Everyone knows that safe driving is imperative to good health. I took a RealAge test not too long ago to see if my biological age reflected my calendar age. I was half a year YOUNGER! Woo hoo! Children: this is where exercising, eating well and taking a multi-vitamin pay off. But I digress (actually, I digress a lot. Get used to it!). It was a long and involved test. A large portion of it was driving habits. How many miles do you drive a year? How often do you drive and talk on your cell phone? How often do you drive or ride in a seat without an airbag? How fast do you drive? And so on and so forth to the point that I was wondering if I was secretly being polled by GM. (And I’m still a little suspicious…) So, barring the possibility of an auto industry conspiracy, driving habits seem to have a real and tangible effect on your life span. And until I got Prison Bars, Paco was having a really negative effect on the length of my life.
There are lots of dog safety items available. And I should know because I’ve looked them each up multiple times. I’ve researched seat-belt harnesses, leash-lines, specially designed crates (these are cool if you can afford them), mesh barriers and bar barriers. I found problems with all of them.
-The seat belt harnesses are not compatible with dogs who are determined to wrap their legs in a jumble and then howl at unnecessary decibels because they’re cutting off their own circulation.
-The leash-lines I have only seen once but it seemed to defeat my purpose of keeping dogs out of the front seat (read: my lap) because they allow a large range of motion.
-The crates seemed like an awesome idea but did I want a standing crate in my car taking up all the precious space in my already small VW Golf? Not to mention the expense and the fact that I’m chauffeuring 4 dogs and a crate for 1 dog would leave much less space for the remaining 3.
-And the mesh barriers… Mesh?! Are you kidding me? Okay, so maybe these work for well-behaved dogs, but no amount of flimsy woven material is going to keep a hound from getting what he wants. And really, if you have a well-behaved dog, do you need a barrier in the first place? (I jest, an important purpose of having a doggie restraint device in your car is, of course, to keep the dog from going through the windshield should you crash or to keep the dog safely restrained inside the car under the same circumstances. Somewhere, there is a statistic floating around that states, “In car collisions, most dog injuries occur not directly from the impact but from escaping the vehicle, running into the road and being hit by another vehicle.” Scary, I know.)*
-This really leaves only one option and I call them Prison Bars. Now hounds already have soul-shattering, what-did-I-ever-do-to-you, please-love-me eyes. And to have to view those from behind bars? Could I really stand that for very long without having to pull off the road and apologize to Paco with a hug and a handful of treats?
The answer was yes. See Exhibit “A” for justification of my actions.
Paco had developed this insane behavior whenever my turn signal was initiated. It went like this:
Everything would be peaceful and quite. Paco and Misha would be looking out the windows. I would wince due to my knowledge of what was to come. The turn signal would start its “click, click, click” (sometimes I would turn the radio up loud to disguise and confuse, but he eventually got wise to me). Paco-chaos would ensue. Much high-pitched crying would be had, woowoowooing would commence, a large and powerful dog nose would ram me in the back of the head, a flash of dog would try to jump in the front seat messing with my air conditioning vents, and (this was the straw that broke the camel’s back) gnawing on my seat belt would begin.
What my seat belt had to do with the turn signal, I have no clue. My short-lived theories were:
1. He was trying to kill me by releasing my safety harness and then causing me to crash. Afterward he would escape to precious freedom.
2. The seat belt must have been the direct CAUSE of the turn signal.
3. Something about the “click, click, click” clicked a madness trigger in his brain that was only alleviated by chewing.
Whatever his motives, seat belt assassination is an unforgivable offense in this house. The Prison Bars went up and I’ve never looked back.
P.S. Paco continues to chew on seat belts (the backseat seat belt is nearly sawed through –Luckily, no one sits back there).
P.P.S. I do not condone the use of a phone camera while simultaneously operating a motor vehicle. I’m sure that takes several years off your lifespan.
*Here’s the paranoid dog mom in me: DO NOT restrain your dog by a collar. This could result in a broken neck even if the impact is small. If you use a tie-down device, always secure your dog by a harness.