One would imagine that the joys of traveling with an infant/toddler/small child/smartass big kid would be preparation enough for the challenges of traveling with a dog. We took our first four-hour road trip with the boy when he was only about four weeks old, after all. Surely, if I could handle "emergency" stops to nurse in fast food parking lots, those runny poops that squeeze out the leg holes of the diapers, sullying the baby seat and endless onesies, and the imagined horrors of riding in the front seat while the backward-facing infant was left to fend for himself in the back, then taking the dog back and forth to the lake would be CAKE, right? Unfortunately, the last few years have lulled me into thinking that travel is easy. Andrew sleeps, occasionally bitches about the music choice, but otherwise amuses himself pretty well in the car. Even the "I have to pee right NOW!" in the middle of nowhere announcements have stopped. It is was nice!
We really thought we were doing things right. The first trip with Baxter a couple of weeks ago involved a little dog barf on both ends of the trip, but it was his first time. So this time, we chose a less curvy, less puke-inspiring route to the lake, even though it involved dealing with trucks on interstate. We even bought a nifty little harness to buckle him in safely to the back seat, mostly to prevent his desire to scale over the top of the passenger seat to sit in my lap or to change the radio stations. We put a towel on the seat, gave him toys to amuse himself, and thought we were good to go. Key word, thought.
Baxter doesn't like the car, it turns out. He tries to move around constantly. He whines incessantly. He stubbornly refuses to face forward, so of course he feels sick (I imagine). He just doesn't dig it, for whatever reason. The afore-mentioned safety harness turns into a torture device as he twists 'round and 'round in it, wrapping his legs like a mummy and causing yet another stop on some backwoods road to try to free him. And he's dumb enough to think he can jump out of the car while he's bound up like that, all eighty pounds of him. And we just don't know him well enough yet to read his signals. I'm not sure if he's being a brat or really is carsick, if he's scared, or just wants to chase after everything he sees out the windows. He needs to explain.
The whining on the trip to the lake this weekend was enough to push me over the edge. I have this mild severe case of self-diagnosed misophonia, you see, and the smallest noises, if they're misplaced or repetitive, can cause me to twitch and shudder. (Look it up, it's a real thing!) And bassett hounds have these very high-pitched, fingernails-on-a chalkboard, wet-sneakers-on-the-hallway-floor kind of whine. It's terrible. The latter part of the trip involved me digging in my Sprite for ice to feed to the dog just to shut him up. I was determined that none of us were suffering again on the way home, so we opted for a low dose of Dramamine for the dog, hoping to cure the wonky stomach issues and leave all of us to ride in peace.
It really didn't work. Maybe I was too cautious and didn't give him enough. Maybe the dog is just a pain in the ass. I'm not sure. What I do know is that we were forced to stop twenty minutes into the journey to untangle the dog from his harness and the seat belt, at which time, Baxter refused to get back into the car. So I hoisted him up, all eighty pounds of awkwardly-shaped anvil, we got back on the road, only to make it another ten miles or so before Andrew went to sleep and the dog was trying desperately to get into the front seat, harness be damned. I was on edge already, so we stopped again...this time putting the dog into the passenger seat--MY seat, while I was relegated to the back (which I was happy to do to stop the whining, mind you!). All was well...for about five minutes...until Baxter realized that the hubby couldn't pet him or play with him while he was driving. Then I'm faced with this, and even more whining, and Baxter trying to climb into the BACK seat. Andrew heard some interesting vocabulary yesterday, suffice it to say.
So guess what? We stopped AGAIN. The solution? Andrew, the dog AND me in the back seat...my reasoning? At least there I could control him without my seatbelt locking every time I reached forward, and if he sat in between us, it wouldn't be so bad. Baxter had other ideas--he sat ON me, looking out the window, but thankfully not whining much, as long as I was petting him constantly. At risk of being crude, though...bassett hounds don't just have long, droopy ears, and I was wearing shorts...catch my drift?
I was grossed out for the the entire last hour of the trip and spent most of it trying to cover my leg and control my heebie-jeebies. Blech.
We settled in to an uneasy peace for the last piece of the trip. It started raining, of course, and I was worrying that our chauffeur was getting drowsy, so I nagged, and we squabbled. The three of us played word games about packing for trips to climb a mountain in Australia, and the dog finally settled down and fell sound asleep...four miles from home. I'm not anxious to do it again. That is, not without horse tranquilizers, ear plugs, and long pants. Or maybe I'll just drive.