My job involves driving dogs to the off leash park daily. I try to make their commute as fast as possible, knowing that their bladders are full, and that their fun is at the park, rather than in the car.
I drive an older van with the middle seats taken out to allow the dogs to easily jump in and out of the vehicle. At the beginning of the week I place a waterproof sheet on the floor of my van, followed by layers of towels that I have gathered over the years. The rear passenger bench gets the same treatment to prepare for a possible day of rain or muddy dogs.
I keep a bowl and fresh water on hand for thirsty pooches in the car too. A first aid kit is also a must for any dog owner to keep on hand for emergencies, involving both the two and four-legged!
Additionally, in my car I have my trusted water sprayer which I bought at Home Depot; I keep it tucked in the rear and it has paid for itself ten times over. The water sprayer is basically a storage tank for water with a hose and nozzle system attached. It is activated by pumping up and down with the handle. I can clean off a dog who has rolled in s**t or is filthy from running in puddles or muddy ground before they get into my van. After being sprayed with water, the dogs are simply wiped with a towel; spraying them with water before wiping them off helps lessen the mess in my van, as well as the dirt brought into my house on towels when I throw them in the wash.
My other secret line of defense for dirty dogs is a no rinse shampoo, which can easily be purchased at your local pet store. I just spray it on and wipe off any offensive odor or mess. Baby wipes work well, too, on dog fur for a quick clean up. I also keep hand sanitizer in my van to clean my hands after dealing with a dirty pooch.
Spare dog treats are also a must in my car to refill my treat pouch if I’m running low. I offer a treat on pick up and drop off; the dogs know our routine and expect a treat, so always having cookies is crucial!
My van windows are covered in nose smears from the dogs. They are so similar to our thumbprint when seen in the sunlight. They create a form of travelling art work for me as I look into the rear to check on the dogs or when driving in reverse. I have become used to the smudgy windows and only become aware of them if driving another person on short notice.
Flying fur is a given 24/7 in my van; I know not to nibble on a snack if the windows are down, as with any wind fur becomes a condiment! As well, the sand is incredible by week’s end having fallen off the breeds with longer fur like retrievers.
My husband, Ken, loves to wash our cars and tackles my “office” with gusto many times a year. He truly spoils me! I usually hope for a stretch of clear weather after his car detailing.
I think the worst case scenario must be when a dog is sick in the car. We all know the dreaded sound that occurs prior and if we are lucky we can pull over. I once had a lab vomit into the track of where the door slides open and shut one afternoon. She held it in without a peep but could not hold back when the door opened to my car in her driveway. This was my biggest challenge to clean up in years! Thank goodness for the water sprayer once again.
I had a neighbor ask me what to do for her poodle, Iris, who seemed to be car sick every time they drove to their cottage. I could only suggest letting her travel on an empty stomach and to give her fresh air while driving. This website has some great tips for motion sickness in dogs, http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dogs-and-motion-sickness.
Make sure that when you travel you give your dog pee breaks and an opportunity to stretch their legs if driving long distances. A drink of water is also a must on your pit stops too. Don’t ever leave a dog alone in your car during on hot days as it can kill them. An interesting study was done monitoring car temperatures with windows cracked open in the heat at different times of the day and with variables, http://www.mydogiscool.com/x_car_study.php.
Also, remember to not leave anything in your car that a dog could get into in a short period of time. I remember my mother-in-law baked a dozen delicious muffins for my family to bring home after a visit. We had our pit stop to break up the drive and it was safe to leave our dog in the vehicle as it was in the fall.
A few miles down the road I asked my family if they would like one of Grandma’s muffins. At first I could not find the bag they were in or where I had left them. After a bit of detective work found the bag with a neat little hole in it and all the muffins devoured. Our chocolate lab, Chip, had the guiltiest look on his face with his ears expressing his “whoops I’m caught” emotions.
This post would not be complete without mentioning dogs passing wind in the car. We had a black lab growing up named Benjamin. He would always surprise us with his award-winning gas on family drives. The entire family would announce exactly at the same time, “EWWWW Ben you stink” and we would race to hand-roll down our station wagon windows. There was no automatic buttons for speedy relief! We must have been quite a sight driving on the 401, a major highway, with six people in a car wildly fanning the air, plugging or noses and laughing/gagging.
The pleasures outweigh the negatives when bringing a dog in a car. One look at them snuggled beside a family member or seeing them with the wind in their face and ears flying, brings a smile to my face.
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