This week I met a ceLEBrity pooch, Kuma Fallon. Kuma’s a real pretty Black Lab, an you’ll never guess what her job is: She’s the Official AmbassaDog for the Orlando Melbourne International Airport. Cool Kibbles, right?
I met Kuma at her Mom and Dad’s pilot shop, right at the airport. She’s there every day, so she can zip right over to the terminal. She has so much energy and enthusiasm, I wudda thought she was a younger pooch if I didn’t already know she was 10.
After she introduced her Mom and Dad, Kristina and Derek, she told me her story, which had some sad parts, but also some happy ones.
“My Mommy and Daddy adopted me from the humane society in Fort Lauderdale when I was just a 3-month-old fluffball. We moved up here a few years ago. I’ve always had a lotta energy, an I’ve been workin’ here with Mommy and Daddy almost my whole life, greetin’ an stuff. Mommy says I was ram-BUNK-shus when I was liddle. I’ve always loved playin’ with other pooches an humans, ’speshully liddle humans, an those weird lookin’ pooches Mommy calls ‘cats.’”
“So how’dja get to be AmbassaDog?” I asked, checking to make sure I had extra pencils.
“It started when the human in charge of the Whole Airport saw a pickshur of a pooch who was AmbassaDog for an airport service business up in the Panhandle.”
I nodded and made a quick note-to-self: “Google panhandle.”
“One of my favorite humans, Lori, is our airport’s Director of Communications. Back before I met her, she thought our airport should have an AmbassaDog, too, to greet passengers – grown-ups an liddle kids; help people who are Nervous Flyers be not so nervous; attend the occasional airport board meeting, an Speshul Events an stuff. They hadda mascot pooch, but she lived too far away. So they started lookin’ for Just The Right Dog.
“Then a terrible thing happened. Last year, Lori’s husbun Bobby, who was a pilot, got in a crash an went to Heaven. One day, me an Mommy and Daddy were workin’ in our shop and this lady came in we hadn’t met before. It was Lori. She just wanted to be around pilot stuff. I didn’t know her, but the minute she walked in I could tell she was sad, so I came right up an offered a frenly paw an as much of a hug as I could. Somehow, I knew it’d be OK with her. I didn’t ree-lize it then, but the airport had found it’s AmbassaDog.”
I had to stop taking notes and wipe my eyes. “So then what happened?” I managed.
“Mommy an Daddy agreed that I could go through Special Airport Training to get my certificate, sorta like Comfort Dog School, but ’specially for the airport. But first, Lori hadda conduct an innerview: I went to her office and we walked right out by where the airplanes were! It was exciting, but I remained calm. I wasn’t scared One Bit, even at Security, an at the gate, an EVEN when a big Delta plane started its engines!”
“Woof!” I said.
“That’s cuz I’ve been around airplanes all my life. Me an Daddy fly up an down the coast in our Cessna 172. He says I have more hours in the air than a lotta pilots do. I have my own seat, and my own headset. I love lookin’ out the window. You should see how little bitty everything gets. It’s aMAzing! Then it all gets big again when we land.
“So, anyway, I passed my airport training with a school called Off The Leash, an, just last month, there was this special ceremony for ME, in the concourse area. It was a Big Deal, with a buncha Important Officials, an passengers an reporters an photographers an everything! I walked up a ramp with this Very Serious music called ‘Pomp an Circumstance’ playin’. Then I received my AmbassaDog Certificate from the Airport Authority Director of Operations an everybody clapped and I became the official Orlando Melbourne International Airport AmbassaDog! I shook paws with a buncha people, an we had refreshments – pupcakes – an gave out dog biscuits for the passengers’ dogs. Now, my AKC-registered name is Kuma ‘The Airport Dog’ Fallon! I have an official ID badge for my collar, shaped like a bone, with a pickshur of me wearin’ my headset. Just yesterday, I attended an airport board meeting, an the Vice Mayor of Melbourne herself gave me a yummy dog biscuit!”
“Shut the Doghouse Door!” I exclaimed. “That’s one Serious Dog Biscuit!”
“I Know! Right?” Kuma agreed. “An I’ve already helped some people. This one man scratched me behind my ear, which is my totally favorite place to be scratched. When I thanked him, he thanked me back, an said he’d been feeling gloomy an I made him feel much better. That made me proud.”
“You’re really something, Miss Kuma,” I told her earnestly. “Whaddya do when you’re off work?”
“I got lotsa toys, but I’m more into bones. I play with my frens at the dog park. The most fun’s playin’ with my little human brother an sister, Caleb an Sarah. It’s like we’re all puppies! I also watch my favorite TV show, ‘Paw Patrol,’ on Nickelodeon. And I chase armadillos outta the yard at night. It’s my duty as a member of the family.”
“What about snacks?”
“Peanut butter, of course!”
“Im with ya there! Any training other than the airport school?”
“Just the usual sit-shake-stay stuff. PLUS, I know how to ring a bell on the door when I hafta go Do My Doodie.”
“That’s pretty Cool Kibbles!”
Heading home, I was picksurin’ Kuma, soaring through the clouds in her designated seat, wearin’ her headset, lookin’ down at the tiny world. I bet it’s pretty from up there.
Till next time,