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Millie the therapy dog flies high

If you fly often between Kodiak and Anchorage – or vice versa – you’re used to cancellations due to fog and rain, but even frequent fliers saw something this week that surprised them on an Alaska Airlines flight to Kodiak – a four-legged passenger.

Her name is Millie, who sat quietly in an aisle seat. Her owner, Tommi Crimmins, says she’s a rescue dog, so her origins are a little mysterious. She has big brown eyes, the scruffiness of a terrier, and the looks of a medium-sized black lab.”

“Usually she flies in a cargo area, in a kennel,” said Crimmins. “This time she got certified as an emotional support animal for me.”

Crimmins says this was Millie’s maiden voyage in the cabin of an airplane.

“They allow her to either sit at my feet on the plane, next to my seat or in my lap,” Crimmins said.

Tommi was born and raised in Kodiak but now lives in Louisiana, where she teaches a 5th grade science class.

It’s a long trip home from Louisiana, but it’s that last leg, from Anchorage to Kodiak, that’s problematic. The first two flights had to turn around and come back to Anchorage, due to fog and rain. But, as they say, the third time was a charm.

Cremmins says it’s hard on passengers to have so many flight delays.

They check in with giant bags, filled with goods they can’t buy on the Island. And of course, they’re the fishermen, dressed and smelling, well, like fishermen.

Cremmins worried about how this protracted journey would affect her four-legged friend.

“She was a little shaky on a couple of different occasions,” Cremmins said, “but for the most part, she was fabulous and cozy, and snoozed.”

As for Cremmins…

She wishes she could be as mellow as Millie inside a plane, especially now in the time of Covid-19, surrounded by masked passengers and flight attendants.

Even for people, it’s a little scary to be surrounded by masked passengers and flight attendants, intent on social distancing. But the sight of the support dog seemed to put people at ease. Even though you couldn’t see the passengers’ lips, there were lots of smiling eyes peering over the masks.

“She managed it like a champ,” said Crimmins, who believes this trip shows Millie’s potential as a therapy dog. Crimmins hopes to get her trained to work with children.

Crimmins is spending the summer in Kodiak this summer and also has plans to get married.