is designed to not call attention to the fact that you are carrying a pet. Gayle and Sherpa’s Pet Trading Company have worked hard for this privilege, so please be considerate of fellow travelers and avoid attracting attention.

Practice Safety: Always make sure your pet has an identification tag on its collar and use the leash ring. Practice safety in the automobile also. You can place your Sherpa carrier in the middle of the back seat, lengthwise. Hook the seat belt through the strap and tighten it. If the Sherpa Bag is on the end of the seat, put the car’s shoulder belt through the strap.

- Happy travels and don’t forget to pack their G.W. Little fashions!


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