When the Dog Drove

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 5/25/07*

A few days ago in the post about Road Trippin' (which I thought was a great play on words because not only was it a road trip, but it was all crazy like we was trippin', yo) I mentioned the teeny little dog-driving-the-car incident that has completely marred my driving record. (There were a few other "incidents" after that one, but it was the first, so I figure that was what started the downward spiral). What really bothers me is that unlike most automobile collisions involving 17 year olds, this was completely NOT MY FAULT. I mean it. Really.

Anyway. It happened on a Saturday. Saturdays are yard mowing days at the Ancestral House of Quirk, and because Steph and I made for convenient slave labor, we were unrelentingly pressed into service. My job was to mow the big field behind the house with the riding lawn mower, and because it was hot and I have no fear of skin cancer, I figured that it would also be the perfect time to get a tan. My yard mowing apparel? Tiny cut off jean shorts in the Daisy Duke styling, a tube top (oh yes), and no shoes. (Cue the redneck girl from the trailer park theme music here). Anyway, I was mowing away when suddenly the lawn mower ran out of gas. No big deal. There's a little gas station roughly a mile from the neighborhood, so I'd just pop over there (any excuse to drive) and fill up the gas can. It didn't occur to me to change clothes or even put on shoes. Suffice it to say that when you're 17, a tube top and tiny shorts makes for a perfectly good outfit. And I'm not shy. Toss the gas can in the car, grab Daddy's credit card, and I am on my way.

Another thing you should know which also has a large impact on the story: We had a Golden Retriever at the time named Bear. Bear was large even for Golden Retrievers, and didn't quite have the intelligence that the breed is usually gifted with, bless his heart. (Bear's theme song: "Do-dee-do-dee-do". Also, if dogs could talk, Bear would probably also say things like, "Awww Shucks". You get the idea). Bear usually lived in the fenced-in backyard, but with all the manual yard labor that was going on, he had slipped through the gate and was gleefully off to cause general dog-driven havoc around the neighborhood. And that was where I found him.

I was cruising through the neighborhood in my stylish '89 Chevy Corsica (detailed in a hot fire-engine maroon), when I spotted Bear the wonder-dog, standing in the middle of the road, thinking deep thoughts. ("Do-dee-do-dee-do"). Being the animal lover that I am, and knowing that Bear didn't have the sense to get out of the way should a car come up (once Bear ran into the side of a car. Seriously. Ran right into the side of it as it was driving by. And you thought I was kidding about his theme song), I decided to stop the car, load Bear into the back seat, and have him accompany me the rest of the way to the gas station. What a picture we were! Redneck trailer park girl and her lovable, if hopelessly dense, dog on their way to the gas station to get some gas for the mower. Sounds like it could be a TV mini-series, doesn't it?

Anyway. Everything was fine and dandy, except that Bear, the dog of no great intellect, was also the dog of no great obedience, and he decided that it would be muuuuuuch more fun if he were to ride in the front passenger seat instead of the backseat. So he climbed over the consol with apparent brainless ease, despite my attempts to keep him in the back seat. You may think that you have enough upper body strength to keep 125 pounds of willful dog in the back seat while your bottom half is strapped down with a seat belt, but I seriously doubt it. I know I didn't. After a few minutes, I was like, "Fine. Ride in the front seat. See if I care", at which point Bear, having gotten his way, was content to just look out the window. And that would have been that, if it wasn't for this one intersection where the entrance of the subdivision meets the main road.

Anyway. There I was, innocently sitting at the main road, waiting for a gap in the traffic. The road cleared, I pushed the gas pedal and the sudden forward motion of the car causes the dumb dog standing in the passenger seat to lose his balance! He stumbles forward and (stay with me here) HITS the gear shift (the Corolla is an automatic) and KNOCKS THE CAR INTO REVERSE! My foot is still pushing on the gas pedal, so the car suddenly lurches backwards...right into the car behind me! I swear its true! Their hood is totally mangled. The guy driving jumps out, runs around to his back seat, and unsnaps two toddlers from their car seats to make sure that they're okay. The little boy climbs out of the car and says with his little whimpery kid voice and Precious Moments eyes, "Does this mean that we won't be able to go to the pool party now Daddy?" I felt so lousy! I was ready to kill the dog, who is straining to push his head through the (closed) passenger side window at this point.

If that wasn't bad enough, I'm standing beside this busy road in my signature tube top and tiny shorts without shoes, and guys in passing vehicles are slowing down to yell things like "I can teach ya how to drive honey!" The cops show up, take in the outfit and shoelessness with raised eyebrows and ask for my driver's license, which I suddenly recalled that I did not have with me because I had accidentally left my wallet in my locker at school on Friday, "cause there was a pep rally and all right at the end of the day and who wants to take their purse to a pep rally, ya know"? Completely understandable, right? Mr. Police Man writes all this down without saying anything, but the raised eyebrow got higher. I'm also trying to explain to the cop why the dog was in the car, and how he lost his balance and fell into the gear shift, and that's why we ended up backing into the car behind us at a high rate of speed, and I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time, right? At this point, it's obvious that the cop doesn't believe a word of this story. (His eyebrows have lifted so high that they are technically no longer on his head. They are floating in the air six inches above him). As a matter of fact, he goes back to his car and calls for backup! Backup! Like he's going to arrest the crazy girl and he wants to make sure that he has help in case she's a biter. The kids are now jumping up and down to get a better look at my stupid "puppy" in the car, completely unaware that he's the one who started this whole mess. Stupid dog. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to jail at this point, so I borrow my/the dog's victim's cell phone to call Mom and Dad and let them know. I've managed to keep it together up until this point, but as soon as Mom and Dad pull up, I dissolve into complete hysterics. I'm not one of those people who cry to get out of infractions involving the police, but apparently it works. The people I/the dog hit were patting me on the shoulder and telling me about their first car accidents (not caused by a dog), the police were trying to smile cheerfully as they slipped their tazers and handcuffs back onto their belts, and even the stupid dog managed to look sympathetic. In the end, I was not thrown into the clink (although I did get 6 points on my driving record for letting the dog drive), Dad took Bear back home, and I learned a valuable lesson: If you see your stupid dog standing in the middle of road looking clueless, do not stop! Just go ahead and hit him. At least that way you only damage your own car and not the guy behind you.