Baby Won’t You Drive My Car

UntitledMister B, like Schatzi before him, loves to go in the car. That’s him in November 2017, driving from the orphanage to his new home. Also like Schatzi, he flatly rejects the idea of riding in back or being clipped into a doggie seat. No, he’s got to be up front and in your lap. I’ve learned to manage when it’s just him and me in the car. Pro tip: a suicide knob on the steering wheel is a must for driving with a dog in your lap. Of course it’s a lot easier when Donna’s with us and he can ride on the passenger side.

I haven’t taken him along on many errands lately, but I made up for it Sunday with a drive to the airport to pick up Donna from her trip to see the Las Vegas kids. He knew what to do when I jingled the car keys and locked eyes with him: he trotted out back to his favorite spot for a pee, then followed me to the garage. He sat on my left leg all the way to Tucson International, a half-hour drive. Poor old guy’s developed a case of doggie Parkinson’s and quivers when he stands, but Sunday, once he took the weight off and settled down in my lap, was still and calm. Normally he talks in the car, which to anyone who doesn’t know him sounds like whining, but no really it’s him talking; for a change he was silent as well as still. He’s memorized bumps, turns, hills, and probably smells, and after a few minutes knew exactly where we were going. I had just enough time to let him out at the cell phone waiting lot before Donna texted to say she was waiting out front. We loaded back up and drove to arrivals. He failed to hide his relief over her being home again — even though she’s never not come back before — and rode happily in her lap all the way back to the house.

We haven’t done much road tripping with the other dogs, Fritzi and Lulu. Well, no … we took them on a big shakedown cruise last year, all the way to Las Vegas and back, eight hours each way, and they passed with flying colors. Since then, though, they’ve only been in the car for trips to and from the vet. They’re great passengers, even better than Mr. B if I’m being honest, happy to ride in back like good’uns. They haven’t had any accidents or gotten sick, and seem to love the adventure as much as their older brother. But usually, if I take a dog along, I’m alone and more than one would be a distraction, so Mr. B by precedent and tradition gets the nod.  Fritzi and Lulu seem to understand and accept it; at least they don’t run to the garage when they realize I’m heading out with Mr. B.

No doubt you’re mentally scolding me for not strapping pups into doggie seats whether they like it or not. I scold myself. But you know, we have tried, and even have two doggie seats, originally bought for Schatzi and Maxie, both gone now — and although Maxie would stay in hers, Schatzi (and later Mr. B) never would — so the doggie seats gather dust on top of the shelving unit in the garage.

Yesterday I posted a letter my father’s father wrote to his father from France in 1919, describing conditions in that war-torn country. I originally shared it here in 2008, back when Paul’s Thing had very few readers. It felt appropriate and right to recycle it for Memorial Day 2023, and I’m happy to see from the reaction it’s getting that it’s new to most of you. We, unique among god’s creatures, stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before us. We learn from them and improve in so many ways — until it comes to war, that is. Those lessons we ignore, then go and make the same stupid mistakes our forebears made.

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