Monday. How did you get here so fast? Today, for Monday Memories, I am writing about joy rides in cars. I don’t have any particular memories about joy riding because cars to me are just cars. I don’t get all that excited about them. I’d happily take a bus or a train to my destination if that were possible around here.
Anyway, I started thinking about old, honest Abe (my dog soul mate) and how much he loved car rides. He had to have the windows down so he could feel the wind blowing through his fur. The car was one of his favorite places to be. I really miss that dog.
When I first adopted him from the neighbors he wasn’t very social. He had spent years tied to a tree in their backyard. Our relationship started with him chasing me until the chain ran out, barking and nipping at me if he got close enough. I won him over with lemon cookies. I know cookies are not especially good for dogs, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Eventually he let me pet him and we became the best of friends. That’s when I got up the courage to ask his owners if I could have him. They had another dog that they kept in the house. They weren’t too fond of Abe. I could understand that in some ways. He was about as high-strung as a dog could get. He was part poodle and part terrier. Smart, fast and naughty. He couldn’t help it. It was in his breeding. Still, what kind of life did he have tied outside to a tree? His fur was matted and caked with mud. He wasn’t fed regularly. He was grumpy. The day his owners said I could have him changed both of our lives forever.
Anyway, after a trip to the groomers, regular food and regular love he turned out to be the best dog that ever lived. I know I have told you this before, but it’s so important I will likely repeat it at least a dozen more times. He was my soul mate. I have a million funny stories about him. After a while you will probably read them all.
When I first brought him home I started trying to teach him how to be a “regular” dog. I took him on leashed walks around the neighborhood. He would pull so hard at first that he would walk with his body almost parallel to the ground. I tried to teach him to play fetch, but he never quite got the point. Finally, I found something he loved: The car ride. This was the first “normal” dog activity that he participated in.
For about a month I took him to get an ice cream cone almost everyday. Yes, ice cream is not healthy for dogs, but I was in my early twenties and all I cared about was making this dog happy. He’d already had the worst life ever.
So, one day, we were driving with the windows down and he was basking in the breeze when I came to a stop sign. I stopped. He jumped out. I mean, he actually jumped out of the passenger side window and started running down the sidewalk. I was stuck at an intersection just sort of staring with my mouth open because I CANNOT BELIEVE HE JUST DID THAT. I turned in the direction he was running and watched him stop to pee on flower beds, say hello to people, and smell every single smell he could possibly smell. Meanwhile I was calling him out the window. I didn’t know if I should park and get out so I could chase him on foot or stay in the car because, well, he could run really, really fast. In the time it would have taken me to get out he might have been three neighborhoods away. He was a grey hound in a past life. I am completely convinced that he was born to run. It was his absolute favorite thing to do. One day I will tell you the story of him running through the neighborhood, on Halloween, wearing a Super-dog costume (complete with cape).
Finally, he hears me calling him and runs back and starts running along side my car. Luckily, we were still in a residential area and the traffic was at a minimum. I opened my car door and he jumped back in. I then pulled over and rolled up his window. That was the last time we drove with the windows all the way down. After that, he only got enough room to stick his little head out. Smart, fast and naughty…he was all of those things and a bag of chips.
Then we had our daily ice cream cone at McDonalds. He only liked vanilla.
That’s my Monday Memory about joy riding in cars. When you look back on your life you start to notice the big moments are often the small moments. You don’t always know which experiences are going to shape you. I know that little dog made a big impact on the person I have become. He gave me the courage to drive across this entire country. I’d say I did it all by myself, but he was with me the entire way, sleeping on a pillow on the passenger seat.
Want more? Read about an adventure Abe and I had involving skunks: When Wild Animals Attack