I used to take my dog on the road with me when I toured. It made me feel safe, traveling with a pet. He was a small terrier mix and was a great traveling companion. But, once he began to bark, he couldn’t stop. One time, when I was doing a cross-country trip, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I gave him a dose of valium. And it worked, too. He didn’t bark at all the entire trip. He did say the word “dude” a couple of times, though.

Taking man’s best friend for a ride in the car is a family favorite. After all, you take them with you because you love them. And they enjoy getting out of the house and exploring just as much as we do. But you don’t realize that taking a pet in the car is not unlike having a child as a passenger. They should be restrained in a dog harness or a doggy seat, and they should never be left alone in the car.

It hadn’t crossed my mind that window safety locks should be on as well. Our West Highland Terrier, Rocket Moon (do not let your children name your pets) was catching a breeze out of the passenger side window, when his paw hit the button and he rolled his own head up in the window. There he was, writhing and kicking, just dangling from his head, stuck in the window. I hope no one saw this through our tinted windows. I pulled into the nearest parking lot as soon as I could and released him from his death trap. Who would have thought that something like this could happen? It was like a scene in Final Destination. I hope no one reported me to P.E.T.A.

Our Westie used to ride between the seats, perfectly perched upon the console. And, more than once, I had to throw my arm in front of him, so he wouldn’t become a hood ornament, when someone pulled out in front of me. Worse than that, I used to let him ride on my lap while I’d drive, letting him hang out of the window. Sometimes, I’d even let him drive. I must admit, he’s a better driver than me. But his eyesight is atrocious. If someone had pulled out in front of me and we’d had a collision, it could have been beyond disastrous. I have an older car, and the airbag (if it even still comes out at all) is supposed to deploy at 300 p.s.i. That’s a crazy amount of pressure. Airbags don’t deploy at a pressure that high in newer cars. That could do some serious damage. An airbag is a controlled explosion. If the airbag was deployed with our dog on my lap, the pressure would likely end his happy tail wagging and his body would probably crush my chest and kill me. Once I realized this, I bought him a dog harness at the pet supply. If you’ve never seen one, it looks like something Madonna would wear onstage. It clips onto the seat belt, so they have freedom to move around on the seat, but they won’t hit the dash or the back of the seat, should you have to stop suddenly. They only had hot pink, and he’s a male, but he’s color blind, so he probably doesn’t even notice.

Leaving a dog in a car, unattended is also a bad idea. I used to take our dog with me while running short errands. If it was hot outside, I would leave the car running with the air on and lock the car with the spare key. Not realizing that it is against the law to leave a car running, unattended. Perhaps just planning to run into the convenience store for a gallon of milk, thinking I’ll only be in there for a few minutes. Then, someone ahead of you in line writes a check. And you’re thinking who the heck writes checks anymore? And you’re in there for over an hour.

Until next week….

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Traveling With A Pet – Comedy Defensive Driving