As the date of my Author and Her Dog Book Tour approaches, I have been worrying about myriad things. Indeed, no detail is too small to escape my obsessive attention. But I think that, when it comes to driving with Madeleine, I might be misdirecting my agita.

Not that I have a limited supply.

I am not in any way suggesting that securing your pet safely in a car isn’t an issue to be concerned about; here’s just one post of several on this blog that is dedicated to the topic. It’s just that, having come up with a perfectly good method of ensuring Madeleine’s safety, I decided to devote more time to the issue.

Frankie the Fearful

In my previous experience — based on a small sample of one — dogs and cars have not been a good match. Indeed, it was Frankie’s fear and loathing of riding in automobiles that hastened the demise of my full-time travel writing career; his diabetes was just the coup de gras.

Looking back, I am grateful. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have written Am I Boring My Dog or created this blog had Frankie been a good traveler. I might have written articles about pet travel and…well, it’s useless to speculate.  I adored Frankie and it was he who brought me to the great community of pet lovers.

Madeleine Has Moxie

Madeleine is an entirely different animal. She is brave and scrappy and, if food is involved, pretty much fearless. I have seen her try to approach people with far larger dogs if she thinks they might give her a treat.

At first, however, I didn’t know if she would be a good traveler.

The day that I brought Madeleine home from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, I didn’t have a tether for her and she refused to stay in the back, repeatedly wriggling over the shifting gears to the front to sit in my lap. She continued to be anxious and strain against the harness I used to keep her secured behind me, whimpering and crying at the restraint.  Oh crap, I thought, this is a repeat of Frankie, just a different version.

But on the way back from our first wellness visit to a vet, Madeleine was eerily quiet. It wasn’t until I tried to pick up the bag of prescription dog food that I’d bought and stashed near her that I discovered why: Madeleine had eaten her way through the packaging. I still don’t know how much of the bag’s contents, which came pouring out, she’d consumed.

A modern re-enactment of the original car/kibble encounter, without the hole eaten into the bottom of the bag

A combination of giving her treats while she was tethered and her increased sense of security with me had her riding contentedly — and securely — within a month or so.

Car Seat Stress

My Hyundai’s back seat is oddly configured so that it’s difficult to attach anything to a seat belt. I had to rig up something complicated to get the anchor secure. But I am renting a car for the book tour, one that I hope will have normal back seat belts. It thus occurred to me to get Madeleine a car seat.

Because I didn’t have enough to worry about.

I started doing research. The car seat that came out best in crash tests starts at $140.

Have I mentioned this book tour is going to cost me a lot of money because I have to pay for several hotels along the way? Maybe not. But I know I mentioned that Madeleine is now doing fine in the back seat with a harness and tether. I bought her a spiffy new crash-tested one from Kurgo. She’s modeling it in the picture at the top of this page.

So. This concludes the obsessing-over-buying-a-car-seat portion of the Author and Her Dog Book Tour. On to other things, like worrying about what I will wear for my readings. Because — just to reiterate — for the GETTING NAKED road trip, I will be dressed and Madeleine will be naked.

Book Tour Dates

Here’s the schedule of our appearances again, in case you missed it.

June

Tuesday, June 13: Prescott, Arizona, Peregrine Book Company, 5pm-6:30pm

Thursday, June 15: Albuquerque, New Mexico: BookWorks, 6pm

Friday, June 16: Las Cruces, New Mexico: Barnes & Noble UNM, 2-4pm

Tuesday June 20: Austin, Texas: BookWoman, 7-8:30pm

Thursday, June 22: San Antonio, Texas: The Twig, 5-7pm

July

Friday, July 7: St. Paul, Minnesota, Subtext Books, 7pm

Thursday, July 13, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, 7pm

2 thoughts on “Driving Ms. Madeleine: Car Safety Concerns”

  1. I’m finally able to catch up a bit on my blog reading! It’s semi-quiet in the house (Ducky is taking a nap) and the easy-listening channel is on just loud enough for me to hear it.

    I see The Divine Miss M has a red harness – that’s Ducky’s color, too! Ducky is also food motivated but not quite as much as Madeleine.

    Best of luck on your book tour, Edie! I hope it goes really well for you! I truly enjoyed “Getting Naked…” and once I finish my course and the dozen other books I have to read, I plan to read GNFM again.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Madeleine inherited Frankie’s red harness (it was hardly used because of his car hatred) but it’s definitely her color because of her non-gender-conforming behavior — she pees like a boy and is generally just not girly. I wouldn’t dream of dressing her in pink! The Kurgo harnesses only came in red and blue so there we were. I can definitely see Ducky looking good in red.

      Thanks also for your good wishes and, especially, for your nice words about my book — high praise that you want to read it again!

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