by Lori Amato
It is a typical week day morning. Frank (the Daddy) is out walking our hounds before he goes to work. I (the Mommy) sneak out of the apartment while they are gone. I get into my car and head off to work. I keep my fingers crossed, hoping, that I am not going in the same direction that Frank and the boys are walking in.
“Too late,” I say to myself, “Oh, oh. I should have gone the other way.” My two “sons” spot the car and drag Frank (the Daddy) towards it. I slow down the car to avoid a problem. The boys look at me in eager anticipation. Their ears are pricked up and set like gull wings. I can see their eager eyes and wagging tails. I drive past unwillingly but I must get to work. My “sons” are disappointed again. I look back in my rear-view mirror. I see them hang their heads, drop their waving tails and they slink up the road with Frank. My self-imposed guilt trip begins. I am truly a mean person. I am the scum of the earth. I assuage my guilt by promising out loud, “I will take them for a bye bye ride when I get home.” I keep my promise.
What is it about dogs and cars? It is either a love affair or a guaranteed case of upset tummy after being on the road for 10 minutes? I am lucky neither of my boys gets car sick.
We purchased our last vehicle with greyhound transport in mind.
It had to be a station wagon. It had to be big enough to haul hounds and four people at its maximum capacity. The everyday passenger list includes only two people and two hounds. We travel with the back seats down. The hounds have the whole back to themselves. The next vehicle will definitely be a minivan; we need a minivan now with the addition of our third greyhound, Feather.
Loading the Vehicle
Mommy, Daddy and the “kids” pile into the car. I always load the greys from rear passenger doors rather than the back of the wagon. It’s too chancy using the back tailgate for fear of the dogs jumping out. We always remove their leashes. Traveling on a long trip we might use a small training tab (small short leash about four-inches long) on their collars as a handle in case of an emergency. The dogs always have a lot of blankets in the back to snuggle in. We are ready to depart now. The Greys are standing up in the back of the wagon. Their bodies are blocking the rear-view mirror so I can’t see to back up. I ask Frank, “Please make them lie down.” Frank tugs their collars and says, “Sit, sit, sit.” Tauren locks his legs and does not move. “Down,” I yell at the top of my lungs. Tauren the big black mirror blocker drops like a rock. Sultan has his own agenda. He is digging to China in the back of the car. He messes up all the blankets to establish the perfect doggie bed for the trip. He finally lies down and all is quiet.
We are finally on our way towards another adventure.
We’ve been on the road for about forty-five minutes and there is a slow down in traffic. The two regal hounds pop up their heads to investigate. They stand up and all doggie hell breaks loose. I roll down the window to get some air. Both dogs try to vie for that one little open patch. Sultan sneezes and I have doggie snots on the inside of my glasses. Tauren is busy drooling down the back of my shirt. They begin to whine, “MMMMMMMMMMMMMM (are we there yet)?” This cacophony does not stop until the traffic begins moving again. I roll the window back up. Dogs should never travel in a car with their heads hanging out the window. There are two very good reasons. The first reason is that I could end up with a headless dog. The other reason is that dogs’s eyes don’t have the same kind of blinking reflex that humans do. Consequently, hanging their heads out the window can cause severe eye damage from road debris and dust particles.
ID Tags and Microchips
Another safety precaution is to make sure your dogs have up-to-date identification tags on their collars. The best tags have spaces for phone numbers listing your destination as well as a number back home where there is someone available to take the call. Many catalogs and pet feed stores carry ID tags that can be filled in by hand. Many a lost dog has been found because they were microchipped in addition to wearing tags.
A variety of dog products….
…are available to make traveling with a greyhound a joy rather than an aggravation. The car barrier keeps your dogs in the back and you in the front. However, they have a tendency to make your car look like a police cruiser and they do not come equipped with a splatter guard to keep doggie snots from hitting you in the back of the head. They can also be inconvenient when your passenger arrangements change. They are best if you don’t need to remove them very often. They are great for mini-vans. There are also a variety of devices that are either harness-like, or a strap that fits into your seatbelts. These devices will allow your dogs to lie down or sit up but not roam around the car. If you travel with one hound they appear to be quite convenient little gadgets. A woman on the Internet with whom I correspond seems quite convinced that these are wonderful. There is even a type of device to restrain your dog in the back of a pickup truck. Greyhounds with their long skinny legs, are not candidates for being transported in this way.
Transporting and the Necessities
The safest way to transport your dog(s) is in a crate. Some crates are designed with slanted fronts and side openings, to suit any vehicle. The nice thing about crates is that you can remove them from the car and use them as dog beds when you are away from home.
If you use your vehicles for business as well as greyhound transport, there are special blankets designed to fit the back of your vehicle to prevent hair from getting into the interior of your car. The one thing they have not designed yet is a protective system for all the windows in your car. I have doggie drool and nose prints all over the back windows. There is no way to get around this one.
When traveling, always remember to have at least one dog dish with you. Many catalogs carry travel packs for dogs that include a collapsible bowl, food dish and room for doggy paraphernalia. Don’t be like me. I don’t know how many times I have walked into a convenience store and begged a cup and water. Greyhounds attempting to drink from a tall narrow cup eventually will quench their thirst, but the car and you will be covered with water. C’est la vie. Many dogs don’t do well with a water or food change when traveling so, if possible, bring all their supplies from home.
You need to get them out of the car eventually when traveling. Remember to bring plenty of pooch pickup bags. Many locales have pooper scooper laws. Be cautious where you stop for your doggy pit stops. There may be loose dogs and fast traffic. Get out first and case the place well before removing your beloved canine friends.
There are two more things about car travel and the seasons of the year. Never leave your dog in car in hot weather. Just opening the windows may not be enough. Open windows can present another danger. You would be surprised what a small opening a greyhound can get through. We have had the horrid experience of this happening to us about three weeks after adopting Sultan. We stopped at a tag sale. We opened the windows just enough so he could get air. Not only did he get air, but he got out. The big doofus had worked his whole body out of the window and took off down the street. Frank and I chased him for about a mile. I was lucky that he decided to investigate barking in the back of someone’s house. I was able to corner him and get his leash back on. Leave your hound home. If this is not convenient, at least have someone with you to take him out of the car and hold him on a leash. If you have crates, you can leave all the windows down in the car.
In cold weather make sure your greyhound is wearing his coat if you leave him in the car. You are in a nice toasty restaurant with a fireplace, but your greyhound is in the car with his teeth chattering like castanets. If he is coated and comfortable, try to get a table where you can see your car. Make sure the windows are open a crack to provide air circulation.
The above products are available in many catalogs and pet feed stores. Here are the addresses and 800 numbers for some of those catalogs:
Cherrybrook, P.O. Box 15-Route 57, Broadway, NJ 08808. Toll Free: 1-800-524-0820
Foster and Smith, 2253 Air Park Rd., PO Box 100, Rhinelander, WI 54501-0100. 1-800-826-7206
J-B Wholesale Pet Supplies, Inc., 5 Raritan Road, Oakland, NJ 07436. Toll Free in Canada and United States: 1-800-526-0388
Omaha Vaccine Company, P.O. Box 7228, Omaha, NE 68107.Toll Free: 1-800367-4444
Pedigrees, 1989 Transit Way, Brockport, NY 14420-0905. Toll Free: 1-800-548-4786
R.C. Steele, 1989 Transit Way, Box 910, Brockport, NY 14420-0910. Toll Free: 1-800-872-3773
Valley Vet Supply, East Hwy. 36, P.O. Box 504, Marysville, KS 66508-0504. Toll Free: 1-800-360-4838
CG SP 97
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