The Duncan Banner

July 7, 2013

Some ‘drivers’ should be put in the doghouse

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — You’ve seen them stopping at an intersection: Lil’ Lhasa Apsos with their front paws draped over the steering wheel. You’ve passed them out on Highway 81, petite Peekapoos giving their owner a tongue bath as the human drives.

You’ve had a long day dealing with humanity and on the way home a car pulls up beside you. Suddenly, a cranky Chihuahua appears from the driver’s lap, sticks its head out the window and starts yapping at you. Makes you want to stuff a doggie treat up the animal’s nose, and another up the snout of the driver.

Doggies behind the wheel are drivin’ me out of my ever-lovin’ mind!

It’s a personal problem — a peccadillo. We’ve all got something seemingly innocent that makes us irrationally irritated, and dogs assisting drivers is one of mine.

According to a small, informal survey (I was the only one involved), there’s been a sharp rise in the number of doggies behind the wheel. Everywhere I look these days, people are cruising the highways and byways with dogs as co-drivers, and most of the critters are lap dogs.

There are rat terriers tucked into some middle-aged woman’s tummy.

There are precocious pugs, their inverted little snoots pressed against the driver’s side window as a teenage girl strokes them lovingly. There are blue-haired grandmas wiping off dog drool, while a Pomeranian slobbers on their shoulder.

Yuck! Double yuck! But before this sounds like a sexist rant, male drivers with dogs in their laps are equally annoying.

The other day I pulled alongside a physically-imposing, 40ish dude in a pickup truck. He was a rugged looking chap — weathered face, cowboy hat, Mo’ Betta shirt, bottom lip full of snuff. He had a “Cowboy Up” sticker on the back window.

But as I sat there thinking this guy was a reincarnation of John Wayne, a punky Pekingese popped up from his lap. As they drove away, this hunk of macho was rubbing noses with the animal and the dog was licking the guy’s eyebrows!

All I could think was: Yeah, dude, let’s see what happens when you have to brake suddenly and Bowser flies into the windshield. Don’t cry to me when you rear-end somebody and Fido becomes a canine air bag.

You see, gentle readers, my angst is actually based on safety — safety for the animal, the driver and the rest of us.

Most law enforcement officers have more important things to do than patrol for doggie drivers.

But let me take on the role of gendarme for a few days. Give me a chance to stop a few of these doggie drivers and our jails would overflow. Our dog pounds would be packed with Bichon Frises forced to study the “Rules of the Road.”

It’s not that I’ve got anything against dogs. I grew up with dogs, love dogs. They really are a human’s best friend and wonderful companions.

But I dig cats, too, and you won’t see me driving around with my 8-year-old Russian blue in my lap. Geez, about the first time I had to brake quickly, Lou would sink all his nails into my thighs and other, uh, sensitive areas, and I’d be headed to Duncan Regional for cat claw extraction and blood transfusions!

Nor am I a perfect driver. I can be distracted and I know there have been times I was careless and created a hazard for other drivers.

Every so often, I see something interesting on the side of the road and I get “the gawks,” momentarily forgetting there’s a steering wheel in my mitts.

Once in a while, I get to jammin’ with Springsteen or the Stones and lose sight of the fact I’m driving, not performing at Bonnaroo.

My wife will tell you when she’s sitting in the passenger seat reading a paper, my eyes drift over to the headlines and off the road ahead.

Karen also doesn’t like the idea that I occasionally eat while driving. She’s afraid I’ll get distracted by a sandwich and not see the 18-wheeler pulling into my lane.

I appreciate her concern. But, doggone it, my sub sandwich doesn’t squirm in and out of my lap. My curly fries don’t wrap their paws around the steering wheel. I’ve never had a fried pie lick my face while motoring!

As caring, safety-conscious Americans we must do something about doggies behind the wheel — and we must start with the lap dogs.

If we don’t nip this dangerous trend in the bud, the next thing you know there’ll be German shepherds driving taxies, Russian wolf hounds with jobs as chauffeurs and Great Danes shiftin’ gears on big rigs all over this great nation!

580-255-5354, Ext. 172. Kaley is managing editor of Waurika News-Democrat