Driving In Cars With Dogs

Yesterday, a beautiful Pitbull named Thumper managed to liberate himself from his owner's truck on the Tappan Zee Bridge in NY. Said owner, neglected to get a receipt for his toll so he pulled over, hopped out, left the truck door open, and Thumper went for a walk. 

This story reminded me of my own experience, at the age of about 10 when my own dog, a poodle named Heidi, liberated herself from our car...while it was moving.

My mother had been driving us in her 2-door, blue Plymouth Duster - we are talking about 1980, after all - with no air conditioner so the windows were open. This was before doggy seat belts were a "thing".

Heidi the Daring
Heidi was in the back seat and I was holding the leash over my shoulder. I was 10, what did I know? No sooner did my mother notice this that she said to me, "please secure the leash to the back seat". In all my youthful cockiness I replied, "oh don't worry, I am holding the leash, she won't go anywhere", and as the last word exited my mouth, Heidi had seen a dog or something, so decided that 35mph was no big deal and she jumped over my shoulder, and out the window.  Because I had been holding the leash, luckily (or maybe not so lucky...who knows?) she ended up only hanging outside the door, by the neck, rather than landing to the pavement. My poor mother was trying to negotiate traffic, and slow down so we could pull over and stop...but because Heidi was so light I was able to drag her back in. I am just lucky she didn't break her neck. I often wonder what that must have looked like to the people in the car behind us. Suffice it to say, I never did that again and have ALWAYS secured my dogs in the back seat, even before doggy seat belts.  In fact this incident made me obsessive about securing my dogs.

I don't know about you, but it makes me crazy when I see people driving in cars with dogs....NOT SECURED!  Especially now, given that there are so many options for comfortably securing your dog while driving - especially in the back seat.  There are so many reasons to secure your dog when in a car.

  • It will keep your dog from potentially climbing all over you while you are driving.  I know my dogs love to drive but I don't like them behind the wheel.
  • Most importantly, for the safety of the dog, it prevents the dog from flying off the seat every time you stop short and even more so from flying through the car should you be involved in a serious collision.  If your dog is not secured, and you are involved in a collision, your dog can fly through the car and into the windshield, just like  a child could.
The Pack
Weaseling their way into the car.
  • If you should, by some chance, get into an accident that renders the humans unconscious, your dog will also be highly stressed. You have to remember that strangers will be responding. You don't want to put emergency responders in a dangerous position to not be able to help you because your unsecured dog is suddenly, and understandly, protective and aggressive. You can imagine what would happen if your responders are confronted by an aggressive, possessive, unsecured dog. This also holds true for simple traffic stops. You don't want a police officer to be confronted by an unsecured dog...PERIOD! 
The Pack
Gets their ride!
  • If your dogs are like mine, and love riding in the car (more so than walking) and sticking their heads out of the window, first of all, the window should be open no wider than the head of the dog. Additionally, the security of the belt will keep your dog from being able to jump through the window. As an aside, if you have automatic windows, you should also put on the safety window lock once you have it open so that the dog doesn't accidentally open it more or worse yet, accidentally close it on their own heads.
Luckily, despite not being  tagged or identifiable in any way, Thumper made it back to his owner.  All dogs should be so lucky!

1 comment:

Ivo Beutler said...

Awwww! Aren't they cute! Thank goodness they're safe now!