The Wind in Her Ears

There is nothing quite like the face of a dog whose head is stuck out the window of a moving car. Tongue flapping in the wind, eyes squinted into thin lines, ears being tossed around in every direction, a dog with his head out the window is a happy dog.

I love driving through the city on sunny, summer days just so I can look at all the different kinds of pups hanging out of all different kinds of cars. I especially like it when a dog seems to match its human’s car, like when there’s a poodle with her paws up on the sill of a Porsche, or an old German Shepherd in the back of a pick up.

Sometimes I fantasize about starting up a limo company just for dogs, and I would drive ten or fifteen of them around the city for an hour or so, so that they could all enjoy sticking their heads out of the windows together.

The first time I took my puppy Bailey in the car without someone holding onto her, admittedly, she wasn’t thrilled. I opened the front door for her, smiling and speaking in that high, patronising voice I think all humans use when they talk to their pets, and urged her to jump up onto the seat.

She looked up at me as if to say “you’re going to have to do better than that to get me in there.” Luckily for me (and rather unfortunate for her), I am a human, and she is a puppy, so I scooped her up and popped her into the car. I made sure she was settled, and closed the door. She looked out the window, the pain of my betrayal evident on her furry little face. I got into the driver’s seat and looked at her, sitting in the seat beside me.

She was shaking slightly, unsure what to expect. I’d read somewhere that some dogs tend to feel safer when they feel physically secure, so I decided to try buckling up her seat belt. Why not, I thought; if she hates it, I can just take it off again. To my delight, however, as soon as Bailey felt the seat belt click into place, her breathing slowed and her tail even started to wag. She felt safe, at least for now, and was ready for the adventure.

I decided that I didn’t want her first solo ride in the car to be to a vet’s office, because I feared she might then come to associate the car with getting shots and be reluctant to get in again. Following that logic, I figured that having her associate getting in the car with, say, going to the park, might encourage her to be more open to the idea of future car trips. So, off to the park we went. Needless to say, we had a great time at the park running around and playing fetch.

But as fun as the park was, it was nothing compared to the new found joy she experienced when I slowly rolled down her window, and she poked her nose out into the air outside the car. As if instinctively, once she’d had a taste of the wind on her snout, her head was out the window the whole ride there and back home. Turns out I had nothing to worry about; car rides are her new favourite thing.

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