Dogs Riding In Cars

When I see a dog with his/her head out a car window, ears flapping in the wind, it always makes me smile! Dogs love cars. And if the Subaru commercials are to be believed, the feeling goes both ways.

I happen to have both a dog and a Subaru, and I can tell you, I'm deeply in love with both. Gracie is my second dog, and my current Outback is my second. I love both, in different ways of course, but the love is there.

Gracie loves to go bye-bye -- whether it's a trip to the drive-thru dry-cleaners or the drive-thru pharmacy, she wants to go, she NEEDS to go! Many local businesses with drive-thru access give her "cookies," so now she equates all drive-thrus with treats; so much so, that she will crane her neck around through the driver's window from the backseat to make sure she doesn't miss anything. Even just going through a toll booth (and they don't give out cookies).

Sometimes this has freaked out the person with whom I'm speaking. I suppose I can understand that if a large dog's face suddenly appeared in a driver's window, toothy grin and wolf-like ears, bright eyes attentively fixed on them, it could be perhaps, unnerving. Especially when no cookies are forthcoming. The ears drop, the grin disappears, sometimes a little moan emanates from the depth of her toes.

As I pull away, trying to roll up the window whilst simultaneously trying to elbow the dog back so she doesn't get her head caught in said window, I hear all about how she didn't get her cookie and I should really turn around and take her back to get her cookie because you know that's all those people do all day is wait for doggies in cars so they can hand out cookies...

At least in Gracie's world that's how it works.

People have commented (regularly) on how talkative our pets are. Yes, we know. I suppose it could very well be my own fault because not only do I talk to them, I encourage their vocal participation.

Gracie is like that 4-year-old we've all met: she'll tell you her entire life story -- unedited -- whether you want to hear it or not. For no other reason than she ABSOLUTELY must converse with any being that crosses her territory or her field of vision (including her peripheral vision which is apparently outstanding). This goes for in the car, too. People out walking their dogs are cause for barking. Dogs in other cars are cause for barking. People out walking withOUT a dog are cause for barking ("You're doing it all WRONG people!").

There are times her zealous talking is not appreciated. Mostly in the car. Her bark is, indeed, from her toes, and she's never not given it all she's got. On several occasions, I have been so startled by her bark coming from right beside my head that I've actually jumped in my seat and even swerved; badly enough one time to go up and over the curb.

Our Subaru has been with us through all of these bye-bye trips, the short and the long; the cookie drive-thrus, and those places that shall not be named. Gracie has probably left more dog fur in the car than anywhere else outside of her kennel-bed at home (although my vacuum cleaner might disagree). The middle console between the front seats shows doggy nail imprints from when she puts both front paws there to help us navigate and comment on the scenery. The backseat has a muddy paw print stain I've not been able to get rid of. The dog's harness seatbelt is a fixture in the middle belt clip (though I'm still the only one who can put it on Gracie correctly). It is a car designed for all the family members; it's a car designed to be part of everyday life.

Come to think of it, Gracie has never known another car but an Outback.

I love seeing the Subaru commercials with the dog family, the Barkleys: the family out for a drive, the parent trying to get the puppy to sleep. Then there's the one with the man and his much older dog checking things off a doggy bucket list... the first two make me smile and laugh; the last one gets to me every time.

After 10 years, we're finally taking Gracie on her first week-long family vacation this summer, thanks to some Midwestern states becoming much more dog-friendly. Both the Michigan and Wisconsin tourism boards have developed entire ad campaigns around being dog-friendly. Hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, stores, beaches -- they've all finally caught on to the fact that not only do dogs like going bye-bye, but their families like bringing dogs WITH them when THEY go bye-bye!

Gracie has never been on a trip longer than 2 hours, so we really don't know how she'll take to this grand tour around Lake Michigan (with many, many stops over a week). But I have a feeling that she'll think it's pretty cool getting to ride with someone in the backseat with her, being around the water, new places (= new smells), new treats, new dogs and their people. I hope for her, it's a trip of a lifetime with her family that she'll never forget. I know we won't.

And I think maybe that's what the folks at Subaru have tapped into with their commercials: our dogs are with us for too short a time, and making the most of the time we do have is important. The same can be said of our kids' childhoods: this full family trip will be one of the last, as Z will begin his high school senior year in the fall...

Lots of living has been done with our Subaru. There's more to come. But I think this upcoming road trip will be among the best memories we'll have with this car. It's going to be one heckuva bye-bye!