Saturday, February 26, 2011

Driving Mr. Duncan

Duncan is my first small dog. At first I was terrified of his high terrier energy, but really, he's no worse than any of my previous dogs. And at 17 pounds instead of 80 or 90, when he jumps on you it's no big deal. I've been thoroughly enjoying his fearlessness and his independence. This dog is afraid of nothing- or if he is afraid, he checks out the situation or thing (vacuum cleaner) and quickly determines that he is indeed capable of defeating it. This dog does not cower or hide, he joyfully confronts his fears. He likes to be with me if we're home together (thank goodness because he requires constant vigilance!) but he seems to have no issues with separation anxiety. He sits and shakes, is starting to learn some basic manners such as not jumping on or barking at visitors, but he's still so young that excitement often overcomes training. I'm quite biased, but I think this dog is terribly smart and has huge potential!

One thing I was not prepared for with a small dog was car rides. Big dogs are incapable of getting to your feet. There is no room for them on your lap. They can't bounce around the car too much because there is no room. They hang their heads out the window and enjoy the ride. The worst thing they do is occasionally shift the car from drive to neutral or get nose prints all over the windows. Driving with an unrestrained (and untrained) small dog is similarly horrifying to driving with an unrestrained cat. Extreme joy and extreme fear are equally dangerous to the driver!

I thought I had this issue mastered by using a pet carrier. Our first drive was home from the shelter. It was 20 minutes of silence and goodness. Yes! The pet carrier is perfect! Until the second time I used it on the way to/from the vet's office... I wedged the crate onto the back seat, but this time Duncan didn't want to be crated and somehow managed to move the crate from behind the driver's seat to flipped up vertically behind the passenger seat. We then tried Kaylin sitting in back with Duncan on a leash. It works ok, but she needs to be constantly aware of where he is and her attention span isn't very long. Plus, I need Kaylin in the car. What about when I'm alone? Last weekend I invested in a car seatbelt harness. It's a regular harness, but you string your seat belt through a special loop. I finally tried it yesterday and let's just say it worked- but not as the manufacturer intended. Between the harness and seat belt, the poor dog was so tangled he could only lay nicely on the front seat and not move AT ALL. I think it took me a full minute to get him out of the contraption once we were home! We'll have to make some adjustments :)

Speaking of adjustments, Tiger is finally starting to accept Duncan. He actually slept in our bed WITH Duncan for a few hours the other night. Tiger is now more irritated than fearful of Duncan's chases and "attacks." I can't believe Tiger hasn't actually hurt Duncan; they must have some kind of understanding between them because Duncan deserves to be bitten and scratched!

I am in excited planning mode about my road trip in two weeks. This week I found out that we'll be spending the night with my friend Julie in Nashville. I also received an email from Lisa that her zoo had a baby anteater and some cheetah cubs born this past week, with a zebra foal due any day. That's on top of the baby giraffe and leopard cub we were already excited about. Nashville also has a baby giraffe and baby anteaters due any time. The rest of our plan includes finally seeing the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium and hopefully a tour of a huge animal sanctuary/breeding facility close to Jacksonville. We're still deciding which zoo to stop at on our way home, but may stop in Chattanooga at the zoo or aquarium or maybe we'll even see Rock City. I just know that I can't wait!

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