An Omaha couple arose in the wee hours Wednesday for what turned out to be a chaotic, stressful but fun-filled trip to New York City — with their dog.
The reason for the whirlwind visit? Their Saint Bernard-mix, Copper, was one of five dogs selected from more than 1,000 entries nationally to appear on television's “The View” for a show about adopting mutts.
“It was a great experience, and I'm glad we did it,” Beth Paprocki said Friday. “But would we do it again? I don't think we would put our dog through the stress of flying cargo again.”
Beth, 38, and husband, Greg, 41, arrived at Eppley Airfield at 5 a.m. Wednesday with 60-pound Copper in a borrowed kennel. A Delta worker informed them that they couldn't fly the dog in that crate because it wasn't secured by bolts.
“But he's supposed to be on national TV!” pleaded Beth, a veteran local actress who also appears in commercials.
The couple had never flown with a dog before and knew nothing about the need for bolts. Their vet had prescribed anti-anxiety pills for Copper, but now Beth and Greg were the ones with anxiety.
The Delta staffer sympathized, found some bolts, drilled holes in the kennel and secured it, saving the day. Or at least the morning.
The flight went through Minneapolis, which meant a change of planes. During the cargo transfer, the Paprockis noticed with dismay that Copper's traveling partners in the belly of the plane included cats.
“Cats,” Beth said, “make him go bonkers.”
The trio made it to New York, checked in at the Hilton in Times Square and walked through Central Park. Greg, who grew up in Columbus, Neb., and lived for a year in New York, is a commercial illustrator with big-name national clients.
He draws for the children's book series “Curious George” and created images for Mattel's 50th-anniversary Barbie projects. Other clients have included McDonald's, Pepsi, Yahoo, Taco Bell and MTV.
Copper's appearance on “The View” aired Friday, but the taping was on Thursday. A van would arrive for the ride to ABC studios at 6 a.m.
At 4:30 a.m, Greg took Copper out for a walk, but all the concrete around Times Square kept the dog from feeling comfortable enough to pee. After a frustrating half-hour, Beth took the leash.
“For a suburban dog used to grass,” she said, “going to the restroom in an urban environment was very difficult. I was at wit's end. He hadn't gone to the bathroom since 5 p.m. Wednesday. I was terrified he would go in the van or in the studio.”
Along came the owner of Louie, another of the five mutts to appear on the show. He thought that a buddy system might help.
|Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.|
Sure enough, Louie found a spot and went first, followed by Copper. “We were jumping up and down cheering,” Beth said. “It was like when a toddler uses the toilet for the first time.”
They all made it to the studio for rehearsal in the morning and then for taping before an audience at 12:45 p.m. Beth came out with Copper, answered questions and helped him up onto a box. Joy Behar commented on his striking appearance.
The Paprockis adopted Copper from the Nebraska Humane Society and were pleased to make the case for adopting rescue dogs. The women of “The View” have done so the past five years.
“Their goal is to highlight adopting dogs from shelters,” Beth said. “You don't need a 'paper dog' to be happy. You can adopt a mutt and have a loving family friend.”
The couple and Copper didn't have a lot of time to enjoy Manhattan. Greg said the dog got a lot of looks from tourists and locals. Soon the Omaha trio headed for the airport, feeling bad about Copper's having to fly cargo again through Minneapolis. But the adventure wasn't over.
They arrived at Eppley about 11:30 p.m. Thursday and went to get Copper at the cargo pickup, which they discovered had just closed. They headed back to the terminal and saw an airport worker near a luggage carousel placing a kennel in the oversized-baggage area. “I called out Copper's name,” Beth said, “and he started crying and howling.”
Friday morning, Copper was happily reunited with the family's children, Lydia, 6, Elise, 3, and Henry, 7 months. They had stayed with Beth's parents, Len and Jane Weindel.
“The trip was so much fun, but it was exhausting,” Beth said. “Over 48 hours, we had maybe eight hours of sleep.”
And how was dog-tired Copper after his fast-clip round trip?
Said Beth: “He is sleeping.”