Yesterday, we picked up our new dog, Pamela, at the San Diego airport.

I have never transported or received an animal via airplane - what an experience.

We adopted Pamela from a couple in Texas who needed to downsize their living situation and couldn't take a large dog with them so they had to ship her to us from Texas.

The day started with a 6:30 AM phone call from the airline informing me that they failed to load her on her flight, so she would be arriving about two hours later than expected. The airline assured us they would take her out of her kennel for a potty break and give her plenty of ice water.

We arrived at the airport about 15 minutes early, as any rookie would do, and waited for her flight to arrive and for them to unload her from the plane. When the conveyor belt started to move and a large crate with big dark eyes inside began to emerge from behind the plastic screen, my heart skipped a beat. She's here! I immediately started talking to her and let her sniff her favorite plush toy that was sent to us in her care package a few days before. She let out a little whimper and then settled down. After the paperwork exchange and a few photos to document the moment, my husband Steve and a helpful traveler loaded her kennel onto a luggage cart. We had to keep her in the kennel until we were outside the building. Oh, the agony.

As soon as we were outside, we began to open our special package: collar, food, Pamela... but no leash. With all the excitement, we completely forgot to bring a leash. Remembered the toy, forgot the leash. We managed to fashion a leash out of the two extra collars and voila! We were back on track.

Pamela happily popped out of the crate and into the fresh air eager to meet her new caretakers. I'm sure the new sights, sounds, and smells were a lot to take in, but she stayed calm and attentive looking to us for what to do next. "Heel," I said as we began to walk toward the crosswalk that would take us to the parking lot and the car ride home. Steve, left with the cumbersome job of pushing a large empty crate on a luggage cart all the way to the car, was eager to move on quickly. The crate was so large, Steve had to take it apart to get it into the truck. Pamela watched, seemingly almost bored with the whole scene and even laying down on the asphalt. I think she was tired from the trip.

Minutes later the crate and all its former contents, including Pamela, were loaded and on their way to a new home. An experience we will never forget.