The New Car

I played a trick on Silas Saturday.

On Saturday, we finally got to bring home the new car. The new car looks almost identical to my car. Both are small SUVs, both are grey. (We’re replacing my husband’s truck, so we’re now that family with the matching cars.) For humans, there are obvious differences. They aren’t quite the same size, one is a little boxier, one is lighter colored. Still, I’d bet there are people who wouldn’t notice the difference unless the cars were side by side.

When we came home from the dealer, I parked my car on the street and the new car in my place in the garage.

A while later, we took Silas to the park. He ran into the garage, then immediately stopped in his tracks. Clever dog could tell in that one step that the car parked in my place was not our car at all.

Fortunately he accepted it and, after a little initial hesitation, hopped right in.

I think he’ll really like it. We don’t always buckle him in*, and he seems pretty well able to navigate the critical gap between passenger-lap to back-seat space. Plus, the armrest is a better height for his head. It’s a huge improvement on the truck, anyway, which terrified him.

*On buckling: I’m not convinced that Silas’s car harness is demonstrably safer than being loose. Because a dog seatbelt tether can’t “lock” under sudden pressure like a human one, I suspect that in an accident he would be thrown forward into his harness hard enough to cause injury. His crate is too large to fit comfortably in the car unless I put him in the cargo area, which is both too isolated from the air conditioning (overheating being statistically far more likely in this climate than an accident that would throw him from the vehicle) and very hard on a dog as anxious as Silas. I do buckle him in when I’m driving solo, because otherwise he wants to sit in my lap, but I think of his car harness as a practical restraint rather than as a safety device. I’m not really thrilled with any of the dog-safety options.

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6 thoughts on “The New Car

  1. I’ve done quite a bit of research on dog restraints and you are right! It has been found that dogs have had minor to serious injuries from seatbelt harnesses. I still think it is best to have some form of restraint for dogs in the car but for my friends who don’t I believe it’s their choice at the end of the day as long as it is not a distraction to their driving (eg. dog is on their lap or bothering them constantly). My preferred method of restraint is using a dog crate. However, there are now a few dog harness seatbelts that have undergone some crash tests with relatively good results. The main thing I have found is that the harness needs to fitted and used correctly. Many well-intentioned owners use doggy seatbelts but then leave them very loose which can cause more harm than good. Love the story about the new car.

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  2. Congrats on the new wheels…I have never buckled in any of my dogs…lazy? maybe…but I’ve been lucky and they have all been comfortale on car trips , settling down for naps after the first few minutes, so I’ve never felt the need

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  3. Congrats on the new wheels! No surprise Silas was able to see the difference – that boy is smart!

    You are absolutely correct about car harnesses – most are designed to be restraints ONLY, not designed for crash safety. RC Pets has one that has been crash tested for safety and actually fits the seatbelt through the harness instead of using a tie to connect them.

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  4. I’m also right there with you on the car harnesses. I only have a seat cover that creates a partition between the front and back that prevents Blueberry from walking between the front and the back seats – something she did a LOT when I first got her and it was a HUGE distraction. I didn’t take her on any long rides until that partition finally arrived. Now she stays put in the back.

    That’s so funny that Silas knew it wasn’t your car! Blueberry is not so choosy. She’s sometimes tried to get into stranger’s vehicles when they leave the door open. I’m not sure if that’s her way of saying she’d like a new family or if she just wants to see if they have any hidden treats in there.

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  5. We’ve been struggling with safe traveling too. My dogs crates are too big to fit in the car and like you I worry about the harness, and them getting whipped around and snapping their back or neck in an accident. We usually try and make sure they are laying down when we are on the highway, and we keep our fingers crossed.

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