Herd it at the Water Bowl
Greater Illinois, Inc.
PO Box 4169
Lisle, Illinois 60532 (630) 415-1206
Herd it at the Water Bowl
RIDING IN CARS WITH DOGS
By Michael Mifflin
We have rules in our house that the dogs are expected to follow. The rules define boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, but if they are the consequences aren’t dire. We have one Commandment. This is not to be broken at any time.
Rules are many but simple, e.g., no chewing on Dad’s feet; no chewing on the cats; pantyhose are not tug toys, even if they have runners in them; no chewing on each other; no stealing food off Dad’s plate.
The Commandment is: No appendages are to hang out of windows while car is in motion. The corollary of this is: Any appendages that will not offend or get someone arrested may hang out windows while car is stopped. The arrested part was added for human passengers with bright ideas and ugly parts.
Veterinarians, behaviorists, trainers, and people in general have speculated as to why dogs prefer to ride with their heads out of the car. Dogs like to see things go by fast was the latest theory I read. If this is the case, then clean the car windows and make the dogs keep their heads inside the car when it’s moving. Things go by equally as fast whether one is looking through the windows or having the wind blow into one’s face while the head is out of the window.
Dogs like wind blowing in their face is another idea. Plenty of wind whips into the car if the windows are down. That is enough direct wind for any dog…unless someone in the car passes gas. Then we stop on the roadside and we all hang our heads out of the window until the “all clear” is sounded.
Heads are not placed outside of a moving vehicle for health reasons. There is no more sure fire way of incurring a substantial veterinary bill than having something blow up the dog’s nose, into it’s eye, or down its ear or throat.
Foreign bodies blown into the eye can cause conjunctivitis, irritation of the membrane lining, and corneal abrasions, scratches to the cornea. These are commonly occurring conditions in dogs who “ride the wind.”
Doggles provide eye cover and protection. Many dogs wear these. It takes training and an adjustment period for dogs to get used to wearing doggles, since there is a strap that goes behind the head and another under the chin. Doggles, and other brand names, can be found for purchase on the Internet or at pet stores. For example, www.doggles.com/ has a description and pictures of the dog goggles, and you can buy direct. Or comparison shop by searching for doggles on www.froogle.com, www.amazon.com, or other shopping sites. Although Labrador retrievers and goldens would not hesitate to don eyewear*, and, no doubt, duster-style coats to complete the ensemble; collies have a more regal sense of self. Collies are more staid in how they want to appear in public. It will take patience and time for them to acclimate to having their eyes covered. Few collies will appreciate wearing anything that makes them appear as a living exhibit from the Henry Ford Museum, but for their health it is best to teach them to do so and save their sight if you are allowing heads out of the widow.
If your dog insists on wind surfing, then doggles are a necessity. But, what about ear and nose covers? I don’t know of any product that provides total head protection for dogs. The potential damage to ears, nose, and throat are great. Whether it’s from bugs, water splashed from oncoming cars, sticks or limbs hanging into the road way, or a myriad of other objects that can be harmful, the bottom line is: DOGS DO NOT RIDE WITH HEADS HANGING OUT OF A MOVING VEHICLE. Period. No discussion. No matter how much barking occurs.
When the car is stopped, body parts of any type can be outside of the car. The dogs can bark. They can dance around attracting as much attention as they want. They can act like they are in the clown car of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. As soon as the car starts to move, however, all noses had better be inside.
This commandment is so important in our house that we have a “nose in” command. The dogs have been trained to retract their heads into the car when they hear “nose in!”
This is not to say my dogs are perfect. Noses have been seen pushing the envelope. It starts with the tip resting on the window. Next, only the black rubbery part is past the glass. Of course, once the limit testing begins, it doesn’t stop until I see their collars, which are on the bottom of their necks, over the window. They are having the time of their life with the air slapping their heads in a rush to get by.
It is usually at this point my wife, Pamela, or I shout “nose in!” This is not always met with the positive response we want. The next step is Pamela saying, “Don’t make your Dad come back there. You do not want him to stop the car because of your noses.” For some reason, this makes them lie down and look through the windows.
Most dogs enjoy going with the family, being included in the pack, regardless of where the destination lies. They love to drive along and share family life. It’s our responsibility to keep them safe with heads inside the car. Just say, “Nose In!” and give them a treat.
*Many thanks to Joanne Murdock for sharing her picture of her golden retriever, Honey, wearing her Doggles while vacationing in South Dakota.
Look for the next installment of “Herd It at the Water Bowl” mid-August. Michael can be e-mailed at: email@example.com. Comments, questions, or suggestions for further articles are welcomed.