Wanna go for a ride?

Ahh, the wind in my hair. The fresh smell in my nose…the bug in my eye! When I was a kid in Germany we used to ride the train at lot and I would always try to stick my head out of the window as the train was zipping along. My dad would always yell at me, since working for the Deutsche Bundesbahn he knew quite well that even a small spec of dirt flying at 100 miles an hour can severely damage an eye.
So when I see some happy Lab with his ears happily flapping in the breeze and at times him hanging of the car so far that one of his front paws is resting on the rearview mirror, I always think back to those days.
Lots of people stuck their heads out of the train windows and sometimes you would hear about an accidental decapitation, but most of the time things were just fun.
When we moved to the US in the late 70’s seatbelts were not yet mandatory in Florida and people moaned and groaned about its inconvenience: They were restricting, the kids whined in the back seat, they were so much hassle to put on. But we got used to them and now no one would consider driving little Susie to the store without first strapping her in. But yet, many of us still think that little Fido can happily bounce around the car and be safe.
A couple of years ago I was rear ended on I-95 by an exit. Fortunately I was the only one in the car and not seriously hurt, but everything that I had in my back seat ended up on my dashboard – including my Dachshund – sized mega purse, which fortunately did not hit me.
None of us want to have a deer go through the front of our windshield, but is a Golden Retriever flying from the back seat any better?
Having said all this to simply say: Please keep your pet and everyone safe in the car. Either crate him in a secured crate or use a seat belt. I personally prefer a seat belt. You can buy them at any pet store. Yes, you and your dog will have to get used to using it, but my general observation is that dogs make less of a fuss than children did back in the 70s. (Nowadays kid’s just don’t know any better, and puppies growing up with seatbelts won’t either)
You can still let your dog smell the outside – just don’t let them hang their heads out of the window, risking injury at a sudden stop or by a flying object. Trust me, if Buster can smell a dead possum from a mile away, he can still appreciate the outside smells by proxy.
If your dog is too small to look out, instead of putting him on your lap, risking being squished by a sudden impact, get a booster chair ( be sure to disable the air passenger air bag if he is riding shot gun).
Let me describe some of my “favorites” that I have seen:
Dog hanging up to his waist all the way out of a pick up side window steading himself on the rearview mirror.
Mom driving a pickup with small child in car seat behind mom (good) and large dog hanging out unrestrained in the back or the truck (not so good) and mom is texting (very un-good).
And my final favorite: dog sitting in passenger seat of car, “safely” secured with his choke chain attached to his leash which in turn is somehow tied to the side hook for the seatbelt….really?!
If you have been mentioned in this article, please do not think that I condemn you. The very fact that you are taking your dog on outings tells me that you care very much for you animal by providing him with some adventures and mental stimulation. You probably just never thought about it much – just like we never thought much about seat belts for people. But now that you did: For your’s and you dog’s sake buckle up.