Canines aren’t cut out for navigating, ok? Eating, pooping, napping? You betcha. Maybe chasing a squirrel or two.

I think it’s time to put the canines back in their place. They really shouldn’t be assigned driving duties. Really. Does anyone seriously think they are performing well in these roles? True story: I was stuck behind a car the other day. Wait, there’s more. The car hadn’t moved for long enough that the sun had shifted in the sky, so I thought it appropriate that I drive around it. As I attempted to drive around the left side of the car, a little teacup dog poked its head out of the driver’s side window and gave me a most disapproving glare. It was clearly quite put out by my maneuver. Since I don’t speak dog, I was unable to inquire as to its plans for moving the car in the near future, so I just proceeded along my way. But, I was shaken. I was desperately trying to draw the schema in my head that allowed that tiny dog to reach its legs down to the pedals. And, thankfully, at the time, it didn’t even occur to me that the car might not be an automatic. I can’t even imagine what that schema would look like. I guess I would have had to pull over and lie down for a nap.

I’ve been seeing a lot of dogs in the driver’s seat recently. I realize they are sharing driving duties with their owners, but I’m very uneasy with this arrangement. These vehicles seem to be operated very erratically, and I try to avoid them as much as possible. Look, dogs really aren’t great pilots, or even copilots. Their capacity for paying attention is pretty limited. If driving amounted to eating every morsel of a giant steak, then sure. A dog would rock at driving. But if you are expecting your dog to offer assistance operating your motor vehicle, you’re going to need someone to walk in front of your car with a very big steak. And you’re still going to have to do all the work because your dog is going to be pretty busy with the production of a very large puddle of saliva while gazing without blinking at that steak. So, you see, this is an experiment that is guaranteed to fail. I have tried it. I have given Lexi little copilot duties. The simplest of tasks. Hey Lexi, how about you watch for cars at the foot of the driveway. She can’t focus her attention for the 50 seconds of time it takes to move from the top of the driveway to the bottom. I’m really looking for a co-pilot that can perform to a higher standard than that. Cats might be a different story. I don’t have a cat, so I can’t perform this experiment. I’ll have to start checking my fellow travelers to see if there are any feline pilots or co-pilots. But, bottom line is that we should probably just steer away from the animal kingdom altogether when staffing our household vehicles.

Share the road?

I find it amusing how much the car you drive affects how others on the road perceive you. Isn’t this a bit ridiculous? I currently drive a minivan which doesn’t really suit my driving personality. However, we bought it because it is roomy as hell. You can cart so many kids in it that it’s possible I’ve got a stowaway of a much greater size than in my last vehicle. When cleaning out that vehicle preparing it for sale, we discovered a petrified lizard that had been accompanying me on my travels for years by the look of him. (You’re welcome, new owner!)

As a previous SUV driver, I’d gotten used to how other drivers interacted with me on the road. There were many evil looks. A couple of enthusiastically delivered obscene gestures. And I understood the pissiness and general mistrust of other drivers. After all, the purpose as I understand it of driving SUVs is to make sure that you inflict more damage to the other person’s car than to your own if things go wrong out there. You drive an SUV so that you can win if involved in an accident. Of course, there is the added bonus that an SUV can drive over all sorts of things. You don’t have to worry about that gigantic tree in the road after a brutal storm. Just drive right over it. And curbs/gutters? Were made for spirited driving sessions wherein you determine the actual clearance of the bottom of your car so that you can apply that knowledge to future obstacles.

So, the minivan experience has been completely different. I’m a somewhat aggressive driver, and I tend towards a heavier foot. It’s been fascinating to see the number of drivers trying to pass me. I know in their minds they are thinking: Here’s another damn minivan driver clogging up the works. I’m going to have to get past this yoyo. So, I’ve had multiple instances where the driver behind me has sped up to pass and has careened wildly in their dogged attempt to get around me without checking their speed to determine if they do, in fact, need to pass. Couple this with my natural tendency to want to drive faster than anyone in the lane beside me because, RACE!, (cross-posted in neuroses), and you can imagine that these folks aren’t going to get an easy pass from me. I watched the dude with the HUNDEYE license plate drive his car so fast and furiously to pass me that I could hear the whine of his overworked engine. I can only guess that as he sat by the side of the road miles later with his smoking engine, he was able to comfort himself with the knowledge that he had passed that stupid van so it was all worth it in the end.

You have to pay extra to get a personalized plate, so one would assume that when forking over the extra cash you might have something compelling to put on the plate. I find myself curious as to the purpose of a license plate that restates the model of the car. Is this a theft deterrent for the license plate in case someone takes it and puts it on a different model car? Then everyone is all: AHA, that right there is a purloined plate, my friends. We should notify the authorities posthaste. I, for one, would be more concerned about the possible theft of my CAR, but perhaps I’m missing the inherent value in the actual license PLATE.  If this is not intended as a theft deterrent, then what is the purpose? Do you need to restate the model of your car for your own edification? Or is this a clever strategy for locating your car in a parking lot swarmed with similar models?