Sunday, January 26, 2014

Seat belts for dogs?

Sparky, though loud, never dreamed of traveling in the
drivers' seat.
Did anyone else wonder whether the doggie daycare van that crashed in Wellesley last week had some measure for restraining dogs? Whether it's smart to secure your pup in case of some unexpected event?

My predecessor, Sparky, made numerous road trips to the Jersey shore properly belted, although my sister was the only one who could figure out how to buckle and unbuckle him. New Jersey actually has a law prohibiting dogs from occupying the front seat, so cover up your  Dog is My Co-Pilot bumper sticker next time you take the Garden State Parkway. Turns out, the Jersey shore is one place officials check to be sure pets are restrained. So Sparky was good there, but around town, he simply stayed in the way back, never dreaming of breaching the back seat. Still, that wouldn't have helped in a crash.

I consulted Cesar Millan, who eschews airplane flights for his pets in favor of driving. Sure enough, this post on his site shows he's a seat belt proponent.

With me, it was immediately clear that more restraints were needed. After I overcame my fear of the car, I soon decided the driver had the most comfortable seat. Dad was giving a lecture and the whole family came. I did, too, because I was new and rather unpredictable when left at home alone. But it was raining, I wasn't allowed in the lecture hall, and I decided to take a nap. Lecture over, the hosts asked to meet me. Mom ran back to the car and could not find me. Frantic, the whole family searched. Finally, they looked in the driver's seat. For a big guy, I curl up pretty small.

Give Mom a challenge, and she'll go to town. She tried the net, which I immediately breached; next up the price point,  the adjustable steel barrier, also highly breachable. Like the time my toddler sister squiggled out of her car seat on Rte. 9, all you had to do was jiggle, squirm, and sklathe yourself between the bars. Usually, I behaved, but only usually. Sometimes, too, the barrier would fall on me. Not good.

My new authentic Volvo barrier (several more notches up the price point, but certainly more secure) doesn't give me such leeway. Mom does lock the doors every time we get in, but I'm curious as to what else she might try. She's already thinking about making me a faux fur jacket and matching mukluks to keep me toasty on my walks, so I'm a teensy bit concerned.