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Friday, June 1, 2012

Goin' for a Ride

"Want to go for a Ride?"

Like most dogs, my three consider that an invitation to a whole bunch of fun. It doesn't even matter where we're going; it's the Ride that counts.

Each of the pups has a different way to approach their car rides. What's funny is that not a one of them wants to do the prototypical nose out the window, wind blowing in the ears experience.

Going for a Ride

When we go for a Car Ride, it's important that everyone have their own spot in the car. I get this; it was the same when my family packed up our station wagon and headed west on a 13-hour car ride to visit relatives in Michigan. We had a station wagon, and with three kids, there were endless fights about who had to sit in the middle, and who got to sit by each door. It always ended the same way: each of my brothers got a door seat, and I made a little nest in the back deck where I didn't have to deal with either of them.

Obviously, this was before there were seat belt laws. I loved it back there.

So, maybe there is some kind of strategy to where each of my dogs hang out during our rides:

Jasper likes to sit up very tall and look out all the windows.

Jasper in the back seat, keeping watch.

Tucker will either sit next to Jasper or lie down. It depends on whether there is anything interesting going on outside the car.

Hey, Jasper, let me know if you see any deer or squirrels.

And Lilah claims the footwell as her Very Own Space.

Lilah in the footwell. It is Lilah's Spot.

While Jasper and Tucker look out the windows, and occasionally offer commentary on passersby, Lilah stays in the footwell. When it's dark out, the Stealth Dog disappears back there; sometimes all you see are two eyes peering up at you.  I think Jasper and Tucker are completely confused as to why Lilah likes to hang out in such a cramped spot with no view.

Actually, I'm a little compuzzled about it myself.

Lilah, why are you down there?
Anything interesting up there, boys?
Sometimes I take the pups for a Ride when all l'm doing is picking Corinne up at the train station. That's double fun because not only do you get to go for a Ride, but you also get to see Corinne.

Corinne is putting her bags in the trunk! It's so exciting!

Kisses all around for Corinne

Sometimes, I'll stop and get gas when the dogs are in the car. They're quite calm about it, watching out the windows and keeping tabs on The Guy as he Does Things outside the car. Usually, they don't bark.

Keeping their eyes on Things

However, nearly always, someone comments on the dogs...could be the guy pumping gas, or someone else at one of the other pumps. That's the cool thing about dogs; if you are a dog lover, it's always easy to start a conversation with someone who is surrounded by canines--whether you're in a dog park or a gas station.

Of course, if you realize that the whole time I'm getting gas, Lilah is still hiding in the footwell, you can imagine that every once in a while, she makes an appearance on the seat, usually confusing the living daylights out of any nearby humans, who were sure just a minute ago there were two dogs in the blue car--not three.

Stealth Dog Lilah: somewhat hard to see unless she pops up out of the footwell.

The dogs are usually so quiet in the car that sometimes I forget they're there. Once, I was supposed to take Tucker to doggy day care at Camp Bow Wow, and he was so quiet, and I was on mental cruise control, that I headed to work with him instead. It took me a few minutes to realize my mistake and I brought him to camp, but I bet he would have had fun at the office. (Side note: I know of a few places that encourage bringing dogs to work; that would be a dream job for me.)

Perhaps the sign in the background should have been a clue.

That doesn't happen when Jasper is in the car though. He sits up so tall that one glance in the rearview mirror is enough to remind me that I have a canine passenger.

At a stop light, Jasper keeps close tabs on the other cars.

I've always had this fear that when I opened a car door, one of my dogs would bolt. Not much of a problem at home, because he or she would probably run for the house. But if we're in a car, that means we're on or near a road, and I don't even want to think about the awful possibilities. This is why I've taught my dogs that the only way out of the car is to sit quietly, let me get their leashes and they may only leave the car when I tell them "Release!"  They all obey that rule, though it took a while to teach, with lots of door openings and closings while waiting for three doggy rears to hit the seat (or the footwell if you're Lilah) before they were allowed to leave. And with the one word, the magical Ride is over.

Until next time.

Home from a Car Ride, waiting patiently to be allowed out of the car.

Lilah, Jasper and Tucker--like most dogs I know--love going for a Ride.
It's all about the journey. Not the destination.

Maybe dogs are a lot smarter than we think.

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