This here is a picture of Chickenbone on his first road trip. And as you can see, he's positively thrilled about it.
Seriously, am I the only one who can see those sorrowful little eyebrows? ACTUAL puppy-dog eyes, which bore into my soul every time I turned around to check on him? Pooch, you are KILLING ME.
OK, a little background: This year my husband and I are going to spend Christmas with my family in New Mexico. And while we like PetSmart and how they serve dishes of doggie ice cream to "hotel" guests, I hate how the animals are forced to pee and poop in their cage. I know it gets cleaned up right away, but I also know dogs don't enjoy going to the bathroom where they also sleep and eat. CALL THEM CRAZY. Plus, they don't even get to go outside! Not one time! So rather than make Chickens go through that for five days (five days during CHRISTMAS for heaven's sake) we figured we'd just toss him into the back seat and take him along.
To prepare him for four full days in the car, we took a warm-up lap in September, an hourlong drive to Fort Funston in San Francisco (that's when I took the picture above). And last weekend we tried a four-hour trip to Santa Barbara. The verdict? Chickens and road trips are not exactly getting along.
I mean, it's not like he doesn't love the car. Car rides are his favorite. Trouble is, he likes to spend them staring gleefully out the window, with his back paws digging into my legs, front paws digging into my boobs, and his panting wet doggy lips two inches from my face. So for these trips, we put him in his crate, which gets him off my lap and will keep him from blasting through the windshield like a baseball if we're in an accident.
But in the crate, he is a very unhappy little guy. And he doesn't even have the spirit to get mad about it, which breaks my heart. He just becomes this quivering, mewling mess. He whines and weeps - there were ACTUAL TEARS! - and refuses to lay down and go to sleep. Also, you know how normal dogs often sit with their butts on the ground and their front legs extended? The "sit" position? Well, Chickens never sits like this at home, I think because of his weirdly-shaped torso and short toothpick legs. But on this trip, he sat up almost the entire time. He simply could not relax.
I'm not sure what we'll do now, I guess keep practicing and trying to get him comfortable with being back there. If we haven't figured it out by December, I suppose I could drug him. Seemed to work OK on Saturday, when he wouldn't stop barking at our favorite State Street pub. After I fed him a couple of scotch-covered ice cubes, he crawled inside my sweatshirt and went right to sleep. He also had a good time at the bed and breakfast, where we stayed in a cottage that had a fenced-in private courtyard. There were lots of gorgeous plants, flowers and bushes, as well as an enormous gnarled peppercorn tree, just like the one in our back yard. Here's Chickens meditating in the sun after his petrifying car ride:
And here he snoozing in the cottage. You can't see from the photo, but right next to that bed are his little doggie steps, which we brought so he can get up and down as he pleases. That's also his favorite blue blanket, and the little half-chewed rawhide burrito he likes to nibble on at night. So, see, Chickens? WE'RE NOT TERRIBLE PARENTS! So please stop looking at me like that!