Surfing dogs…best friends and our best friends…dog-loving restaurants and hotels… There’s much to tell (and show), but the San Diego adventure begins with — what else? — the story of driving with my car-averse pup.

The drugs

The day before we were scheduled to leave, I tried Xanax, the latest vet prescription, on Frankie. It was a virtual replay of our experience with Valium. Frankie acted like a drunk who’s consumed vast quantities of Red Bull to try to sober up. He remained wide awake but staggering, wanting to play and, more than anything,  to bathe my face in doggie kisses. This was not propitious for a car ride since it would: a) involve attempts to leap from the car’s back seat into the front to love me up; and b) would be extremely worrying to the owner of a diabetic dog because the drunken wobble is also a sign of hypoglycemia.

Xanax was clearly a no go.

In a last ditch effort to do something, I dug up an herbal remedy, Quiet Moments, which includes L-tryptophan and chamomile among its ingredients (I know, L-tryptophan is problematic, but I wasn’t going to worry about two small doses spaced several days apart).

The drive there

Except for the part where my Craigslist driveshare, Daniella, attempted to text while driving — hey, she’s 19 — everything went fairly smoothly, Frankie-wise. He did stand up for most of the trip, but didn’t appear to be shaking, just alert. He eschewed all water on our rest stops, which is typical but nevertheless alarming, especially given his diabetes; he also refused to pee, no doubt as a direct result of his refusal of liquids. The good news: Because of Daniella’s presence, I was able to take a pit stop without being concerned about Frankie being fricasseed. And because Daniella zipped quickly through the mountains, the trip took less than 6 1/2 hours as opposed to the typical 7 or 7 1/2. Frankie slurped up great quantities of water in the (perceived) safety of the hotel room, but otherwise seemed none the worse for wear.

The drive home

Daniella originally asked if she could bring a friend along on the return trip. I happily agreed since it gave me a chance to try an experiment: I would sit in the back with Frankie while the two friends sat in front, thus enabling me to experience the drive from his perspective. The friend didn’t come after all but Daniella said she didn’t mind going along with my plan. So, chauffeur-like, she transported Frankie and his loyal bodyguard.

First I tried putting Frankie in my lap, strapped into my seat belt with me. This was neither comfortable nor relaxing for either of us, as Frankie remained standing — and mobile. He finally squirmed so much that I let him off my lap to sit down next to me, attached by harness to the other rear seat belt.

That did the trick. After a short spate of head rubs, he went into full repose mode, lounging as contentedly in the rear of the car as he does on his own couch.

Feeling somewhat guilty — and needing to spell Daniella — I took over the drive after about three hours. Frankie initially seemed concerned, returning to stress alert and then — miracle of miracles — he relaxed again, even though I wasn’t sitting next to him. He spent most of the rest of the ride home lounging, interrupted only by bouts of leg stretching — for which, who could blame him?

My theory (anthropomorphism alert): All Frankie needed was to know that the car’s back seat isn’t a place of exile for bad dogs. If his human didn’t have a problem with it, maybe it was okay after all.

So… all’s well that ends well except for one thing. Will I ever be able to find another rideshare willing to serve as a chauffeur to a woman and her small dog? How exactly will I word that Craigslist ad?

6 thoughts on “Driving Mister Frankie”

  1. I don’t think your theory is crazy at all which is why my last suggestion was to have Frankie in a crate in the front seat next to you but now if he’s cool with the backseat GREAT! Did you get to actually enjoy your trip??

    1. Well, I don’t know that the backseat comfort level is permanent — this a.m. Frankie seems to have forgotten that he didn’t mind the car — but it’s nice to know the problem isn’t insurmountable (unfortunately, the crate in the car seems to drive him crazy; although he’s fine in one at home, maybe the movement and the lack of visibility seem to be a bad combo). A great deal of my trip was terrific, thanks, but dealing with two dogs — one who has arthritis, one with diabetes — wasn’t all that relaxing. I’ll report more, but thanks for your interest.

  2. My dog has a lot of problems with the car, she gets better sometimes, but I haven’t found what makes the difference. She drools until she vomits. maybe the only difference is the amount of food in her stomach.

    1. It’s a tough one to lick, as it were. Have you tried herbals like Rescue Remedy – or drugs like Valium for long trips? I pretty much tried everything before the sit in the back seat (combined with the valerian/chamomile pills, I think) helped. Luckily Frankie doesn’t drool or vomit, just stands up for the entire trip and, sometimes, shakes.

  3. Ad possibility: Small cute dog needs ride to San Diego. Must put up with human companion. Will share reasonable expenses. No texting while driving.

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