The thought of traveling around the country with your dog, as author John Steinbeck did in his book, “Travels with Charley,” has a certain romanticism about it.
So when the family vet mentioned that my little 17-year-old terrier mutt might be too old to board, I suggested that we would just take him with us when we travel.
“What could be better?” I thought. “Little Huey loves to ride in the car, and we’ve always had a good time on car trips.”
“But your sister may not want a dog in the house over Thanksgiving,” my wife said. “Donna’s a cat person.”
“Nonsense,” I said stubbornly. “Everybody loves little Huey.”
Donna being Donna, of course, thought bringing little Huey with us to her house in the Kansas City suburbs would be fine. At least, that’s what she told me; who knows what she said to her husband Homer when she hung up the phone?
Anyhow, last Wednesday morning I dropped our three-year-old beagle, Molly, at the kennel and away we went.
By the time we had been in the car about an hour, Jenny already had concluded that travels with Huey was not “Travels with Charley.”
Huey had no interest in sitting down or lying down. He spent the nine-and-a-half-hour trip balancing his four little spindly legs on Jenny’s lap.
I figure Charley didn’t insist on standing on Steinbeck’s lap so he could look out the window.
Jenny tried several times to put him in his dog bed in the front floor of the car, but he was having none of it. Within a couple of minutes, he was back on her lap.
She was a trooper, though. I know that because she told me so several times, as Huey’s toenails dug into her thighs.
The other thing she told me is that we should have put Molly’s dog crate in the car for Huey to ride in. But that would be treating him like a dog!
I’ve never done much of that, and I’m not likely to start now.
Of course, that was before the meals on wheels.
You see, one of the things we’ve liked best about car trips is the eating and snacking part. We’ll usually stuff ourselves with a McDonald’s breakfast, buy a bag of Fritos to share and a couple of Cokes, and stop to have a nice lunch, which breaks up the trip a little.
Try any of that with a dog in the car.
Because my car is only a couple of months old, I wasn’t willing to let Huey wander around on the new leather seats, so we had to stay in the car and eat. And take turns going to the bathroom, because someone had to stay behind to hold Huey.
The trip home was a repeat of the trek to Kansas City. Well, not quite. About four hours in, I complained to Jenny that she had nodded off and Huey had almost toppled off her lap.
The next thing I knew, she was driving and Huey was standing on my lap. After a couple of hours of me struggling to keep Huey from falling in the floor, she let me get back behind the wheel.
Huey was relieved. So was I. Travel with Huey is work.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.