Monday, July 4, 2011

Have Dogs, Will Travel

The other day we were heading out the door to walk the dogs and I asked David if he'd grabbed the bags (meaning the bags we use to pick up their poops) and he said, "Yeah, I have one."

And I said, in a slightly exasperated voice, "Two dogs, one bag?"

And then I cracked up laughing at the potential for THAT youtube sensation.  I was laughing so hard at myself and inadvertent allusion to total grossness that David started laughing, too.  Gross.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's really just as well.  And yes, I got a second bag for our walk.  Sharing a dog poop bag would be logistically disgusting, especially if they did not poop at the same time.  Also our dogs do not eat each others' feces.  Just wanted to clarify that as well.)

Anyway, that is actually completely unrelated to the rest of this post (yay!).

As I may have mentioned, we have been going back and forth to the lake a lot this summer, visiting David's grandparents.  His grandpa has been having some health issues and he's doing better but not great.  So we frequently load up the Prius with ourselves, our laptops, our dogs, and our cowboy hats, and we drive to Table Rock Lake where we spend time doing yardwork, eating dessert, shopping at the outlet mall, and generally just chilling out.

We have made many car trips with the dogs, and we've tried a number of different strategies.  I know it's not the safest plan to have them just free-wheeling in the backseat.  So for a while, we had them travel in separate carriers.

This was not a great plan because the carrier limited Cooper's view and when he can't look out the window, he tends to get carsick.

And when Cooper (or anyone else for that matter) barfs in the car, it makes ME barf, or at least retch and dry heave dramatically (to the point of tears).  We had a particularly wretched trip to Nevada one time where Cooper barfed around shortly before we got to Camdenton and we cruised into town with ME hanging out the window and gagging, then we had to stop to hose out his carrier at a car wash and go to Wal-Mart to buy clean towels, and also I had to change my pants in the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot because I got dog barf on my clothes.

The other problem with the carrier is Little Mac's specialness.  She is the strangest little dog and she gets obsessively territorial about her carrier or crate (this is why we cannot have one in our house).  She seems to enjoy being in a confined space, and eagerly scurries into the carrier of her own accord (she would prefer to be in a carrier or dog house, it seems, than out in the open).  But the problem is that ten you cannot even APPROACH her, or come within about a five foot radius of the carrier/crate without ferocious growling and lunging.  It's like she just goes batshit crazy once she's inside.  We use soft-sided carriers for the car, with mesh windows and doors that zip up, and she would nip hands as they zipped or unzipped her.  For some inexplicable reason, the carrier turns her into the Tasmanian devil.

So then we tried safety harnesses that attach to the seatbelt.  The problem with this is that Little Mac is not heavy enough to keep the seatbelt down where it needs to be (since it's not just a lap belt, the entire angled part of seatbelt has to go through the harness and it's awkward).  Plus we glanced back at one point in a car trip and found that Cooper had gotten himself entirely tangled up in the seatbelt, so it was looped around his leg and he was nearly facing backwards.

Coop is in his Ruff Rider harness here.  Mac is chilling in her bed--we'd already given up on her harness.
After that trip, we thought we'd see how they'd do sitting in their separate beds.  Coop has a pillow on one side, Mac has a bed on the other side.  This actually worked pretty well.  They would switch places and share beds and it seemed like smooth sailing.

Sister and Brother gaze out the window (they are actually on my mom's lap in this picture, but same idea when it's just the four of us in the car).
BUT then Little Mac got tired of the backseat, and would jump up to the front seat and insist on sitting on my lap, causing Cooper to whine with jealousy in the backseat.  It's also uncomfortable because she gets really pissy (and by pissy I mean make sure you don't have any limbs or digits in her face because you never know when she'll snap) if you shift your weight very much.  Also, it's not easy to eat tater tots with a small dog on your lap.

Little Mac does not cooperate with me. She refuses to pose for a picture and I quit trying for fear of agitating her.
We would sometimes use my purse to block the backseat, and David was perfecting his none-too-gentle elbow-shove that forced her to turn back, but none of this solved the other pesky problem:  dog hair!  Blankets and towels fell or got squished, and if we took the Honda, a blanket on the leather seats slid around and made the dogs nervous.

Don't they look cute?  But this blanket is slippery!  Is that what's making Cooper nervous?  Or is it his close proximity to Little Mac?    
Then one day a couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were at a fabric store and she found a pattern for sewing your own back-seat-dog-hammock.  Brilliant!  I had actually looked into buying one of these, but I was unwilling to shell out the $60 to order one.  With the pattern on sale for a quarter and the fleece 50% off, the entire cost of this project was around $15.  And sewing it was super easy.

It's essentially a big rectangle of fleece with four straps and four d-ring fasteners attached so that you can connect the straps around the head rests in your car.  This protects the seat from the fur, AND it blocks the arm-rest opening to the front seat, which keeps Little Mac in the back where she belongs.
Doesn't it look cozy?  Everytime Coop gets in that bed, David always says "Fat man in a little bed!" and I think Cooper is embarrassed.  I tell him he fits just right.

Just relaxin' in the backseat.  Little Mac grins because she's such a sweet girl.
Hopefully these pictures give a clear idea of how the hammock covers the seat.   The angle is weird because they were taken with my cell phone from the front seat--don't worry, David was driving--but you can see how content the dogs are.  This actually gives them a little more room (Mac rode for a while facing backwards, with her butt hanging off the seat but comfortably cradled by the dog-hammock).  They still kept switching beds (one of the beds is that denim beanbag Mac is half lying on) but they stayed out of the front seat AND the dog hair did not get on the seats or the floor!

I'm still a little concerned because I know it's not as safe as a crate or a harness, but we're working with what we've got here.  And what we've got are SPECIAL NEEDS dogs.

So the trip to the lake this weekend was a great success as far as the dog hammock was concerned.  The only bizarre incident occurred when we got home today and were unloading the car.  Little Mac jumped back in the backseat, on the floor board, as David was trying to remove the pillows that were back there.  He grabbed one of them, but suddenly Little Mac barreled INSIDE the other pillow case.  So she was in the pillow case along WITH the full-sized pillow, and she appeared to be stuck or at least disoriented, because she was at the far end of the case, pushing her face up against the seam and barking.  We were trying to get her out of there without inviting her RAGE because although she seemed content to hang out in the stifling hot pillow in the stifling hot car in the stifling hot garage on her own, as soon as we attempted to RESCUE her, she started growling like she does from within a carrier (any confined space = RAGE) and we were both afraid of getting bitten through the pillowcase, but also laughing so hard because what on earth would possess her to burrow into a pillow case and then get STUCK?

Finally David pulled the pillow out of the case, and then we were able to hold up the end of the pillow case so she could see the light, as it were, and emerge on her own.

She was not embarrassed in the least.  Instead, she gave us a "What the hell is your problem?" kind of look as she strutted inside the house.

Oh, Little Mac.  There will never be another quite like you.

Wut the hell iz ur problem? I am normal.


  1. Loving all the stories about your doggies and recent car trips.

  2. I'm glad your hammock worked out and also that I'm not the only one with 'special needs' dogs.

  3. Love the commentary and Little Mac's toothy grin! ha!

  4. Lmao... I have a 90 lb. smiler

  5. Little Mac is making me feel better about Buddy. This morning, he took a dive into the very smelly Red River and is stinking up the place!

  6. Bahahahahahaha! Gotta love Little Mac. I love little dogs that pack a punch. Your pillowcase story had me laughing out loud (not just LOL, but REALLY laughing out loud).
    Coopers face is just too cute. I want to cover it in kisses. We don't have a dog right now, but in the last month we have dogsat THREE dogs, and have loved every minute of it. Might have to head down to the SPCA for a rescue dog. Then I might need your hammock pattern!!
    Thanks for the laughs Brooke!

  7. I love your dogs almost as much as I love my own. I too was laughing OUT LOUD (literally!) imagining Little Mac in the pillowcase.

    I'm also ashamed to admit that we do Two Dogs, One Bag all the time in our family. We've perfected the art of poop-picking-up, I suppose. I swear it's not as gross as it sounds.

  8. You guys have got to be the best pet owners I've ever met. Dogs were invented just for you.
    I love the hammock!

  9. I think these are two of the most pampered pooches in the country. I can't stop laughing when I read these posts... than you for the smiles!