Now that we have work to do in North Carolina to get a beach house ready to rent, we have a little Nikki conundrum.
He’s not a good passenger in the car.
I prefer passengers who can sit still, not drool on my seats, and not hang their heads out of my windows with their tongues and ears flapping in the breeze.
When I take Nikki to the dog groomers or the vet, I always put him in the back seat. He immediately steps on the window button, sticks his head out the window and pants and wags his tail like he’s the happiest dog ever born. He seriously smiles because he’s so happy with that breeze on his face.
I love seeing him that happy until he decides to leap up to the front seat and sit on my lap. He’s too big for my lap and I’m afraid he’s going to kill us both when he pounces on me while I’m driving.
I’ve tried to train him to be a better car rider. Really, I have.
I took him to PetSmart to look at the traveling, soft-sided crates. I pulled one down from the shelf to see if he could fit in it.
“Come on Nikki,” I said repeatedly, encouragingly. “Get in the crate.”
He backed away like I was guiding him into a heated oven. Then, I saw a dog harness that I could use to strap him into a seat belt.
I bought the harness, went out to the car, and tried to strap him in it. As I struggled to hold the straps, pull him into the harness, and buckle the seatbelt, I looked around the parking lot looking for Allen Funt, thinking my struggle felt like one of those old Candid Camera episodes I used to watch on TV when I was a kid.
I probably spent 30 minutes getting him buckled into that contraption. I felt optimistic as I pulled out of the parking lot.
I didn’t even get out on the road when I heard the window roll down. That brilliant little scamp of a dog managed to unfasten the seatbelt and roll down the window to ride on his own terms — smiling, panting with ears flying in the wind and tail wagging so hard it nearly hit me in the back of the head.
So much for the harness.
The Dog Whisperer said I should take Nikki on short 15-minute trips in his crate and let him get used to riding in the car that way. So I hauled the darn, heavy crate out of the house, hefted it up into the back of the car, and then hoisted Nikki up there and into the crate.
Off we went. I even unrolled the backseat windows to help him feel the sensation of being on the back of a Harley.
This is going to work, I thought. It’s a lot of heavy lifting, but I think I can make this work. Before I even pulled out of the garage, he started whining.
I turned up the radio.
He whined louder.
“Sing, Adele, sing!” I said as I turned up the sound.
Just you and me, Nikki, out on the open road, enjoying the breeze and a little Adele music. .
I drove aimlessly around, getting a headache from Adele’s loud singing and Nikki’s competitive whining.
Then, I started resenting that darn Dog Whisperer. I don’t know what it is about him, but he’s got dog magic. Dogs do everything he wants them to do. His dogs sit quietly in their crates and go for pleasant car rides. They don’t wriggle out of harnesses, roll down car windows, unlatch seat belts, jump on Cesar’s lap while he’s driving. They obediently stay in their car seats and crates because he has dog mojo and I don’t.
I’m not giving up yet though. We’ve got a few more short practice drives to make in the next few days before I give up.
So, if you see me driving around with music blaring out of my car windows and a white dog panting nervously in a crate, you’ll know I’m trying to get my Cesar Millan mojo on so that Nikki and I can be good road trip companions.
If not, you’ll know I gave up, found a kennel or a sucker for dogs and made other arrangements.