Monday, September 12, 2011

Car ride

Bear parades down the pathway, her tail swishing triumphantly, eyes bright, brimming with excitement, focused on the dusty car in the driveway.

She throws a glance over her shoulder to make sure I am still following, that we really are going out together in the car and this isn’t some cruel joke. When she sees me, she tosses her head with a grin and skips a couple of steps onward as if anticipation is bubbling from the very soles of her feet. I watch her knees and wince as we both stumble down the long path from our house to the driveway. It is defined by a curving line of smallish rounded rocks, not quite as smooth as if they had been plucked from the bed of a river, but just about. They are not good stones for a pathway.

“Relax Bear,” I try to tell her, but hearing her name she gallops on and then stomps and dances in the driveway.

When I reach her side she surges forward, her back end swings wildly from side to side and she cranes her neck to try and look in the window of the car. She is too polite to put her paws on the door and peek over the lip, but if she were able she would open the door herself and probably already have the car backed out on to the road.

I swing the door wide and Bear takes a running jump to help her creaky knees hoist her up on to the seat. Then she sits, her tongue hanging long and pink out one side of her mouth as I roll down the window a bit so she can feel the wind on her face and smell all the interesting smells of the world rushing past.

Bear is an expert passenger now, having spent countless hours in the back seat of our old car, trundling over back roads through tiny towns halfway across Canada and back again. But I remember the first time I ever had Bear in the car with me. She was two years old and I picked her up from Morgan’s house to take her for a long walk at a conservation area slipped in between fields of corn in southwestern Ontario, a small forest amidst a sea of farmland.

That day she leapt onto the front passenger seat and sat tall and proud as I pulled the car out of the driveway. We turned right and then right again and the car bumped onto the dirt road out of town. Giant corn stalks marched along either side, hemming us in as though we drove through the thick of a forest. The late afternoon sun hung low in the sky before us, silhouetting the corn stalks ahead and making the ones that lined the road shine a brilliant golden green.

Bear perched eagerly on the edge of her seat, anticipating grand adventure. I was so excited to have her with me I kept running my hand over her fur and throwing giddy glances in her direction.

It was all very "Norman Rockwell" until a plume of dust bloomed ahead as a truck pulled on to the road. I squinted to make out the shape of the vehicle lost in the backlit dust cloud and it took me a moment to realize Bear was no longer sitting beside me. When next I glanced in Bear’s direction, her bum was where her head had been, tail tucked firmly between her legs, and her head had disappeared in the shadows of the foot well as she tried to dive to safety.

I watched in bewilderment as she wiggled and pushed and jammed her muscular 80 lb body in to the small space between the seat and dashboard. By the time she got herself situated, curled in a tight ball that filled the entire foot well, the truck was long gone. She looked up at me with bugged-out eyes as if to ask, “Did you see that?!” and then tried to slither awkwardly over the console and put her head in my lap.

Bear has faced down much bigger beasts on wheels since that day and now acknowledges passing vehicles with barely a bat of an eyelid. In fact after about five minutes on the road, Bear is already bored. With a couple of loudly inhaled nosefuls of air, Bear sighs deeply and then settles down on the back seat with a grumble that sounds very much like “are we there yet?”


  1. Lovely post. What a dear old girl she is - could be any of my three black labs as they grew old. How exciting a ride in the car is, even though she's done it so often before!

  2. Yes, her face just lights up whenever we say the word car. Even if we're not talking to her.
    Bear is a fantastic traveling companion and we love taking her with us whenever we can. Murdoch on the other hand is like a caged beast in the car. He has A LOT to learn. But he does make us appreciate our sweet Bear all the more :)

  3. Heather, what are the orange braces om Bear's back legs? Did I miss something else? I wondered when you mentioned "knees" so went back to look at thhe photo! Well, whatever they're for, they must be doing a good job if Bear can still go for those great car rides. I got a giggle out of your story. Lucky was the same way. Well, worse actually. To watch him now, you'd never guess that his first 6 or 8 car rides involved me literally wrangling him into the back of my Subaru, carrying all 75 lbs of him and then bodily stuffing him into the back hatch area! He finally learned it ws nothing to fear, and has been a road warrior ever since - as is quite apparent from that wordless Wednesday post! :)

  4. What a beautiful post!
    Sounds Bear is very happy when she hear the "word car." My dear dog Flora loved when she listening the words: "Let's go to a walk". "Sigh"

    I hope you have a nice weekend.

  5. Brenda, I had to laugh imagining you man-handling poor Lucky into your car trying to convince him "no really, it's fun!" Dogs are hilarious.
    Bear got knee braces in March for her cruciate issues and they've helped quite a bit. You can read the post about it here:

    Sonia, Bear gets super-excited to hear the word walk as well. And peanut butter, supper, breakfast, treat... anything to do with food really.
    I hope you have a nice weekend as well!

  6. Wonderful post!!! I wish my lab was that good in the car...she get excited about going; dancies at the door, as if begging, "can I come? Can I? Huh huh? Can I come please?" Then when we bring her, we are forced to listen to whining and singing and crying the entire of us needs valium for the trip!!!!

  7. Oh my goodness Kim, that sounds stressful! We are lucky that Bear is so wonderful in the car. Now if we could just get Murdoch to learn some of Bear's calm, cool collectedness we'd be getting somewhere. His energy is completely explosive in the car!

  8. Your comment about my comment made me laugh. You've got it, exactly, with the "no really, it's fun!" image. I was always trying so hard not to slam the tip of his tail or a paw in the hatch as I shut it. Because that would, of course, make the case for "no really, it's fun" quite a bit more difficult. But, since I had to try to hold him in and shut the hatch at the same time, I came very close to amputating my own hand a time or two. I'm so glad he enjoys car and truck rides now!! And, so good to hear those braces have helped Bear. That's great!