Thursday, December 21, 2006

Marshmallow Christmas Candy Part III

I pulled into the Shell station, our designated meeting place, to find Candy had had an exciting ride on the leg before mine. She was happily palling around with the two big dogs of the woman who'd been driving. The three of them were acting as though they'd all grown up together, and I felt a little guilty about taking her away, but she didn't seem too upset.

I took hold of her leash, and she began pulling me along, something for which I wasn't prepared. Candy was small for a Dalmatian and definitely needed to put a little meat on her bones, but she was still much bigger than my Sheltie. When a Sheltie tugs at a leash, it's pretty easy for one to tug back with results. With Candy, I might as well have been tugging at a linebacker. I struggled to get her headed in the direction of my car. Fortunately, once I got the car door open, she readily made the leap up onto the seat. Unfortunately, her hind legs seemed to be a bit weak. She only made it about halfway up, her front paws slipping all over the back seat, as the blanket I'd so carefully laid out slid to the floor, her hind legs, still back on the pavement, sprawled awkwardly.

Worried that the woman with her two dogs and ASPCA baseball cap was watching and concluding I was a hopeless volunteer who had no idea how to care for a dog, I tentatively reached down and helped Candy onto the seat, her front paws sliding out from under her. I expected she might turn around and snap at me, but she didn't. Once she seemed settled, I climbed into the driver's seat, carefully arranging the bag containing dog food and her papers that Ms. ASPCA had handed over to me on the floor of the passenger's side.

As I started the car, Candy seemed very restless. She was pacing around in the back, more like a polar bear in a cage than a Dalmatian on a road trip, and when I actually started moving the car, she was all over the place, slipping and sliding as she tried to get her balance. I'd expected her to immediately lie down and go to sleep, but no, she obviously had multiple personalities and the sweet, docile one had gone into hiding when it met me. The hyper and impatient one had come to join me and was wishing it could say to me, "You know, I'm not used to riding in cars. Why don't you just let me out, and I'll run along beside?"

Not only was she hyper, but she also was ravenously hungry. As I pulled onto the interstate on-ramp, she decided to join me in the front seat where she discovered her goodies on the floor, and there was no stopping her. I uselessly said, "No, no, Candy," as she began purposefully pawing at the plastic. We'd been told not to feed her, and I had one (ineffective) hand reaching out to stop her while the other hand tried to maneuver the on-ramp. Before I'd made it onto the interstate, she'd managed to dig out a baggie containing dog treats.

Knowing there was no good place to stop for the next five miles or so, I made the somewhat unwise decsion to pull over onto the shoulder. Turning on the emergency flashers, I hoped she wouldn't leap out into the cars, all racing by at record speeds, which they tend to do in this state, as I took the bag and biscuits, carrying them around and depositing them in the cargo compartment of the station wagon. Thank goodness our car has a cover that can be pulled over the cargo compartment. Otherwise, she might have crawled back there, gobbled everything down, including her papers, and then spent the rest of the ride puking all over the car's interior.

I was beginning to discover Candy was a pretty amenable dog. I expected her to be upset that I'd taken away her food, to maybe even try to find out where I'd put it, but she wasn't. She just, once again, took up her pacing routine, slipping and sliding off the seat every time I accelerated or hit the brakes. According to what I'd read in the emails, this was her signal that she needed to pee. I couldn't believe she needed to do that only twenty minutes after I'd picked her up, but maybe she had an extremely small bladder or something.

When she got tired of being thrown all over the back seat, she once again decided to come join me in the front. This time, no bags of food to distract her, she shunned the passenger seat, which wasn't good enough. She wanted to be in the driver's seat, on my lap. This was when I, a very slow learner, suddenly realized that bringing along another person might have been a good idea. A one-handed attempt to push a Dalmatian off your lap while steering a car might be a piece of cake for, oh, a Le Cirque performer or a dog whisperer, but not for a Three Stooges contender or a dog screamer, such as I. I was discovering it was even more difficult than a one-handed attempt at keeping a Dalmatian from eating biscuits while steering a car. We'd been told that the safety of the dog should always come first. Well, first I'd risked her escape onto a busy interstate, and now I was risking a jump over the median and into an oncoming tractor trailer. If I'd been given a job evaluation for my performance as a dog driver, I would have been fired on the spot.

Speaking of screaming, Candy had no concept of the word "no." She also had no concept of the words "good dog," or even "Candy." I kept thinking I was just spoiled by my own dog, who seemed to be born knowing the meanings of "no" (well, unless there's another dog anywhere within a 100-yard radius, and then all human commands are to be ignored in an effort to protect that human, who doesn't know what's good for her, from the killer beast disguised as a cute little schnauzer) and "good dog," as well as "Lady." This dog hadn't been socialized, nor had she been trained at all, so I shouldn't expect her to behave the way Lady would. But we all know comparisons are odious. If I hadn't been so busy making them, I might have woken up to the fact sooner that something else was wrong.


Heather said...

ugh! how can you end it like that?!? can't you hint as to what happened next!! when are you posting tomorrow? I'll be waiting!!!!

Anonymous said...

OH NO! What else was wrong? I'm hanging by my nails at the edge of the cliff. Don't you dare take a break for the holidays and leave me there.

xo, BL