There is nothing more exhausting, more frustrating, and more infuriating then trying to take a trip with my dog via car.
Tess is an amazing dog. She reads minds. I never really trained her because she always just sort of knew what I wanted her to do. She's not food motivated or food obsessed. She sticks by my side when we walk. I don't even need a leash on her anymore. She's not aggressive, she's not fearful, she's not fixated on anything. I can always snap her out of anything she starts to focus too intently on.
But when it comes to riding in the car, she dissolves into a whining, screaming, coat-blowing mess of bouncing energy. I see other dogs ride in cars. Surina is a perfect lady. One of my girlfriends has two labs both who sit calmly and demurely, looking out the window until they arrive at their destination. My first shepherd, Flag, was so good in the car. He'd sit on the back seat and I took him everywhere when I drove around town. The only quirk he had was climbing into the driver's seat whenever I got out of the car, but otherwise, he would stretch out in the back, especially on long car rides, and just hang out. Great company, that dog.
Then there are my cats. These are cats and all of them are better passengers than Tess. Puckett hangs out on the passenger seat beside me and just chills, looking out the window or watching me. Percy rides on the backseat, and he might wail a bit, but mostly he's pretty good. At least he doesn't try to get up front and slide under the brake pedal like my Himalayan, Mindi, used to do. Willow also rides on the backseat, though sometimes she moves underneath the front seat. Everyone is pretty cool about the car.
With Tess one would think the world was ending. It starts as soon as I let her out the front door and start walking to the car. She knows the difference between going for a walk and going for a car ride. On walks she's relaxed, calm, and happy. In the car it's a completely different story. As soon as she jumps into the backseat she starts whining and wailing, pacing from one window to the other. As soon as I get behind the wheel she barges up onto the console and sticks her nose in my face. I have to holler at her to get back and sit down. In the car is the one time she does not listen to me when I yell, or obey the snap of my fingers. She barely acknowledges me at all.
A few years ago I drove to Jackson Hole to visit a friend and check out a job opportunity. That was an eight hour drive. I nearly killed my dog. She nearly had apoplexy from being in the car for so long, and we stopped every hour so she could get out and stretch her legs.
On one shorter trip, probably to the vet or when I was driving down every night to visit the Drug-Dealing Felon, Tess turned into a whirling dancer and nailed me right in the head with her tail. It felt like she brained me. I nearly went off the road. One of the best things about living in Wyoming where there is almost zero traffic is that when one's dog almost causes one to drive off the road, at least one won't run into another motorist. The embankment or a tree, maybe, but not another motorist.
The last trip I took with Tess I finally had enough. I took her down to Casper which is a two hour drive. I had previously filled a prescription for her for a sedative to make traveling with her easier. I generally don't advocate drugging animals unnecessarily just like I don't believe in drugging humans unnecessarily. I refuse to take antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, sleep aids, or allergy medication. I react terribly to most medicines anyway, and the only time I'll succumb to medication is what I consider legitimate medication at least for my body. I'll take antibiotics, anesthetics when under surgery, and I do have a slight love affair with codeine laced cough syrup for when I have a nasty flu. I also have to take Midol occasionally, and that stuff hits me like I'm getting stoned. California Guy just got a whiff of that the other night, and he's either terrified of me now, or laughing himself sick. I'm not opposed to necessary medication. I have all my vaccines. My pets have all their vaccines. Tess is a very energetic, busy dog and there were a few times over the years I thought about putting her under with some kind of muscle relaxer just to get her to calm down, but I never did. I just exercised the hell out of her until she was too pooped to poop.
Incidentally she has never been too pooped to poop except once when she'd spent the entire day swimming in the lake. I couldn't wake that dog up that night with a bullhorn and a cattle prod.
This calming medication the vet gave me for car rides is a Godsend. The last trip down to Casper was peaceful with no stress. Tess still moved from one window to the other periodically, but with nowhere near the fervor and borderline insanity from past trips. She was calm, relaxed, even a bit dopey. It was heaven. I sent a silent prayer of thanks to the powers that be for creating acepromazine in 10 milligram tablets.
Of course the ride back home we were back to the usual antics despite the pill I popped down her throat before we left. I don't know if it's because she ate a whole bowl of food first and the medicine took longer to absorb, or if she'd acclimated to it or what, but she was a nightmare the trip home. She whined so loud it sounded like she was crying. The car exploded in a cloud of dog hair as she bopped back and forth, slamming her tail into the back of the front seats, and scrambling onto the console. By the time we got home I was cussing her and she was trying to climb out the window. The side effect was that I had to clean out the inside of the car as well as spray the windows down with vinegar to clean off the coating of dog nose smudges.
Next trip I'm giving her a double dose or else I'm renting a truck and she can ride in the bed in a dog carrier. The plan for Christmas is supposedly to drive to Casper with dog and cats in tow as I'll have no one to watch the pets for four days. California Guy has promised to pick us all up and stuff Tess and two cat carriers in the bed of the truck. Puckett can hang out in the backseat. That'll be an interesting experience. I'll probably come home minus three pets and only Puckett still alive. Or California Guy will kill all five of us.
Clearly I'm a glutton for punishment.