Blanche is a car dog. She doesn’t care if we’re going to the park, the vet, or taking a six-hour drive to Connecticut. She jumps right in, waits patiently while I attach her bright red seatbelt harness and then settles down for the journey.
Pierre’s dogs, however, are not similarly adoring of the old fashioned road trip. The first few drives to The Enclave, Pierre drove Thor and Rico in his Jeep. Thor panted heavily for three hours, but he managed to stay quiet. He positioned himself right behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle, so he could breathe hot, moist dog breath into Pierre’s ear and cheek.
Rico, on the other hand, stayed true to his Beagle heritage and shrieked as though he were being murdered. By squirrels. Using grapefruit spoons. (They have that sharp edge. You know – for cutting and scooping the grapefruit? Not the squirrels. The grapefruit spoons.) Work with me people. It was awful. Pierre would pull in the driveway and emerge from the car looking like he himself had been attacked. By squirrels. With grapefruit spoons.
Pierre eventually figured out a system that made for a relatively bearable drive.
And it involved my car. And me driving.
Ha! I am only partially kidding.
First, we discovered that Rico likes classical music. He tends to favor piano and violin-heavy orchestral pieces. I know this because when we play music at home, he lies down and acts like he’s eye – all narrowed eyes and goofy smile.
He also seems to enjoy Frank Sinatra. When Ole Blue Eyes is on the radio, Rico’s Aria of the Dead calms down a quiet whine reminiscent of an old tea kettle on a low boil. Which is totally acceptable for driving. Especially if the dog is secured in a cozy kennel in the third row of a large vehicle.
The funny thing is that Rico loves getting in the car. I walk out of the house with him on a leash and he’s beside himself with excitement. But the second his paws touch the floor mats, it’s as though he suddenly remembers. “Oh, right. I do NOT like being in here. Noooooooooooooooooo!”
Thor is the last one I put in the car. He weighs 85 pounds. I weigh…a little bit more than that. But nowhere near enough to wrestle with him. He pops out of the house all ready to go because he thinks we’re on a walk and then…LION!
“Lion” is a patented Thor protest move. It’s a combination of Toddler Noodle (when screaming kids go limp and you can’t pick them up to move them out of the way of the TSA line at the airport/grocery store aisle/other public place where they shouldn’t be screaming) and the Occupy (a maneuver often seen among protesters of nuclear waste/the 1%/Whole Foods running out of pomegranates), which entails sitting on your butt, legs crossed, with all your weight centered on the ground.
Thor sort of sits back so his collar comes off his neck to the point where he’s created a giant lion’s ruff around his face, which is now smooshed up to look like a Shar Pei’s. Then he sways back and forth and backs up. There is no way to get him to move when he pulls a Lion. On my last trip, I foolishly tried to pick him up and carry him to the car myself.
I just ended up covered in dog fur and Thor’s nose in my ear because suddenly he thought we were playing the hugging game.
I finally bribed him with a few treats I threw into the back of the car. He put his paws up on the bumper to see what deliciousness was afoot, and I picked up his butt and shoved him in. From the neighbor’s perspective, it probably looked as though I was wearing a bushy blond wig and trying to cram a bag of groceries in the trunk.
I put in my headphones and started up one of my favorite podcasts and we headed off merrily down the road: one screaming Beagle, a panting Golden Retriever, a nervous Plab (Pitbull/Lab), and Frank Sinatra crooning at high volume. I looked in the rear view mirror to check on Thor and saw his face and one giant paw sticking out of the gate that protects him from getting thrown around the car. “Why are you so FAR AWAY?!!!” he was saying. In dog words. A swaddle of bikers (or is it a bunkus of bikers? a goggle? a zizzle? or none of those, probably) zoomed by us, so terrifying Blanche that she pulled herself, her chest harness, and the seatbelt down onto the floor and then tried to fit into my handbag. And then I hit a small bump and Rico launched into the dog rendition of Mozart’s Queen of the Night.
At that very moment, Pierre texted me:
“How’s it going?”