We used a crate to help train Christmas in the niceties of bathroom etiquette, and to transport him safely in the car.
In other words, the $100 doggie booster seat with seat belt and under cushion drawer for his personal effects hasn’t arrived yet.
Shaun was traveling on business when I went to pick up Christmas from the rescue agency. She came home from her trip with an extra suitcase full of dog necessities (travel bowls, toys, chewy thingies, a line of designer clothing: she basically swiped an entire aisle into the cart), one of which was this really nifty, bright red, pop-up dog crate. It’s nylon with venting mesh windows and a zip door. Has it’s own carry bag and everything.
We both thought it would be wonderful for, say, camping, or the beach when you’re carrying a ton of stuff. Walk the dog, pop-up the crate, give him a safe place to rest while we burn, er, grill the hot dogs. We got a nice soft mat for the inside, and left it up in the house so he’d get used to it. He loves it. When he wants to be completely left alone, he goes in there. It’s his personal den. No carrying the hard-sided crate in and out of the car. Nice.
My cell rings: Shaun’s at the gym & forgot her clothes; can we drop them off and run to the store? Sure. Get to the other car, no crate. Hey…nab the pop-up one! I picked up the soft crate with two fingers (SO loving this) and snagged a greenie treat.
The back seat is down to make life easier. I loaded the crate into the car, tossed in the greenie, and Christmas bolted into the crate. Yay! I zip it up and we go. I’m feeling awfully good about this.
Until the greenie is gone.
Christmas is not happy about being zipped into this crate. Apparently he’s never thought of this as a crate of any kind; more like his own personal tent. Who knew?
I hear scuffling, snuffling, scratching, digging, and generally unhappy noises from the back of the station wagon. I hear the swiping sound of nylon dragging on carpet. I look in my rear view mirror. A giant red rectangle is hurling itself in every direction in the back of the car. It looks like a huge gift box going postal.
Christmas is having a ball. He’s pouncing on the walls from the inside. He’s chasing his crate from the inside out, trying to make it let him go.
Driving around with a live, hurling gift box in the back of my car strikes me as hysterically funny. The back of my station wagon gets a double-take from a guy in a white pick-up. He speeds up. Probably doesn’t look too good that I’m hunched over the steering wheel shaking up and down with tears streaming down my face.
Time to pull over and try to stop Captain Ahab back there from ripping his way out of Moby Dick. I manage the pull over part. Stopping the giggles proves to be more difficult. The gasping for air and machine gun stream of HAHAHAHAHA don’t help.
I reach back, right the crate and sternly command “No! Sit! Leave it!” One of those should work, right?
Christmas listens intently, lays down and doesn’t move. Hey. This dog training stuff is GREAT. I pull back out into traffic. Immediately there is the unmistakable sound of swooshing, slithering nylon and soft thuds from the back seat. I cock the rear view mirror. The crate is now standing on end. I can’t see out the back window. Christmas is sitting perfectly still on the door, looking at me innocently through a mesh window…“What?”
I can’t pull over. Okay. He’s just going to have to figure it out.
You know. He’s a really smart dog. He does figure it out. In the space of three minutes, he’s rolled and wormed himself to the front of the car, managing to wedge the door of the crate between the seats, an 8 inch gap. It’s bulging where his big nose is snuffling at my elbow. (for a teeny dog, he has a huge schnauze) “Can I sit in front Mom?”
This crate is a good 18″ wide. I try to stuff him into the back with an elbow: keep your eyes on the road! I manage to push it back so it’s not caught, but it’s like trying to stuff a live and very upset pillow back into a sack. No longer funny. I still can’t pull over. Crap.
Wait. It’s quiet. Okay, if I can reach that light I can turn into the mini-mart.
I cock the mirror: the crate slid back all the way to the hatch. Hey, maybe he’s getting the idea.
Christmas puts his final assault into action: massive scrabbling noise. He hurls himself like a linebacker at the front of the crate and it flips end over end toward the front of the car…he keeps rushing and hurling, the crate keeps barreling toward the wind shield until…WHAM! The crate slams down between the seats: wedged halfway between front and back. It’s down to 8″ wide in the middle. It looks a little like a big, rectangular, fabric-covered Slinky with a corset on.
The pad is wrapped over his head and under one leg.
But Christmas is happy. He can see out the front window. And he’s laying next to me. Apparently, that’s all he wanted. I pull into the mini-mart parking lot. No longer for safety reasons; he’s not going anywhere without pneumatic help.
I’m in the mini-mart lot because I’m laughing so hard I can’t see. Christmas looks up at me momentarily from his relaxed and calm position, and his tail thuds lightly before he returns to looking quietly out the front window. It’s okay mom. I fixed it. You can drive now.
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