Driving in Cars with Dogs
It seems to me like dogs were made for driving around in cars. I know there are some dogs who are car-phobic, but I've never met one in Real Life. All the dogs I've ever known have thought that cars were magical moving caves purpose-built for dog entertrainment.
Two words in the English language had the ability to transform Kodiak into a tail-wagging, galumphing dog of joy - "walk" and "ride." I loved to say to him "Who wants to go for a ride? Do YOU want to go for a ride." He'd cock his head to the side and a look of intense concentration would pass over his eyes, then the word would register and he would do his little Happy Dance around the house, barking at me if I didn't move fast enough to get him into the car.
Kodiak was a good dog to have in the car. He responded quickly to the "Lie Down" command. He was quite content to stretch out in the back of our Passat and watch the world go by. Once, during a particularly scary drive from Cleveland to Chicago, on snow-slicked roads in a Mini Cooper that had performance tires that offered almost no traction, Kodiak laid his head on Peter's shoulder, as though he could help guide the car home.
About a month ago, while giving Toby ear-scratches, Peter discovered a number tattoed in his floppy-down ear. We had great fun speculating about the tattoo. My contention is that Toby is an army or police dog who went AWOL. That theory explains why every morning, when I let him out, he runs over to the cars and sniffs around them quite thoroughly. It also explains why he has a compulsion to jump into every open car to check it out.
Peter's theory on Toby's car-incursion compulsion is that he was abandoned from a car or by people in a car and so he is terrified that if a car goes somewhere without him, he will be permanently left behind. That's a fairly solid theory - but to me it doesn't explain Toby's willingness to jump into the car of total strangers. (We were walking him past the shop in the village once and a woman opened her car door in front of us and Toby tried to jump right in.
Toby's not the best dog to have in a moving car. Unlike Kodiak, he does not respond quickly enough to the "Lie Down" command. Or to any command really. The car, for Toby, is a sphere of anarchy, at least when I'm alone with him. (Like all our dogs, he behaves much better when Peter is around.) Last week, he tried to jump out my window when he saw some sheep in a field. I rolled up the window far enough so that he couldn't pull his head out but not so far that it was choking him. He hasn't tried that trick since.
This past Tuesday, the trip back from camogie practise was way more exciting than it should have been. I had to stop twice to extricated Toby from the front seat and return him to the back seat. I probably should have stopped a third time, but it was the twisty-est bit of the drive and the options for pulling over were not great. Since I had blocked off the gap between the two seats with my hurley and my helmet, Toby was trying to gain access to the fron by slipping through the gap between my seat and my door. By jamming an elbow in his chest and hunching over the steering wheel like someone's ancient grandmother, I was able to get us home safely, but I was not well-pleased.
Toby needs some car manners. I wish I could import Kodiak to teach him a few things.